You may be familiar with American Goulash, which is a combination of pasta, tomatoes, spices, and usually ground beef. I thought I'd put a little spin on this easy recipe and make a Southwestern Goulash with a Cornbread Topping.
This is a one-pot meal that can be made in your pressure cooker and transferred to the oven to bake the cornbread on top OR you can make the Southwestern Goulash in your Ninja Foodi, Instant Pot Duo (or Pro) Crisp, or use your crisping lid, like the Mealthy lid, to make it even easier!
You can even make this stovetop and use the oven for the cornbread topping. See the section below for instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions
American Goulash is also known as American Chop Suey and is a combination of pasta, usually elbow macaroni, tomatoes, ground beef, and spices. There are tons of variations of American Goulash and this Southwestern Goulash is one of them.
Yes, you can freeze it. I do find that the peppers get a slightly different texture after being frozen and you do want to be careful not to overcook the macaroni when reheating it.
If you freeze it, I recommend thawing it in the refrigerator and using a slow cooker on low to gently reheat everything. If you have the Ninja Foodi or the IP Duo Crisp, I also use the crisping lid to warm up the cornbread on top after the filling is gently heated. This has worked great for me.
If your pressure cooker is 8 quarts or larger, you 1½ the recipe, but I don't suggest doubling it because the cornbread topping would be too close to the heating element.
You also do not want to double the cornbread topping or it will not bake correctly when using the Ninja Foodi or a crisping lid on your pressure cooker.
You can transfer the goulash to a large casserole dish and double the cornbread batter to bake in the oven.
Also keep in mind that doubling the ingredients will increase the time to pressure and that is cook time, so I would decrease the PC time from 3 minutes to 2 minutes.
Yes, you absolutely can make half of this recipe by cutting all the ingredients in half, except the cornbread topping. You will still need the full cornbread recipe to cover the top.
Because the liquid is cut in half, that will reduce the time to pressure a little, but I do not think you will need to increase your PC time. Just check the noodles at the end of the PC time and if they aren't done enough for you, use the sear/sauté to simmer longer and add some extra beef stock if needed.
Ingredients & Substitutions
I used 80/20 ground beef in this recipe, but you can certainly use a leaner ground beef or use ground chicken or turkey.
You can also use sausage -- chorizo would be fantastic.
Or, omit the meat and make it vegetarian by changing the beef stock to vegetable stock.
Elbow Macaroni is what most people use when making American Goulash and I decided to stick with that type of pasta while creating this recipe, but you can use other types of pasta.
The pressure cook time may need to be adjusted based on the shape of the pasta you use and here are my suggestions.
Rotini pasta or corkscrews: Increase the PC time to 4 minutes for al dente and 5 minutes for a softer pasta.
Farfale pasta or bowties: Increase the PC time to 4 minutes for al dente and 5 minutes for a softer pasta.
Campanelle: Increase PC time to 4 minutes for al dente and 5 minutes for softer pasta.
Penne pasta or Ziti: Increase the PC time to 5 minutes for al dente and 6 minutes for softer pasta.
It is always best to undercook the pasta rather than overcook it. If you finish your PC time and the pasta is not as soft as you like, use the sear/sauté function and add a little more liquid if needed to finish cooking it.
Fire Roasted Tomatoes & Corn
Fire Roasted tomatoes add so much flavor that I really recommend using them if you can. They are not spicy, just roasted over a heat source (usually an open flame) to give a roasted taste to the tomatoes.
You can also use regular canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, or rotel would also be a good substitute if you like things a little spicy.
If using fresh tomatoes, you may have more liquid than canned, but that should not affect the outcome of the recipe. If you use too many tomatoes and you have too much liquid after pressure cooking, use the sear/sauté to burn some of it off.
Corn is completely optional, but I love the color and sweetness it brought to the recipe.
Onions & Peppers
You can use any kind of onions or peppers you like or omit either or both. This will not affect the recipe at all.
You can also add in spicy peppers, like jalapeno, if you want to spice it up.
I thought about adding a can of fire roasted chilis and I think it would be excellent in this recipe, but decided to keep the recipe as-is for everyone who doesn't like spicy food.
I used a Mexican Cheese blend that is already shredded for this recipe because it's easy and it works really well.
You can use any variety of cheese you like or omit the cheese and it will not affect the recipe in terms of cook times.
The spice blend I used in this recipe has the perfect balance of flavors without being spicy.
You can omit or add any spices you like or use your favorite seasoning blend. You can use a taco seasoning blend, but it will change the flavor profile.
If you like things spicy, increase the chipotle powder or you can use cayenne instead.
When it comes to cornbread, there are so many different kinds, but you want a thicker batter so it bakes evenly when placed on top.
The cornbread batter in this recipe was created to compliment the Southwestern Goulash and cook all the way through when baked on top.
I think you will be fine if you choose to use a Jiffy mix, but make sure you only spread a layer that is about ½" thick or the underside may not bake correctly.
If you don't have buttermilk, you can make you own by adding ½ Tablespoon of white vinegar to ½ cup of milk. Stir and let it sit for a few minutes. You can also use regular milk, but reduce the amount to ⅓ cup so the batter isn't too liquidy.
How to Make Southwestern Goulash without a Pressure Cooker
This is such a quick and easy recipe even if you don't have a pressure cooker, it just requires a little more hands-on supervision.
There are a couple of ways that you can approach making this recipe on the stove, you can cook the elbow macaroni in a pot of water and drain, sauté the ground beef, onion, and seasonings until the beef is cooked through. Add in the remaining ingredients and the elbow macaroni and simmer for a few minutes. Transfer to a casserole dish, scoop the cornbread topping on top and bake in the oven at 375℉/190℃ for 15-20 minutes or until it is golden brown and cooked through.
You could also make it in one pot by sauteing the ground beef, onions and seasonings until the beef is about 50% cooked. Deglaze the pot with 2½ cups of beef stock. Add in the tomatoes, corn, and elbow macaroni and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 10-12 minutes or until the macaroni is cooked to your desired texture. This should also reduce the liquid to less than a few Tablespoons. If you still have a lot of liquid in the pot, you can simmer longer or drain some off. Stir in the cheese and transfer to a casserole dish, top with cornbread or if your pot is oven safe, you can scoop the cornbread right on top while in the pot and bake in a preheated oven at 375℉/190℃ for 15-20 minutes.
How to Make Southwestern Goulash without a Crisping Lid
If you don't have the Ninja Foodi, IP Duo or Pro Crisp, or a crisping lid that fits on your Instant Pot, you can still make this recipe, you just have to use your oven if you want the cornbread topping.
Follow the same instructions in the recipe up until the cornbread topping is added. Then, you can either transfer the ingredients to a casserole dish and scoop the cornbread topping on top OR use your inner pot if it is oven safe and scoop the cornbread batter on top like in the recipe.
Preheat your oven to 375℉/190℃ and place the casserole dish or the inner pot into the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown and cooked through.
If using a casserole dish, you may need to increase the amount of cornbread batter depending on the size of your dish. Try to keep the topping about ½" thick across the top.
How to Make Southwestern Goulash in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot with a Crisping Lid
With quick and easy dishes like this, I like to get all my ingredients prepped and ready to go before turning on the Ninja Foodi. The only exception is the cornbread batter, you don't want to mix that up until just before scooping it on top or the baking powder will activate and you may not have the rise you want in your cornbread.
You will need 1 pound of ground beef, 1 onion (any variety is fine) cut into about ½" dice. Measure out 8 ounces of elbow macaroni which is about 2 cups. If using canned corn, drain the liquid off. Frozen corn can be added frozen. Slice the peppers into rounds if using the small mini peppers or dice into ½" pieces. You won't add the peppers in until after the PC time, but I like to have them ready while I'm prepping everything else. Open the can of tomatoes, but don't drain. Measure out the spices for your spice blend. Get your beef stock out and measured and you are ready to start cooking!
Turn the Ninja Foodi (or IPDC) on high sear/sauté, let the pan heat up for about 2 minutes and add 1 pound of ground beef and break up into small pieces. I use the Mix 'N Chop from Pampered Chef and it works great!
Add in the onions, sprinkle the seasonings over the beef and onions. Stir & sauté just for about 2 minutes. The ground beef does not need to be cooked all the way through, it will finish cooking during the PC time. I don't drain the grease from the ground beef because it adds tons of flavor, but you can certainly drain it, if you prefer.
Deglaze the pot with the beef stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with something that is safe for the non-stick coating to remove anything that may be stuck on the bottom. This will prevent the water notice in the Ninja Foodi or burn notice in the Instant Pot.
Add in the corn, tomatoes, and macaroni. Stir to combine everything and put the pressure lid on. Turn the valve to seal and pressure cook on high for 3 minutes.
While the Southwestern Goulash is pressure cooking, make up the cornbread batter.
Melt the butter and let sit to cool for a few minutes. In a medium size bowl, combine the cornmeal with the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir or whisk to combine.
In a second bowl, whisk 2 eggs, buttermilk, and sugar together. Add in ½ of the dry mixture and stir to combine. Add in the melted butter and the remaining dry mixture and stir until combined. Stir in the shredded cheese if using.
When the time is up, immediately release the pressure and when the pin drops, remove the lid. Stir in the peppers and the cheese.
Scoop the cornbread mixture onto the top in an even layer. I found that using a scoop or spoon is better than pouring it over the top and spreading because that caused some of the goulash to mix in with the cornbread.
Close the Crisping lid and bake at 325℉/165℃ for 15 minutes.
Serve & Enjoy!
Recipes for More One-Pot Meals
If you love the ease of one-pot meals, here are some other recipes you may enjoy.
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta
- One-Pot Turkey Tetrazzini
- Pressure Cooker Swiss Steak (Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Recipe)
- Cheesy Shrimp and Grits in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
- EASY Tuna Noodle Casserole
- Cheeseburger Macaroni ~ One-Pot Dinner
- Vegetable Beef Soup ~ Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Recipe
- Chicken Alfredo in the Ninja Foodi/Instant Pot
- Instant Pot with Crisping Lid
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 medium onion about 1 ½ cups diced
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1½ cups corn frozen, fresh, or canned (drained)
- 14.5 ounces fire roasted tomatoes
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni about 2 cups
- 1½ cups diced bell peppers 1-2 bell peppers or 6-8 mini peppers. I use assorted colors
- ½ cup Mexican cheese blend
- 1½ cups corn meal
- ½ cup flour all purpose
- ½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup melted butter I used salted butter, but either is fine.
- ½ cup Mexican cheese blend optional
- Prep all the ingredients. Dice the onion into about ½" dice, Chop the peppers into about ½" dice or rounds if using the mini peppers. Measure out the seasonings for the seasoning blend. Drain the corn if using canned.
- Turn the sear/sauté on high and let the pot heat up for a few minutes. Add the ground beef and chop it up into small pieces. The Mix 'N Chop works great for this. Add the onions and the seasoning blend. Stir to combine and sauté for about 2 minutes. The ground beef does not need to be cooked all the way.
- Deglaze the pot with beef stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing is stuck on the bottom. Add in the fire roasted tomatoes with juices, corn, and the elbow macaroni. Stir to combine and try to get the pasta under the liquid.
- Put the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Pressure cook on high for 3 minutes and when the time is up, immediately release the pressure.
- When the pin drops, open the lid and stir in the cheese and diced peppers. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. You can serve the dish now or add the cornbread topping.
- I usually make the cornbread batter when the pot goes under pressure and starts the countdown. You don't want to make it too soon or the baking powder will activate you may not get the oven rise you want.
- Melt the butter and let sit to cool. In a medium size bowl, combine 1 ½ cups of cornmeal with ½ cup of flour. Add in the baking powder and salt and whisk to combine.
- In a second medium size bowl, whisk 2 eggs with ½ cup of buttermilk and ¼ cup sugar. Add in ½ of the dry mixture and stir to combine. Add in the melted butter and stir. Add the remaining dry mixture and stir until just combined. Mix in the shredded cheese if using.
- Spoon the cornbread batter in an even layer on top of the goulash. Close the crisping lid and bake at 325°F/165°C for 15 minutes.
- Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE COOKING UP IN YOUR NINJA FOODI! TAG ME @THESALTEDPEPPER ON YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM WHEN YOU MAKE A DISH!
BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE SALTED PEPPER RIGHT HERE ⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓