This American Slow Cooker Goulash with hamburger and pasta is a warm comforting all-in-one meal that makes dinnertime easy.
On days when you need more time with family and friends, reach for this classic goulash recipe. The hands-off cooking of the slow cooker gives you time to socialize, and when they smell this goulash simmering away, you won't have any trouble gathering them at the dinner table.
When it comes to flexibility, this recipe delivers. It’s a meal where you can add in extra vegetables and ingredients and the kids won’t even notice. (They’ll be too busy playing with the noodles).
Slow Cooker Goulash works around your schedule. If needed, it can be on the table in two and a half hours, or it can simmer in the slow cooker all day and be ready whenever the kids start asking “what’s for dinner?”
And it’s not JUST for dinner! Goulash is great at potlucks, parties, or even picnics. And since you’ll be making a whole crock pot full of the stuff, you’ll have leftovers to send for work and school lunches. Just make sure you have a Thermos that’s up to the task.
The benefit of this Goulash (and almost any slow cooker recipe) is walking into the house and being greeted by the sweet smells of dinner essentially cooking itself. The savory aromas of simmering tomato sauce and meat evoke the classic comforting dinners Mom used to cook when you were little.
Plus, any anxieties about meal prep or cleanup melt away when you remember that this Slow Cooker Goulash has everything necessary for your meal all in one, so grab a bowl, and get ready for a cozy night at home with a full belly.
Why You Are Going to Love This Slow Cooker Goulash
- It is easy. 15 minutes of prep, and then dump and run.
- This recipe uses simple ingredients that you already have around.
- Goulash is an all-in-one meal, so no side dishes are needed.
- It has mass appeal. Whether you're a meat lover, a kid who plays with their food, or a parent who just wants their kid to eat a dang vegetable once this decade, there's something here for everyone.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Ground beef - An 80-90% lean meat is perfect, but you can also use ground turkey or chicken for a new flavor.
- Vegetables - This recipe uses staples like onion and green peppers. I like adding mushrooms sometimes. Baby portobellos have a hearty texture and do well in tomato dishes. If you add some chopped up spinach, no one will even notice and they’ll get the benefit of getting more leafy greens.
- Seasoning - Italian seasoning (a combination of rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, and sage) is what flavors this dish. Though, we also really like Cavender's Greek Seasoning for a more peppery/less herby alternative. If you like more kick, add Hungarian paprika to the pot—it’s from the nightshade family the same as tomatoes and works great in red sauces.
- Pasta- This recipe calls for elbow macaroni, but just about any pasta will work. If your kids are picky eaters, use a fun pasta shape like some twirly noodles, wagon wheel pasta, or any of these fun pasta shapes.
- Cheddar cheese - Classic sharp cheddar is our favorite, but really any blend of melting cheeses will work here (Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or Mexican Blend), so let your preference be your guide.
How To Make Slow Cooker Goulash With Hamburger
- Sear meat- Brown the ground beef in a skillet and drain the fat before adding it to your slow cooker.
- Slow cook vegetables and sauce- This is why this recipe is so easy! You throw in all the vegetables and spices and let the slow cooker do its magic, melding the flavors together.
- Stir in pasta- After cooking the meat, vegetables, and spices, you just toss in the pasta and let it cook until finished.
- After it’s done simmering, add the cheese last! The heat will melt it, and then you’re set.
- Serve with a side salad and enjoy with family and friends. This meal makes great leftovers.
Tips & FAQs for Making Slow Cooker Goulash with Hamburger
- If you cook your ground beef in the crock pot (*some slow cookers have a mode for browning meat) just remember that you will still have to drain the fat.
- This recipe is infinitely flexible and perfect for helping you clear our the pantry or your refrigerator's produce drawer. When making additions to this recipe, just remember to drain any canned veggies, and always add cheese last.
- Store your leftover Crock Pot Goulash in the fridge for up to 5 days. It’s easy to warm up in the microwave.
More Meaty Recipes
If you like the flavors in this Slow Cooker Goulash, try the casserole version! My Johnny Marzetti recipe is packed with tender pasta and tomato sauce and topped with melty baked cheese.
Also don't skip my Crock Pot Cheeseburger Soup. It's easy to make and it's also packed with classic American flavors.
Looking for some magic beans? Then try my recipe for Cowboy Baked Beans with Ground Beef. This hearty favorite can be a main or a side dish, and it really warms you up!
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup onion (diced)
- ½ cup green pepper (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 24 ounce jar pasta sauce
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s cooked through, drain the fat and add it to your slow cooker.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients except the macaroni and cheese to the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on the high setting for 2 hours or on the low setting for 4 hours.
- After the allotted cook time, add the macaroni and let it cook an additional 30-35 minutes until the noodles reach the desired consistency.
- Turn off the heat. Add the cheese and stir it into the pasta.
- Serve immediately so the noodles do not get mushy.
½ teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon sage Alternatively, you can cook the pasta separately and stir it into the crock pot ingredients right before serving.