Grandma’s American Goulash

Looking for a new way to revive the age old combination of pasta & sauce? Grandma’s American Goulash is the yummiest way to do just that. Ground beef, your favorite pasta, a blend of cheeses, made in a single pot and all in a savory tomato based sauce- what’s not to go ga-ga for?!

Do you remember those special meals from your childhood? You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones Mom or Grandma used to make that were cornerstones of your childhood. The ones that come to mind, that you can literally taste, when you think of certain things.

The ones that random everyday events make you thing of. Like I could be driving down the road on a Tuesday afternoon, and if I see a ball field, a kid in a uniform, even a baseball for sale in the local Walmart. I’m gonna immediately picture my Grandma’s American Goulash.

It was savory, it was sweet, cheesy and full of ground beef and a heaping helping of pasta. It was a carb-loaded dream dinner fit for a king, but beloved of every kid in our family.

And an added bonus for me and my sisters in particular, it was quick and easy. Which meant (since our Grandma babysat us while out parents worked) that on busy school nights when we had ball practice or] games, we were probably going to be served a big heapin’ bowl of this tomato and pasta laden ground beef dish for dinner.

Funny enough, in 18 years not a single complaint was ever heard from a single one of us.

It’s an easy meal that can be made on any budget, and Grandma’s American Goulash can be enjoyed on virtually any time table. Now this isn’t my Grandma’s exact recipe.

Unfortunately, that went with her, but this is an adaptation and one that tastes spot on!

Thank the good Lord we found this version too, because I’d gone to desperate measures to get my fix.

My cheap, cheater version of this was to cook a pound of ground beef with some chopped onion, then mix it in with a batch of shells and cheese. I’d stir in a cup of sauce, and we’d have (what my kids arguably thought for the longest time) goulash.

They loved it too. Thankfully, they love Grandma’s version even more! I’d have been a bit put out otherwise.

Grandma’s American Goulash is an easy dinner idea, that simply can’t be beat. Other times referred to as American Chop Suey, it’s a bit soupy in texture- like a bowl full of a cheesy pasta/sauce hybrid.

It’s so much more than just a saucy bowl of pasta though. It’s got deep flavor from an infusion of beef broth, and being slow simmered with bay leaves. Top the whole thing off with a blend of cheese, and it’s meal time magic.

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5 from 1 vote
Grandma's American Goulash
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr

A saucy American ground beef & pasta dish laden with a blend of cheeses and simmered to savory perfection.

Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: American
Keyword: American, goulash, Grandma, ground beef
Servings: 8
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups cavatelli pasta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat, add the ground beef, olive oil, garlic, & onions and stir everything together, breaking the meat up as you go- cooking until the meat is browned and cooked through. Drain, and return the mixture to the pot.

  2. Stir in the water, broth, both tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and bay leaves. Lower the heat, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Cover, and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

  3. Stir in the pasta, cover, and continue simmering an additional 30 minutes- stirring occasionally, until the pasta's cooked through.

  4. Remove the bay leaves, and salt & pepper, to taste. Stir in the mozzarella cheese until evenly combined.

  5. Serve immediately, scooping into bowls, and topping with the shredded cheddar.

Recipe Notes

recipe adapted from My Incredible Recipes

Recipe shared at blog parties HERE & HERE.


Looking for a new way to revive the age old combination of pasta & sauce? Grandma's American Goulash is the yummiest way to do just that. Ground beef, your favorite pasta, a blend of cheeses, made in a single pot and all in a savory tomato based sauce- what's not to go ga-ga for?!

2 thoughts on “Grandma’s American Goulash

  1. The ONLY thing missing (IMHO) is diced celery (cooked mushy before stirring in). It just adds that extra bit of taste ☺

    1. I can’t picture it with the celery, but now that you’ve mentioned it- I’m going to have to try it the next time we make it. I think with it being sautéed until mushy, it might be really good!

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