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Hungarian Beef Goulash – Authentic Hungarian Goulash Recipe

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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.


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.

pot with hungarian beef goulash

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.

plate with beef goulash and mashed potatoes


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!

hungarian beef goulash close up



  • 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.

Pork Lard:

  • 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.

Easy Pork Stew or Hungarian Pork Goulash

Hungarian Pörkölt Recipe

Hungarian Pastry Rolls with Walnut Filling

Apricot Jam Crumble Cake with Walnuts

Easy Skillet Fried Zucchini

Paprika powder:

  • 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.
beef goulash with mashed potatoes

Ground caraway seeds:

  • 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.

Beef broth:

  • 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).
pot of 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.

drying meat cubes for goulash

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.

how to fry beef for hungarian goulash

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 make hungarian goulash


The Hungarian goulash can be served immediately and it can be reheated as well.

In Romania, we always ate goulash with pickled vegetables, pickled green tomatoes most of the times. Gherkins or other pickled cucumbers or vegetables are great 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.

pot of authentic hungarian beef goulash


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.

bowl with goulash and mashed potatoes

Hungarian Beef Goulash – Authentic Hungarian Goulash Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

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.



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the garlic, chopped peppers, tomatoes, and bay leaves and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times in between.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 602Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 254mgSodium: 1179mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 85g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.


Tuesday 9th of March 2021

Hi, I just found this recipe. Unfortunately I cannot understand why people doesn’t make some researches before they post a recipe calling it authentic… This is so sad, really 🙁 I don’t know what is this, but for sure not gulyas. Gulyas is a soup. The authentic one. It is called gulyas leves. Goulash Soup. Has a lot of vegetables, potato and pasta, all this is in gulyas soup. Together. Gulyas isnt a stew, is a SOUP!! Here is the most authentic gulyas soup recipe what i could found. This is how should a authentic gulyas look like. Try it, it is very tasty. What you made is a stew, but not even Hungarian stew. So complaining or not, but there is a huge difference between a stew and a soup.... Gulyas is not, never was equal with a stew, it always was a soup. Doesn't matter in how many restaurants, or homes you taste in Hungary, it is always a soup. Even the name is Gulyasleves, which means Goulash Soup.


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

@Adina, I just forgot one thing, why is important to we keep the authentic recipes as they are :-) As you know, most of the countries culture part is the culinary part either.

Here in Dublin is very in "vogue" (before the covid of course), that the bachelor and hen parties are made at Budapest. They going there because the nightlife is much cheaper then here, the city is awesome, and they often going because of food either (not only of course, but is part of it), and they are very surprised when they order a Gulyas, or Csirkepaprikas, and they are far not like the english language site's recipes.

Why we get soup, when we ordered stew, etc. So when we put on our website a authentic recipe, it is a big responsibility, mainly if that dish is not from our natal country. thats why when I make a authentic recipe video for post, I make many many researches, but not in english, but in that country natal language, then, as you know, google is your friend, I translate them. I check many recipes, and when I see that is the 5th-6th recipe say the same ingredients, I make them only, or if I know someone from that country, I ask her, his advice.

Is very bad to hear, or see somewhere, that the Gulyas for example is not as should be in Hungary, couse the english language sites doesnt say the same like there. Most of this sites owners, wasnt there, didnt taste the authentic dish never, they saw on a english site, and thats it, couse of course they dont speak Hungarian, or Romanian, or Serbian, or any other language, to check on thos language sites. But is not impossible, mainly if we speak about a recipe, because can be used google translate. Do you understand what I mean with authentic recipes? Other recipes doesnt matter :-)


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

@Adina, thank you for answer. You shouldnt take wikipedia as a sure source since is wrote by people. At list not the english version, because as made by people, can be wrong. What is made by people, can have mistakes. The Hungarian wikipedia is correct about gulyas. Gulyas is not soup or stew. Is soup. Even is Transylvania. What you made is porkolt, even in Transylvania. I try to help you, not to offend you. The link what I have sent is a Hungarian site, that is for sure the authentic Gulyas. If you will go in Hungary someday, try in some restaurants, you will see, that what you will get is a soup. If you ask for porkolt, you will get a food like you made as a gulyas. Yes, this is just food, of course, until is not wrote authentic, couse then you should follow the real, authentic version. About sarmale we can either speak, because it is made in Hungary as well as toltott kaposzta, or in Serbia, as Sarma, or in Poland as Golabki. I eat all the versions, they are kinda the same. Is a Turkish origin dish. Just like the mici. Serbians have the cevabcici, with a little difference. I have Serbian friends, they are not use garlic for example in cevab. The csirke paprikas is a authentic Hungarian food either, with a thick sauce, made with a little flour, not watery sauce, and the authentic versions of food they are kept as they must be. If differing, then usually wrote after the title, "as I do", or just simply is not put in the title the authentic. It is like at a traditional romanian dish, lets say papanas would be wrote, its a authentic soup, not a dessert. You got the point? :-)

You have a nice blog, keep the good work, and I reccomend to make the authentic gulyasleves, it is very tasty, i use to make 2 times a month aprox. And the porkolt either.

Va doresc numai bine, si spor la lucru cu gatitul. Cu Stima: Tünde.


Tuesday 9th of March 2021

Hi. Thank you for the input, Tunde. As the only Hungarian word I know is nem tudok, I have to go with the general description of a recipe, in this case, "Goulash is a soup or stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices. Originating in Hungary, goulash is a common meal predominantly eaten in Central Europe but also in other parts of Europe (Wikipedia)." The recipe is also reflecting the dish cooked by Hungarians living in Transylvania (and all the Romanians who learned the recipe from the Hungarians). Apart from that "authentic" is such a disputed word when it comes to food, everybody seems to have a different opinion on what a specific authentic recipe is. I might not be perfectly at ease with some Sarmale recipes (Romanian national dish) that other Romanian people call authentic, although I totally agree with them that for them their own recipe is authentic. To conclude, I always say that this is only food, it should make you content, even happy, it should not cause distress or controversy, there are enough more serious/bad things to make us unhappy.


Friday 5th of February 2021

Really nice recipe! Thank you! Made it with your dumplings recipe too! I didn’t have the special paprika but used ordinary paprika plus a little hot chilli powder - it was still mild in taste. Yum!


Saturday 6th of February 2021

So glad to hear it, Al. Thank you for your comment.

linda versluis

Monday 30th of November 2020

greetings Adina, just wanted to tell you I made this last night for dinner and it was fabulous, One thing i loved about it was it was not so chunky as goulash i have tried in the past and the flavors just melded so well together. I couldn't find any hot paprika added a dash of cayenne, i will keep hunting for it as this is a keeper for us. Thanks for sharing, Linda


Monday 30th of November 2020

Hi Linda. Thank you for letting me know, I love to hear if the recipes work for my readers as well. Have a nice week.


Friday 7th of August 2020

Arata foarte gustos .Voi incerca cu siguranta. Multumesc pentru reteta.


Saturday 8th of August 2020

Mersi, Violeta. Sper sa iti placa! :)

Chris Paulson

Saturday 2nd of May 2020

My Grandfather was also born in Transylvania, and came to the USA with his family when he was 2 years old. I wanted to compare the goulash recipe I have from my mother (it was her father that came from Transylvania) to see if it is authentic, and yours was the first one I looked at. Mine has bacon, green pepper, white wine and marjoram. Have you heard of any of these ingredients used in an authentic recipe? Thanks!!


Sunday 3rd of May 2020

Hi Chris. I guess it all depends on the region, you will probably not get far and find another version. This one is slightly more Hungarian than Romanian/ Transylvanian. Green peppers make total sense, we use them more than the red ones for cooking. But not the bell pepper sort, you need the smaller, pointy ones, which are only pale green, more yellowish and are milder in taste. Bacon is very often added, but I have never used white wine or marjoram. Marjoram was totally unknown to me in Romania, I image that your recipe was originally made with cimbru, which is the most common dried herb there, but difficult to get in other countries.

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