Slow Cooker Beef Goulash

Slow Cooker Beef Goulash: A Hearty and Flavorful Comfort Food Classic

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Are you craving a comforting meal that’s both hearty and flavorful? Look no further than Slow Cooker Beef Goulash! This traditional dish combines tender ground beef, savory seasonings, and pasta in a rich tomato-based sauce that’s slow-cooked to perfection. Whether you’re cooking for a family dinner or meal prepping for the week ahead, this easy-to-make recipe is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Join us as we dive into the world of Slow Cooker Beef Goulash and learn how to make this comforting classic right in your own kitchen.


  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 sizable onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Three 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce
  • Two 14 ½-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, along with their natural juices
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of Italian seasonings
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups of elbow pasta
  • 2 cups of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Brown the Ground Beef: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until browned, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Drain any excess fat, then transfer the cooked beef to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the Aromatics: To the slow cooker, add the diced onion and minced garlic.
  3. Combine the Sauce Ingredients: Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (with their juices), Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, Italian seasonings, and bay leaves. Stir to combine everything well.
  4. Cook Low and Slow: Cover the slow cooker and cook the goulash on low heat for 6-8 hours, or until the flavors meld together and the beef is tender.
  5. Cook the Pasta: About 30 minutes before serving, cook the elbow pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and stir it into the slow cooker with the goulash.
  6. Add the Cheese: Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the goulash, cover, and let it cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  7. Serve: Once the cheese is melted, remove the bay leaves and serve the Slow Cooker Beef Goulash hot, garnished with additional cheese and fresh parsley if desired.

Cook Notes:

  • Choosing Ground Beef: Opt for lean ground beef for a healthier option, or use ground turkey or chicken as a substitute if preferred.
  • Tomato Sauce Variations: Feel free to use different varieties of tomato sauce, such as marinara or arrabbiata, to change up the flavor profile of the goulash.
  • Pasta Options: If you don’t have elbow pasta on hand, you can use any small pasta shape such as penne, rotini, or macaroni.
  • Cheese Substitutions: Experiment with different types of cheese, such as mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Gruyere, for a unique twist on this classic dish.


  • Vegetarian Version: Skip the ground beef altogether and substitute it with cooked lentils or your favorite meat alternative. Increase the amount of vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms, for added flavor and texture.
  • Low Carb Option: Replace the elbow pasta with cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles for a low-carb alternative. You can also omit the pasta entirely and serve the goulash over a bed of steamed vegetables for a lighter option.

Keto Version:

To make a keto-friendly version of Slow Cooker Beef Goulash, use ground beef with a higher fat content and replace the elbow pasta with spiralized zucchini noodles or shirataki noodles. Adjust the seasonings as needed to suit your taste preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I freeze leftovers of Slow Cooker Beef Goulash? A: Yes, this dish freezes well! Allow the goulash to cool completely before transferring it to airtight containers or freezer bags. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.

Q: Can I make this recipe in an Instant Pot? A: Yes, you can adapt this recipe for the Instant Pot by following the same instructions for browning the ground beef and sautéing the aromatics directly in the Instant Pot. Pressure cook on high for 8-10 minutes, then do a quick release before adding the cooked pasta and cheese.

Q: Can I add other vegetables to the goulash? A: Absolutely! Feel free to customize the goulash with your favorite vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, or peas. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time as needed based on the vegetables you choose.

Slow Cooker Beef Goulash is a delicious and comforting dish that’s perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends. With its rich and hearty flavors, this easy-to-make recipe is sure to become a family favorite. Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or meal prepping for the week ahead, this versatile dish is guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. So grab your slow cooker and get ready to enjoy a warm and comforting bowl of goulash that’s packed with flavor and sure to please everyone at the table!

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