Crock pot American goulash is a delicious family-friendly meal with ground beef, tender macaroni noodles, in a wonderful tangy tomato-based pasta sauce. Let's make it!
Why You Will Love This Slow Cooker American Goulash
Comfort Food. The texture of the crumbled ground beef and the smooth pasta with the delicious tomato sauce is wonderful. This reminds me of a very upgraded Hamburger Helper dish that my mother used to make us - only much better!
The whole family will love it. Ever struggle trying to find the perfect dish that the whole family will eat? They will LOVE this slow cooker goulash - and you'll be happy because it's easy to make, you can meal prep it and even freeze it for later.
Meal Prep. I like to assemble this dish on the weekend and get everything ready. I cook the ground beef and everything to the crock pot, except the dried pasta. Wait and add the pasta until you are ready to cook. Cover your crock and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
Ingredients Needed for Crock Pot Goulash with Hamburger
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this crockpot goulash:
- Olive Oil: extra virgin olive oil is used to coat the pasta and also to saute the ground beef and bell pepper.
- Elbow Macaroni Pasta: macaroni noodles are a classic in goulash!
- Lean Ground Beef: I used lean ground beef but any ground beef fat content will do. If you have a higher fat content beef you may want to cook the beef by itself first then strain the grease out before cooking the onion and pepper - that way you won't lose any flavor from the vegetables by draining all of the juices away.
- Bell Pepper: I used red bell pepper but any color you have on hand will be fine.
- Onion: white or yellow onions work best in this dish. Red can be used in a pinch but it will add sweetness.
- Fresh Garlic: for best flavor I used fresh garlic but 1 teaspoon of powdered garlic would work as well.
- Tomato Sauce: use a favorite brand of canned sauce.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes: canned diced tomatoes are used for convenience.
- Beef Broth: beef stock may also be used, or boullion cubes dissolved in 2½ cup of hot water.
- Worcestershire: boosts that beef flavor and does add a little spicy kick.
- Italian Seasoning
- Smoked Paprika: using paprika gives it a smoky taste that I think you will love. Regular paprika can also be used, or the paprika can be omitted altogether.
- Bay Leaves
- Salt and Pepper
For exact ingredient quantities, please see the recipe card below!
How To Make This Goulash Recipe (Crockpot)
Here's how to make this delicious slow cooker American goulash recipe:
1. Mix the oil and pasta together and microwave until the pasta is blistered.
2. Cook the ground beef, onions, and bell pepper until cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
3. Add everything to a 6-quart crock pot.
4. Cover the crockpot and slow cooker on HIGH for 2 to 3 hours or until the pasta is tender. Voila! That's it!
How to Serve It
Here are several ways you can serve your delicious crock pot American goulash:
Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil.
Top it with shredded cheddar cheese, green onion, and even a dollop of sour cream.
Meal idea! Goulash is a meal in one due to the vegetables, protein, and grains - but it would pair really well with a green salad and a favorite dressing.
Here are some suggestions for customizing your crock pot American goulash:
- If the goulash is too tangy for your taste, adjust with a little sugar.
- Ground chicken or turkey can be substituted for ground beef.
- Make it spicy by adding red pepper flakes or hot sauce.
Slow Cooker Tips
Tip #1: Blistering the pasta in the microwave helps to prevent it from turning soggy. Start on a low setting and stir frequently. Be careful - it can burn really fast. If you are too busy, skip this step. It won't change the taste - it will still be delicious.
Tip #2: Meal prep: this recipe can be prepared, cooled, then divided into containers and frozen for meal prepping.
Tip #3: Make ahead tip: pre-cook the ground beef and blister the pasta. Add all ingredients (except pasta) to the slow cooker. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. I used to have multiple meals sitting in crock pots in my refrigerator in preparation of very busy weeks!
To store leftovers, let the goulash cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
To freeze crock pot goulash, let it cool, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Reheat in a microwave-safe dish, on 50 % power for 1 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Goulash with uncooked pasta and cooked ground beef will cook in about 2 to 3 hours on High. It only needs to cook until the pasta is tender.
Chili mac and American-style goulash are very similar, except chili mac uses common chili seasonings such as chili powder and often cumin, beans, and even salsa.
A classic Hungarian goulash is actually more of a stew and uses stewing beef, potatoes, and often dumplings. American goulash uses ground beef, canned tomatoes, and pasta.
A tossed green salad and a favorite dressing or coleslaw are always a nice fresh pairing that goes well with goulash. It can also be served with corn bread, crusty bread, or biscuits.
Crock Pot Goulash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- ½ pound dry elbow macaroni
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
- 2 pounds lean ground beef (90 or 95%)
- 2 teaspoons garlic (minced)
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2½ cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika can be used)
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a 2-quart microwave-safe dish mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and dry pasta together. Microwave at 30% power for 3 to 7 minutes or until half the pasta is blistered. Check and stir frequently it can burn quickly.
- In a skillet (or the pot of a crock pot that has a browning function), add 1 tablespoon olive oil, ground beef, onion, and bell pepper. Saute until ground beef is cooked through.
- Add pasta, garlic, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef broth, Worcestershire, Italian seasoning, paprika, bay leaves, salt, and black pepper to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Cover crockpot and cook on HIGH for 2 to 3 hours or until the pasta is tender.
- Don't miss all of our helpful hints, substitution ideas, cooking tips, and other delicious recipes that can be found in our post. Check it out!
- VARIATIONS: Use ground chicken or turkey in place of beef.
- SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Garnish with fresh basil or parsley and parmesan cheese.
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