A classic Hungarian Goulash with melt-in-your mouth, tender beef that’s been slowly cooked in an incredibly rich broth. Tasty, comforting and perfect for the whole family!
What Is Hungarian Goulash?
In 1866 Hungarian immigrants began to settle in my province. They brought with them this stick to your ribs goulash, a rich stew flavored with sweet paprika, plenty of fresh garlic, and caraway seed. Served over noodles, potato, or spaetzle (German egg noodle), this recipe will warm you from the inside out.
This Hungarian classic stews does not rely on a flour or roux for thickening. Many versions also include potatoes, carrots or turnips. But I wanted to keep this version simple because I want to showcase how with just a few simple ingredients you can achieve incredible flavor. So let’s get into this melt in your mouth recipe from the old country and as they say in Hungary, edd meg!
Ingredients In Hungarian Goulash
As always, scroll to my recipe card at the bottom of the page for complete measurements and details.
- Olive oil – We will use olive oil to brown our beef. Browning your beef is key to develop a rich complex flavor which is essential when making such a simple recipe.
- Stewing beef – Stewing beef is generally from chuck or round cuts, tougher cuts that become flavorful and tender when cooked in stews. A less tough cut of beef will fall apart in a recipe like this.
- Salt & pepper – My recipe calls for a teaspoon of each but you can tweak this seasoning if you desire.
- Onion – Choose an onion that will hold up to a long, slow cook time. I used white for this recipe.
- Garlic – I used fresh but if minced in a bottle is all you have, just remember that 1 1/2 teaspoon is equal to one fresh clove
- of garlic.
- Paprika – The paprika should really shine in this dish so I opted for sweet Hungarian paprika.
- Caraway seed – This spice has a distinct warm flavor and gives this dish some brightness. We want these ground so if you can only find them sold whole just grind them with a mortar and pestle.
- Oregano – Packed full of vitamins, this little herb packs more than just flavor. I used dried Oregano for this dish.
- Bay leaves – This is an aromatic used in the cooking process, make sure to fish it out before serving the dish as it’s not meant to be eaten!
- Brown sugar – We want to develop complex flavor and a thick rich sauce as we cook. This adds some crucial sweetness to the meat and the sauce.
- Tomato sauce – The base to our sauce, tomato sauce lends some acidity to the dish to help balance out all our big flavors.
- Balsamic vinegar – A nice dark vinegar like balsamic will help all our flavors really penetrate the meat as it cooks.
- Beef broth – No sodium added for this broth, we really want to make sure we control our sodium level for this dish.
- Parsley – Chopped fresh for garnish.
How To Make Hungarian Goulash
The big difference between a traditional stew and Hungarian stews is that Hungarian stews do not rely on a flour or roux for thickening, which is why most of the time it’s more like a soup and it’s usually served over noodles, potatoes or spatzle.
- Brown the meat – In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat. When the oil is hot add the beef, season with salt and pepper and continue to sear till the meat begins to brown. We want the liquid that the beef releases as it cooks to evaporate off so be sure to keep the heat on high.
- Incorporate your flavors – Add the onions and garlic to the dish and cook till the onions begin to soften and go translucent, be sure that your garlic doesn’t burn in this time, it shouldn’t though because there should be enough moisture in the pot. If need be, add the garlic right when the onions are soft. Add the paprika, oregano, bay leaves, caraway seed, and brown sugar, be sure to stir all of these together before allowing to cook for 30 seconds.
- Create the sauce – Add the wet ingredients: the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, and beef broth before stirring completely. Bring this entire mixture to a boil before covering and turning down the heat to low, allow this to cook for 2 hours and don’t forget to stir occasionally.
- Serve – Garnish with parsley and serve over noodles or mashed potatoes.
- Hungarian Goulash is all about the paprika, so you’ll want a good quality Hungarian sweet paprika and you’ll want to use at least 3 to 4 tablespoons of it.
- Take the time to cook your meat properly, it really needs 2 to 3 hours so that the beef becomes tender and melts in your mouth.
- Don’t over pack it with vegetables, as a matter of fact I didn’t add any potatoes or carrots. Goulash is about the rich broth and the meat.
- If you really want to include some veggies; carrots, potatoes, or turnips are nice additions. Add them 40 minutes before the beef is done cooking.
How Else Can I Make Hungarian Goulash?
Use the saute mode of your pressure cooker to cook everything as instructed up until and including creating your sauce. From there you will turn it on “meat/stew” mode and allow to cook for 35 minutes. After this time allow the heat and pressure to release naturally before opening the lid.
Follow all the same instructions up to and including creating your sauce, then transfer the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Allow to cool completely before storing for up to 5 days refrigerated in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months, just allow to thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat over a sauce pan, stirring constantly.
Craving More Stews? Try These:
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- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 ½ lbs stewing beef lean, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp pepper or to taste
- 2 large onions roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp caraway seeds ground
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups beef broth no salt added
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped, for garnish
- Heat a large deep skillet or Dutch oven over high heat then add the olive oil.
- When the oil is hot add the stewing beef. Season with salt and pepper and sear the beef until it starts to brown. The beef will release liquid so continue searing on high heat, and the liquid will evaporate. Alternatively you could drain all the liquid.
- Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions soften and become translucent. Turn the heat down to medium-high.
- Add the paprika, caraway seeds, oregano, bay leaves and brown sugar to the skillet. Stir everything together and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, beef broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low for about 2 hours or until the beef is fork tender, stirring occasionally. The liquid will reduce down a lot as the beef cooks, so feel free to add more water as needed.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if needed.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve over noodles or mashed potatoes.
- If you only have caraway seeds that are not ground use a mortar and pestle to grind them a bit.
- Carrots or potatoes can be added to the stew as well. If adding them, add them 45 minutes before the beef is done cooking. Add more beef broth or water as needed.
- Cool completely, then refrigerate for up to 5 days
- Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash: I would still follow all the steps up to and including step 5 then transfer everything to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Instant Pot Hungarian Goulash: This can easily be done in the IP, use your Saute mode to cook everything as instructed up to and including step 5 then cover up the IP and press the “meat/stew” button and set the timer to 35 minutes. After 35 min of high pressures, allow the IP to naturally cool and release pressure before opening the lid.
- Nutritional information does not include noodles or mashed potatoes. Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.