Hungarian Goulash (Gulyás)

Goulash has a fairly long history, as it is traced back to 9th century Hungarian shepherds (the term gulyás translates to “herdsmen”), when soup was an important part of the lifestyle. People would dry meats and veggies and then add hot water later to create a soup, and goulash was born. Although paprika is a signature spice of both Hungarian cuisine and this dish, it wasn’t introduced until the 16th century (bell peppers came from the New World), so the original variations of this dish were paprika-less.

Goulash is often classified as a stew here in the United States, but many Hungarians maintain that it’s a soup, often to differentiate it from a similar, thicker dish called pörkölt. Goulash is often served over egg noodles or spätzle, but many variations use potatoes, including mine. They help to bring a hearty feel to the dish, plus they conveniently thicken the sauce at the same time.

You’ll Need:
2 lbs chuck roast, cut into 1″ pieces
2 smallish onions, blended
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup each chicken and beef broths
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp each dried marjoram, caraway seeds
1/2 green pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp lard (coconut oil is okay too)

You might be wondering why the recipe calls for two halves of peppers. It’s for color; if you would like to be economical and only buy one color of pepper, I won’t hold it against you.

Blended onion and minced garlic. The onion kind of looks like lime sherbet, huh?

Cut up your chuck roast, leaving a little fat on it if you’d like. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Warm up one tbsp of lard in a dutch oven on medium heat for a few minutes, then brown half of the meat, turning every couple minutes. They should be nice and browned after about six minutes, remove them and set aside. Add the second tbsp of lard and brown the other half of the meat in the same way, then remove and set aside with the other meat.

Browned meat.

Add the blended onion to the dutch oven and sauté until softened and slightly translucent, about five minutes. It will probably start drying up, which is fine. This is a good time to preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add the tomato paste and paprika, and sauté for another minute.

Next, add the broths, bay leaf, marjoram and caraway seeds, and stir together until uniform in appearance. Bring to a simmer then add the meat (and its juices), cover, and put in the oven.

Bake for one hour and ten minutes. During this time you can prep your potatoes and peppers.

Stir in the peppers and potatoes, re-cover the dutch oven and bake for another 30 minutes.

That’s it! Let the soup rest for a few minutes before serving, so the potatoes will thicken the soup into borderline “stew” territory. Some people like to stir in a bit of sour cream at the end, and I think that’s a fine idea if you’re up for it, but not totally necessary.

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33 thoughts on “Hungarian Goulash (Gulyás)

  1. This looks delicious and also makes me miss my crockpot a little less. I love using the oven this way and I like how you waited to put the peppers and potatoes so they don’t get mushy. I will try this soon!


    1. You don’t need a pricy dutch oven, use a roaster. Any kind will do, though the thinner the metal the less time you need to bake this, and use a lower oven setting. I have never owned a expensive dutch oven and I have been cooking for many, many years. I have always used a aluminum soup pot. Just make sure the handle on the pan can be in a oven, if not then use aluminum foil ( heavy duty type is the best) Any oven ready pan or glass wear will work to bake things in a oven.


      1. Jan, I agree that any dish can theoretically be used for roasting, but the heavy weight of a dutch oven helps to distribute heat and its heavy lid helps to pressurize and keep the dish from drying out. But you don’t need to go headfirst into a pricey dutch oven; there are definitely cheaper options out there that do the trick, like this $30 cast iron dutch oven:


      1. No worries, it was a good wrench to throw in the works. Unfortunately didn’t have all the ingredients or time to make goulash, but had some meat, potatoes and onions :-).


    1. Patty, from my research, I wouldn’t say your family was alone at all; it’s a remnant of the early part of the 20th century in the US – along with “hodgepodge” and “chop suey”:

      “During the great Depression, the names of foreign mixed dishes, such as goulash, hodgepodge (perhaps from hachepot), or chop suey, were applied to quick assortments of meat, vegetables, and potatoes, and sometimes even to desserts with mixed ingredients.”
      —Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 36)


  2. Hi Russ- did you read my mind? Thanks for this post- have had goulash on my mind now that we’re in Oct. My parents are Romanian and I remember her adding a carrot or 2 to a very similar dish- keep these great recipes & research comin’…Judy


  3. I think I need to get a Dutch Oven! It looks like a really useful item to have in the kitchen! Are there different sizes? Any recommendations? : )


    1. The easy answer is to go with Le Creuset, since they’re the most well-known brand of high-end dutch/french ovens, but it’s also the right answer – there’s a reason they’re so well-known! They come in different sizes, 3.5qt or 5qt being the most popular (we have a 5qt):

      The Le Creuset dutch ovens can be baked at up to 500 degrees, and they have a lifetime/100-year warranty – I’ve read lots of reports of people calling the company when they get the slightest little hole in the enamel and getting a brand new replacement. They are definitely not cheap, and it took me years to get the nerve to buy one, but I’ve been completely happy with the 3+ years we’ve had ours. Man, I sound like a salesman!


  4. This looks delicious, and sounds so easy, just wondering if anyone has used sweet potatoes in place of the white potatoes?


    1. It might be better if you avoid sweet potatoes in a soup/stew like this – they’ll likely fall apart once they’re cooked through. It’s not impossible, you’d just have to time it perfectly (maybe 20 mins altogether in the soup?). It might be a better option to omit the potatoes altogether and cook some sweet potatoes separately – they could even bake in the oven as you’re cooking the dish!


  5. The “goulash” I remember from growing up was a combo of elbow macaroni, spaghetti sauce, and ground beef. Pretty much home-made hamburger helper. It has scarred me for life and terrified me from even exploring the dish in my own kitchen. Lol. Yours looks fantastic though!!!


  6. Do you think Hungarian paprika paste would work in this recipe as a substitute for the dry paprika? I live overseas and that’s the closest thing I can find.


  7. So excited to see your recipe for Paprikash and Goulash! I grew up eating these as staples and I passed them on to my kids. So far, only one daughter makes them, but that’s ok. They love to have it when they come home. My ancestry is German but my kids’ dad is German/Hungarian and I learned how to make the best paprikash from my mother-in-law, who lives in Heaven now. One time I was making chicken paprikash and accidentally used a cayenne powder instead of paprika and have not been able to live it Anyway, my daughter just asked me this morning if she was allowed to eat the goulash if she cooked it with potatoes (we are in the beginning stages of a LCHF/Keto diet). Sadly, we LOVE potatoes but aren’t able to eat them due to the carbs. We may have to save potatoes for special days. Just wanted to say hallo and I’m looking forward to browsing your site further.


  8. Hi, Russ. I love your blog and my husband loves your recipes, especially the moo goo gai pan and scouse. I was wondering if you could update this recipe to show the expected number of servings. Thanks.


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