Slow Cooker American Goulash
Easy slow cooker American goulash recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Loaded with tomatoes, ground beef, macaroni, cheese and lots of dried herbs. Also known as hamburger goulash.
This recipe is hearty, satisfying and one of the ultimate comfort foods out there. It’s quite a classic dish and has been around for a long time because it’s just too good to not pass on. Every family seems to have their own special twist on it.
What is goulash?
It is a dish that originated in medieval Hungary and is quite a popular throughout Europe. It’s considered a stew or soup and is often heavy on the meat, vegetables, along with paprika and other similar spices. Depending on the version (Hungarian or American) you make, pasta may or may not be present.
How to make goulash in crockpot (slow cooker)?
- Cook and drain beef – In a non-stick pan, brown beef and drain it.
- Add majority of the ingredients in the crockpot – Add the beef, onions, peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and bay leaves, then give it a good stir.
- Cover and cook – On high heat for 3.5 hours.
- Add pasta – After 3.5 hours, add the uncooked pasta and stir. The pasta will soak up the extra liquid you might notice at this point.
- Cover and cook again – For another 20 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
- Enjoy – Discard bay leaves. Add cheese. Garnish with parsley and dig in!
Hungarian goulash vs. American goulash
The original version from Hungary didn’t contain pasta. However, when the recipe reached America (or by the time it reached America), pasta was added as a way to further hearty up the meal. This version of the recipe is now known as the American version while the version without pasta is seen as the Hungarian version.
What sides to serve with old fashioned beef goulash recipe?
This comfort food is a heavy meal on its own. However, if you still want to serve a side dish, try the following:
- Simple green salad
- Dinner rolls
- Crusty bread
- Garlic bread
Turn it into a soup – Double the amount of broth so that the consistency is thinner, resembling soup.
Make it cheesy – Add more cheddar cheese or you can even mix in some cream cheese. You can further garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese too.
Add corn and other vegetables – If you’re all about the vegetables, go further and add some extra vegetables that pair well with this dish. Some of these are corn, broccoli, radishes, carrots, green onions, etc.
Add chicken – If you prefer chicken to beef, swap out the beef for the same amount of chicken breast or even ground chicken. You can also use rotisserie chicken to save time.
Make it vegetarian – If you prefer no meat at all, no worries, just omit the suggested meat, and add vegan meat or simply add more veggies.
Make it spicy– Add red chili flakes.
Add bacon– Sprinkle cooked bacon bits at the end.
Make it creamy– Add a little half and half, heavy cream or even more cheese.
Refrigerate- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freeze– I don’t recommend this because pasta does not defrost well and breaks down and becomes “mushy.”
Reheat- This dish can easily be reheated in the microwave.
Tips and Techniques
What is the best meat for American goulash? Ground beef that’s 70-80% lean is best. Boneless chuck meat works well too.
How to store this dish? The best way to store this particular recipe is to place it in freezer-safe baggies, remove the air, flatten them out, and reheat them in the microwave as needed. Freezes for up to three months. As for the fridge, place the dish in airtight containers and keep for up to a week.
Use full fat cheese – This will make the dish creamier and add a more robust flavor from the added cheese.
Broth substitute- Use water in a pinch, if you absolutely have to. Although, it’s important to note that the beef broth adds an extra component of flavor that water will not have.
What type of pasta to use? – I used elbow macaroni in this recipe but any short pasta will work well. This can include bowtie pasta, penne, rigatoni, etc.
Drain fat- Because it prevents the meal from becoming too oily and greasy.
Do I need to cook the pasta first? No, that’t not necessary. The pasta cooks in the slow cooker, as it absorbs all the flavor from the liquids.
Use low-sodium ingredients- Because this prevents the dish from becoming too salty.
How to make pasta dish thicker? Cook uncovered until excess liquid is absorbed in the pasta or evaporated.
How to make pasta dish thinner? Mix in a little broth or water.
Easy Crockpot Goulash
- 1.5 pounds Ground beef
- 1 cup Onion , Finely chopped
- 1 cup Peppers, Combination of green and red peppers, Finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic, Finely minced
- Salt , To taste
- Pepper , To taste
- 1-2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 2 cans Crushed tomatoes , 14.5 oz. cans
- 1 can Diced tomatoes , 14.5 oz. cans
- 1.5 cups Beef broth, Low sodium
- 1.5 cups Water
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp Soy sauce, Low sodium
- 2 Bay leaves
- 3 cups Elbow macaroni , Uncooked
- 1/2-1 cup Cheddar cheese , Shredded, Optional
- 1 tbsp Fresh parsley , For garnish
- Heat a nonstick pot or pan over medium high heat.
- Add ground beef and cook until it’s no longer pink.
- Note: Use a multifunctional slow cooker that allows you to saute the beef the in the slow cooker. This way, you won’t have to make another pot or pan dirty.
- Drain fat.
- Add it to a 6 quart slow cooker, along with onion, peppers garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, broth, water, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, bay leaves and mix everything together.
- Cover and cook on High heat for 3.5 hours.
- Mix in macaroni. The sauce will be watery but the macaroni will absorb it.
- Cover and cook for another 20 minutes on High heat until pasta is al dente and tender.
- Discard bay leaves.
- Mix in cheese (optional).
- Garnish with parsley. Enjoy!
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
A great hearty meal. Love it that it was done in the slow cooker. Thank you.
I found use tomato juice and broth rather than water gives a richer favor l don’t need to add as much seasonings
I’ve made this a few times, it’s delicious. Love that it’s in the slow cooker. Today I had jalapeno peppers, de-seeded, and used that in lieu of green pepper, no heat but fabulous.
I love jalapeno peppers. Can’t wait to try that myself next time!
How long do you cook this on low
I don’t recommend cooking it on low because the pasta becomes overcooked.
Great recipe and dish. Try using celery chopped finely with the onion. Replaced beef with lean ground turkey (beef bouillon makes it taste like ground beef) and a can of rotel for a little spice. Literally millions of ways to make goulash!
This is now one of my favorite recipes. I cook it in the slow cooker & on top of stove. Thank you for such an amazing dish.