Making Mom’s Old Fashioned Goulash

Mom’s Old Fashioned Goulash

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Whenever the chilly breeze of early fall begins to sweep through, it nudges me back to a cherished memory from my childhood, where the aroma of Mom’s old-fashioned goulash would envelop our home with such warmth and comfort. This hearty dish, a meld of tender macaroni, savory ground beef, and rich tomato sauce, seasoned to perfection, was not just food; it was a vessel of love from my mother’s kitchen to our family table.

It’s fascinating how certain flavors can transport you back in time. Every spoonful of this goulash brings me back to those bustling evenings filled with homework at the kitchen table, laughter, and the inevitable second helpings. Inspired by this nostalgia, I’ve continued the tradition, bringing this simple yet profoundly satisfying dish to my own family’s dinner rotation.

In this blog post, I’ll guide you through how to recreate this delightful comfort meal, with some personal tweaks that I’ve found can elevate the dish even further. For instance, a dash of chili powder and a squirt of hot sauce give it just the right kick, perfect for those who enjoy a bit of spice. Moreover, while my mom always used whole stewed tomatoes, I sometimes like to throw in diced tomatoes for a bit of texture.

I’ve also discovered a little trick from my friend Phyllis—adding tomato juice to leftovers, ensuring the macaroni remains succulent and flavorful even the next day. Trust me, whether it’s your first time making goulash or you’re revisiting an old family recipe, this dish is sure to capture your heart, just as it has mine.

How to Prepare The Old Fashioned Goulash

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 lb macaroni
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Garlic salt, pepper, chili powder, & hot sauce to taste
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) whole stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Tomato juice as needed

How to:

Begin by cooking the macaroni until it’s al dente, following the directions on the package.

In a large skillet or dutch oven, cook the ground beef and onion until the meat is thoroughly browned. After browning, drain any excess grease and season the beef and onions with garlic salt, pepper, chili powder, and hot sauce to your liking.

Next, take the whole stewed tomatoes and crush them in a large bowl. Add these crushed tomatoes and the ketchup to your beef and onion mixture.

Stir the drained macaroni into the beef and tomato mixture, combining everything well.

Adjust the flavors with more seasoning if needed. If the mixture seems too thick, add tomato juice to reach your desired consistency.

Note: If the goulash thickens after storing, you might want to add tomato juice to leftovers before reheating.


What type of macaroni works best for making Old Fashioned Goulash?

For Old Fashioned Goulash, standard elbow macaroni is an excellent choice. This type of pasta holds onto the sauce well and complements the texture of the ground beef and tomatoes. Moreover, ensure that the macaroni is cooked to al dente before adding it to the sauce, as it will continue to absorb moisture and soften as it simmers with the other ingredients.

Can I substitute other types of meat for ground beef in this goulash recipe?

Yes, you can substitute other types of ground meat for beef in this goulash recipe. Ground turkey or chicken can be used as lighter alternatives. Additionally, for a richer flavor, ground pork or a mix of pork and beef can be used. Remember to adjust seasoning levels appropriately, as these meats may carry different flavor profiles compared to beef.

What is the best way to season Mom’s Old Fashioned Goulash?

Seasoning this goulash effectively involves a balance of garlic salt, pepper, chili powder, and hot sauce to taste. Begin with a conservative amount of each and gradually add more according to your flavor preference. Additionally, tasting and adjusting the seasoning after combining all ingredients is crucial for achieving the best flavor balance.

How can I ensure that the goulash doesn’t become too dry?

To prevent the goulash from becoming too dry, monitor the moisture level as it cooks. If the mixture seems too thick or starts sticking to the pan, add tomato juice sparingly. Furthermore, adding a bit of tomato juice to leftovers before reheating can help, as the noodles tend to absorb moisture over time.

Is there a recommended way to serve Old Fashioned Goulash?

Old Fashioned Goulash is best served hot, right after cooking. It pairs wonderfully with a side of crusty bread or a simple green salad to complement the richness of the dish. Additionally, garnishing with grated cheese or fresh herbs like parsley can enhance the flavor and presentation of the dish.

Making Mom’s Old Fashioned Goulash

Mom’s Old Fashioned Goulash

Join us in the kitchen as we share a timeless recipe for Old Fashioned Goulash, complete with secret tips for making your next meal a hit at any family gathering.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Hungarian
Servings 4


  • 1/2 lb macaroni
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion diced
  • garlic salt pepper, chili powder, & hot sauce to taste
  • 2 14.5 oz cans whole stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Tomato juice as needed


  • Cook the macaroni to al dente according to package directions.
  • While it’s cooking, brown the ground beef and onion together in an extra-large skillet or in a dutch oven.
  • Drain and season with spices to taste.
  • In a large bowl, mash tomatoes with potato masher and add to beef along with the ketchup.
  • Drain macaroni and add to the beef mixture, stirring well.
  • Taste and add additional seasoning as needed.
  • I didn’t need to add any tomato juice to mine, but if you like yours very juicy you can add as much tomato juice as you like.
  • Phyllis adds it to her leftovers, which I would also recommend, because the noodles tend to soak up all the juice with time
Keyword Goulash, Macaroni

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