Rustic Hungarian Goulash Recipe (Gulyas) – Our robust recipe for classic Hungarian Goulash includes chunks of beef, potatoes, and lots of paprika to create a perfectly delicious and hearty stew.

Top view of single serving of Hungarian stew in a bowl with the pot in the background

Why You’ll Love This Goulash Recipe

Warm, savory, and satisfying… There is just nothing more comforting than cuddling up with a large bowl of beef stew. As the weather gets colder, my craving for stew grows stronger!

But even as a lover of classic beef stew, I must admit that this deliciously simple beef, carrots, and potatoes dish can get a bit boring after too many servings. So, I figured it was time to branch out and try different versions of the same basic beloved stewed beef concept. This Rustic Hungarian Goulash is at the top of my list. It has all your favorite comfort food flavors with a great punch of paprika!

A bit of backstory: Dan’s grandparents are Hungarian, and so this dish is a nod to his Grandmother’s beef and potato gulyas. Her original version was a thinner “peasant fare” recipe, meant to feed a family on a small budget. My kicked-up goulash recipe is a bit more robust, with lots of veggies and smokey paprika. It is still quite inexpensive and simple to make, but is a heartier dinner for a large family and excellent as a make-ahead meal.

Metal spoon with a bite of beef and vegetables with a bowl of stew in the background

What’s the Difference Between Hungarian Goulash and American Goulash?

While both dishes include beef cooked with tomato, these two goulashes are very different. An American Goulash Recipe is typically made with lean ground beef, elbow macaroni noodles or other small pasta shapes, and tomato sauce. It is cooked quickly in a skillet, and then topped with cheddar cheese. Similar to a Homemade Hamburger Helper Meal.

Hungarian Goulash, however, features chunks of meat and potatoes slowly cooked in a large pot. The result is a comforting, rich stew with terrific depth of flavor.

Hungarian Goulash is also known as Gulyás, which is a Hungarian word for “cowboy.

This dish was originally made by herdsmen as they were out on the range, using whatever veggies they had on hand. It could be a thin soup or hearty stew, depending on what was available. The flexibility of goulash is still one of its best traits, and recipes today greatly differ in preferences of ingredients and consistency.

We personally love a thick Hungarian Gulyas Stew. It’s the perfect meal to feed the family on a cold fall or winter night! Our recipe uses potatoes and seasonal vegetables, and is great to make in a big batch for lots of guaranteed leftovers.

Up close look at the goulash recipe in a blue bowl

Goulash Ingredients

The heartiness of Hungarian Goulash is created by combining several simple, wholesome ingredients. We use fresh veggies and, of course, a generous amount of paprika and bold spices to create intense earthy and smoky flavors in every bite.

Here is everything needed to make an authentic and nourishing beef spicy goulash:

  • Oilfor sautéing
  • Sweet onionor yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • Garlic finely minced
  • Hungarian paprika sweet Hungarian paprika is traditional, but you can also use smoked paprika if you like
  • Beef stew meatuse inexpensive chuck meat, cubed
  • Red peppers seeded and chopped (or green bell pepper)
  • Carrotspeeled and chopped
  • Bay leaveskept whole
  • Caraway seedsfor a wonderful bittersweet flavor
  • Canned diced tomatoes you’ll want to use the juices too, don’t drain
  • Beef broth or beef base and water 
  • Russet potatoesscrubbed and cubed
  • Parsleyfresh, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

Other ingredients sometimes included in gulyas are celery, green peppers, or whatever veggies are on hand.

A few of the spices needed for this recipe including hungarian paprika

How to Make Goulash

This rustic Hungarian Goulash recipe does take a good bit of time to properly cook, but only requires a few simple steps to prepare.

  1. Sauté. First, set a large 6-8 quart sauce pot or dutch oven over medium or medium-high heat. Add the oil, chopped onions, and garlic, and sauté for just a couple of minutes to soften. Then stir in the paprika and beef chunks. Brown the meat, stirring constantly to make sure not to burn the paprika.
  2. Combine. Next add in the chopped bell peppers, carrots, bay leaves, caraway seeds, can of diced tomatoes with the juices, beef broth, and a bit of salt.
  3. Simmer. Stir well with a wooden spoon, cover, and simmer for an hour while stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir and Simmer Again. Once the meat has stewed and the carrots and peppers have cooked down, mix in the chopped potatoes. Cover and simmer again for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  5. Season. Stir in the parsley, taste, and salt and pepper as needed.

Tips & Tricks

  • If you don’t have Hungarian sweet paprika, feel free to use regular paprika or smoky paprika!
  • Let the goulash simmer for at least an hour and a half for maximum flavor and super tender beef! Since you are using an inexpensive cut of beef, braising it in the liquid for a long time is key to making it soft and fall-apart tender.
  • To make vegetarian goulash, replace the beef with mushrooms!

Get the Complete Printable Goulash Recipe (Gulyas) + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!

Dutch oven top view with
Hungarian Goulash inside.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What do you serve Hungarian Goulash with?

Serve Hungarian Gulyas warm, with some homemade rolls or your favorite crusty bread, and a fresh salad on the side. Don’t forget to garnish with fresh parsley and a dollop of sour cream if desired!

What is a traditional goulash recipe made of?

Goulash is traditionally made with simple ingredients like meat, peppers, and root vegetables, along with Hungarian paprika to spice things up. Goulash can be made with beef or pork, but is most commonly made with beef!

Is Hungarian Goulash the same as beef stew?

While Hungarian goulash is a type of beef stew, it’s not exactly the same as the American version. Traditional Hungarian goulash has peppers and the addition of paprika, two ingredients that you might not add to a regular beef stew.

How long do leftovers last in the fridge or freezer?

This dish tastes even more delicious the next day after the ingredients have continued melding. It is a great recipe for make-ahead meal prep! Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can I omit the caraway seeds?

Yes, you can omit the caraway seeds. You do not need to add anything else, but could use a very small number of fennel seeds if you like.

Can Hungarian gulyas be made in a slow cooker?

Sure! This Hungarian goulash recipe can definitely be made in the slow cooker. You will still need to sauté the veggies and brown the meat on the stovetop. 

Then add all the ingredients to a large 6-8 quart crock pot and cook on LOW for 9-12 hours, or on HIGH for 6-7 hours and you will have a comforting Hungarian beef goulash that everyone will love!

Single serving of this hearty hungarian Gulyas recipe with the dutch oven in the background

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Hungarian Goulash Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Hungarian Goulash – Our robust Goulash Recipe includes beef, potatoes, and lots of paprika to create a perfectly hearty and smoky stew.
Servings: 8 servings



  • Set a large 6-8 quart sauce pot over medium heat. Add the oil, chopped onions, and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes to soften. Stir in the paprika and beef chunks. Brown the meat for 5 minutes, stirring to make sure not to burn the paprika.
  • Add in the bell peppers, carrots, bay leaves, caraway seeds, tomatoes, broth, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well. Cover. Then simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Mix in the chopped potatoes. Cover and simmer again for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Then stir in the parsley. Taste, and salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.



If you don’t have Hungarian paprika, feel free to substitute for another smoky or sweet paprika that’s available. Just be sure not to use spicy hot paprika!


Serving: 1.25cup, Calories: 299kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 673mg, Potassium: 1114mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 5416IU, Vitamin C: 56mg, Calcium: 97mg, Iron: 5mg
Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Hungarian
Author: Sommer Collier
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