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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. Tempeh can be found by the 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 or 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. Red bell pepper will add a little sweetness.
  • Spices – We’ll be using dried oregano and basil. You can substitute it 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 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.

More Comfort Food Recipes!

top down view of vegan goulash in a bowl with spoon surrounded by items.

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.



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.

Keywords: american vegan goulash, vegan goulash recipe

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  1. Wonderful and hearty! Made it as is, except cooked the macaroni separately, then added.

  2. Dasch Kingston says:

    I made this for dinner tonight, after eying the recipe for several weeks. I made it exactly as described with one exception; I added in 2 Beyond Burgers that I crumbled up, seasoned, and cooked on the side. I thought it was perfect, really. No complaints. It was filling, fulfilling, and really tasty. Nice job!

  3. Used this recipe with a few alternatives. Used vegan patties, added chopped celery because I didn’t have enough peppers. Used my own vegetable broth and a dash of cayenne since I didn’t have pepper flakes. I did add some Italian spices too. Mmmm so good.

  4. I went into this with no particular expectations and it was LIT. Thanks for this flavorful recipe <3

  5. Alicia Janes says:

    It is rare for me to make a recipe more than once because I am usually disappointed. Not this one – simple and really good. I just make 1/2 recipe because it makes a large amount. You can add whatever you have around and it still comes out great. One pot – love that!

  6. It’s perfect! This’ll go into my rotation to make again and again….and again :)

  7. I made this dish, I used kidney beans instead of tempah, my elbows we already cooked so I didn’t add much veggie broth. Delish!! Thank you.

  8. This was a very delicious goulash recipe! I used Veggie Grounds Cauli Crumble (Big Mountain Foods) as I didn’t have tempeh on hand and it turned out great. I will definitely be making it again but will use tempeh as per your recipe. Thanks for another great recipe!

  9. My mother was from Hungary, made Hungarian food (including goulash) all the time. I have to say, this is a REALLY awesome vegan alternative!!! Very impressed. Love this blog and will keep trying out your recipes!


  10. Can you make this in an instant pot? Thx

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Honestly, I can’t say as I’ve never tried cooking a one pot pasta recipe in my Instant Pot. I’ll have to work on one and see if this can be adapted.

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