Instant Pot Goulash Recipe: Quick, Healthy, and Flavorful One-Pot Meal

Goulash, originating from Hungary, is a traditional stew made from meat and vegetables. It often includes paprika and other spices to enhance the flavor. Hungarian cuisine typically features beef, pork, or lamb in their goulash. This dish is known for its rich, hearty taste and thick consistency. Variations exist across Europe, with each version reflecting local tastes and ingredients.

The Role of the Instant Pot

The Instant Pot transforms traditional goulash cooking by significantly reducing preparation time. This multi-functional cooker uses pressure cooking to tenderize meat quickly and infuse the dish with deep flavors. In an Instant Pot, you can sauté vegetables, brown meat, and cook everything in one vessel, minimizing cleanup. It also ensures the precise control of cooking temperatures, making it easier to achieve consistent results.

Ingredients and Preparation

Key Ingredients for Instant Pot Goulash

For a flavorful Instant Pot Goulash, gather the following essential ingredients:

  • Ground Beef: 1 pound.
  • Onions: 1 large, diced.
  • Bell Peppers: 2, red and green, chopped.
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced.
  • Elbow Macaroni: 2 cups.
  • Diced Tomatoes: 2 cans (14.5 ounces each).
  • Tomato Sauce: 1 can (15 ounces).
  • Beef Broth: 2 cups.
  • Paprika: 2 tablespoons, preferably Hungarian for authenticity.
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste.
  • Soy Sauce: 1 tablespoon, for depth of flavor.
  • Olive Oil: 2 tablespoons, for sautéing.
  1. Sauté Aromatics: Turn on the Instant Pot to the sauté function, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then sauté the diced onions and minced garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Brown the Beef: Add the ground beef to the Instant Pot, cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks using a wooden spoon.
  3. Add Vegetables: Mix in the chopped bell peppers, and sauté for another 2 minutes, ensuring they’re slightly softened.
  4. Incorporate Liquids and Pasta: Pour in the beef broth, diced tomatoes (along with their juice), tomato sauce, and soy sauce. Thoroughly mix in the elbow macaroni.
  5. Season and Stir: Add paprika, salt, and pepper to the mixture. Stir well to combine all ingredients.
  6. Pressure Cook: Secure the lid on the Instant Pot. Set to manual high pressure for 4 minutes.
  7. Quick Release: Once cooking is complete, perform a quick release of the pressure.
  8. Thorough Mix: Open the lid carefully, give the goulash a good stir, and adjust seasoning if needed.

Your Instant Pot Goulash is now ready to serve. Enjoy this hearty dish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or grated cheese if desired.

Cooking Tips and Tricks

Achieving the Perfect Consistency

To get the perfect consistency for your Instant Pot goulash, balance the liquid and dry ingredients. Start by using a 1:1.5 ratio of pasta to liquid. For 1 cup of pasta, use 1.5 cups of broth or water. Stir thoroughly to prevent pasta clumps. If the goulash seems too thick after pressure cooking, incorporate additional broth or water gradually until the desired texture is achieved. Conversely, if too watery, select the sauté function and simmer until excess liquid evaporates. Stir frequently to avoid sticking.

Adjusting Spices and Flavors

Tailor the spices and flavors to your preference for a personalized goulash. Begin by adding 1 tablespoon of paprika and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Taste the goulash after pressure cooking, then add salt and pepper according to your taste. For enhanced heat, incorporate 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. If a richer flavor profile is desired, mix in 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Fresh herbs like basil or oregano can elevate the dish further. Incorporate fresh herbs after cooking to retain their vibrant flavor.

Health Benefits of Goulash

Nutritional Value of Ingredients

Goulash offers various nutritional benefits due to its wholesome ingredients. Beef, a primary component, provides high protein levels, essential for muscle repair and growth. Rich in iron and zinc, beef also supports immune function and energy levels. Tomatoes, whether paste or fresh, are rich in vitamins A and C, which boost immunity and enhance skin health. Bell peppers, often included, add vitamin C and antioxidants, reducing inflammation and promoting heart health. Paprika, besides giving a unique flavor, contains capsaicin, which may boost metabolism and aid weight loss. Onions and garlic, common inclusions, offer antibacterial properties and improve cardiovascular health. These ingredients combined provide a nutrient-dense meal loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.

Diet-Friendly Modifications

Modify Goulash to fit various dietary preferences easily. Use lean ground turkey or chicken instead of beef to lower fat content, keeping the protein intake high. For a vegetarian option, substitute meat with plant-based proteins like lentils or beans. Swap regular pasta for whole-grain pasta or gluten-free alternatives to cater to dietary restrictions. Reduce sodium by using low-sodium broth and rinsing canned beans thoroughly. Incorporate extra vegetables like zucchini, carrots, or spinach for added fiber and nutrients. To lower fat content further, reduce the amount of oil used in sautéing. These modifications ensure a healthy, versatile dish suitable for various dietary needs without compromising flavor.


Instant Pot Goulash is not just a time-saver; it’s a nutritious and versatile meal that can easily fit into various dietary plans. By experimenting with different proteins and incorporating more vegetables, you can tailor this dish to meet your nutritional needs without sacrificing flavor. Whether you’re looking for a hearty family meal or a diet-friendly option, Instant Pot Goulash offers a delicious solution. Give it a try and enjoy a comforting, wholesome dish that’s as easy to make as it is to enjoy.

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