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Authentic Hungarian Goulash

When you’re in the mood for a hearty and beefy authentic Hungarian Goulash, this is the recipe for you. I’ve been making this amazing recipe for more than 20 years. Perfected over time, it is the balance of spices that makes it too good to pass up.

authentic hungarian goulash in white serving bowls with a bowl of spaetzle in the background

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What You Need to Make This Traditional Hungarian Goulash Recipe

I like thickening my goulash with a flour slurry just to tighten it up. Hungarian goulash purists would argue that this isn’t traditional, but I’d counter that there are so many different ways to make it, so go with what’s good for you!

There’s not a lot of ingredients in this dish, but the combination is magical. And, when you cook it low and slow for hours, the flavors come together creating a rich sauce that’s simply delish!

How To Make Authentic Hungarian Goulash

  1. Season the beef liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and working in batches brown the meat on all sides.
  3. Add the onions and a touch more oil to the pan. Cook the onions until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, then pop it and the remainder of the ingredients (except for the flour slurry) into the slow cooker and cook it on high for about 6 hours or until the meat is tender.
  5. Thicken the sauce with the flour slurry and let it come back to a simmer. Serve and enjoy!
authentic hungarian goulash in an individual size pot with a second in the background
Authentic Hungarian Goulash

What To Serve With Crock Pot Hungarian Goulash

I like serving this meaty beef stew recipe with a loaf of crusty bread and a salad or a simple vegetable.

My Easy Spaetzle Recipe is another side dish that’s perfect with goulash. This is basically an eggy pasta that you’ll find throughout Eastern Europe. Or save some of that amazing sauce and spoon it over these gluten-free Yorkshire pudding!

Chef Jenn’s tips To Make this Authentic Hungarian Goulash

  • The spices are everything in this dish! Use paprika as fresh as you can get it and try to get your hands on the smoked hot paprika. It really makes a difference!
  • I buy this sweet and hot paprika duo from Amazon – it’s got both of what I need.
  • When you deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar (or you can use cider vinegar), don’t breathe in the smell! It’s strong!
  • I buy stew beef already pre-cut from the store but it is usually in huge chunks. Cut them down into bite-size pieces before browning.
  • Browning the beef in the pan builds up great flavor – but don’t overcrowd the pan or you’ll have too much liquid and the beef won’t caramelize well.

Is This Goulash Recipe Freezer Friendly?

Heck ya! I usually make a double batch of this amazing beef stew recipe just to freeze some of it for quick meals during the week.

To freeze it, chill it thoroughly in the fridge for a few hours. Then, package it in zipper-top freezer-safe bags or containers and freeze for up to three months.

To eat, let it thaw then reheat it in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop until hot.

What do you eat with goulash?

Spaetzle is my favorite pick to enjoy with goulash. Spaetzle is an eggy pasta that is traditional to parts of Europe. It’s perfect for soaking up all that delicious sauce!

What’s the difference between goulash and stew?

Goulash is typically just chunks of meat with garlic and onions in a red sauce. Stew has potatoes and other veggies in it. Paprika, sweet and spicy smoked, are the spices that make Hungarian goulash stand out.

What’s the difference between Hungarian and American goulash?

American goulash, also sometimes called American Chop Suey, is made with ground beef and macaroni pasta. Hungarian goulash is made with stew beef and has no pasta cooked in it.

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Authentic Hungarian Goulash in white serving bowls with spaetzel in the background
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3.22 from 141 votes

Authentic Hungarian Goulash

Tender chunks of meat are cooked in a rich sauce that's packed with flavor, making this Hungarian Goulash a recipe that must be tried!
Course Main Course, Soups & Stews
Cuisine European
Keyword beef stew, goulash, hungarian goulash, paprika, stew beef, stewing beef
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 373kcal



  • 2.5 pounds stewing beef
  • 4 cups onions sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups beef broth or stock, unsalted
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbps paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil divided
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour optional
  • 3 tbps water optional


  • Heat half the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Liberally season the stew meat with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the beef chunks in the oil until brown on each side. About 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet and add the onions and garlic. Cook the onions until they're soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the paprika, smoked paprika, and thyme to the pan and mix well with the onions, cooking for an additional minute. Set aside.
  • Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and some of the beef broth. Loosen up all the bits of flavor and spice. Put this liquid into the Crock Pot.
  • Add the beef chunks, onion mixture, tomato paste, broth, and bay leaves to the Crock Pot. Cook on high for about 4-6 hours or until the beef is tender. Enjoy!
  • Optional – thicken the sauce with a flour slurry. Mix 1 tbsp of all purpose flour with 3 tbsp of water until well mixed. Add this to the sauce and bring it back to a boil to thicken. Let it simmer for about 10 more minutes then serve.


Serving: 1.5cup | Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 301mg | Potassium: 1046mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 339IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 5mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.