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Vegan Goulash (American Style)

American-style Vegan Goulash is ‘meaty’, saucy, and veggie-filled, and is nostalgic comfort food at its finest! It’s super easy to make using one pot and perfect for an easy weeknight dinner.

side angle view of American style vegan goulash in a serving bowl.

Why We Love This Recipe!

Similar to American chop suey, Hamburger Helper, or even Chili Mac, American Goulash is a mix of ground meat simmered with tomatoes, a few spices, and pasta. It takes me back to the days of my youth, some 40 years ago!

Fast forward to 2019, and I decided to recreate this classic American vegan goulash using crumbled tempeh to mimic the usual ground meat. It’s a healthy option and I must say it’s pretty darn good!

It’s warm, delicious, and filling. And because it stores and packs well, it’s great for weekly meal prep.

Plus, it’s so easy to make and perfect for entertaining a crowd or the whole family!

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Ingredients You’ll Need

In this recipe, we’ll cook the tempeh, veggies, spices, and sauce to create a warm, comforting, savory meal. Here’s everything you’ll need, plus variations and tips for substituting ingredients.

  • Tempeh – Tempeh is a little nutty in flavor and will take on all the flavors in this goulash. It can be found in tofu in most local grocery stores. I call for 2 packages but feel free to use just 1, replacing the other with a can of red kidney beans if you like. If avoiding soy, use 1 – 2 cans of red kidney beans, 1 cup of cooked lentils, or any combo of the two.
  • Onion – Use any color onion you have on hand.
  • Garlic – If you don’t have fresh garlic, use 1 heaping teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • Bell Peppers – I’ve used green bell peppers, but any color will do. A red bell pepper will add a little sweetness.
  • Spices – We’ll be using dried oregano and basil, but you can substitute with Italian seasoning. Paprika can be sweet or hot (I used sweet). Red pepper flakes add a nice touch of heat and can be adjusted to taste.
  • Tomato Sauce – This is a classic ingredient in goulash.
  • Diced Tomatoes – Diced tomatoes add heartiness and are so good. If you can find fire-roasted, by all means, use those.
  • Liquids – For the most flavor, vegetable broth or veggie paste will add the most flavor.
  • Salt + Pepper – Most American goulash recipes call for LOTS of salt, upwards of 1 tablespoon. I only call for 1 teaspoon but feel free to adjust to taste. Add pepper to taste as well.
  • Pasta – Any small pasta, elbow macaroni, shells, mini penne, rigatoni, etc. will work well here. Use gluten-free pasta if following a GF diet.
  • Great optional add-ins: 1 can of sweet corn, 8 oz. mushrooms, and 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce!
top down view showing the process of making American vegan goulash recipe.

How To Make Vegan Goulash

  • In a flat bottom pot, saute the tempeh, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. When adding the tempeh, I crumble it between my fingers into large chunks. Feel free to crumble it smaller if that’s what you prefer. Some of the tempeh will brown, this great and if you like it more browned, keep cooking.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, herbs, and spices, and pour the liquids over the top. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
top down view showing uncooked pasta poured into pot of vegan goulash to cook until tender.
  • Add the pasta, give a good stir, and cook until pasta is tender, stirring frequently so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Once done, taste for flavor, and let cool for a few minutes, as shown below.

And now your vegan goulash is ready to enjoy!

top down view of freshly made pot of vegan goulash.

Adjusting For Dietary Restrictions

  • Soy-Free: Sub the tempeh and use 2 cans of red kidney beans, white beans or black beans, drained and rinsed.
  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free pasta if following a GF diet.

How To Store Leftovers

Leftovers store well and are freezer-friendly too!

  • Refrigerator: Store in covered containers for up to 4 – 5 days.
  • Freezer: For longer storage, keep in airtight freezer-safe containers for up to 2 – 3 months.
  • Reheat: Warm on the stovetop over low heat, adding a little water for moisture until warmed through. Or microwave using 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until warmed through.
top down view of vegan goulash in a bowl with spoon surrounded by items.

More Comfort Food Recipes!

If you try this easy goulash recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.



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5 from 14 reviews

This veganised classic American Goulash recipe is easy, home-style, comfort food! Made in one pot. Perfect for a crowd, family or weekly meal prep.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 35 min
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 – 6 1x
  • Category: Entree, Pasta
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: Vegan, American


Units Scale
  • 1/4 cup of water or 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 (8oz.) packages tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green bell peppers, cored, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 can (28oz.) diced tomatoes (pref. fire roasted)
  • 1 can (14oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons EACH dried oregano, basil and paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon mineral salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 1/24 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups dry elbow pasta (about 8 oz.)
  • pepper, to taste
  • fresh parsley, to serve


Saute: In a large pot, heat the water/oil over medium heat, add the tempeh (crumbing between your fingers), onion and bell pepper, saute for 5 – 7 minutes, until onions are soft and tempeh is lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Simmer: Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, basil, paprika, bay leaves, salt, and red pepper flakes and water/veggie broth. Stir well and bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for 10 more minutes, or until pasta is tender, make sure to stir often so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom. Taste for flavor, adding more salt & pepper to taste.

Serve: Serve in individual bowls with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.

Store: Leftovers will keep fresh in the fridge for 4 – 5 days in a covered container. To keep longer, store in the freezer for up to 2 – 3 months.


Tempeh: Feel free to use 1 package of tempeh, replacing the other with a can of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed). Also, if you don’t care for tempeh, omit it and use beans or 1 cup of cooked brown or green lentils.

Additional Veggies: Corn would be great in this goulash, adding a little sweetness and color. Feel free to use any color bell peppers you like. Mushrooms (8oz.) or diced carrots (1 cup) would be nice too, cooking with the onion.

Spices & herbs: Italian seasoning would be great here, instead of the individual herbs. Also, you can get away without using the bay leaves if you don’t have any on hand. If you have vegan Worcestershire sauce in the panty, try adding 1 tablespoon for a nice umami flavor.

Liquids: I love using this vegetable concentrate from Better Than Bouillon. For this recipe I recommend just using 1/2 teaspoon, no more than 1 teaspoon, for the best flavor.

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  1. Is the two cups of elbow pasta dry or cooked? :)

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      It’s dry pasta. I’ve updated the recipe card, so there isn’t any confusion. Thanks for asking, E! Enjoy! :)

  2. A great success in our house tonight! We aren’t a fan of tempeh, but I used Plant Boss meatless crumbles instead since I already had in hand, and it came out perfect. I will definitely make again. Thanks for sharing!

  3. So good!! I swapped the tempeh for one can of kidney beans and a can of cooked lentils. New favorite and super simple to make with pantry staples.

  4. I have made this 3 or 4 times and just love it! Thanks for posting!

    1. What do you think about using tofu? Hubby isn’t a fan of tempeh.

      1. Cristina Mckay says:

        I used extra form sprouted tofu, crumbled and it was great!

  5. I made this recipe and substituted 1 block of impossible burger and 1 cup of TVP. I’m not big on tempeh. You can buy TVP on Amazon. Another source of protein if you aren’t familiar with TVP. I soaked my TVP in mushroom broth then added it to the pan while browning the impossible burger along with the onions, peppers, garlic and mushrooms. I did use fire roasted tomatoes and added mushrooms and quartered them and only 1 bell pepper. This recipe is awesome. Thank you.

  6. I made this for dinner tonight. I used Impossible beef in place of the tempeh. My picky kids and hubby really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be making this again!

  7. Michelle M says:

    This was very flavorful. Will definitely add to rotation. First time using tempeh and Used chickpea pasta.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe (and tempeh)! Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

  8. This was a very delicious vegetarian recipe. Felt more like an Italian dish then a goulash, but we all liked it. Chick pea pasta worked well

  9. My mother was born in Hungary as well…and my husband has been asking for me to make a goulash for quite some time. I found this recipe and it seemed fitting for a cold day in Ohio!
    Thank you for supplying a vegan base that I can change up over time.

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