This beef goulash is a hearty, warming stew of slow-cooked, fall-apart beef in a rich and slightly smoky tomato and paprika sauce.
You can make it in the oven or the slow cooker. I love to use two different types of paprika for extra layers of flavour.
This is my version, passed down to me from my dad and it's the best I've ever had.
I thought it was time to pull this one out of the archives again as it's so flippin good.
Tender chunks of beef in a thick tomato and pepper sauce - spiced with beautiful smoky paprika (don't go easy on the paprika now - this stew can take plenty).
I'll happily admit - this isn't a 100% authentic Hungarian goulash. Traditional goulash, I'm told, is more of a soup that doesn't rely on flour for thickening. Tomato is also a fairly modern addition.
There are a number of Hungarian and non-Hungarian variations of goulash out there (according to Gundel's Hungarian cookbook) some using beans, wine, flour, potatoes and some are extremely simple.
My version (passed down from my dad, with a few little tweaks) is a rich, slightly smoky, tomato-based version. I like to add slices of red bell pepper, then serve with pappardelle pasta and lots of sour cream.
What do we need?
- Beef braising steak, plus flour, salt and pepper to dredge the beef in - this adds flavour, plus the flour also helps to thicken the sauce
- Garlic and onions - I tend to go for the sweeter, smaller brown onions
- The vitally important paprika. I like to use two types:
- A sweet (you can replace with hot if you prefer) Hungarian paprika (<--affiliate link). The different in taste of an authentic Hungarian paprika and regular paprika is unbelievable. Totally worth the extra effort to buy some from Amazon or a local spice shop. However...if you can't source any, don't worry, regular paprika still tastes great.
- Smoked paprika - I do just use regular supermarket smoked paprika for this. You can just add an extra tablespoon of the Hungarian paprika if you prefer though.
- Tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and beef stock for the sauce base
- A little honey - to neutralize some of the acidity from the tomatoes
- Also red bell peppers - for a bit of extra texture and veggie boost
- Plenty of soured cream - for stirring in and also for spooning on top. The soured cream adds a creamy richness and slight tang. So good!!
How to make this Beef Goulash
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Dredge the beef in the flour, salt and pepper and fry in 2-3 batches until well-browned. Then remove from the pan and place in a bowl.
Add the onions in the pan and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and tomato puree, stir, then add the beef back in.
Add the paprika, tinned tomatoes, beef stock and honey. Bring to a simmer, then place a lid on and place in the oven for 3 hours 30 minutes.
Check and stir 2 or 3 times during cooking to ensure nothing is sticking and that there is still plenty of liquid (you can add a splash of water if needed).
Add in the peppers, stir and put back in the oven for 30 minutes.
I like to serve mine with pasta and extra sour cream.
I love making stews in a dutch oven (<-- affiliate link) as I find they seem to thicken a little better. Also, the initial browning of the beef means the base of the pan gets covered in a dark brown crispy bits. It might seem a bit alarming at first (as it looks like it's sticking), but a few minutes after pouring the stock and tinned tomatoes in and you'll find you can stir all of those bits into the goulash - which results in a richer flavour.
I love how the sauce bubbles away and splashes the sides of the pan as it's cooking in the oven. It WILL look dark and covered in well-cooked sauce when it comes out, but you've got to admit - it does look pretty inviting.
Although I used my dutch oven pan for this, you can also use a slow cooker. Simply fry everything off up to step 3, reduce the amount of stock by half a cup, and cook on medium for 4-5 hours or low for 5-7 hours.
You can swap out the beef for pork if you like. If you fancy a chicken version, I've got a lovely chicken paprikash in my new ebook.
You can also swap out the red peppers for green peppers, or you could include some even add some chopped chilli peppers for a bit of spice.
Scale it up or down
You can halve the recipe, sticking to the same ingredient ratios. So to make it for four people you would reduce all of the ingredients by half.
It will likely need 30-45 minutes less in the oven. Keep a close eye on it after the first 90 minutes of cooking, just to ensure it doesn't cook dry. If it starts to look a little dry, add a good splash of stock or water.
Watch how to make it:
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Beef Goulash Recipe
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 lb (900g) beef braising steak, cut into bite-size chunks
- 2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 brown onions - peeled and diced
- 2 fat cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika - just use regular if you don't have smoked
- large pinch of salt and pepper
- 28 oz (800g/two tins) canned chopped tomatoes in juice
- 2 ¼ cups (600ml) hot beef stock (water plus 2 stock cubes is fine)
- 1 tbsp honey - optional - this is just to neutralize some of the acidity from the tomatoes
- 2 red bell peppers - deseeded and sliced
- 1 cup (225ml) sour cream
- Cooked pasta - such as pappardelle, tagliatelle or penne
- handful of chopped parsley
- Extra sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F. Heat up the oil in your dutch oven or oven-friendly casserole dish.
- Dredge the beef in the flour, salt and pepper and fry in 2-3 batches until well-browned.
- Once browned, remove from the pan and place in a bowl.
- Turn down the heat and place the onions in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring (try to scrape up a some of the brown bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Keep the heat low to ensure it doesn't burn).
- Add in the garlic and tomato puree, stir, then add the beef back in.
- Sprinkle the beef with the paprika, salt and pepper and stir to coat.
- Then pour in the canned tomatoes, beef stock and honey. Stir and bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering, scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan and stir. Then place a lid on and place in the oven to cook for 3 hours 30 minutes.
- Check and stir 2 or 3 times during cooking to ensure nothing is sticking and that there is still plenty of liquid (you can add a splash of water if needed).
- After 3 and ½ hours, add in the peppers, stir and put back in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Take out of the oven, stir, then swirl the soured cream on top, sprinkle with parsley and serve with pasta and extra sour cream.
- Chuck steak (braising steak) – comes from the forequarter- Consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm.
- It’s a tough but very flavorful cut of meat. It has a lot of connective tissue, which needs long slow cooking to break down and become tender. Cut into bite-size chunks, or you can use bigger chunks and shred the beef into strips.
- Silverside (bottom round) – comes from the hindquarter – just above the back leg
- It’s a leaner, inexpensive cut of meat with little marbling. The lack of fat means it doesn’t have as much flavour as chuck steak, so make sure you use good quality stock to cook it in. It’s good for slow cooking, but must be cooked with moisture/liquid so doesn’t dry out and become tough.
In order to make this Hungarian Beef Goulash recipe you will need:
This recipe was first posted in December 2015. Updated in August 2019 and again in July 2020 with new photos, video and tips.
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