Hungarian Goulash Recipe

4.67 from 3 votes

Hearty Hungarian goulash is a delicious beef stew seasoned with sweet paprika, caraway and filled to the brim with chunky vegetables and tender beef. The savory broth is rich, viscous, and perfect for soaking with some crusty bread!

closeup: a bowl of hungarian goulash with beef and vegetables showing

When the weather is cold and the days are longer, there’s nothing I crave more than a thick, hearty European beef and vegetable stew. And let me say, there’s no dish that satisfies that craving like Hungarian goulash!

A goulash is, by definition, a stew. Its trademark broth is flavored with rendered beef fat, simmered onions and garlic, and plenty of sweet paprika. It’s actually one of the national dishes of Hungary, so it’s no surprise that the Hungarian goulash recipe is a perfect example! I shake it up a bit and brown the onion and beef in bacon fat for an extra punch of flavor.

overhead: my hungarian goulash recipe with a dollop of sour cream on top and baguette on the side

A quick note: this recipe uses sweet Hungarian paprika. Regular smoked paprika would be too overpowering in the broth, so make sure to get the right kind!

For more delicious, warming stews from around the globe, check out Moroccan chicken stew, Indian gal gosht (or lamb stew), and — if you’re looking for something you could even serve with breakfast — shrimp and chicken congee.

overhead: ingredients needed for hungarian goulash

Tip From Kevin

Sweet or Hot Hungarian Paprika?

Hungarian paprika is a spice renowned for its role in Hungarian cuisine, delivering both flavor and color to dishes. The key difference lies in its heat: “sweet” paprika is milder, offering a rich, slightly sweet taste, while “hot” paprika packs a fiery punch. Home cooks use sweet paprika for flavoring dishes like stews, soups, and goulash, infusing them with a warm, smoky essence. Hot paprika, on the other hand, adds a spicy kick to recipes, ideal for those who prefer a more intense flavor.

closeup: my hungarian goulash recipe in a white bowl with a dollop of sour cream on top

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Stewing Beef This beef is made from tough chuck steak, also known as braising steak, that becomes incredibly flavorful and tender after simmering in the broth. 
  • Yellow Onions Quite a few onions are tossed into this Hungarian goulash recipe — about 2 or 3 large ones.
  • Garlic – To substitute with garlic paste, use 1 teaspoon per clove.
  • Red & Yellow Bell Peppers Feel free to use all red, all yellow, or even throw in some orange bell peppers! However, avoid green peppers — the more bitter flavor doesn’t suit this recipe.
  • Tomatoes – Diced tomatoes add a robust, zesty flavor to the broth. 
  • Flour – To thicken the stew. 
  • Seasonings ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds, a single bay leaf, and the most important of all: ¼ cup Hungarian sweet paprika. This very rich, sweet, and smoldering spice truly defines Hungarian goulash.
  • Beef Broth – You could also just use water, but broth adds a heck of a lot more flavor. 
  • Yellow Potatoes Cut them down but keep them nice and chunky for a really hearty stew. I really enjoy using Yukon gold and fingerling potatoes in Hungarian goulash, but the always-available Russets will also do the job.
  • Carrots – Wash, peel, and dice for the soup.
extreme closeup: hungarian goulash in a bowl with sour creamw, beef, and vegetables showing

How to Make Hungarian Goulash

  1. Sauté Onions & Garlic. Place the Dutch oven on the stove and heat on medium-high. Melt down the bacon fat or butter before adding the onions. Stir until golden brown, then throw in the garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes.
  2. Add Beef, Peppers & Tomatoes. Add the beef to the pan along with the salt and pepper. Brown for 8 minutes. Add the peppers and tomatoes, stir, and cook for 8 minutes longer.
  3. Season & Simmer. Dust the flour over the beef and stir until it coats every ingredient. Cook for a minute or so before adding the paprika, caraway seeds, bay leaf, and beef broth. Stir it all together and increase the heat to bring the goulash to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. 
  4. Add Remaining Vegetables. Uncover and add the potatoes and carrots. Again increase the heat to bring the soup to a boil before lowering the heat once more to a low simmer. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes until the beef is tender. 
  5. Serve. Season the soup to taste and remove the bay leaf. Serve with crusty bread and a spoonful of tangy sour cream.
  • Dutch Oven – When it comes to soups and stews, you really can’t do better than a Dutch oven. The nonstick coating helps you easily transition from sauteeing to browning to simmering with ease. 

Storing and Reheating

Let any leftovers cool before refrigerating in an airtight container. Reheat back on the stovetop, simmering until the beef and vegetables are warmed through, or by microwaving in a covered bowl.

Or freeze it! Hungarian goulash lasts just 4 days in the fridge but up to 3 months in the freezer. Separate into serving-size portions (I find gallon freezer bags the easiest way to do this) for quicker, easier thawing.

overhead: my hungarian goulash recipe in a white bowl with sour cream on top and baguette on the side

Frequently Asked Questions

What sets Hungarian goulash apart from American goulash?

Goulash served in the United States is a sight different from a Central European, Hungarian goulash recipe.

To start, American goulash often contains noodles! It also uses ground beef rather than beef cubes, and some recipes even throw in some cheese. It’s much quicker to make, to be fair, but the broth is usually thinner and the result is more of a hamburger and vegetable “cafeteria” lunch soup.

How can I thicken Hungarian goulash?

If the broth isn’t thick enough for you after an hour of simmering, stir in a cornstarch slurry made with equal parts cold water and cornstarch — start with ½ tablespoon of each before slowly adding more.

It’s important to make a slurry instead of just tossing the cornstarch into the hot broth. That would cause the starch to clump and coagulate instead of dissolve and thicken.

Other than that I often times keep a box of mashed potatoes on hand just to thicken up soups and stews. A 1/2 cup stirred through and your good to go!

What is traditionally eaten with goulash?

In Hungary, you’ll find the stew served with almost any kind of carb: egg noodles, mashed potatoes, rice, dumplings, or — my personal favorite — crusty bread.

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Hungarian Goulash Recipe

4.67 from 3 votes
Hungarian goulash is a thick, savory beef and vegetable stew with a perfect amount of spice from sweet paprika, caraway and sour cream on top
Servings: 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 24 minutes
Total: 1 hour 39 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds yellow onions (2-3 large) chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds stewing beef cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 red bell peppers cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 5 cups water or beef broth (more flavor with beef broth)
  • 2 medium yellow potatoes cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced



  • Melt the bacon fat or butter in a Dutch oven or other heavy soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown and add the garlic. Cook another 3 minutes.
  • Add the beef, salt and pepper and cook until the beef starts to brown, 8 minutes. Add the bell peppers and tomatoes and cook for another 8 minutes.
  • Add the flour and stir to coat everything and cook another minute. Add the paprika, caraway, bay leaf and beef broth. Stir and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the beef is tender. Season to taste, remove the bay leaf and serve with dollop of sour cream and crusty french bread.



Calories: 756kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 131mg | Sodium: 1869mg | Potassium: 1692mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 10353IU | Vitamin C: 163mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 7mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Hungarian
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): hungarian goulash recipe


I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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    1. If preferred, you coulds always mash the potatoes a bit to make it thicker. Thanks for letting me know Natalie.