Easy American Hamburger Goulash

American Hamburger Goulash is a simple, healthy, and satisfying dish reminiscent of old-fashioned comfort food.

American Hamburger Goulash

American goulash differs greatly from the Hungarian version. A skillet dish of ground beef, onion, tomatoes, tomato soup, and elbow macaroni. Consider homemade from scratch Hamburger Helper, also known as American Chop Suey in my elementary school cafeteria.

Hungarian Goulash, on the other hand, is a long-simmering meat and vegetable stew seasoned liberally with paprika.

The two dishes could not be more dissimilar.

American Hamburger Goulash Ingredients

  • 2 cups (8 oz.) elbow macaroni (gluten-free optional) (uncooked)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef, lean
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 cans tomato soup (10-34 ounces each)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (14 oz. each)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Cook the macaroni as directed on the package; drain.
  2. In the meantime, heat oil in a large dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Breaking up the beef into smaller pieces as you stir the ground beef, onion, and pepper into the skillet Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the beef is no longer pink and the onion and pepper are soft.
  4. Add the cinnamon, sugar, tomatoes, and tomato soup. Simmer until thoroughly heated.
  5. Add the drained macaroni and combine thoroughly. Alternately, combine everything in the pasta pan if your skillet is too small.) To taste, season with salt and pepper.

Notes for the Recipe

American Hamburger Goulash

  • I like to make this traditional goulash spicy. Use one can of diced tomatoes instead of two if you don’t.
  • Of course, elbow macaroni is not required. Any shape of small to medium pasta works. I made it the previous time with gluten-free brown rice rotini.
  • When adding the tomatoes, add 1 cup of drained corn and 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder for a spicy southwest variation.