American goulash exists in a number of variant recipes. The core ingredients usually include elbow macaroni, ground beef or hamburger, and tomatoes in some form, whether canned whole, as tomato sauce, tomato soup, and/or tomato paste. It is usually served as a simple lunch or supper dish, usually the main (or only) course. Its versatility and popularity lie in its ease of preparation - it usually requires only one pot to prepare - and its use of relatively few common, inexpensive ingredients. Some variants resemble the southwestern stew chili.
Writer and filmmaker Stephanie Yuhas published a series of humorous short stories and films in 2007 called American Goulash, a term used describe the medley of culture a person develops as a Hungarian American.