Instant Pot Goulash

Growing up, my mom always made THE best Italian meat sauce that she used for spaghetti, lasagne and what she called goulash or hamburger & macaroni. I’ve been trying to recreate it for over 30 years, and I just can’t get it 100%, but for the most part, I’ve gotten an acceptable facsimile. A lot of the secret to mom’s recipe is that it needed to simmer on the stove for hours.

I’m a lazy cook and hate spending hours monitoring things on the stove, so I bought an Instant Pot in February. I’ve been gradually getting more adventurous with using it. To this point, the only pasta I’ve made in the pot was mac & cheese (and OMG that is the best stuff ever, I’ll share that later). There’s something about cooking pasta in the Instant Pot that concerns me. I’ve been concerned about overcooking the pasta, and it turning into mush. I’ve also read that tomato based sauces have a tendency to burn in the Instant Pot, and I can’t stand the idea of wasting food (and having to cook something else for dinner).

Last night, I decided to give goulash a try. I will have to say, I think it turned out to be a success. The best part is that I then divided the leftovers up into 4 more dinners worth and put them in the freezer!

Anyways, here’s the recipe:

1-1½ lbs ground beef
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 stalk celery, including leafy tops
1 lb mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
3 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper
2 Tbsp Italian Seasonings
Ground Cloves
1 cup beef broth
1 ½ cups water
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2-3 Bay Leaves
1 lb large elbow noodles or other tube pasta

[Mise en Place]

  1. Dice onion and green pepper.
  2. Finely chop entire celery stalk, including leaves.
  3. Slice the mushrooms
  4. Mince or micro-plane garlic.


  1. Turn on Instant Pot to Sauté. Once it’s hot, add vegetable oil and wait until it is shimmering.
  2. Add ground beef, onion, green pepper, and celery. Cook until brown and onions and green peppers start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, and let it cook for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the mushrooms, broth, water, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and spices.
  5. Add pasta and stir well.
  6. Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. DO NOT STIR.
  7. Turn off Sauté. Put the lid on Instant Pot. Turn pressure valve to close. Set on High Pressure for 4 minutes (or half the recommended cook time on the pasta).
  8. Once the time is up, gently manually release the pressure. Once the pressure is released, remove the lid. Stir to combine the tomatoes & paste. Replace the lid loosely and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
  9. If you can find the Bay Leaves, remove them.
  10. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.



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