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Better-than-Mom’s Hamburger Goulash – Kalyn’s Kitchen

13 mins read

When you need comfort food that’s not too much of a splurge on carbs, this Better-than-Mom’s Hamburger Goulash will always be a hit! And I’ve updated the recipe to use more ground beef and use Fiber Gourmet Light Elbows so now it only has 13.5 net carbs per serving! 

PIN the Hamburger Goulash so you can make it later!

This recipe for Better-than-Mom’s Hamburger Goulash was originally adapted from a recipe by Paula Deen, so you can imagine how this is pure comfort food. When I first tried the recipe I made some changes to make it lower in carbs, but recently I decided to try making it with the Fiber Gourmet Light Pasta I’m so infatuated with. And I also increased the amount of ground beef to come up with a version of hamburger goulash that has only 13.5 net carbs per serving! 

I remember my mom making this kind of dish, but mom’s goulash was never like this. It’s hard to say just what makes this recipe so lick-the-plate delicious, but we couldn’t stop saying how good it was when we tested the updated recipe. This skillet meal Hamburger Goulash recipe starts with lean ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, and canned tomatoes that are simmered together with the perfect spices, and then dry macaroni is added to the same pan and simmered with the other ingredients for 30 minutes. That’s it!

And I definitely got a bit obsessed with this recipe while we were testing the new lower-carb version. I made it over and over and even served it a few times to my contractor Steve (who just made a beautiful new fireplace for me), and he gave it rave reviews. And now I’m happy that I have a few containers of this delicious Goulash in the freezer to eat when I need a quick comfort-food dinner.

I love the Hamburger Goulash with a generous dollop of sour cream like you see in the photos, and it would also be good with Parmesan cheese, but the recipe will be dairy free without those additions. And if your mom also used to make this kind of dish, I hope you’ll try this lower-carb version and see what you think!

Table of Contents

What ingredients do you need?

(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)

Why is this recipe called Goulash?

If you’re used to Goulash referring to a Hungarian dish with stewed beef, tomatoes, paprika, and sour cream, you might be puzzled by this recipe title. But this type of dish that’s sometimes called “American Goulash” is a famous comfort-food meal in the U.S. and this is usually a hit with kids and adults.

How did I change the Hamburger Goulash Recipe to make it lower in carbs?

When I change I recipe I know there are going to be fans of the original version, so I try to link to the original recipe or tell what was changed in case anyone wants to make the previous version. In this lower-carb recipe I simply increased the amount of ground beef from one pound to one-and-one-half pounds and switched the one cup of regular macaroni for Fiber Gourmet Light Elbows (affiliate link), and with the increased amount of beef and the high-fiber pasta, this made eight servings with only 13.5 net carbs per serving. (Even if you have a larger serving and make this recipe serve six, each serving will only have 17.9 net carbs.)

More About Fiber Gourmet Light Pasta:

The biggest drawback to Fiber Gourmet Light Pasta for many people will be the price. I haven’t found it in stores near me, so I buy it at Amazon where you can buy a package of 6 boxes and get it for about $6.00 per box. (affiliate link). For me it’s such a treat to have “real” pasta without a lot of carbs that don’t mind buying six boxes at once, and it’s much more expensive if you buy smaller amounts. And in the recipes where I’m using it I use more lower-carb ingredients and less pasta, so that reduces the carbs and makes the cost-per-serving less for the pasta.

Why is this called Hamburger Goulash?

People who aren’t native English speakers might used to thinking of the word hamburger meaning a sandwich with ground beef, but in the U. S. the ground beef itself is also commonly called hamburger.

Hamburger Goulash collage showing recipe steps.

How to make Better-than-Mom’s Hamburger Goulash:

(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large non-stick skillet and brown the ground beef.
  2. Push the beef to the side of the pan, add onions, and cook until they start to brown.  Add garlic and cook a couple minutes more, then stir ground beef, onions, and garlic together..
  3. Add water, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, Italian Herb Seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, garlic powder, Steak Seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste and cook at a low simmer with the pan covered, about 20 minutes.
  4. This is the Fiber Gourmet Light Elbows (affiliate link) we used, but even if you use regular macaroni this recipe only uses one cup.
  5. Add the macaroni, stir it into the sauce, cover the pan, and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  6. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes before you eat it (if you can manage to wait that long.)
  7. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream or grated Parmesan to add at the table.
  8. This recipe will keep in the fridge for several days and also freezes well.

Lower-Carb Hamburger Goulash shown in one bowl with pan in back.

Make it a low-carb meal:

This Hamburger Goulash could easily be a one-dish meal with Mary’s Spring Mix Salad on the side, and it would also be delicious with Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad, or Kalyn’s Favorite Baby Arugula Salad. If even this much pasta is a carb splurge for you, I’d be sure to choose side dishes that are extra low in carbs.

More Tasty Comfort Food with Ground Beef:


  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • one 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • one 15 oz. petite diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 T Italian Herb Blend
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning (or use your favorite purchased steak seasoning)
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Fiber Gourmet Light Elbows (see notes)
  • sour cream or Parmesan cheese for serving, optional


  1. In a large non-stick pan, heat the olive oil, add the ground beef, and cook until it’s well-browned, breaking apart with the turner as it cooks.
  2. Push the beef to the side of the pan, add the onions and cook until the onions start to brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic and cook about 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the water, tomato sauce, petite dice tomatoes and juice, Italian Herb Seasoning (affiliate link), bay leaves, soy sauce, garlic powder, Montreal Steak Seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  1. Stir the mixture together, then cover the pan and simmer about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the macaroni, cover the pan again, and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes before serving.  (We only made it about 10 minutes, which was fine.)
  4. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream or some Parmesan cheese if desired.
  5. This will keep in the fridge for several days and also freezes well.


We made this recipe with Fiber Gourmet Light Elbows (affiliate link) to make it lower in carbs, but if you don’t care about that use any macaroni you prefer.

This recipe originally adapted slightly from Bobby’s Goulash by Paula Deen.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 330Total Fat: 16.5gSaturated Fat: 5.8gUnsaturated Fat: 8.1gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 817mgCarbohydrates: 27.8gFiber: 14.3gSugar: 4.5gProtein: 28.5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

Did you make this recipe?

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating (under the PRINT button in the recipe) or share a photo of your results on Instagram! THANKS!

Square image for Better-Than-Mom's Hamburger Goulash with one serving shown in bowl with sour cream and pan of Goulash in back.

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
With the increased amount of ground beef and using Fiber Gourmet Light Elbows, this Hamburger Goulash has only 13.5 net carbs per serving (after you subtract fiber from total carbs.) If you’re following the original South Beach Diet, I’m not sure if Fiber Gourmet Pasta would be approved for that but you could use whole wheat macaroni and lean ground beef to make a version that was South Beach Diet friendly.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Pasta Recipes or Skillet Meals to find more ideas like this! Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This ground beef goulash recipe was first posted in 2013. The recipe was adapted into a lower-carb version and improved with more information in 2024.

Pinterest image for Better-Than-Mom's Hamburger Goulash shown with one serving in bowl and pan in back.

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