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Hungarian Beef Goulash Recipe

Cooks in 3 hours Difficulty Medium
Hungarian Goulash With Beef

Hungarian Style Goulash is one of those dishes that I really love to prepare and I do that pretty often. It’s fairly easy to make, all the magic happens in one pot and you can cook it in larger quantities without making any compromise when it comes to the quality.

It’s the perfect choice for parties, gatherings or whenever you need to cook in advance for several days as this goulash can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. Some people even claim the taste is the best on the 3rd day.

Alternatively, you can also freeze it, but the structure and taste of cooked potatoes tends to change when frozen. So if you plan to freeze the leftovers, you might want to skip the potatoes and add more meat for a thicker goulash version.

There are 100s of versions of goulash and even though this dish likely originated in Hungary, there are localized versions to be found all across the world. I’ve seen goulash recipes named after a town or country they were popular in, or even holding the name of a particular cook. 

One way or another, all the recipes have something in common. Goulash is always a thick soup-like or stewy dish consisting of meat, vegetables (especially onions) and strong broth or stock. All kinds of meats are used, but to me, the true goulash must be cooked with beef.

TIP: Try my Hungarian Lagos Recipe too. And if you are after some more thick soups/stews, my Bean Soup With Pork should be a nice fit.

What Meat To Use For Hungarian Goulash?

Beef shank is the best meat cut for Hungarian goulash

One word: BEEF! Some people are using pork too, but that’s simply not right 🙂 When choosing a cut for your goulash, look for something with a bit of fat and connecting tissue. Lean meat is great for many recipes, but not for a goulash.

Why is that? Lean meat has no collagen in it, or very little and that’s a problem. We need that collagen in goulash! While cooking, it slowly melts and releases the lovely gelatin-like substances, creating the most delicious sauce.

In my opinion, Beef Shank is the best cut for a Hungarian goulash. It cooks longer, but it’s well worth the wait. Chuck or brisket is a great choice too… simply pick a cut with some fat in it. Doesn’t have to be a super expensive cut of meat either, goulash is a slow-cooked dish, so even the cheaper cuts will have enough time to soften and cook properly.

Enough of the theory, let me show you how I cook my version of the Hungarian goulash. As always, I changed some things and modified it to my likings 🙂

Hungarian Goulash Ingredients

Goulash ingredients

This recipe is calculated for about 4-4.5 liters or 4-5 quarts of goulash, which is enough for about 12-15 solid servings.

2kg (4.5 pounds) beef shank
5 larger onions
3 large ripe tomatoes
3 green peppers
1 large carrot
1 large root parsley
1-1.5kg (2.5 – 3 pounds) potatoes
100g (1/2 cup) lard (or vegetable oil)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of mild mustard
2 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
2 teaspoons of salt or to taste
1-2 teaspoons of black pepper
4 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1-2 teaspoons of dried marjoram
1 pint (500-600ml) of beer
1.5 liter (6 cups) beef broth or stock
5 cloves garlic
flat leaf parsley
chilli to taste

How To Make Hungarian Beef Goulash

Watch the video or scroll down for step by step instructions:

1. Start with the onions, no need to chop them all that finely, they will pretty much dissolve during the cooking process anyways. There is one rule here. Depending on how much meat you are about to use, you need about half as much onions. But we’re not talking about the weight, but the volume.

Some people suggest even more, but that can result in a sweet taste of the finished goulash. For the amount of meat I used, 5 or 6 larger onions was just about right. Start sautéing the onions with a good portion of lard on medium heat, we are looking for a nice golden brown color.

2. In the meantime, prepare the meat. Cut it into cubes, about 2cm (just under 1 inch) big. In a bowl, mix it with soy sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, olive oil and sweet paprika. Paprika is a super important ingredient in any Hungarian goulash recipe! Make sure you use some quality brand and look for the Hungarian variety. Let it marinade for a few minutes, while the onions continue to sauté.

Meat prepared for marinating

3. The onions are ready, it’s time to add the meat. Turn the heat up and roast the meat for a few minutes. Give it a mix often, so the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to medium and let the meat braise slowly. Do not add any water or broth yet, we want to braise the meat in it’s own sauce that it will start to release in a few minutes.

4. t’s time to prepare the veggies. I’m using green peppers, tomatoes, carrots and root parsley. Finely chop the pepper and tomatoes. Remove the skin of the tomatoes! As for the carrots and root parsley, you can skip these as they are not traditional ingredients for a goulash, but I do add them to give the sauce a more deep flavor.

As you can see, I don’t cut the carrots and root parsley into small pieces as I do not actually eat them. I’m just looking for the extra flavor they can provide. You can remove these once the goulash is cooked, leave them in or eat them… up to you entirely. Dice your potatoes to a size you prefer and put them into cold water.

My Hungarian goulash uses vegetables too

5. Once the meat becomes somewhat soft, which should take about an hour, it’s time for the next step. Add about a pint of lager/pilsner beer (0.5-0.6l). The alcohol will cook out and the goulash will gain a specific taste. Beef stock or broth comes next, we need about 1.5L (6 cups). Add water to reach the volume you are looking for, I added about 1 liter (4 cups). Alternatively, you can use just water and bouillon cubes, the goulash will be just as good and you will save a few bucks 🙂

6. Now add all the vegetables, they need to cook for a while in order to release all the tastes and to partially dissolve. Add about ⅓ of the potatoes, we want to overcook these, so they start breaking apart and dissolve during cooking, which will thicken the final goulash. We will add the rest of them later on.

The goulash is half done

7. Once the first batch of potatoes are fully cooked and start to break apart, it’s time to add garlic and flat leaf parsley. Use a garlic press and drop the garlic directly into the goulash. Finely slice the flat leaf parsley and add it to the pot as well. Add the rest of the potatoes too. Cover again and keep cooking until the potatoes are fully cooked. This should take about 30 minutes or less.

8. Give the goulash a taste and add salt or pepper if needed. You can also add some chilli, if you like spicy food. The truth is, proper Hungarian goulash should be at least a bit spicy! But since I have kids, I usually resort to adding chilli directly to my bowl when serving, which works just as fine.

TIP: In case the first batch of potatoes didn’t overcook and break apart properly, the goulash might be too thin. It’s simple to fix this, just add a bit of starch slurry.

9. The final step is to add dried crushed marjoram, which will make the goulash more fragrant and delicate. Cook for 10 more minutes and we are done. I’m serving my goulash with thin slices of purple onion, some flat leaf parsley and a touch of chilli. Use bread as a side.

Finished Hungarian Beef goulash ready to eat.

Optional Tips For This Goulash:

  1. Don’t want to use tomatoes or you didn’t get properly ripe ones? Add 3-4 tablespoons of tomato puree. 
  2. Adding a fist full of dried mushrooms will make your Hungarian goulash taste even better. Throw them into the pot along with the veggies.
  3. Beer gives the goulash a specific taste that I love, but I understand some might not enjoy it. If that’s the case, you can skip it or replace it with about 250ml (1 cup) of red wine. 
Hungarian beef goulash

Hungarian Beef Goulash

My favorite Hungarian beef goulash recipe that I modified a bit to my likings. Fairly easy to make, very satisfying and perfect to feed a large crowd.
4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Hungarian
Servings 12 servings
Calories 384 kcal


  • 2 kg beef shank
  • 5 larger onions
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3 green peppers
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large root parsley
  • 1-1.5 kg potatoes
  • 100 g lard or vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of mild mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of salt or to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons of sweet paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dried marjoram
  • 500 ml of beer
  • 1.5 liter beef broth or stock
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • flat leaf parsley
  • chilli to taste
  • water


  • Chop onions roughly and sauté them on lard until golden brown.
  • Cut meat into cubes, add seasonings and let marinate until the onions are ready.
  • Add the meat, cover the pot and braise on low heat.
  • Cut the peppers and tomatoes into small pieces. Peel the tomatoes first. Dice the potatoes.
  • Once the meat becomes somewhat soft, which can take up to an hour, add beer, broth/stock, all the veggies and 1/3 of the potatoes.
  • Keep cooking in covered pot, until the potatoes are fully cooked and start breaking apart.
  • Add crushed garlic, chopped flat leaf parsley and the rest of the potatoes.
  • Cook for about 10 minutes and taste the goulash. Add salt or pepper if needed. Add chilli if you like your food spicy.
  • Once the meat is soft and tender and the second batch of potatoes are fully cooked, add crushed marjoram. Cook for 10 more minutes and we are done!
  • Serve in bowls, topped with finely sliced purple onions, some more parsley and a touch of chilli flakes.


Calories: 384kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 27gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 927mgPotassium: 1100mgFiber: 5gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1222IUVitamin C: 51mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Beef goulash, goulash, Hungarian goulash
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  1. Harvey Houghton

    4 stars
    You do not mention when to remove the carrots and root parsley (you did say that you do not eat them). Like you, I also love goulash. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    • It’s not really needed to remove them at all, you can even eat them if you like. Basically, I’m after the extra vegetable flavor and don’t want to make them a part of the dish, that’s why I don’t cut them into smaller pieces. Let me add a note to the recipe text so it’s clear for everyone.

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.

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