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Hungarian goulash recipe

Hungarian goulash recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef stews and casseroles

This classic dish is warming and delicious. If it gets too thick, add a little water while it's cooking. Garnish with crème fraîche or soured cream.

522 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 dessertspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.25kg (3 lb) beef stewing meat, diced
  • 150g (5 oz) tomato purée
  • 350ml (12 fl oz) water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:2hr ›Ready in:2hr15min

  1. Heat oil in a large pot or casserole over medium heat. Cook onions in oil until soft, stirring frequently. Remove onions and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine paprika, salt and pepper. Coat beef in spice mixture, and cook in onion pot until brown on all sides. Return the onions to the pot, and pour in tomato purée, water, garlic and the remaining salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is tender.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(423)

Reviews in English (314)


Something else.Good basic recipe that can be adjusted to taste. Hungarian goulash should be a flexible recipe, and you should taste it and adjust it when it is almost cooked, to suit your own taste. I am of Hungarian origin and these changes come close to my gran’s goulash: there is no need to separate the onions from the meat, stir fry the onion, then add the meat, stir fry again, the add all other ingredients to the same pot except the water, stir fry again, then add the water last. Feel free to vary this according to what you have at home. Tomato instead of tomato puree, Or even no tomato! I add 2-3 tbsp more paprika (the sweet kind, not the hot kind) half as much tomato puree, and may add some chopped green pepper (no more than 1), a bit more garlic, I always add 2-3 tbsp soy sauce, and even a bit of spicy chilli enhance the beefy flavour.... the key is to let the 'gravy' form by stewing it until the juices thicken without any flour added; the cheaper cuts of beef are better for this, as they are more flavourful and provide more 'gravy'.( I use boneless short rib roast that I cube, so that I know the consistency will be uniform) if at the end the stew seems watery, then boil it down until you like the consistency, if it seems dry, then add some water.-15 Sep 2008

Something else.Try adding red wine. I had little left in bottle from night before so in it went. Tasted great.-12 Mar 2009

Too salty and needs the extra Paprika, Garlic & Red Wine mentioned in the tweaks to be a real Hungarian Goulash, in my opinion...-03 May 2011

Hungarian Beef Goulash – Authentic Hungarian Goulash Recipe

Before starting any discussion regarding authentic, traditional recipes, I would like to point out that every traditional/national recipe, although following some general rules and a similar list of ingredients, does differ from region to region, village to village and house to house.

Just as an example: my grandmother&rsquos recipe for the Romanian national dish sarmale &ndash cabbage rolls tastes different than any sarmale I have ever tasted in any other household. I am not speaking of restaurants because I would never come to the idea to order some in a restaurant, that is just something I make at home.

My aunt and I have both learned how to make sarmale from my grandmother and although we both follow her recipe (I do that to the letter), our sarmale never tasted exactly as those my grandmother used to cook.

This is probably the same with this Hungarian beef goulash.

The recipe follows the traditional, classic rules of cooking a Hungarian goulash, uses the ingredients that are to be found in recipes for the Hungarian beef goulash, but I am pretty sure that even in this case there will be plenty of people who, for some reason or another, will have something to complain&hellip

Still, I really wanted to post this recipe for an authentic Hungarian goulash because this beef goulash is so amazingly good, so really worth it to learn how to make it and then cook it on a regular basis.


I am Romanian and I was born and raised in Transylvania. A very large Hungarian minority lives in Transylvania, so there is no surprise that many of the dishes I grew up with are Hungarian or are very much influenced by the Hungarian cuisine.

Have a look at this amazing Chicken Paprikash, which was one of my favorite meals as a child (still is), these delicious Hungarian Langos, which my grandmother used to make so often or this amazing Dobos Torte, another Hungarian classic.

My grandmother never ate beef, so she never actually cooked this Hungarian beef goulash. What she did cook a lot was the pork version of the Hungarian goulash.

So, when deciding to cook this easy Hungarian beef goulash recipe, I had to check with some cookbooks first. I have quite a few Romanian and Saxons cookbooks (a lot of Saxons used to live in Transylvania as well and they also cooked many Hungarian inspired dishes) and I have to say that all the recipes I found (about 7 or 8 of them) are very similar.

Some use lard to cook the beef, some use oil but recommend using lard if available, some are made with potatoes, others are served with dumplings. Some use lots of tomatoes, some less. Some spice the Hungarian beef goulash with caraway seeds, some leave those out.

What they all have in common are the use of lots of paprika, lots of onions and red peppers.

My Hungarian beef goulash recipe follows the rules of cooking an authentic Hungarian goulash recipe and uses the ingredients that are to be found in a traditional goulash.

The result is an incredibly rich, flavorful beef stew, comfort food at its best!


  • I used chuck beef to make the Hungarian beef goulash. Beef chuck is a part of meat cut from the neck, shoulder blade and upper arm. The meat has a lot of connective tissues, which make it a very good choice for stews. The long cooking process tenderizes this rather tough cut and the fat content ensures flavorful results.

Pork Lard:

  • An authentic Hungarian goulash recipe is definitely made with lard. If you cannot find it or don&rsquot want to buy it only for making just one dish, you can use a neutral vegetable oil instead. Not olive oil though.
  • If you do buy lard, here are some more recipes using lard, all of them Romanian or Hungarian.

Paprika powder:

  • I cannot insist enough on you using the very best paprika powder you can get. It makes no sense attempting to make an authentic Hungarian goulash recipe using cheap paprika powder, it just won&rsquot taste like it should taste.
  • Cheap paprika only tastes of dust, if you ask me. Real Hungarian sweet paprika powder is rich and has a beautiful red color. It may be a little pricier than the cheaper sort, but not that expensive either. And trust me, it is really worth it! Once you&rsquove tried it, you&rsquoll never go back.
  • And I have to admit I always add more paprika powder than a recipe requires. I remember my grandmother&rsquos way of using paprika, she would just take the container and almost emptied it completely over the onions in the pot, she never bothered with teaspoons or sprinkles.
  • I normally use sweet paprika with a little bit more of hot Hungarian paprika. You can decide yourself how much hot paprika you want to use, but don&rsquot overdo it, the Hungarian beef goulash is not really supposed to be hot.

Ground caraway seeds:

  • Caraway seeds are often used in Hungarian and Romanian/Transylvanian cooking and not only for sprinkling on crackers. My grandmother even used them to make a caraway seed soup when I was little, just broth with caraway seeds in it, served with croutons. Delicious and perfect for an upset tummy!
  • I absolutely love their flavor and I would not make this easy Hungarian goulash without them. Give them a try, you might be surprised!


  • I used red peppers to make the Hungarian beef goulash. Hungarian pointy red peppers would be the first choice, but if you cannot get them, red bell peppers are fine as well.
  • You will also need some ripe tomatoes, some onions and garlic. I add a little tomato paste, because when using fresh tomatoes in a sauce recipe I often feel that they are not flavorful enough. Tomato paste just adds a bit of extra tomato taste.

Beef broth:

  • You can use beef broth or water. If you use broth, make sure that the broth is not too salty, it will cook down and you might end up with a sauce that tastes too salty.
  • I almost always use homemade beef broth (or chicken stock, if I am out of beef broth).


Step 1: Cut the beef chuck into small cubes, about 2 cm/ 0.7 inches. Give them onto paper towels and pat them dry with more paper towels.

Step 2: Melt some of the lard in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stewing pot. Fry the beef cubes in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of your Dutch oven, adding some more lard before each batch. Give the fried beef cubes to a plate and set aside.

Step 3: Add about 1 teaspoon more lard to the pot and fry the chopped onions until very lightly colored, about 4-5 minutes, stirring often and keeping an eye on them.

Step 4: Add the garlic, chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes and bay leaves. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times.

Step 5: Add the spices, stir well to coat, about 1 minutes. Add the tomato paste, meat and beef broth. Cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the meat is really tender. This will take about 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Step 6: Remove the lid and continue simmering the Hungarian beef goulash for another 10-15 minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken slightly. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.


The Hungarian goulash can be served immediately and it can be reheated as well.

In Romania, we always ate goulash with pickled vegetables, pickled green tomatoes most of the times. Gherkins or other pickled cucumbers or vegetables are great as well.

Crusty bread and sour cream, preferably the Eastern European sort called smetana are perfect side dishes for the Hungarian beef goulash. However, nowadays I love eating goulash with mashed or boiled potatoes.

You can also serve the goulash with dumplings &ndash nokedli, gnocchi, spätzle, egg noodles.


Can I make Hungarian beef goulash with pork?

Of course, Hungarian pork goulash is a very popular version, especially in Romania. Here is a delicious recipe for Hungarian pork goulash. Another amazing Hungarian pork stew is the pörkölt, you should definitely try it as well.

Can I add potatoes?

You can add potatoes, the Hungarian goulash will be less authentic, but very good as well. Add small potato cubes during the last 30 minutes of the cooking time and add more broth to make sure that they are cooking properly. Check that the potatoes are soft before turning off the heat.

Can I leave out the caraway seeds?

If you definitely don&rsquot like them, you can leave them out. Otherwise I recommend using them.

Can I freeze Hungarian beef goulash?

Yes. The goulash can be frozen in airtight containers for up to three months. Defrost it slowly, preferably overnight, in the refrigerator.

Pörkölt – Hungarian Goulash

This classic Hungarian Goulash recipe is very easy to make and quite delicious. The main spices that give its distinct taste are Caraway and Paprika. One portion of this and you are all set: no need for other dishes.

I like making goulash with plenty of vegetables. Because it takes quite some time to cook it, I prefer making large amounts which can also be stored in the freezer for a longer period of time. Although you need about 4 hours to make it, you mostly need to wait, add some vegetables, and stir from time to time. It’s definitely worth the wait.

Ingredients for about 6-8 servings:

  • 1-1,2 kg veal (beef) – you can also use pork
  • 6-8 big potatoes (

Hungarian Goulash goes well with Csipetke (pinched noodles). It’s very easy to make and you can prepare them days, even weeks before. Here is a detailed recipe of how I make them: Csipetke – Hungarian pinched noodles (opens in new tab).

  1. Add the oil/fat to a big pot and roast the cumin seeds till they start popping.
  2. Add the meat cut in small cubes and brown it. For extra taste, you can coat the pieces of meat in flour. Make sure you only use very little flour so the goulash soup doesn’t get too thick. You can also fry the meat together with the onions.

  3. Chop the onions, add them to the pan and fry them for a few minutes until they become soft.
  4. When the meat has a nice color and there’s no liquid left, add 2 tbsp of paprika, 1 tsp of salt, pepper, and cumin powder, and half of the garlic cut in small pieces or minced. This will ensure that the meat also get some of the good spice taste.
  5. Mix everything a few times, add the diced pepper(s) and tomatoes or tomato paste and let it cook until no liquid is left (about 10-15 min). If you don’t like the tomato peel, you can remove it before cooking by soaking the tomatoes for few seconds in boiled water. The tomato peel should now come off easily.
  6. Mix regularly so it doesn’t burn.
  7. You will get a nice base for your soup. Like this, you can also make a curry base.
  8. Cover everything with water, add the bay leaves and simmer for about 1,5 h. For my pot, I added about 0,75 – 1 l water.

  9. When the meat is tender, add the remaining garlic, carrots, and root vegetables. Add water again to cover, about the same amount as before, and let it cook for about half an hour.
  10. Add the potatoes and the pinched noodles if they were made days before and had enough time to dry. If they are freshly made, add them 15 min later since they cook very fast. Make sure to remove the excess flour from the fresh ones so the soup doesn’t thicken up.
  11. Cook for another half an hour. Add enough water to cover everything. It should look like a thick soup.
  12. When the goulash is almost done, add salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin powder to fit your taste.
  13. Boil everything for a few more minutes and it’s done.
  14. You can serve it with fresh parsley.

My family likes meat and vegetables cut into smaller pieces. I love spices so I tend to use them a lot. Since there are people who can’t eat spicy food, I first use sweet paprika and add just a little bit of the spicy one. I set aside some of the soup for serving and then I add the spicy paprika powder. In this way, everyone can enjoy their food, be it mild or spicy.

In Germany Goulash is also served with/on noodles. In this case, no Csipetke (pinched noodles) are added to the goulash.

What are the basic ingredients?

The taste of great goulash comes from great meat (beef) and exceptional paprika! That’s the base of this traditional meal. Now we add some strong vegetable base and spices, and let it simmer for a loooong time. The meat needs to be soft as J.Lo’s butt (yea, we can use that expression)! And if you think it’s doable in one hour, let’s be real, it’s not! Great things take time! For traditional goulash you do not need broth, canned or fresh tomatoes, and especially no thickening agent like flour! Forget about Holly’s, Molly’s, Dolly’s and every other recipe there is about goulash, because what you’re going to read is the essence of goulash itself. The beef for goulash doesn’t need to be expensive, just the opposite, because goulash is often made from meat leftovers.

Goulash Recipe


  • 5 tablespoons butter , or margarine if you prefer
  • 1 onion , large, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tomato , large, peeled, seeded and chopped coarsely
  • 1 green pepper , seeded and diced
  • 4 pounds lean beef , cut into 2" pieces
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika , regular paprika will do as well
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound egg noodles
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream



Tried this recipe? Let us know how it was!


  • Some recipes call for poppy seeds. They are a nice addition. If you use them, add 3 tablespoons of poppy seeds when you add the wine and beef stock.

This recipe works well as a diabetes diet recipe. Without the noodles, the stew itself is fairly low in carbohydrates. Just add lots of vegetables to your meal.

Like this recipe? I’d love you to share it on your favorite social media. Thanks so much.

1 thought on &ldquoGoulash Recipe&rdquo

The following comments about this Hungarian goulash recipe were left by visitors to the older version of this site:

hungarian goulash yummy

instead of beef I used sausage and cabbage, every thing else the same as recipe called for … and slow cooked in slower cooker found hungarian paprika at Walmart… Go figure… Awsome flavor while cooking even better when it was time to eat will do this one again for sure.

Goulash recipe review

This is an excellent recipe that i have been using for the past 3 years. I give it a 5 for taste.

Although I follow this recipe, I usually leave out the sour cream, and replace the egg noodles with hand made dumplings. In addition, I add about 1-1.5 teaspoons of cayenne pepper to spice it up even more.

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    is the key ingredient in traditional Hungarian goulash recipe. Use a good quality sweet paprika, about 3-4 teaspoons.
  • Cook beef for 1-2 hours over low heat until it falls apart easily with a fork and melts in your mouth.
  • You can leave out the veggies, because goulash is about rich gravy with meat. Personally I like to add the veggies to have a complete meal, but try not to over pack the goulash with veggies. And always add them 30-40 minutes before the beef is done.

Allow to cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to 5 days in the fridge or freeze for 4 months. Thaw overnight and reheat it on the stove.

Yep &ndash with a caveat for the Hungarian version if you&rsquore using potatoes.

Potatoes can get grainy and mushy once frozen, then thawed.

You could make the dish without the potatoes , then add once thawed, but you&rsquoll be missing out on some flavor and body.

Potatoes are a known soup and stew thickener, without having to add a roux.

Given that, I say, take your chances and freeze.

I don&rsquot have any experience with it, because there is never ever anything to freeze.

Also, the American Goulash, with all dat pasta will freeze just fine.

How do you freeze goulash?

You can do this in a couple of ways.

#1: Simply pour cooled goulash into freezer bags, leave a bit of room for expansion, SEAL TIGHT, then lay flat and freeze.

#2: Place in a freezer safe container, LEAVE SOME ROOM AT TOP FOR EXPANSION, then place in freezer.

How to thaw goulash?

There are a few ways you can go about thawing your goulash.

#1: If you froze the dish in freezer bags, and you want to thaw quickly, you can place in a sink of warm water, being careful not to leave out for too long. You don&rsquot want bacteria growing.

#2: Place container on a dish towel &ndash as the meal thaws, condensation will drip off the container, hence, HENCE! the towel will keep water off your fridge shelves and save you some clean-up time &ndash and place in fridge overnight (this is my preferred method &ndash so easy). When you&rsquore ready to reheat, it&rsquos ready to be reheated. BFFS!

Recipe Summary

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 bacon slice, finely chopped
  • 1 ¾ cups water, divided
  • 1 cup chopped seeded tomato
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ¾ cup beer
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 Hungarian wax chiles, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

Place garlic in a small bowl mash with the back of a spoon to form a paste. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, caraway seeds, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and pork in a medium bowl toss. Add pork to pan sauté 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove pork from pan.

Reduce heat to medium-high return pan to heat. Add onion and bacon sauté 7 minutes or until bacon is done, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic mixture cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 1/2 cups water, tomato, paprika, and beer bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in red pepper and chiles simmer 15 minutes. Add pork to pan simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water and flour in a small bowl stir with a whisk. Stir flour mixture and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt into pork mixture. Bring to a boil cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Combine noodles and butter in a medium bowl, stirring until butter melts. Place 1 cup noodles in each of 4 shallow bowls top with 1 cup pork mixture. Top each serving with about 2 teaspoons sour cream. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

How to Make Hungarian Goulash – Step by Step Instructions

To make this authentic Hungarian goulash recipe, you can follow the recipe process photos in this section. That way, you can see exactly how we make our goulash soup.

If you’re feeling confident in the overall recipe process, you can skip down and find the detailed recipe card at the bottom of this post!

First, chop the onion, carrots and potatoes into small pieces. Set the vegetables aside.

Also cut the stewing beef into bite-size pieces if it isn’t already cut.

Heat up a large pot, add the oil and sauté the onion on medium heat for 5-10 minutes until translucent.

Sauté until the beef is browned and partially cooked. Stir occasionally to keep the beef from sticking too much.

After reducing the heat, 2 cups of broth until the mixture is covered completely. If two cups are not enough, add slightly more until the beef is fully covered.

Stir in the paprika and pepper to taste.

Place the lid on the pot and simmer the beef on low heat for one hour or until the beef is tender.

Once the beef is tender, add in the chopped carrots and potatoes. Also, add another cup of broth so that the carrots and potatoes are covered. You can also use water if you prefer.

Simmer the mixture until the carrots and potatoes are soft. Make sure to not overcook the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the pot from heat and serve the goulash hot.

There are a few ways in which you can enjoy this easy Hungarian goulash. It tastes great with a few slices of fresh thick-cut crusty bread.

Of course, goulash can also can be served with egg noodles/dumplings (called Nokedli or spaetzle) or Hungarian pinched noodles (Csipetke) in the soup to make it more filling.

If you’re thinking “I’d make a thick version and serve it on boiled potatoes or Nokedli”, you might be thinking of beef stew which is called Marhapörkölt. Both are tasty – but we know this goulash more as a soup and not as a beef stew.

Hungarian Goulash

In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate, leaving fat in pan.

Season beef with salt and pepper. In batches, add beef to pot, and cook in bacon fat over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to plate with bacon.

Add 1/4 cup of water and onions to pot. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping up browned bits, until all liquid is evaporated and onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Add paprika, tomato paste, and caraway seeds cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add 7 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Bring the goulash to a boil, cover partially, and simmer over low heat for 11/2 hours.

Add potatoes and bell pepper to pot, and simmer, partially covered, over low heat until beef is very tender and sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 hour.

Stir in fish sauce, if using, and remaining 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream and rye bread.