Old fashioned Hungarian goulash
Beef Dinner Hungary Lunch

Old Fashioned Hungarian Goulash: A Taste of Hungary in a Bowl

When I first tried this old fashioned Hungarian goulash, my taste buds said that it is similar to the Filipinos “beef caldereta.” I might have been homesick then, it was during my first year in Saudi Arabia as an OFW. However, I could not forget the taste of that dish that, again as I almost always did (and still do up to these days), I looked up the recipe! You know how we did that more than 30 years ago, right?

I will share with you a traditional recipe for Hungarian goulash, which is often referred to in Hungary as a national dish. It is not any traditional stew as it boasts a tantalizing blend of tender chunks of beef, onions, potatoes, carrots, and sweet bell peppers. The slow-cooking process ensures that the ingredients blend together, creating a hearty and soul-satisfying experience. The vibrant shades of red from the paprika and the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the beef make every bite a delight. I guarantee you that it will become one of your favorite recipes.

Ingredients used in Old Fashioned Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian Goulash Ingredients

The basic ingredients for this meat dish are beef, carrots, potatoes and Hungarian spices.

Beef is the star ingredient in this Hungarian dish. It is typically cut into cubes.

Onions are another essential component, providing a sweet and savory base for the dish. Potatoes add a comforting and hearty element, soaking up the flavors and providing starchy creaminess in the goulash sauce.

Ripe fresh tomatoes make the sauce of the goulash. Canned tomatoes can be a good replacement.

The true secret to the authentic taste of Hungarian Goulash is in the generous use of sweet paprika. This vibrant red spice adds depth, color, and a distinct flavor to the dish. It is also called Hungarian paprika.

Spices such as garlic, and caraway seeds complete the taste of the stew.

Aren’t they all simple ingredients for a hearty beef stew?

The cooking process of Hungarian Goulash

The cooking process of Hungarian Goulash requires patience, and a slow cooking method to ensure that the flavors develop fully.

The first step is to brown the beef cubes in a Dutch oven over medium heat allowing them to develop a rich caramelized crust. Next, add the onions and cook until they become translucent and fragrant followed by spices like, garlic, and marjoram plus a teaspoon salt to infuse the dish with their aromatic essence.

Add water or beef broth into the pot and stew beef on low heat for several hours, allowing the flavors to meld together and the beef to become tender. Towards the end of the cooking process, add the potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers to create a starchy element that completes the dish. Add just the right amount of either tomato sauce, tomato paste (mixed with little water), or canned tomatoes, and steam for an additional 5-6 minutes. The result is a thick and hearty stew that is bursting with flavor.

Variations of Hungarian Goulash

While the traditional Hungarian Goulash recipe remains the most popular, there are several variations of the dish that offer unique twists and flavor combinations.

One such variation is the “Csángó Goulash,” which includes sauerkraut, giving the dish a tangy and slightly sour taste.

Another variation is the “Betyár Goulash,” which features the addition of smoked sausage, adding an extra dimension of smokiness to the dish.

Vegetarian versions of Hungarian Goulash are also available, where the meat is replaced with mushrooms or tofu, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the flavors of this beloved dish.

Serving Suggestions

Traditional accompaniments for old-fashioned Hungarian goulash include freshly baked bread, such as Hungarian sourdough, any crusty bread, such as rye bread, or baguettes, which are perfect for soaking up the flavorful sauce.

For a heartier meal, goulash can be served with boiled or mashed potatoes, allowing you to savor the combination of tender beef and creamy potatoes.

For a lighter option, a side salad with fresh greens and tangy vinaigrette can provide a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the goulash.

Who said that Hungarian goulash cannot be served with steamy boiled white rice? Or egg noodles? Even boiled elbow macaroni? The rich broth of the goulash is perfect for these choices.

Hungarian goulash recipe

How to Store Leftovers

To store leftover beef goulash, first allow it to cool to room temperature. Then, transfer the goulash into airtight containers. Refrigerate the containers if you plan to consume the goulash within 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze the goulash in freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags for up to 3 months.

When ready to eat, thaw the goulash in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until it reaches the desired temperature, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating. You can also place it in a microwave-safe dish and cook on medium heat until done.

Additional Cooking Tips:

  • Cook using a slow cooker – a wise and convenient way to have this dish at the end of a workday on weekdays.
  • Top with sour cream at serving time as garnish and for an additional creamy taste.
  • Replace beef cubes with ground beef. It works.
  • Use white or yellow onions as they are sweeter compared to red onions.
  • Add a tablespoon of brown sugar to add a bit more of sweetness to the dish.
  • Add any root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, and this will not alter the rich taste of the goulash.
  • Cook your goulash in a crock pot during busy weekdays (I have not tried cooking this in a pressure cooker).
  • Beef broth can be achieved with a combination of cups of water and beef bouillon. Make sure you result to low sodium beef broth; you can omit the salt from the dish otherwise.
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Old fashioned Hungarian goulash

Old-Fashioned Hungarian Goulash

  • Author: Magida
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours
  • Total Time: 31 minute
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: cooking
  • Cuisine: Hungary


A hearty, flavorful stew made with tender beef, onions, paprika, and a variety of vegetables, traditionally slow-cooked to perfection. Perfect for a comforting meal.


  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1kg beef shanks or chuck roast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 medium onions (preferably yellow or white), diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsps sweet paprika powder
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 4 cups of beef broth or beef stock
  • 2 carrots, cut into 11/2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • salt to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Sear beef chunks in a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, then set aside.
  2. Using the same pot, sautee garlic and onions in cooking oil over medium-high heat for at least 10 minutes – until they are lightly brown.
  3. Add beef back to the pot followed by paprika powder, caraway seeds, black pepper, salt, bay leaves, and beef broth or beef stock. Let the mixture come to a soft boil. Lower the heat to medium low. Cover the pot and cook until beef pieces are tender adding potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and chopped tomatoes midway. To test, cooked beef should be almost as soft as the vegetables.
  4. Serve and garnish it with chopped fresh parsley.

Keywords: old fashioned Hungarian goulash

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