Hungarian Style Goulash

Goulash is a hearty filling flavorful beef stew and the national dish of Hungary. Paprika is the seasoning that identifies this dish and much Hungarian cooking. I used sweet paprika for this recipe but you could definitely use a spicier or smokier one or a combination of the three. Apart from the paprika this stew is full of super tender pieces of beef, it also includes some veggies like sweet peppers, potatoes and carrots. It’s the ultimate comfort food that will satisfy everyone at the dinner table! Like any other stew it tastes even better the next day - so to save time, you can make it a day ahead and reheat it when you’re ready to eat. This is a simple and straight forward recipe for goulash that turns out perfect every time thanks to Lidia Matticchio Bastianish - this recipe comes from her newest book Lidia’s From Our Family Table To Yours. Let me tell you more about the recipe and the book.

Hungarian Style Goulash

What is Goulash?

Goulash or Gulyas is a famous Hungarian dish made with very simple ingredients: beef (often a secondary cut or economical cut), peppers and root vegetables and of course Hungarian paprika. It can be made with pork but most often it is made with beef. It’s usually in stew or soup form and sometimes somewhere in between. This recipe is thicker and more stew like but you can definitely make it runnier more soup like if you wish. It is unlike its American goulash version/slumgullion sort of like a hamburger helper which is usually made with ground beef/or ground turkey and elbow macaroni noodles/pasta - a popular comfort food (usually made with different seasoning like Italian seasoning or a blend of oregano, rosemary, thyme and basil, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and cheddar cheese). I will be sharing that version another time. Every cook and every family even in a Hungarian home has their own version of this popular dish - this is Lidia’s version and I love it. But wait you may be thinking Lidia does Italian food what’s up with the Hungarian Goulash. It is not an Italian preparation but a common dish in Istria where she was born in Italy - an area which is now Croatia. That area was under the rule of many cultures, empires and occupations - and this Hungarian dish came along with one of those. I have been looking for a simple and delicious version for this classic and knew that Lidia’s would be fantastic - and she did not disappoint!

Traditional Goulash Variations

Like I said above traditional Hungarian goulash recipes vary slightly from family to family. Here are some aspects of the dish that vary in preparation - feel free to adjust recipe below with any of them:

  • PORK FAT: Some goulash is prepared by frying up some sort or pork fat and then the beef and the veggies are sautéed and cooked in the pork fat adding loads of flavour to the stew. Please feel free to do that using some bacon or pancetta - I love doing this in other stew recipes like my Easy Braised Short Ribs. Pan fry 4-6 slices of bacon chopped to get approx 3-4 tablespoons of pork lard or pork fat. Feel free to use the bacon for something else or I usually just leave in the stew (but that might not be very traditional)
  • SAUSAGE: Some Hungarian goulash recipes add sausage to the stew like Hungarian Csabai sausage but that is optional
  • PAPRIKA: Hungarian goulash does not shy away from using paprika. This recipe calls for 2 tablespoons but feel free to increase amount to ¼ cup. Make sure to use good quality Hungarian sweet paprika where possible as it is the main spice of the dish. Other recipe also call for adding some ground cloves, and chili powder for more flavour.
  • ADD INS: Traditional goulash recipes are simple with the basic meat and potatoes kind of dish - but some add ins that some have are wine, turnips, celeriac, (1 cup each peeled and chopped turnips and celeriac) and caraway seeds and peppers. I didn’t add the turnips or the celeriac, but I added the rest for even more flavor.
  • SERVE WITH: Hungarian goulash is often served with Galuska Noodles or Csipetke Noodles similar to Spaetzle egg noodles - but we love to serve ours with crusty bread or buttered bread rolls for dipping into the soup/stew or ‘stoup’ as I call it - of course it would also be great with mashed potatoes, dumplings, or buttery noodles or pasta or rice.
  • TOMATOES: Many traditional recipes call for using fresh tomatoes but I use tomato paste in this recipe for more concentrated and richer flavor. Other recipes call for crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes.

About Lidia’s Book

This recipe comes from Lidia’s most recent book FROM OUR FAMILY TABLE TO YOURS book by Lidia Matticchio Bastianichand Tanya Bastianich Manuali. I was sent a copy of this lovely book as a gift and this is a wonderful recipe that I’m happy to share with you all from it. Lidia Giuliana Matticchio Bastianich is an Italian-American celebrity chef, television host, author, and restaurateur. Specializing in Italian and Italian-American cuisine. She is known for saying, “Tutti a Tavola a Mangiare!” or “Everyone to the Table to Eat!”. This most recent book is a very personal cookbook - a collection of over 100 recipes that she cooks for those she loves the most - her family and it pays tribute to her late mom. Full of traditional recipes that she was raised with and family favorites. She emphasizes that food is an expression of love and always brings people together for every day meals and special meals and occasions - they bring back memories and create new ones. Eating and enjoying them is not the only way that food bonds families but preparing them together is also special and unforgettable.

The recipes are written well and easy to read and steps clearly written and simple to follow which is the case in all of Lidia’s books. Her recipes also allow room for variation and adjustments to taste - as I did with this Goulash. Lidia’s Recipe for Goulash is one of the BEST simplified and fool proof recipes for goulash that I have ever made and it really needs no adjustment - it’s home cooked and delicious - I simply added some extras in to add some more complex flavours but the book is full of staple fool proof recipes that are very adaptable and can easily be tweaked to Taste. It was hard to chose what recipe to share with you guys as I have so may in the book that I want to share - so many saved to make like her Leek and Ricotta Tart, Eggplant Rollatini, Celery Salad, Chopped Frisee Salad with Salami and Eggs, Ricotta soup, Pasta and Pea soup, Lobster Linguine, Timballo, Stuffed Calamari, Baked Fresh Sardines, Cuttlefish Salad with Potatoes and Olives, Lamb stew with Peas, Spicy Vinegar Ribs and Potatoes, Chocolate Ricotta Brick Cake, Chocolate Cherry Panettone and here Mimosa Cake just to name a few of the recipes in this lovey book. I was happy to receive a copy as a gift from Appetite by Random House and happy to share a recipe from this lovely book. Grab your copy here.

Hungarian Style Goulash

Easy Goulash Recipe Ingredients

  • OLIVE OIL: This is for searing the beef and the veggies. Feel free to replace one of the tablespoons with butter.
  • BEEF: I use beef chuck or stewing beef. You will need 3 lbs
  • FLOUR: This is for dredging the short ribs or sprinkling it over them to give them a nice coating before they are seared. This is optional but this thin, even coating of flour prevents the food from sticking to the pan and also promotes browning. It also serves as a buffer between the heat and meat so that it doesn’t dry out. You will need 2-3 tbsp
  • ONIONS & CARROTS: A great veggie combo for stew base.
  • SWEET PEPPERS: I like to add 2 sweet red bell pepper to the stew - some recipes call for it some don’t but I love the flavor they add
  • GARLIC: Adds really nice flavour to the stew - feel free to use as much or as little as you like.
  • TOMATO PASTE: Adds richness to the stew - you will need 5 tablespoons
  • LEMON ZEST: Adds brightness to the stew without the acidity - not traditional but a nice add in
  • WINE: Feel free to use any wine you enjoy drinking. I like to use a drier wine either white or red. You can really braise your ribs in anything - or you can simply use broth - chicken or beef.
  • BROTH: Use low sodium chicken broth or beef broth to control amount of salt in dish. Along with the wine this is what the beef braises in - the original recipe calls for chicken broth but which I used but for a deeper flavor feel free to use beef broth
  • HERBS & SPICES: I use a blend of sweet paprika and caraway seeds and Fresh bay leaves (or you can use dried) plus some salt and pepper. Simple but delicious combo. I like to garnish with fresh chopped parley but that is optional
  • POTATOES: I use russet potatoes as they are creamier and naturally thicken the stew

Hungarian Style Goulash

Hungarian Style Goulash

How To Make Goulash

You’ll find the full, step-by-step recipe instructions below — but here’s a brief overview of what you can expect when you make goulash:

  1. Season the beef and dredge in flour.
  2. Brown the beef in oil, then set the beef aside.
  3. Cook the onions, garlic, and peppers in the same pot
  4. Stir in the tomato paste followed by the zest and spices
  5. Pour in the wine and stock and deglaze
  6. Return the beef to the pot and add the carrots
  7. Simmer in the oven or stove top until the beef is just about tender, about 1hour, then stir in the potatoes and continue to simmer stew until beef is fork tender- another 45-60 min
  8. Serve with crusty bread and and garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Hungarian Style Goulash

Goulash Storage, Make Ahead & Freezing:

  • STORAGE: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days.
  • MAKE AHEAD: You can make this stew 1 day ahead. Allow it to cool and store in a sealed container in the fridge. Reheat gently stove top just before serving. Add a little broth if needed to thin out the sauce.
  • FREEZING: Place cooled stew into a freezer safe container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, let it thaw in the refrigerator then heat it on the stove or in the microwave.

Hungarian Style Goulash

More Stews You Will Love:


Servings: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs 20 mins mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 35 mins


  • 3 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, sliced
  • 1½ cups dry white wine, divided
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika or more to taste
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 cups low-sodium Beef broth or chicken broth/stock, divided
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks


  • Season the beef with 1 teaspoon salt. Dredge beef in the flour.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat to medium-high heat, and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add about half of the beef to the pot, and brown it on all sides, removing the pieces to a plate as they brown and adding more.
  • When all of the beef is out of the pot, add the garlic, sweet peppers and onions. Stir to coat the onions in the oil. Add ½ cup of the white wine, and simmer until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Adjust the heat to reduce the wine, about 1 minute.
  • Add the tomato paste. Cook and stir the tomato paste for 1 minute.
  • Add the bay leaves, paprika, caraway seeds, and lemon zest, and stir to combine.
  • Add the remaining 1 cup wine, and bring it to a simmer, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add 3-4 cups of the stock (enough to keep everything covered - reserve the rest of the broth), and bring it to a simmer. Stir in beef and carrots and 2 teaspoons salt. Cover, and simmer until the beef is nearly tender, about 1 hour.
  • Uncover, stir in the potatoes, and add enough of the remaining stock to cover them. Simmer, uncovered, adding more stock as needed to keep everything covered, until the beef and potatoes are very tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more.
  • Remove the bay leaves, and serve with crusty bread and a dollop of sour cream if you wish.

Recipe Notes

  • How to Make Goulash Stew in Your Slow Cooker: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, sear the beef on both sides as the recipe calls for. Remove the beef and transfer to the slow cooker. Add the other ingredients, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If you would like a thinner sauce, add more broth.
  • How to Make Goulash Stew in an Instant Pot: Switch the instant pot to sauté. Sear the beef on both sides until browned. Turn the instant pot off. Add the remaining ingredients. Seal the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. Then switch the instant pot to sauté and boil 8-10 minutes until the the sauce thickens slightly. Add more broth if needed.
  • How to Goulash Stew in the Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Using an ovenproof pan, prepare the recipe until step 3. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 ½ hours. Remove from the oven. Add potatoes. Slide back into the oven and cook for 30-45 minutes more, or until the meat is tender and the potatoes are ready.
  • Changes I Made To Lidias Recipe: I added red bell peppers, I added Caraway Seeds, I made mine in the oven

Hungarian Style Goulash