Slow Cooker Goulash is the perfect easy and economical family meal. It’s simple to make, flavorful, hearty, and a deliciously filling meal! You and your family are going to love it!
Have you had Goulash? My mom made it all the time when I was a kid. It was always a delicious and favorite meal for the whole family.
And what I didn’t know back then was that it’s a super budget-friendly recipe and so easy to pull together.
Filled with pasta, ground beef, Italian seasonings, parmesan cheese, and tomato flavors it’s truly the perfect way to feed any crowd on a budget!
If you’re looking for more economical and easy weeknight family dinners here are a few more you should check out:
- Chicken Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce
- One-Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni
- Million Dollar Spaghetti
- Easy Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
- Cottage Beef Pot Pie
- Crockpot BBQ Chicken Pasta
I should tell you that American Goulash is not the same thing as goulash in other parts of the world. Like many dishes that have the same name, the ingredients and preparation are different.
What is goulash?
Goulash originated in medieval Hungary, where it was prepared by herdsmen—so you know it’s definitely hearty and filling.
The difference between Hungarian and American Goulash:
Hungarian Goulash, is a robust beef and onion soup seasoned with Hungarian paprika and sometimes including potatoes and carrots but most of the time without vegetables.
American Goulash is hearty Italian goodness. It’s a simple dish with ground beef, elbow macaroni, a tomato-based sauce with herbs and cheese for amazing flavor. It’s classic American comfort food that everyone should experience.
My version is simple but full of rich flavor since it cooks low and slow in the crockpot. With onions, garlic, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, beef, and since the pasta cooks in the crockpot, it’s infused with the tomato and beefy broth flavors. Grated parmesan cheese and parsley at the end take this meal over the top.
Why does everyone love this easy goulash recipe?
- Slow cooker goulash uses a few basic and budget-friendly ingredients.
- This is one easy crowd-pleasing dish you’ll be making regularly.
- It's great for busy weeknights, but also perfect for potlucks and parties because it makes a ton and is so affordable.
- Plus, it’s great for picky eaters, truly hearty enough for your hungry guy as well as satisfying those picky eating kiddos.
Can I substitute something else for the ground beef?
If you’re looking for an alternative for ground beef for this recipe you can use ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork instead.
The cook time might change slightly when you’re browning the meat, but all work as good substitutes for ground beef.
Can I use other pasta for this recipe other than elbow macaroni?
Yes – for sure. Any short pasta shape will work just fine, including penne, rotini, or farfalle.
Keep in mind that different pasta shapes will have different cook times, so check the box they come in for the manufacturer’s recommendations and taste as you go to ensure your pasta is perfectly al dente.
Can I use a different type of cheese besides parmesan?
The answer is – yes! Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and mozzarella would all be great options. Or if you have another type of cheese you’d like to try, give it a shot. Just be sure it melts into the pasta and sauce so you can enjoy the delicious flavor.
How to Make Slow Cooker Goulash
Turn on your slow cooker to high or low. Depending on which you are using.
In a large nonstick pan over medium heat, cook the ground beef until it’s no longer pink, with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, about 6 minutes.
Add the onions and cook for 6 more minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
While the beef is cooking, add the beef stock, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, sugar, salt, and pepper to the crockpot,...
... and mix together.
When the meat mixture is finished cooking add it to the crockpot.
Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
30 minutes prior to serving, stir in the macaroni and parsley.
Cover and cook until the noodles are al dente. (About 20 minutes.) Turn off the heat and remove the inner pot from the crockpot cooking device.
Remove the bay leaves and stir in parmesan.
Serve immediately so that the pasta does not get soft and mushy.
NOTE: If you’re not eating all of the Goulash for dinner put it into storage containers and into the fridge ASAP so it doesn't continue to cook and the pasta gets too soft.
How do I store my leftovers?
If you happen to have leftovers you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Here are some ideas for some interesting variations for this beef goulash:
- To make this an even leaner meal, you can use ground turkey or ground chicken in place of ground beef.
- Try adding in extra veggies like corn, peas, diced carrots, green beans or even stirring in kale or baby spinach at the end!
- Mix in a cup of sour cream or 4 ounces of cream cheese at the end to give this recipe a creamier texture.
Crockpot Goulash is a great meal for those busy weeknights, but also great for potlucks and parties because it makes so many servings and it’s so affordable.
You’re going to love it!
- 2 pounds ground beef, 93 % lean
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 5 large garlic cloves minced
- 4 cups beef stock
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 30 ounces petite diced tomatoes
- 15 ounce canned tomato sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 4 cups elbow macaroni (16 ounces)
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese (more for serving)
- ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley (more for garnish)
- Plug in and turn on your slow cooker to high or low. Depending on which you are using.
- In a large nonstick pan over medium heat, cook the ground beef until it’s no longer pink, with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, about 6 minutes. Add the onions and cook 5-6 more minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- While the beef is cooking, add the beef stock, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, sugar, remaining salt, and pepper to the crockpot, and mix together.
- When the meat mixture is finished cooking add it to the crockpot.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
- Thirty minutes prior to serving, stir in the macaroni and parsley. Cover and cook until the noodles are al dente. (About 20 minutes.) Turn off the heat and remove the inner pot from the crockpot cooking device.
- Remove the bay leaves and stir in parmesan.
- Serve immediately so that the pasta does not get soft and mushy.
Amount Per Serving Calories 454Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 104mgSodium 1584mgCarbohydrates 41gFiber 7gSugar 13gProtein 44g
This nutrition card uses an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. This estimate is not a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice!