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Low Carb Goulash

Goulash made low carb with the simple swap of zucchini chunks for macaroni noodles! This simple recipe is hearty, filling, and sure to be a family pleaser. 

My dad was telling me that the neighbor invited him over for dinner one night and served him a mixture of spaghetti sauce and chunks of zucchini. He couldn’t remember what they called it, but he was pretty obsessed with the dish.

mashup of a white bowl of goulash and a zoomed in picture of goulash

I immediately knew I was going to have to try that out and I’m so glad I did!

I basically made an easy goulash recipe, but swapped in chunks of fresh zucchini for the macaroni.

You guys. This is so good!

Large spoon full of goulash

How to make goulash low carb:

Goulash is definitely a pasta dish, so it seems a bit weird to low carb it, but y’all. This is a winner thanks to the chunks of zucchini!

ground beef for goulash

You’ll want to start with a pound of ground beef, an onion, and some garlic. Brown all those up together and then drain off the fat.

Next, we’re going to use a jar of marinara. I prefer Rao’s brand because it both has the best flavor I’ve found in a jar and it’s the lowest in carbs I can find for a tomato sauce. It’s a little spendy, so if you have another brand you prefer feel free to use that.

Dump the marinara in with the beef mixture along with some beef broth, soy sauce, Italian seasoning, seasoned salt, and a bay leaf.

stirring the ingredients of low carb goulash in a pot

Add in your chopped zucchini, give it a stir, and let it cook until the zucchini is as tender as you’d like. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes – just enough time for the zucchini to soak up a bit of the marinara flavors and get soft.

You’re done, friends.

Old fashioned goulash without all the carbs!

Feel free to stir in some cheese, if that’s how you ate this growing up. We were never big on the cheese in this one, but you do you.

pot of goulash next to a bowl of goulash

More low carb favorites: 

Cabbage Rolls: Minus all the carbs AND minus all the work! This is an easy one!

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: Just about the only way I ever want to eat Brussels sprouts. 😉

Garlic Butter Shrimp: You can’t go wrong with garlic butter.

Crock Pot Roast: I make mine with radishes and green beans!

White bowl of goulash with a spoon in it

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bowl of goulash next to whole garlic and onions

Low Carb Goulash

Goulash without all the carbs, thanks to an easy swap of zucchini for the traditional macaroni!

Yield 8
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 24 ounces Rao’s Marinara
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Instructions

  1. Add the ground beef, onion, and garlic to a dutch oven and brown over medium heat, breaking the meat up as it cooks. When beef is cooked through, drain the fat and return the meat to the pan.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the zucchini is as soft as you'd like.
  3. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
  4. Add additional salt if desired and top with cheese, if desired.

Notes

Feel free to use any brand of low sugar marinara that you prefer. Rao's is my preferred brand.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 239Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 718mgCarbohydrates: 7gNet Carbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 18g

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75 thoughts on “Low Carb Goulash”

  1. Elizabeth George

    Hey there. I just wanted to leave you a positive comment. YOU are AMAZING! You definitely don’t have to share your recipes with anyone but I am eternally grateful that you do! I do not care what you call it, it is delicious and certainly not something I would’ve ever thought of to put together. THANK YOU for sharing it. My family loved it.

  2. I just wanted to leave a comment supporting your Goulash name. I grew up in Maine in the United States and my mother (and her mother before her who are from Massachusetts) made nearly this exact thing and they call it Zucchini Goulash and serve it over elbows 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing this American Goulash Recipe. We will be giving this a try. I’m sure the Hungarian Goulash is very good as well, but this happens to be the American Keto version for this goulash. So please be respectful to our differences in how we ALL interpret our flavors or interpretations for goulash. There isn’t a wrong or a right here. Just a difference in culture.

  4. Seriously, what’s up with all “this is not goulash” comments???? She can call it whatever she likes!

    1. Yes, and taking ground hotdogs and putting it on a baguette and calling it a French Hamburger should be okay, too. But making someone aware that it differs from it’s original namesake might inspire someone to explore another cuisine and discover it’s pleasures … never a bad thing!

  5. This looks great but it isn’t a goulash at all. Goulash is Hungarian, not Italian, and the signature spice in goulash is Hungarian paprika. I could even look away at the use of ground beef if the other flavors were there. This is just a meaty marinara with zucchini.

  6. Sandra s Olson

    I grew up eating this with my Italian mother making it with Italian sausage or 1/2 and 1/2 with ground beef and sausage. She always called it cocoots (sp.?) which she said was an Italian slang word for squash. I make it often but I saute the zucchini with onions and garlic before adding the meat. Give the veggies more depth of flavor and gets some of the moisture out of the zucchini. Yummy….!

    1. Karly Campbell

      I didn’t measure by volume. The nutrition info is based on 8 servings. We just portion it out.

  7. Mmm…looks good. I’d like to suggest that you call it something Italian though. I learned to make Goulash in Prague. While there are wide regional differences in Europe, all goulash has paprika (it’s what makes it a goulash) and caraway.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  8. Hanna Frederick

    Please rename your lovely soup, stew. Almost nothing you use is in a Goulash. I know, I am Hungarian, living 40 years out from my home country. In 7 countries. Goulash is a stew with diced beef, paprika, and potatoes, among onion, caraway seed, carrot, and max 1 small tomato and green pepper. Never heard using bay leaves or macaroni in it. We make little homemade “Speatzle” dumplings, the size of a hazelnut. (It is called Csipetke) That said, it has flour and a little water, sometimes egg. So you could use macaroni, but any Hungarian would roll their eyes. You might want to call it Beef Stew. Ask an Italian, Mediterranian – that comes closer.

    1. Karly Campbell

      Hi Hanna! American goulash is made with macaroni noodles and this recipe is similar to that, with the obvious swap of zucchini for pasta.

    2. Emelia Dee

      How RUDE you are! This is a low carb version of AMERICAN ghoulash, which my family has been making for over 70 years. This is very similar. You aren’t the only person on earth. Get over yourself.

    1. Karly Campbell

      You could try using xanthan gum, but we’ve never tried thickening this one.

    2. Less broth, or a tiny bit of xanthum gum, but that begins to have an odd taste after about a tsp. Letting it cool a bit will allow it to thicken substantially.

  9. Made this many times, ‘ goulash’ or whatever you may label it, it is excellent. Just took Tomato sauce and zucchini out of my freezer (it’s January) and will be making this today.

    1. Karly Campbell

      I’m sure it would, though I haven’t tried so I can’t say how long to cook.

    1. Karly Campbell

      Hi Debra – the nutrition information is based on this making 8 servings. I didn’t measure by volume.

    2. 8 servings? haha that’s a stretch, literally @ only 18 grams of protein per servings. i’m doing keto OMAD (one meal a day) so for me it makes 2 servings. however, even just normal feeding of a family 1 pound of ground beef is 4 servings, so i’d say 4 servings would be a more reasonable assessment. YMMV. 🙂

  10. Enjoyed this very much. I used zucchini from my garden which I have a ton of. Added a can of diced tomatoes and cut back on the marinara. I didn’t have low sugar. Oh used my own basil too! So much fun.

      1. Marlene bowes

        Omg this is so good I am making it again tonight. I also use Rao’s marinaro.

      1. It’s a Midwestern thing. I was just talking about this with a friend. it’s just what the meat stew is called in the States.

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