A simple and delicious comfort food recipe with ground meat and pasta cooked in a tomato sauce flavored with paprika and other spices. This American-style Instant Pot Goulash comes together in one-pot in just 30 minutes! It is one of our favorite weeknight meals!
What is Goulash
Goulash is a stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices. There are two popular styles of making it, Hungarian and American.
This recipe is an American-style Goulash that is made with pasta, ground meat and tomato sauce. The sauce is seasoned with aromatics, soy sauce, paprika and Italian herbs. Some popular garnishes include chopped parsley and shredded cheese.
Hungarian Goulash vs. American Goulash
Hungarian Goulash is a stew made with beef and vegetables that is seasoned with paprika and other herbs. It is one of the most popular dishes in Hungary. I visited Budapest a few years ago and tasted two amazing versions of Hungarian Goulash.
One was made like a beef stew, with vegetables and potatoes and seasoned with paprika along with other spices. The restaurant served it with a rustic chewy bread to soak up the delicious stew. It was the most comforting meal I had on that trip. The second version, was a similar beef stew, but it was served with fresh egg noodles called ‘Spaetzle’. Super tasty as well!
The big difference that sets the two styles apart is that Hungarian Goulash is made with beef stew-meat, and adding noodles is optional. Whereas, American Goulash is made with ground meat and elbow macaroni, more like a meat and pasta dish.
Customize this Simple Goulash Recipe
It is very easy to customize this Goulash to your taste. Here are some changes you can make:
Ground meat: I use ground turkey in this recipe, because it is lean, plus I don’t have to drain out the fat. But, you can use ground beef for an easy Beef Goulash, or ground chicken as well.
Vegetables: I like using yellow or red bell pepper in this recipe because they add a subtle sweet taste. You can use green bell pepper if you like, or skip it. Sliced celery or mushrooms can be added to this dish as well.
Also, if you have picky little vegetable-eaters at home, you can chop up some carrots in a food processor and add to this recipe.
Cheese: I add freshly grated parmesan cheese in the end, but you can add any kind of shredded cheese you have on hand.
Broth: I prefer to use vegetable broth for this recipe as it adds more depth of flavor. Alternatively, you can use chicken broth. Also, if you like your Goulash more soupy, add another cup of broth to this recipe.
Pasta: You can add a different cut of pasta, like penne, shells, ditalini etc., to this recipe and adjust the cook time. Here is how I calculate the cooking time:
How to Cook Pasta in Instant Pot
Since different pasta shapes require different cook times, here is what works for me: I half the lower number in the suggested cook time on the box, and subtract 1 minute from that. So, if a box suggests the cook time as 10-11 minutes, I cook it for 4 minutes in the Instant Pot (10/2=5; 5-1=4).
How to Make Vegetarian Goulash
To make Vegetarian Goulash using this recipe, simply skip the ground meat and you’re good to go. Everything else remains the same!
How to Make Instant Pot Goulash
I prefer to make Goulash in my Instant Pot because I don’t have to baby-sit the pot while it is cooking. Using a smart cooker makes it an easy one-pot dish that even my kids can put together. Here are all the ingredients you need to make this yum dish!
Simply saute aromatics, add pasta, sauce and broth and pressure cook. Release pressure, add cheese and serve! That simple! Here is how I make it:
Pro-Tip for Kids/Teens- How to Avoid a Quick Pressure Release in this Recipe
My teen kids put this dish together without any help from me. The only part that they are not excited about is the Quick Pressure Release. So, here is what you can do to avoid that:
Reduce the pressure cooking time to 2 minutes (instead of 3 mins), and let the pressure release naturally for 10 mins (NPR 10). In this time, most of the pressure would have released naturally. So when you do a quick release at this point, it is not as forceful and long.
BTW, this tip can be used by adults as well! It comes in handy if you have a little baby sleeping or a pet that gets scared of the notorious QR 🙂
Few More Pasta Favorites in my Home:
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Instant Pot Goulash
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup onion chopped, about 1 large white onion
- 4 cloves garlic (or 3-4 tsp crushed garlic)
- 1 cup bell pepper about 1 large pepper, any color
- 1 lb. ground turkey (can also use beef or chicken)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning blend I use Trader Joe’s 21 Salute seasoning
- 1/2 tsp salt adjust based on your sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 16 oz marinara sauce (1 jar)
- 3 cups broth (I used low sodium vegetable broth)
- 2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni (can use regular macaroni)
- Saute: Turn on Instant Pot on Saute (high). When display reads ‘hot’, add oil, onion, garlic, pepper and saute for 30 seconds. Add ground meat, break it up with a spoon and saute for 2 minutes.
- Pressure Cook: Add all spices, soy sauce, marinara sauce and broth. Add elbow macaroni and stir. Close lid and pressure cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 3 minutes. (Check notes for pasta cooking times in Instant Pot)
- Release Pressure: Once the cooking is done, you can release pressure immediately, or after 5 minutes. If you are multiplying this recipe, I recommend waiting for 5 mins, as that prevents a mess-free release. You can release pressure by turning the valve to ‘Venting ‘ position in DUO models, or , press down the pressure valve in ULTRA models.
- Garnish and Enjoy: Open the lid after the pin drops. Serve warm and garnish with your favorite shredded cheese and enjoy!