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Hungarian Goulash Recipe: A Hearty and Flavorful Meal

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Hungarian Goulash is a classic comfort food that brings the rich, hearty flavors of Hungary right to your kitchen. Made with tender beef, paprika, onions, and peppers, this stew is perfect for a cozy dinner.

You’ll love how easy it is to prepare, even with its deep and savory taste. Using key ingredients like quality Hungarian paprika and beef broth, you can create a dish that feels both traditional and deliciously unique. Serve it with noodles, rice, or fresh bread for a complete meal that everyone will enjoy.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Here are the ingredients you will need to make Hungarian goulash:

Main Ingredients

  • Beef: Use chuck roast or stewing beef cut into chunks. Substitute: Pork can be used instead.
  • Onions: Chopped finely.
  • Garlic: Minced.
  • Paprika: Hungarian sweet paprika is preferred.
  • Caraway Seeds: Optional but recommended.
  • Tomatoes: Chopped or use tomato paste.


  • Beef Broth: Adds depth to the flavor. Substitute: Water with beef bouillon.
  • Tomato Sauce: Adds richness. Substitute: Tomato paste thinned with water.


  • Carrots: Sliced into rounds.
  • Potatoes: Cut into chunks.
  • Bell Pepper: Optional for extra color and flavor.


  • Salt: To taste.
  • Black Pepper: Freshly ground.
  • Bay Leaves: Adds aroma.

Optional Additions

  • Bacon: Adds a smoky flavor.
  • Butter: For extra richness.

Goulash Tips

  • Paprika Can Burn: Add it off the heat to avoid bitterness.
  • Simmer on Low: This allows the flavors to meld perfectly.


Step 1:
Start by heating some lard or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Step 2:
Add your diced bacon, if using, and cook until crispy. Remove and set aside.

Step 3:
Add the beef to the pot. Brown it on all sides. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Once browned, remove the beef and set aside.

Step 4:
Add onions to the pot. Cook them until they are soft and lightly colored.

Step 5:
Add garlic, bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes. Cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Step 6:
Sprinkle in Hungarian paprika, caraway seeds (if using), salt, and pepper. Stir well to coat the meat and veggies.

Step 7:
Pour in beef broth and add bay leaves. Stir everything together. If you have bacon, add it back now.

Step 8:
Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, cover, and let it simmer for about 40 minutes.

Step 9:
Add diced potatoes and continue to cook for another 30-40 minutes until all ingredients are tender.

Optional Step:
If you prefer a thicker stew, you can mix some flour and water to make a slurry and add it to the pot in the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Once everything is cooked and flavors have melded, serve your Hungarian Goulash hot! Enjoy with a side of bread or noodles.

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Choose the Right Meat: Use high-quality beef like chuck roast or shin for tender results. Trim the fat for a leaner dish.

Sauté for Flavor: Always sauté onions, garlic, and bell peppers first. This releases their natural sweetness and adds depth.

Don’t Burn the Paprika: Add paprika off the heat to avoid burning it, which can make it bitter.

Adjust Consistency: If your goulash is too thin, make a cornstarch slurry with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and ¼ cup cold water or beef broth. Stir until smooth and add slowly to the goulash over low heat.

Add Vegetables Late: Add vegetables like bell peppers and potatoes 30 minutes before the cook time ends. This keeps them firm and flavourful.

Use a Slow Cooker: Cooking on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours makes the meat tender and flavors develop fully with minimal hands-on time.

Control Heat: Simmer goulash on medium heat to prevent it from boiling, which can make the beef tough.

Creamy Twist: For a creamy sauce, stir in ¼ cup of heavy cream at the end of cooking.

Storing: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Reheat on the stove over low heat.

Freezing: Freeze for up to 3 months in freezer-safe containers. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Reheat Gently: To prevent overcooking, reheat slowly and stir occasionally. Add a splash of broth if it seems too thick.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

There are many ways you can put your own twist on Hungarian Goulash.

Meat Variations:

  • Beef: Traditional, hearty.
  • Pork: Adds a different flavor.
  • Chicken: Lighter option.

Vegetable Additions:

  • Carrots: Sweet and earthy.
  • Potatoes: Makes it more filling.
  • Bell Peppers: Adds color and a mild sweetness.

Spice Adjustments:

  • Paprika: Use smoked for a deeper flavor.
  • Caraway Seeds: Optional, for extra warmth.
  • Cayenne Pepper: For a spicy kick.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Noodles: Serve over egg noodles for a comforting meal.
  • Bread: Fresh crusty bread to soak up the sauce.
  • Rice: Provides a simple, neutral base.


  • Sour Cream: Adds creaminess and balances the spices.
  • Fresh Parsley: Adds freshness and color.

This recipe is adaptable, so feel free to mix and match based on what you like or have on hand. Enjoy your cooking!

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.