American Goulash Southern Style

By Holly Giles | Recipes


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Mama’s American Goulash

Easy home cooking is what most busy families are looking for. Mama’s goulash is perfect for any night of the week. My mother made goulash to use up what was left in the kitchen. She refuses to eat it anymore. It reminds her of hard times and an empty pantry. Most people I know have had goulash in one form or another and by different names.

I took her recipe and made it something my boys love to see as a weeknight meal. There have been times our pantry was low, but I never let that stop me from creating a meal, so no one knew the difference. The great thing about this recipe is the ingredients can be variable. If you don’t have corn, substitute something else or leave it out.

What is traditional goulash made of?

Classic goulash is made from macaroni noodles, ground beef, onions, bell pepper, and canned tomatoes. A traditional recipe of comfort food for many families.

What is the difference between American and Hungarian Goulash?

Hungarian goulash is traditionally made with paprika. It is a thick vegetable and meat stew. The heavily seasoned stew with paprika is a classic old-world recipe. American goulash has ground beef and macaroni. Often called chili mac.

What is goulash called in the south?

Hamburger helper or beef-a-roni were popular dishes in the seventies and eighties in middle-class neighborhoods. The ingredients are mainly the same as goulash. It depends on where you heard about the recipe and the origin. This recipe goes by many names, but hearty and filling is the key to feeding hungry families.

If you have a house full of kids or hungry husbands, this recipe will hit the spot and can serve meals for two days. As my boys have gotten older, there are NO leftovers, no matter how large a pot I make. This hearty meal satisfies a crowd year-round; you can make as little or as much as you need.


  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 container of beef broth
  • 1 16 oz package of elbow macaroni


  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese

Watch the video for easy instructions


Easy home cooking

Mama’s goulash has variable ingredients. That means you can swap or exchange ingredients for what you have available. This means I can plan this recipe on my meal schedule, or I can be utterly at a loss for dinner and still pull it off.

Tried and true recipes stay at the top of my go-to list. I always keep all the canned ingredients on hand so I know I can have a meal on the table when the week gets tough. This keeps us from ordering food from a restaurant or fast food.

Add this easy home-cooking goulash recipe to your monthly rotation. Alter the ingredients occasionally so you don’t get tired of it. However, when they see the goulash pot, my boys let out a hoot and a holler.



About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.