This Hungarian Goulash recipe is a mix of the old world and new world, a rich and meaty stew loaded with vegetables and vibrant paprika, so satisfying.
We're cooking up a big pot of comfort food in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen, my friends. Pull up a chair! I have a bowl for you right here.
This recipe is very much a hearty beef stew from Hungary filled with lots of flavorful vegetables, and seasoned with one of my very favorite spices in the world - Hungarian paprika.
The dish is called Hungarian Goulash, and I know you're going to love it.
What is Hungarian Goulash?
Hungarian goulash, known as "gulyás" in Hungary, is an old world dish considered forebear of all stews. It is known to have been prepared by 9th century shepherds over their fires for a hearty meal.
You'll find many versions of this dish, with variations in meats, vegetables, spices, and cooking techniques, each depending on the region and the cook. With a dish this old, you can imagine it has evolved in different ways.
While I was in Budapest, Hungary, I enjoyed goulash several different ways, which focused more on the meat and the gravy-like paprika sauce, and while each was unique, all were delicious.
Traditionally, goulash was a simple soup-like stew of meat cooked in pot with paprika, thickened by the collagen of the meat in the slow cooking process.
Today, many people thicken it with a roux, though this isn't necessary. You can use a roux if you'd like to.
My version of the recipe is a mixture of old world and new world techniques, similar to a dish called "bograch".
It's my favorite way to make it, though you can eventually make your own as you please.
Let's talk about how to make Hungarian Goulash, shall we?
Hungarian Goulash Ingredients
- Bacon. Pork lard is a more traditional ingredient, but bacon works nicely for new world cooks. Olive oil is a good substitute as well.
- Onion. Will add a base layer of flavor.
- Stew Beef. You can also use lamb, pork, or veal.
- Hungarian Paprika. There are several types of Hungarian Paprika, and you can use your favorite to taste, or a combination. I enjoy hot and smoked. Use sweet paprika for a milder version.
- Other Seasonings. Salt and pepper, to taste. Caraway seeds are a popular addition.
- Additional Vegetables. Red bell peppers, celery, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots.
- Beef Broth. You can also use water, which is more traditional. The amount will vary, depending on your preferred thickness of the dish. Use less for more of a stew, and more for a soup.
- Bay Leaves.
How to Make Hungarian Goulash - the Recipe Method
Cook the Bacon and Onions. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven to medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 minutes to render the fat.
Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes to soften.
Season the Beef. Season the chopped stew beef with paprika, salt and pepper.
Brown the Meat to Seal in Flavor. Add to the pot and brown the meat on each side, about 5 minutes.
The First Simmer. Add the bell peppers, celery, garlic, tomatoes, beef broth (or water), and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Heat to medium and simmer for 1.5 hours.
The Second Simmer. Add the potatoes and carrots. Cover and simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables are tender and the meat is done to your liking. Cooking time can vary, so be sure to taste and adjust.
Boom! Done! Your Hungarian goulash is ready to serve. Easy enough to make, isn't it? It's mostly simmering and waiting. The smells of it cooking will drive you crazy with anticipation!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Some new world Hungarian goulash recipes are thickened with a roux, which you can do if you'd like. However, the collagen from the meats in the slow cooking process, along with the starchy potatoes, work as good thickeners for this recipe.
- To thicken the goulash, mix a couple tablespoons of flour in 1/4 cup water to form a slurry. Stir the slurry into the stew and heat until thickened.
- Swirl sour cream into your finished dish for a creamier version of the recipe. This is not traditional, but delicious.
- For a slow cooker version, follow the recipe through step 3 (searing the seasoned meat), then toss everything into the slow cooker or crock pot. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. Enjoy!
Serving Hungarian Goulash
You can serve Hungarian goulash on it's own as a soup or a stew, often with rye bread to sop up all those flavorful juices.
I see it often served over prepared egg noodles, or with sauerkraut.
Grab yourself a glass of red wine!
This recipe will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. You can easily warm it in a small pot to enjoy again.
You can also freeze it for 2-3 months. I always save my leftovers.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my Hungarian goulash recipe, definitely a mix of old school and new school. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and if you decided to spice it up!
If you enjoy Hungarian cuisine, I recommend the following cookbook, which I used to adapt this recipe. It has a lot of great recipes.
- The Hungarian Cookbook, by Yolanda Nagy Fintor (affiliate link, my friends!)
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Booyah (Midwestern Stew)
- Brunswick Stew
- Green Chili Stew with Pork
- Sancocho (Latin American Stew)
- Mexican Birria
- Chicken Paprikash (Paprika Chicken)
- See all of my Soups and Stews Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Hungarian Goulash Recipe
- 4 slices bacon chopped (or use 2 tablespoons pork lard or olive oil)
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 2 pounds stew beef cut into 1/2 inch cubes (bite-sized pieces)
- ¼ cup Hungarian paprika or more to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 green bell peppers chopped (can use red, yellow, or orange)
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes diced
- 3 cups beef broth or use water for more traditional - can use up to 5 cups for soupier goulash
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 large potatoes chopped
- 2 large carrots peeled and chopped
- Heat a large pot or Dutch oven to medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 minutes to render the fat.
- Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes to soften.
- Season the chopped stew beef with paprika, salt and pepper. Add to the pot and brown the meat on each side, about 5 minutes.
- Add the bell peppers, celery, garlic, tomatoes, beef broth (or water), and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 1.5 hours.
- Add the potatoes and carrots. Cover and simmer another 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the meat is done to your liking.