Make this easy Beef Goulash with Ketchup in 45 minutes using only one pot. It can be a heavy pan, an Instant Pot, or a slow cooker. Combine ground beef, tomato sauce, macaroni, some spices, lots of Cheddar, and KETCHUP. Try it tonight. You probably already have what you need in your kitchen.
Is it Goulash or Chop Suey?
My mother-in-law used to make something she called Beef Goulash (not to be confused with Hungarian Goulash as explained below). She told me she cooked the macaroni and ground beef then added catsup and Cheddar. That’s it!
When I recently saw a recipe for “American Chop Suey” in Cook’s Illustrated, I was puzzled by the title. However, I recognized the food in the magazine picture as a first cousin to my husband’s beloved goulash.
Never before had I heard a mixture of beef, tomatoes, sauce, and macaroni called “Chop Suey.” Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?
I’ve learned this dish is known as Chop Suey in the northeast. Evidently, they traditionally add soy sauce to add umami.
Between my mother-in-law’s unwritten recipe and Cooks Illustrated, I came up with my own recipe and published it 9 years ago on this blog.
After revisiting the subject recently, I decided the recipe should be simpler and faster. So, I made it easier (hello onion and garlic powder) with fewer ingredients. I cut the recipe in half and added an option for using the Instant Pot or slow cooker.
This recipe may not be quite as sophisticated as it was before, but honestly, American Beef Goulash is not exactly gourmet cooking. It’s more of a what-can-I-throw-together-that’s-quick-filling-and-something-everybody-likes kind of dish.
Instant Pot vs. slow cooker vs. stovetop
Using the Instant Pot takes about the same amount of time as cooking on top of the stove. The advantage of using the Instant Pot is that you can make this casserole ahead of time. When the cooking time ends, the Pot will automatically switch to “warm.” Whenever you come home, your goulash will be warm and ready-to-eat.
The slow cooker will take all day if you use the “Low” setting. Again, dinner will be ready and waiting for you at the end of the day.
All of these methods require only one pot. Winner!!
Ingredients and substitutions
Beef: This is the perfect place to customize your goulash. Substitute sausage for the beef, or go half beef and half sausage. Use leftover roast beef instead of ground beef. Cut the amount of beef in half if you prefer. Vegetarians can leave it out completely.
Pasta: Macaroni is traditional. Ditalini (sometimes called salad pasta) is fun. If you only. have spaghetti in the house, break it into small pieces and use that if you want to.
Tomato sauce: Because I wanted this recipe to be something you could make without going to the grocery store, I called for tomato sauce. Substitute pasta sauce instead or even pizza sauce.
Water: Amp up the flavor by substituting 1/2 cup red or white wine for 1/2 cup of the water.
Worcestershire sauce: This magic brown liquid adds umami flavor to anything. If you prefer, substitute soy sauce or coconut aminos. Another way to add umami is with a dry mushroom seasoning like the one sold at Trader Joe’s. Alternatively, you can make your own mushroom seasoning mix with this recipe for mushroom seasoning mix.
Catsup is the defining feature of this recipe as we know and love to eat it. If you’re not a catsup lover, you might want to add an extra can of tomato sauce for sauciness.
Cheese: We like LOTS of Cheddar. Mozzarella or Velveeta would also be delicious and melty.
Onions and Garlic: Feel free to chop up fresh onions and garlic instead of using powdered. I often opt for “easy” with this recipe. After all, this is not intended to be a gourmet recipe. It’s first-degree comfort food.
Miscellaneous seasonings: We like a little kick, so I add red pepper flakes and a quick squeeze of Sriacha. Leave this out if you prefer your food milder or you are serving kids.
If you don’t have Italian seasoning on hand, improvise with oregano, basil, and a touch of thyme.
FAQ for Beef Goulash recipes
A typical recipe for Hungarian Goulash is a paprika-flavored broth full of meat and other vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. The consistency is more of a cross between a soup and a stew
Let prepared goulash cool completely in the fridge. Double wrap it and keep in the freezer no longer than 3 months.
Prepare recipe completely except for the final sprinkling of Cheddar. Wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
When ready to eat, stir the casserole and microwave or heat in the oven until hot. (If the pasta has absorbed all the moisture, stir in some water or more catsup to make it saucy again. Sprinkle final cheese over the top and let it melt.
How to make Easy Beef Goulash with Ketchup
1. Brown ground beef in a large heavy pot.
2. Add onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and red chili flakes.
3. Add 1/2 cup water and scrape the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan.
4. Stir in tomato sauce, tomatoes, and remaining water.
5. Add uncooked macaroni and stir. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes or until the macaroni are soft.
6. Add catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and Sriacha, if using. Stir.
7. Stir in half of the Cheddar.
8. Sprinkle remaining Cheddar over the top when ready to serve. (If the goulash has cooled off a bit, pop it back into the microwave to melt the cheese on top.
Eating Hamburger Goulash brings back so many memories for us. Maybe this recipe will be the beginning of new memories at your house.
More recipes with ground beef
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- 1 pound ground beef
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 -1/2 cup water
- 1-1/2 cup (6 oz.) elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup catsup
- a quick squirt of Sriracha
- 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese (mild or medium)
- Brown ground beef in a large heavy pot. Season with salt and pepper. Drain off excess grease.
- Stir in onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.
- Add 1/2 cup water to the meat and scrape the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in macaroni. Stir in remaining water, tomato sauce, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until macaroni is tender.
- Stir in catsup, Worcestershire sauce, Sriracha and half of the Cheddar.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Move to a serving dish and sprinkle with remaining Cheddar and let it melt before serving.
- If you are not eating immediately, you may need to add some extra water and/or sauce as the pasta absorbs moisture. This is especially true when eaten the next day or two after goulash is made.
Instant Pot Version: (Illustrated in the video)
- Cook ground beef on the Sauté setting. Proceed through step 3.
- In step 4, add the tomato sauce and tomatoes. Sprinkle macaroni evenly over the top. Pour remaining water over the top WITHOUT STIRRING.
- Seal pot and set to high-pressure cook for 8 minutes. (It could take 10-12 minutes for the IP to come to pressure.)
- When the IP beeps that cooking is done, do a quick release and proceed to step 5 above. Stir everything together. If not eating right away, you can leave it in the Instant Pot on warm for 5-6 hours. When ready to eat, go to step 6.
Slow Cooker Version:
Cook ground beef in a skillet on the stove. Add to a slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients except for cheese. Stir and allow to cook for 8 hours. When ready to eat, stir in half of the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining half of the cheese over the top and allow it to melt before serving.
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Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer
Trader Joe's Mushroom and Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend 2.1 Ounces
Crock Pot Slow Cooker|8 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker with Digital Countdown Timer, Black Stainless Steel - SCCPVFC800-DS
Le Creuset of America MM15L2574S-59 4.25 quart Marseille Enameled Cast Iron Soup Pot and Stoneware Bowl Set, Blue
Red Gold Diced Tomatoes, 14.5oz Can (Pack of 12)
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 626Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 702mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 17gProtein: 48g