An authentic Hungarian goulash recipe for one of Hungary’s most famous dishes. Tender beef pieces in a rich delicious sauce made with lots of paprika and with caraway seeds.
AUTHENTIC HUNGARIAN GOULASH RECIPE
Before starting any discussion regarding authentic, traditional recipes, I would like to point out that every traditional/national recipe, although following some general rules and a similar list of ingredients, does differ from region to region, village to village and house to house.
Just as an example: my grandmother’s recipe for the Romanian national dish sarmale – cabbage rolls tastes different than any sarmale I have ever tasted in any other household. I am not speaking of restaurants because I would never come to the idea to order some in a restaurant, that is just something I make at home.
My aunt and I have both learned how to make sarmale from my grandmother and although we both follow her recipe (I do that to the letter), our sarmale never tasted exactly as those my grandmother used to cook.
This is probably the same with this Hungarian beef goulash.
The recipe follows the traditional, classic rules of cooking a Hungarian goulash, uses the ingredients that are to be found in recipes for the Hungarian beef goulash, but I am pretty sure that even in this case there will be plenty of people who, for some reason or another, will have something to complain…
Still, I really wanted to post this recipe for an authentic Hungarian goulash because this beef goulash is so amazingly good, so really worth it to learn how to make it and then cook it on a regular basis.
HUNGARIAN BEEF GOULASH
I am Romanian and I was born and raised in Transylvania. A very large Hungarian minority lives in Transylvania, so there is no surprise that many of the dishes I grew up with are Hungarian or are very much influenced by the Hungarian cuisine.
Have a look at this amazing Chicken Paprikash, which was one of my favorite meals as a child (still is), these delicious Hungarian Langos, which my grandmother used to make so often or this amazing Dobos Torte, another Hungarian classic.
My grandmother never ate beef, so she never actually cooked this Hungarian beef goulash. What she did cook a lot was the pork version of the Hungarian goulash.
So, when deciding to cook this easy Hungarian beef goulash recipe, I had to check with some cookbooks first. I have quite a few Romanian and Saxons cookbooks (a lot of Saxons used to live in Transylvania as well and they also cooked many Hungarian inspired dishes) and I have to say that all the recipes I found (about 7 or 8 of them) are very similar.
Some use lard to cook the beef, some use oil but recommend using lard if available, some are made with potatoes, others are served with dumplings. Some use lots of tomatoes, some less. Some spice the Hungarian beef goulash with caraway seeds, some leave those out.
What they all have in common are the use of lots of paprika, lots of onions and red peppers.
My Hungarian beef goulash recipe follows the rules of cooking an authentic Hungarian goulash recipe and uses the ingredients that are to be found in a traditional goulash.
The result is an incredibly rich, flavorful beef stew, comfort food at its best!
INGREDIENTS FOR HUNGARIAN BEEF GOULASH
- I used chuck beef to make the Hungarian beef goulash. Beef chuck is a part of meat cut from the neck, shoulder blade and upper arm. The meat has a lot of connective tissues, which make it a very good choice for stews. The long cooking process tenderizes this rather tough cut and the fat content ensures flavorful results.
- An authentic Hungarian goulash recipe is definitely made with lard. If you cannot find it or don’t want to buy it only for making just one dish, you can use a neutral vegetable oil instead. Not olive oil though.
- If you do buy lard, here are some more recipes using lard, all of them Romanian or Hungarian.
- I cannot insist enough on you using the very best paprika powder you can get. It makes no sense attempting to make an authentic Hungarian goulash recipe using cheap paprika powder, it just won’t taste like it should taste.
- Cheap paprika only tastes of dust, if you ask me. Real Hungarian sweet paprika powder is rich and has a beautiful red color. It may be a little pricier than the cheaper sort, but not that expensive either. And trust me, it is really worth it! Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back.
- And I have to admit I always add more paprika powder than a recipe requires. I remember my grandmother’s way of using paprika, she would just take the container and almost emptied it completely over the onions in the pot, she never bothered with teaspoons or sprinkles.
- I normally use sweet paprika with a little bit more of hot Hungarian paprika. You can decide yourself how much hot paprika you want to use, but don’t overdo it, the Hungarian beef goulash is not really supposed to be hot.
- Caraway seeds are often used in Hungarian and Romanian/Transylvanian cooking and not only for sprinkling on crackers. My grandmother even used them to make a caraway seed soup when I was little, just broth with caraway seeds in it, served with croutons. Delicious and perfect for an upset tummy!
- I absolutely love their flavor and I would not make this easy Hungarian goulash without them. Give them a try, you might be surprised!
- I used red peppers to make the Hungarian beef goulash. Hungarian pointy red peppers would be the first choice, but if you cannot get them, red bell peppers are fine as well.
- You will also need some ripe tomatoes, some onions and garlic. I add a little tomato paste, because when using fresh tomatoes in a sauce recipe I often feel that they are not flavorful enough. Tomato paste just adds a bit of extra tomato taste.
- You can use beef broth or water. If you use broth, make sure that the broth is not too salty, it will cook down and you might end up with a sauce that tastes too salty.
- I almost always use homemade beef broth (or chicken stock, if I am out of beef broth).
HOW TO MAKE HUNGARIAN BEEF GOULASH?
Step 1: Cut the beef chuck into small cubes, about 2 cm/ 0.7 inches. Give them onto paper towels and pat them dry with more paper towels.
Step 2: Melt some of the lard in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stewing pot. Fry the beef cubes in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of your Dutch oven, adding some more lard before each batch. Give the fried beef cubes to a plate and set aside.
Step 3: Add about 1 teaspoon more lard to the pot and fry the chopped onions until very lightly colored, about 4-5 minutes, stirring often and keeping an eye on them.
Step 4: Add the garlic, chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes and bay leaves. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times.
Step 5: Add the spices, stir well to coat, about 1 minutes. Add the tomato paste, meat and beef broth. Cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the meat is really tender. This will take about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Step 6: Remove the lid and continue simmering the Hungarian beef goulash for another 10-15 minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken slightly. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
HOW TO SERVE THE HUNGARIAN BEEF GOULASH
The Hungarian goulash can be served immediately and it can be reheated as well.
Crusty bread and sour cream, preferably the Eastern European sort called smetana are perfect side dishes for the Hungarian beef goulash. However, nowadays I love eating goulash with mashed or boiled potatoes.
You can also serve the goulash with dumplings – nokedli, gnocchi, spätzle, egg noodles.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Can I make Hungarian beef goulash with pork?
Of course, Hungarian pork goulash is a very popular version, especially in Romania. Here is a delicious recipe for Hungarian pork goulash. Another amazing Hungarian pork stew is the pörkölt, you should definitely try it as well.
Can I add potatoes?
You can add potatoes, the Hungarian goulash will be less authentic, but very good as well. Add small potato cubes during the last 30 minutes of the cooking time and add more broth to make sure that they are cooking properly. Check that the potatoes are soft before turning off the heat.
Can I leave out the caraway seeds?
If you definitely don’t like them, you can leave them out. Otherwise I recommend using them.
Can I freeze Hungarian beef goulash?
Yes. The goulash can be frozen in airtight containers for up to three months. Defrost it slowly, preferably overnight, in the refrigerator.
Hungarian Beef Goulash – Authentic Hungarian Goulash Recipe
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs stewing beef beef chuck for instance
- 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil – you might need more in this case, divided
- 2 onions about 300 g/ 10.6 oz
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1 red bell pepper about 100 g/ 3.5 oz
- 2 to matoes about 200 g/ 7 oz
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika powder
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika powder (to taste, the goulash should not be too hot)
- ¾ teaspoon ground caraway seeds
- 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 500 ml/ 17 fl.oz/ 2 cups beef broth or water
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the beef chuck into small cubes, about 2 cm/ 0.7 inches. Place them onto paper towels and pat them dry with more paper towels. Chop the onions very finely. Chop the pepper and the tomatoes as well.
- Melt some of the lard (or oil) in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stewing pot. Fry the beef cubes in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of your Dutch oven. Fry for about 5 minutes per batch or until nicely browned on all sides. Add more of the lard before each batch. Transfer the fried beef cubes to a plate and set them aside.
- Add about 1 teaspoon more lard to the pot and fry the chopped onions until very lightly colored, about 5 minutes, stirring often and keeping an eye on them. If they threaten to catch, add a splash of water and continue cooking.
- Add the garlic, chopped peppers, tomatoes, and bay leaves and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times in between.
- Add the paprika and caraway. Stir well for about 1 minute, add the tomato paste and stir well again. Add the meat cubes and the beef broth, stir well.
- Cover the pot, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the Hungarian beef goulash until the meat is very tender about 1 ½ – 2 hours. Check to make sure that the meat is really tender.
- Uncover the pot and continue cooking the goulash for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.