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With just 10 minutes of prep and a few pantry staples, my grandmother’s one pot American Chop Suey (or “American Goulash”) is a quick and easy dinner recipe that kids and adults will love! Top it with cheddar or Parmesan cheese, and serve it alongside a saladcornbread, or biscuits. The made from scratch pasta and ground beef skillet is always a weeknight winner!

Ladle in a pot of New England style American chop suey recipe

What is American Chop Suey?

A New England style American chop suey recipe is a pasta dish made with ground beef, macaroni, and a seasoned tomato sauce. This meal is commonly found in New England cuisine, and in other regions of the United States. There are many versions of the simple dinner, and it goes by many different names, too. Outside of New England, the dish is sometimes called American goulash or Johnny Marzetti Casserole. In spite of the similar name, American chop suey has very little in common with the chop suey of Chinese and Chinese-American cuisine.

This American chop suey is one of those simple dinners that will be a regular lifesaver for your busy family. It only requires one pan (which equals fewer dishes to clean up), and the meal practically cooks itself after about 10 minutes of hands-on prep. There’s no need to boil the pasta before you add it to the ground beef and sauce. Everything cooks together in a single pot for a flavorful, family-friendly meal in about 30 minutes!

American Chop Suey vs. Goulash

As I mentioned above, American Chop Suey and American goulash are actually two names for the same dish! If you live outside of New England, you probably know this comfort food classic as “goulash.” No matter what you call it, the cozy ground beef and noodle recipe is sure to be a favorite at your dinner table!

Adding vegetables to a cast iron Dutch oven

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pot of American goulash. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Ground beef: or substitute with ground turkey, ground pork, or ground chicken.
  • Onion, green bell pepper, and garlic: fresh vegetables that add flavor and texture to the dish.
  • Water and beef broth: the liquid base for the sauce.
  • Elbow macaroni: there’s no need to boil the noodles before adding them to the pan. They cook right in the sauce, releasing starches that help to thicken the mixture.
  • Diced tomatoes: I like petite-diced tomatoes, which are cut smaller. You can substitute with regular diced tomatoes instead. Do not drain off the juices before adding them to the pot.
  • Tomato paste: gives the sauce a thick, rich tomato flavor.
  • Italian seasoning: adds savory, zesty flavor to the sauce. This is typically a blend of ground herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, sage, and coriander.
  • Brown sugar: balances the acidity of the tomatoes, giving the dish a more complex tomato flavor.
  • Worcestershire sauce: adds salty, umami flavor.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
Pouring beef broth into a pot.

How to Make American Chop Suey

You can’t beat an easy ground beef dinner recipe that cooks entirely in one skillet. Childhood favorites make the best cozy, comforting family dinners!

  1. Brown the ground beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat on the stovetop until the meat is no longer pink; drain off the fat.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer (uncovered) for about 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender, the liquid reduces, and the sauce thickens.
  4. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
  5. Sprinkle grated cheese over top, if desired, and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Overhead image of American chop suey in a cast iron Dutch oven

What to Serve with this New England Style American Chop Suey Recipe

This one-pot meal pairs nicely with any of the following easy sides:

Overhead shot of hands eating chop suey with cornbread.

Storage

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat the meal in a covered skillet over low heat just until warmed through, or microwave individual servings for about 1 minute. I do not recommend freezing this dish. The pasta will swell and change texture in the freezer, resulting in a mushy texture when reheated.

Side shot of a bowl of American chop suey on a dinner table.

Recipe Variations

  • Swap out the ground beef and use ground turkey, ground pork, or ground chicken instead.
  • In a pinch, vegetable broth or chicken broth will be a fine substitute for the beef broth.
  • For a dish that tastes like chili mac, substitute 2 teaspoons of chili powder for the Italian seasoning.
  • Make it spicy by adding a dash of cayenne or finishing the dish with crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Add a dash of paprika to the sauce, or season with fresh herbs such as parsley, rosemary, thyme, or basil.
  • For added texture, sprinkle cheese and a few buttered breadcrumbs over the top, and then place the pot under the broiler for a few minutes. This will give it a crunchy, cheesy topping similar to mac and cheese.
Hands holding a bowl of the best American chop suey recipe

Tips for the Best American Chop Suey Recipe

  • Brown the hamburger first. This gives the beef color, and seals in the flavor.
  • Drain the fat. This is another important step, since it’s not only a healthier way of cooking, but it also prevents the finished dish from having a greasy texture.
  • Don’t omit the brown sugar. In order to achieve great tomato flavor, it’s important to balance acidity and sweetness. Too much acid or too much sugar yields a sauce that tastes one-dimensional. The right amount of sugar perfectly balances the acidity of the tomatoes. Start with about 1 teaspoon of sugar here, and add more to taste, if necessary.
  • The cheese garnish at the end is optional, but it sure adds great flavor! You can use shredded sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, Pepper Jack, Colby, Colby Jack, or any other good melting cheese. A sprinkling of Parmesan would also be nice.
Hands eating a bowl of American chop suey with a fork.

More Ground Beef Recipes to Try

Ladle in a pot of New England style American chop suey recipe

One Pot American Chop Suey (American Goulash)

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 people
Calories 292 kcal
You only need 10 minutes of prep and one pot for my grandmother's easy American Chop Suey recipe!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or increase to 2 teaspoons for a slightly sweeter taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • Optional toppings: grated cheese; chopped fresh parsley; crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the ground beef, onion, and bell pepper. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon, and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Drain off the excess fat.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet, as well as about ¾ teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper.
  • Stir to combine; bring to a boil. Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 12-15 minutes, or until the noodles are tender and the sauce thickens.
  • Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Garnish with cheese and parsley, if desired.

Notes

  • Swap out the ground beef and use ground turkey, ground pork, or ground chicken instead.
  • In a pinch, vegetable broth or chicken broth will be a fine substitute for the beef broth.
  • For a dish that tastes like chili mac, substitute 2 teaspoons of chili powder for the Italian seasoning.
  • Make it spicy by adding a dash of cayenne or finishing the dish with crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Add a dash of paprika to the sauce, or season with fresh herbs such as parsley, rosemary, thyme, or basil.
  • For added texture, sprinkle cheese and a few buttered breadcrumbs over the top, and then place the pot under the broiler for a few minutes. This will give it a crunchy, cheesy topping similar to mac and cheese.
  • Brown the hamburger first. This gives the beef color, and seals in the flavor.
  • Drain the fat. This is another important step, since it’s not only a healthier way of cooking, but it also prevents the finished dish from having a greasy texture.
  • Don’t omit the brown sugar. In order to achieve great tomato flavor, it’s important to balance acidity and sweetness. Too much acid or too much sugar yields a sauce that tastes one-dimensional. The right amount of sugar perfectly balances the acidity of the tomatoes. Start with about 1 teaspoon of sugar here, and add more to taste, if necessary.
  • The cheese garnish at the end is optional, but it sure adds great flavor! You can use shredded sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella, Pepper Jack, Colby, Colby Jack, or any other good melting cheese. A sprinkling of Parmesan would also be nice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 292kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 21gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 1063mgPotassium: 905mgFiber: 4gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 666IUVitamin C: 31mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 4mg
Keyword: American Chop Suey, Chop Suey, goulash
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in January, 2017. It was updated in March, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. I love that it’s more of American flavors in here, Blair! So creative, and I’m sure your boys appreciated that! 🙂 This looks so good, and I’m loving all of the flavors. And, of course, how easy this is to make! What a perfect weeknight meal!

  2. My Mom used to make Chop Suey. I’ve been thinking about making a healthy version of it. Love that you added beans here!

  3. I’ve never had or really even heard of Chop Suey before but this looks like such a delicious combination! Yum!

  4. This sounds so weird but me and the hubs loves water chestnuts. They add such a cool texture to any dish. Can you please come take all my food photos for me? GORGEOUS!

    1. You’re so kind, Chrissa. I really appreciate your comments on the photos, since it can be very difficult to make ground beef look appetizing. 🙂

  5. love me some southern suey! Best i had was from my friends mom who grew up in lousinana. OMG AMAZING! Must try yours.

  6. 5 stars
    This girl loves ONE SKILLET meals! And this recipe looks phenomenal! I always forget about water chestnuts, but they’re awesome and should be incorporated more!

  7. I am just curious, not being critical, but why do recipes call for adding oil to brown the ground beef? There is always some natural fat even if you use very lean beef and then it is drained off at the end.

    1. Hi, Sue! I honestly do it both ways. If you’re using a good nonstick pan, you don’t need any oil at all. Sometimes you’ll find that the meat sticks to the pan before it really gets cooking though, in which case oil helps it brown nicely (and adds flavor). Do whatever you like best, though! 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Blair, I have made your American Chop Suey several times since I saw your recipe. I tried different variations according to your suggestions and I really like it with ground turkey! I recently made it with ground beef which my husband and I also liked it that way too! I will be making this again really soon!

    1. Thank you for letting me know, Annette! I’m glad that you’ve been able to play around with different ingredients and flavors to make it your own. 🙂