Are you ready to enjoy a hearty soup the whole family will enjoy? This quick and hearty beef macaroni goulash soup uses simple ingredients and results in a classic comfort food that even picky eaters seem to enjoy.

Beef Macaroni Goulash Brings Back Memories

For years, my husband, Doug, would fondly recall a favorite recipe from his childhood: goulash. I don’t know that my mother-in-law had an actual recipe for goulash, and Doug could never really tell me many specifics about how she made it.

Was it an old-fashioned goulash with chunks of beef or did she use ground beef?  Did she use Hungarian paprika to marry with the tomato flavor? Was it more like a soup form or something more hearty? I didn’t get much guidance… just that it was a meal he really liked. 

I’m lucky that my grandmother loved to cook and wrote recipes on a recipe card and kept them in her brown recipe box. As the proud owner of that box since she passed, I often dig through it looking for new recipes to try.  

So, when I found her recipe for hamburger macaroni soup and studied the ingredients, I realized it was very similar to what I thought a traditional goulash recipe would be.  

Goulash Is A Family Friendly Meal

From a budget standpoint, this easy hamburger macaroni soup recipe isn’t very expensive to make and uses a lot of pantry essentials. The basic ingredients are tomato sauce, beef broth, elbow macaroni, diced tomatoes, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. I always tend to use lean ground beef, but ground turkey or ground chicken will work too. 

Once you cook up the hamburger for this easy goulash recipe, you can either continue to cook this on your stovetop in a large Dutch oven, or you can put the ingredients in a slow cooker (minus the macaroni) and let the flavors marinate together for a few hours.  

As for the macaroni noodles, I usually cook these and add them to the beefy tomato soup base separately. If you let the macaroni cook too long in the broth, they get mushy.  For best results, cook the dry macaroni al dente and then add to the tomato-based sauce.  

For serving, add some shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream. And honestly? An old-fashioned sleeve of saltine crackers seems to taste good with this too (now THAT takes me back to MY childhood!) 

You’ll find all of the ingredients and full instructions below. If you have any leftover goulash, store it in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

quick and hearty beef macaroni goulash soup in a le creuset dutch oven

Quick And Hearty Beef Macaroni Goulash Soup

An easy and hearty meal that brings back childhood memories and offers a taste of home.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (29 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni, cooked al dente** see note


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more
  2. Add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat, if needed.
  3. Stir in beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, basil, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook 15 minutes.
  5. In a separate pot, bring 4 qts of water to a boil. Add some salt to water. Cook macaroni until al dente.(follow package guidance). Drain and set aside.
  6. Remove tomato/beef mixture from heat and stir in cooked macaroni. Serve in bowls topped with shredded cheese and/or sour cream if desired.


If you want this to be a bit more hearty and less soup like, use an entire 16oz box of elbow macaroni. There's still enough of the tomato beef broth to cover all the noodles. A little less messy for the kiddos too!

You can add the dry macaroni to the simmering tomato mixture and save a step. Just keep a watchful eye on the past and don't overcook or noodles will become mushy.

If you want your slow cooker to help you with this recipe, cook the onion, garlic and beef and add to your slowcooker. Add remaining ingrdients (NOT noodles) and cook on low for 3 hours. This is where I would cook noodles separately and add in just before serving.

I call this a beef macaroni goulash soup because sometimes it can have a lot of liquid or you can cook it down to be a little thicker. So, is it a soup or is it a goulash? Why choose? It’s both!  And either way it’s delicious.  

The first time I made this hamburger goulash, I think I saw Doug smile after taking his first bite. And the kids? They inhaled it, bowl after bowl. So if you’re looking for happy faces after your family asks, “What’s for dinner tonight?” be sure to add this to your collection of soup recipes.  

I suppose because of the hearty ground beef, this would be considered more of an American beef goulash than an old-fashioned Hungarian style, but that doesn’t seem to matter to my family. This recipe has become the perfect way to describe the taste of home. 

From my kitchen to yours,


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