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Venison Goulash

Time: 45 minutes
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This old fashioned Venison Goulash recipe is a delicious, one pot meal, for when you need to feed your family on a budget. It is made with ground venison, a tomato-based sauce, and elbow macaroni. Enjoy this Michigan classic on the coldest winter days.

Serve it alongside some rolls or my no knead focaccia recipe.

We all need hearty, one pot recipes on cold days, try this Chicken Alfredo Soup or Vegetable Orzo Soup while you’re at it!

A bowl of hearty and hot Venison Goulash with dinner rolls on the side.

I am from Michigan and we love our goulash! 9 times out of 10, if you grew up here or in the Midwest, your grandma made some version of this recipe. My grandma always used her home-canned stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. It was out of this world, but super hard to replicate because of the love she put in it.

My recipe is a riff on her recipe and classic American Goulash, except mine uses ground deer meat, or venison, instead of ground beef. It is also saucier, a tad heartier, and has a healthy addition of Italian seasoning.

What is American Goulash?

American Goulash is a humble, old fashioned, Midwest dinner recipe. It’s a simple dish that combines ground beef (in this case ground venison), a tomato-based sauce, and elbow macaroni. American goulash is known for being an inexpensive, one-pot dinner that can feed your family or a crowd.

A big pot of Venison Goulash, dinner rolls on the side, and a small bowl of Goulash.

Venison Goulash Ingredients

Keep reading for crucial information on each ingredient and potential substitutions.

  • Ground Venison: Venison comes from deer and it is a very lean and low fat protein (typically 95/5% fat). You can substitute ground beef, other wild game, or meatless crumbles for a similar taste.
  • Yellow Onion: This should be chopped into small pieces. Yellow onions are strong in flavor and great for cooking down in sauces and stews. You can use a white onion, sweet onion, or even shallots in its place.
  • Green Bell Pepper: Be sure to wash your pepper and chop it into small pieces (the same size as your onion). I do not recommend substituting for other colored peppers.
  • Garlic: Grated fresh garlic cloves are best in this recipe. You can substitute for garlic powder, but keep in mind the garlic flavor will not be as pronounced.
  • Tomato Sauce: This is made from puree and NOT the same as marinara or spaghetti sauce so do not swap them out.
  • Stewed Tomatoes: These are tomatoes that have been cooked and canned with the addition of sugar, seasonings, and spices. They ARE different from diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes, again do not swap them.
  • Water: This helps to bring our sauce together.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds a great savory flavor to the goulash.
  • Italian Seasoning: This is a delicious blend of dried herbs including rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Season to your taste preferences or follow my recommendations.
  • Elbow Macaroni: These are iconic for goulash in Michigan. You can also use mini shells, bowtie pasta, ditalini, orecchiette, and other small shapes. Feel free to opt for gluten free as well.
  • Medium Cheddar Cheese: This ingredient is a must. Feel free to swap it for sharp or even white cheddar varieties.

Equipment Needed

Ingredients for the recipe. Ground venison, yellow onion, green bell pepper, garlic, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, water, worcestershire sauce, italian seasoning, salt and black pepper, elbow macaroni, and medium cheddar cheese.

How to Make Venison Goulash

Here’s a quick summary of the steps, the recipe card will have more details.

1. BROWN THE MEAT: In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the ground venison, yellow onion, green bell pepper, and garlic. Don’t forget to drain off any excess liquid and grease.

2. SIMMER: Add the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, water, worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. ADD ELBOW MACARONI: Add the uncooked elbow macaroni and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes until they are cooked and tender.

4. STIR IN THE CHEESE: While the goulash is still piping hot, mix in the sharp cheddar cheese. Let it rest 5 minutes before serving!

Storing Information

Any leftover goulash you have should be stored in an airtight container and in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Easily reheat it over the stove or in the microwave until warm.

I do not recommend freezing goulash because once it thaws and has been re-warmed the noodles become a mushy mess.

American Goulash with venison and a side of rolls.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Can I substitute the ground venison for something else?

Of course, and there are a lot of options! Venison (deer meat) can be substituted for any ground meat product- ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground Italian sausage, other ground wild game, or even meatless crumbles. Keep in mind, different proteins will result in a different flavor profile.

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Enjoy Entirely, Elizabeth
A bowl of meaty Venison Goulash with dinner rolls served on the side.

Venison Goulash

Elizabeth Swoish
This American style Venison Goulash is a comforting, budget-friendly, one pot dinner perfect for feeding your family. Made with deer meat, a rich tomato sauce, and macaroni noodles, this hearty recipe is a staple in Michigan kitchens (and mine)!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 8
Calories 386 kcal



  • 2 pounds ground venison
  • ½ yellow onion - finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper - finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic - grated or minced
  • 30 ounces tomato sauce
  • 30 ounces stewed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt - or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper - or to taste
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni - uncooked
  • 1 cup medium cheddar cheese


  • To a large pot or Dutch oven, add the ground venison, yellow onion, green bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium to high heat until beef is browned and crumbled, about 5 minutes.
    NOTE: Drain excess grease and moisture from the ground beef mixture and discard.
    Step 1. Brown the ground venison, yellow onion, green bell pepper, and garlic.
  • Add tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, water, worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper. Cover the pot and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
    Step 2. Simmer together the meat mixture, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, water, worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper.
  • Add the elbow macaroni and continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You will want to stir the mixture frequently and check the macaroni (it should be tender when finished).
    Step 3. Add the uncooked elbow macaroni until tender.
  • Stir in the medium cheddar cheese. Allow the goulash to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
    Step 4. Stir in medium cheddar cheese and let it rest for 5 minutes.


Storing Information

  • Refrigerated, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.
  • Easily reheat it over the stove or in the microwave until warm.
  • Freezing goulash is not recommended.

Metric conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information.

Tried this recipe?Feel free to share a rating and comment below. Don’t forget to tag me on social media, or use the hashtag #EntirelyElizabeth – I would love to see what you’ve made!
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By Elizabeth Swoish on January 16th, 2024
Elizabeth Swoish holding a camera up to her eye taking a photo.

About Elizabeth Swoish

Elizabeth Swoish is the founder and CEO of Entirely Elizabeth. She is a self-taught foodie and mocktail enthusiast with a business degree in data analysis. Learn more about her HERE or connect on your favorite social media channels.

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