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Authentic German Goulash Recipe

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An authentic German goulash recipe just the way my mother-in-law makes it. Tender chunks of beef in a rich, hearty, delicious onion gravy.

close up german beef goulash with spaetzle on a small plate with fork.

This melt-in-your-mouth German goulash is the kind of hearty stew I cook very often. There are many different goulash recipes; a traditional Hungarian goulash or the American style made with macaroni noodles and tomato sauce are delicious. Still, my German family grew up with this version, so they prefer it. It is German comfort food at its best.

Why will you love this dish?

  • Authentic German recipe: this is the kind of hearty beef stew or goulash cooked in my husband’s family for generations.
  • Rich and comforting: tender beef pieces smothered in a thick onion gravy.
  • Few ingredients
  • No searing of the meat!
  • Great to make in advance
  • Perfect for a large gathering

Recipe ingredients

listed ingredients for making beef goulash on a white table.
  • Beef chuck. In Germany, it is very easy to get the proper cut of meat for making this dish, as it is labeled as goulash meat. Otherwise, it’s good to know that it’s beef chuck you need.
  • Onions: This recipe is all about the beef and the onions used in a 1:1 ratio (1 kg: 1 kg). 1 kg is about 4 large onions, which might seem like lots of onions at first. But don’t worry, they will almost melt in the dish, making the gravy thick and flavorful.
  • Red wine: I use medium-priced dry red wine, not the cheapest one but not expensive either.
  • Beef stock: Homemade is best, mainly because it is not as salty as bought stock. If using commercial beef broth or stock, make sure it is a low-sodium version.
  • Clarified butter (Butterschmalz): The fat typically used to cook this kind of dish in Germany. It is produced by melting butter and thus separating the milk solids and water from the butterfat. It has a higher smoking point than butter. However, you can replace it with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  • Celeriac: In Germany, we would always use celeriac for making beef goulash, soup, or most anything actually. It’s sweeter, less intense, in any way better tasting than the stalks. Celery stalks are not as popular here as worldwide; they are not always available and are mostly seen as rabbit food or the dieter’s worst nightmare, I guess. However, if celeriac is not available, use 2-3 stalks of celery instead.
  • Other ingredients: carrot, tomato paste, sweet paprika, hot paprika, bay leaves, marjoram, caraway seeds, salt, and black pepper.
white dutch oven full of goulash with beef and carrots.

Recipe steps

  • If not already chopped, cut the beef into cubes (about 1-inch cubes / 2 ½ cm). Set aside.
  • Chop the onions, carrots, and celeriac.
  • Heat the clarified butter in a large pot; I prefer to use a large, shallow Dutch oven.
  • Add the vegetables and a little bit of salt (1), and cook on medium heat, often stirring, until deeply golden brown for about 10-15 minutes. Don’t let them catch too much at the bottom of the pot (a little catching is fine) (2). Keep stirring and turn down the heat a bit if necessary.
  • Add tomato paste and stir it continuously for about 2 minutes to mix it with the vegetables and let it brown slightly.
  • Add both kinds of paprika powder and stir well to combine (3).
  • Pour in the wine and the stock, add bay leaves, marjoram, caraway seeds, and pepper. Don’t add salt now; it all depends on the stock you are using.
  • Finally, add the meat cubes (4), bring to a boil, cover the pot, turn down the heat and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours or until the meat is perfectly tender. Stir occasionally.
  • Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
collage of two pictures of making goulash.

Expert Tips and FAQ

  • The gravy should be thick and glossy; if you want a thicker consistency, you can cook the German goulash for 10-15 minutes longer without the lid. This will allow the sauce to reduce more. However, I seldom find that necessary; it’s usually as thick as we like it after the initial cooking time.
  • You can also thicken the gravy with cornstarch mixed with a little cold water.

Recipe FAQ

Shouldn’t I sear the meat first?

You can, if you like. I brown meat most of the time when cooking stew or goulash, but not when cooking this particular German recipe.
Why? It’s my mother-in-law’s recipe, and she never did it, so nor do I. And I never thought the food was missing something by missing this (somewhat tedious) step; this is one of the best goulash recipes ever.

Can I cook the dish in the slow cooker?

Yes. However, I would not skip the vegetable and tomato paste browning step. Once you’ve done that, place everything in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Can I make it ahead?

Absolutely. It tastes even better after reheating. This makes it a great dish to serve to guests, especially when hosting a larger gathering. German beef goulash or German goulash soup are popular party dishes around here.

How to store and reheat?

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge.
When reheating, add a splash of stock or water if the gravy is too thick. Reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop, stirring often.

What to serve with it?

  • Starchy side dishes: Spätzle (like in the pictures), German potato or bread dumplings, parsley potatoes. Also delicious are other kinds of egg noodles, mashed potatoes, polenta, gnocchi, bread, or rice.
  • Vegetable side dishes: German Red Cabbage, German Sauerkraut, a boiled carrot and pea mix, or cooked-to-death Brussels sprouts or cauliflower. I am not kidding about the cook-to-death thing, unfortunately. I definitely don’t recommend it, but it’s the reality… even in better restaurants…
  • Salads: My mother-in-law always makes an extra green bean salad or a fresh green salad, both dressed in a little sour cream. Cucumber salad or German Cabbage Slaw are great side dishes as well.
lifting a spoon full with meat and carrot pieces from a stew pot.

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close up german beef goulash with spaetzle on a small plate with fork.

Authentic German Goulash Recipe

An authentic German goulash recipe just the way my mother-in-law makes it. Tender chunks of beef in a rich, hearty, delicious onion gravy.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beef, Pork and Lamb
Cuisine: German
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 799kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • Large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot

Ingredients 

  • 2.2 lbs beef chuck 1 kg
  • 2.2 lbs onions 1 kg
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 piece celeriac or 2-3 celery stalks 2 oz/ 60 g
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter Note 1
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika smoked or unsmoked, to taste
  • 3 cups dry red wine 750 ml, Note 2
  • 1 ¼ cups low sodium beef stock 300 ml
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ½-1 teaspoon caraway seeds to taste
  • fine sea salt or Kosher
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Cut the meat into cubes (about 1 inch/ 2 ½ cm). Set aside.
  • Chop the onions, carrots, and celeriac.
  • Brown vegetables: Heat the clarified butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the vegetables and a pinch of salt, and cook, often stirring, for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat, until deeply golden brown. Don’t let them catch too much at the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring and turn down the heat a bit if necessary.
  • Add tomato paste and stir it continuously for about 2 minutes to mix it with the vegetables and let it brown slightly.
  • Add both kinds of paprika powder and stir well to combine.
  • Pour in the wine and the stock, add bay leaves, marjoram, caraway seeds, and pepper. Don’t add salt now; it all depends on the stock you are using.
  • Simmer: Add the meat, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the meat is perfectly tender.
  • Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
  • The gravy should be thick and glossy; if you want it to be thicker, you can cook the German goulash for 10-15 minutes more without the lid. This will allow the sauce to reduce more. However, I seldom find that necessary; it’s usually as thick as we like after the initial cooking time.

Notes

  1. Sub with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. A medium price wine that tastes good, there is no need to buy something expensive, but it should not be the cheapest one either.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 799kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 192mg | Sodium: 449mg | Potassium: 1533mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 5640IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 6mg
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Recipe Rating




Johnny

Thursday 14th of April 2022

After 2 hours of cooking it’s still very liquidy. Outside of adding Corn starch and cooking it longer what can I do next time to reduce the amount of liquid at the end of the 2 hours without messing with the recipe? Maybe less beef broth or less wine?

Adina

Thursday 14th of April 2022

Hi Johnny. You can start with a bit less liquid and add more during cooking if you think the goulash gets too thick. You can also remove the lid during the last 15 minutes of the cooking time; this will also help the gravy reduce.

Joan

Saturday 12th of March 2022

I cannot wait to try this recipe! My husband recently traveled to Germany, and has been asking me to try my hand at preparing German Goulash.

Before I can prepare this recipe, however, the instructions (#6) calls for marjoram and caraway seeds which are not listed with the ingredients. Please tell me the portion for those two spices.

Thank you and wish me luck!

Joan

Tuesday 15th of March 2022

@Adina, Thank you, Adina! I’m actually preparing the recipe today. I’m very excited to give it a try, but not nearly as excited as my husband is!!!

Adina

Sunday 13th of March 2022

Hi Joan, sorry for the delay. Add 1 teaspoon marjoram and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, to taste.