Hungarian Goulash

This Hungarian Goulash is a deep, smoky beef stew that you can make quickly in your pressure cooker or let it simmer all day in your slow cooker. The result is a tender, delicious meal that can be served over rice, potatoes or egg noodles.

Jump to Recipe (or scroll for photos and riveting information...)
Advertisement - Continue Below
Two plates of Hungarian Goulash on egg noodles on a tabletop with cutlery..

What is Hungarian Goulash?

Hungarian Goulash bears no resemblance whatsoever to the pot of macaroni with beef and tomatoes that many Americans call Goulash (or American Goulash). Authentic Hungarian Goulash is a soup or stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika that originated in Hungary centuries ago. It’s full of tender meat morsels coated in a smoky intense sauce that works perfectly over egg noodles, spaetzle, rice or potatoes

Advertisement - Continue Below
Ingredients on a cutting board - paprika, carraway seed, onion, potato, roasted red peppers, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and stew beef.

Key Ingredients in Goulash

Hungarian Goulash originated with Hungarian cow herders who would make a stew and dehydrate it to carry along on their journey, requiring just water to re-hydrate the stew and have a hearty meal. Traditionally this stew would have been made with beef or pork, and either can be used today. While there are always onions in a goulash, you’ll find various other vegetables in different versions of goulash.  This recipe includes roasted red peppers which add to the deep roasted flavor, and a potato, which when crushed at the end, helps to thicken the stew. There are no rules though, so add whichever vegetables you like. The one ingredient that is always in Hungarian Goulash is paprika. In general, there are three varieties of paprika – hot, smoked and sweet. Sweet paprika is not sweet with sugar – it’s just not hot with spicy heat or smoky in flavor. It’s the sweet paprika that is usually used in Goulash. 

Advertisement - Continue Below
Beef searing in a stainless steel sauté pan.

Important Step: Browning

Browning the meat for the Goulash is a very important step, giving the meat flavor and a more appealing appearance. If your pressure cooker or slow cooker does not have a browning function (or you’d just prefer a bigger surface area for browning in fewer batches), use a large sauté pan for the job. Do yourself a favor and don’t over-crowd your pan. Over-crowding just leads to moisture accumulating in the pan and prevents proper browning. You’ll end up boiling your meat instead. It takes time and patience to brown properly, but it’s really the only step that needs your attention so take your time to do it right.

Advertisement - Continue Below
Sauce in a stainless steel sauté pan with a wooden spoon scraping along the bottom.

Important Step: Deglazing

The other advantage to browning your meat well in step one is that you’ll have more brown morsels on the bottom of the pan. Then, by deglazing the pan, you’ll incorporate even more flavor into your goulash sauce. Keep your pan at medium to medium-high heat and sauté your vegetables, tomato paste and spices. Then, add the white wine or dry vermouth and scrape up those brown morsels on the bottom of the pan. Use a flat deglazing spatula for best results and enjoy how deglazing also cleans your pan. Then, transfer the sauce and browned beef to the cooker and continue onward.

Advertisement - Continue Below
Ingredients for Hungarian Goulash in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon sticking out of it.

Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker Goulash

You’ll find recipes for both these appliances down below. The difference? About three and a half to seven and a half hours! That is honestly the biggest different between the two. The pressure cooker will give you just as tender results as the slow cooker, and the slow cooker will give you just as delicious a sauce as the pressure cooker. Why use one over the other? You might not have one of these two appliances (which will make your decision really easy), or you might find that a longer cooking time works better into the schedule of your day than just 20 minutes of cooking time. It’s always good to have options.

Advertisement - Continue Below
Finished Hungarian Goulash in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon sticking out of it.

What to Serve with Goulash

Traditional Hungarian Goulash would probably be served over spaetzle – a small noodle or dumpling made with eggs – but you could ladle it over egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes and be very happy. Prepare a simple green salad to go alongside and you’ve got everything you need for a nice balanced meal. 

Advertisement - Continue Below
A hand ladling Hungarian Goulash over egg noodles with a slow cooker in the background.

How to Store Goulash

If you have any leftovers, store them in the refrigerator for up to five days, or freeze it for up to 3 months. When re-heating, thin with a little water or more stock and enjoy!

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
General Tips for Slow Cooking

These tips and tricks will ensure successful slow cooking, giving you the moist and tender results you're looking for.View Technique

General Tips for Pressure Cooking

It is important to understand your Pressure Cooker to use it properly. Use the items below as guidance to continue...View Technique

Advertisement - Continue Below

Hungarian Beef Goulash - Pressure Cooker

  • Prep Time: 30 m
  • Cook Time: 18 m
  • Total Time: 48 m
  • Servings:
    6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease or vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • ½ cup white wine or dry vermouth
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers diced
  • 1 russet potato peeled and cut into chunks
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the pressure cooker using the Brown/Sauté setting.
  2. Heat the bacon grease or oil and in batches, brown the beef on all sides. Remove the browned beef to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, and caraway seeds to the cooker and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Add the paprika and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the white wine to the cooker and using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the cooker. Add the tomatoes, roasted peppers, potato, beef stock and salt. Season with freshly ground black pepper and return the beef to the cooker. Lock the lid in place.
  5. Pressure-cook on HIGH for 18 minutes.
  6. Reduce the pressure with the QUICK-RELEASE method and carefully remove the lid.
  7. Stir the goulash well as you mix in the parsley. This will break the potato a little and thicken the goulash. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

Hungarian Beef Goulash - Slow Cooker

  • Prep Time: 30 m
  • Cook Time: 4 h
  • Total Time: 4 h 30 m
  • Servings:
    6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers diced
  • 1 russet potato peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the slow cooker for at least 20 minutes to get it warm.
  2. Pre- heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon grease or oil and working in batches, add the beef cubes and brown on all sides. Remove the browned beef from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, and caraway seeds to the sauté pan and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Add the paprika and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the white wine to the pan and using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, roasted peppers, potato, beef stock and salt and bring to a simmer. Season with freshly ground black pepper and transfer the mixture to the warmed slow cooker. Add the browned beef to the slow cooker and stir everything together. Cover.
  5. Slow cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours or on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.
  6. Stir the goulash well as you mix in the parsley. This will break the potato a little and thicken the goulash. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below
Advertisement - Continue Below

Comments (5)Post a Reply

    1. On top of the recipe title are two tabs for different cooking versions of this recipe. If you click on the slow cooker tab you will see the directions. You will want to slow cook the goulash at 4 to 5 hours on High or 8 to 10 hours on low.

  1. Hi Meredith – first I must tell you I enjoy receiving your Blue Jean Ched email recipes. Especially scrolling down to the picture of Hazel and /or Loulou!

    Now to the Hungarian Goulash recipe, How long would this need to cook on the stove top in a enameled cast iron Dutch oven?

    1. Hi Jan. I would simmer it on the stovetop gently for about 75 to 90 minutes, adding water or a little more stock as needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.