Beef Goulash Recipe

March 6, 2007 11 Comments

Beef Goulash Recipe

Beef Goulash – Really

I recently posted an Ask A Chef recipe for Chicken Goulash that wasn’t really Goulash but a Paprikas Csirke. In the comments someone asked if Chef Ricco could share his recipe for a traditional Beef Goulash and he responded with the following history and recipe. And for those of you who asked for his recipe for Spaetzle, it is now posted.

“First the story of goulash. This was really a soup named after the people who cared for the Magyar oxen (gulyas) and dates back to the 9th century, before Hungarian when there were only nomadic tribes. Back then the meat was boiled for a very long time, and then sun dried for later use.

Traditionally, goulash is made in a special cauldron (bogracs). Different regions have different recipes, but they all agree on a few things, pork fat or lard, no flour, no wine, and no sour cream. Some serve it with boiled potatoes and some serve it with csipetke (chi-pet-ke), small quenelles of egg pasta, poached in stock.

When I first learned this recipe, it was taught to me by an old Hungarian named George Kish and he called it Gulyas.”


After he sent this recipe to me I had a few questions that I sent to him and he responded as follows. I hope these questions and answers help you as much as they did me.

Q. What if you don’t have or want to cook with lark or pork fat? Can you substitute butter and/or oil?

A. The classic way to make Beef Goulash is with pork fat or lard but of course you can use just about any oil you like for sautéing. Believe it or not, the best is Crisco. I don’t tell many people this because they just freak out but this is from the old man who taught me.

Q. What’s the difference between mild paprika and sweet paprika?

A. As far as the paprika, there are many different kinds. There is sweet, mild, hot and very hot. The colors range from fire engine red to burnt orange and everything in between. The color of the paprika cannot tell you how sweet or hot it is. The Capsicum grows different from climate to climate, the weather dictates the color or how spicy. But to get the best dried spices to have to deal with a spice shop that has a fast turn over so you can get the freshest. I don’t have that problem here in India.

Q. Do you prefer beef stock or chicken stock for this recipe?

A. Beef stock will be the best and of course you can use chicken or vegetable or even good old H2O, but beef stock for maximum flavor.

Beef Goulash Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Serving Size: 12 servings

Beef Goulash Recipe


4 ounces lard or pork fat

3 1/2 lbs boneless chuck roast, cut into 3 ounce pieces

2 large onions, sliced into rings

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons mild Hungarian paprika (very important)

1 small bouquet garni

1 lb. tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cut into quarters

1 quart stock or water

salt and pepper

How To Prepare At Home

In a large stock pot, melt pork fat or lard over med-high heat.

Add meat; turn heat to high and brown meat.

Add onions; turn heat down to med-high and cook for 5 minutes.

Add garlic, cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add paprika cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring the whole time.

Add the bouquet garni.

Add the tomatoes cook for 5 minutes.

Add stock or water, salt and pepper.

Turn heat to high, when it starts to boil, lower heat to a simmer.

Simmer for 2 hours.

Last modified on Tue 15 July 2014 9:57 am

Comments (11)

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  1. Jackie says:

    Thanks for the quick turn around for beef goulash. I grew up in NC and before I got to the q&a section had already thought Crisco (can’t make biscuits without that & buttermilk).

    I have a fresh chuck in the refrig (hubby was going to grind for hamburger) but I think tomorrow I will tackle this recipe. I will get back to you with comments.

    Thanks again for a great blog.


  2. forum l says:

    i love your blog

  3. Bob says:

    Made this with slight modification (peanut oil, chicken broth, 1 Tsp half-sharp Hungarian paprika plus 1 and one-half Tsp of mild paprika. It was delicious served over spaetzele with a dollop of sour cream.

  4. Csaba says:


    Im a hungarian guy.
    Your recipe is correct.
    Actually we use oil and not pork fat because the cholesterol.


  5. Steve says:

    Thank you I really enjoyed that, I especially liked reading about the history of Goulash, very interesting facts thank you for sharing. The recipe sounds absolutely delicious as well

  6. Mark says:

    When I was growing up the one meal I hated more than split pea soup was “goulash.” But what you have here actually looks GOOD. Thanks.

  7. Clara Czegeny says:

    Wow – I just published a Hungarian Cookbook filled with the stories of Gulyas – soup and stew – and all the rest of the arguments – paprikas chicken – and porkolt. It was quite something, but the subtle differences are what make Hungarian cooking so unbelievable delicious.

  8. Mirka Mackova says:

    I have a slovak variation to your recipe, all the ingredients are the same as in your recipe, but for spices you also add: 1,5 tablespoon of ground cumin, a handful of marjoram ( dried ), and some chilli powder to taste. you can also add fresh green pepper. it is also common in eastern europe to add potatoes to goulash. there is this opinion that it is a crime to thicken goulash with flour, you can try to add finely grated potatoe half an hour before finishing cooking. I know that this is not the traditional recipe, but surely an interesting variation, i cooked it at many goulash cook offs, and everybody liked it 🙂 hope you will try it sometime 🙂 great blog by the way 🙂

  9. Todd says:

    Is there a good way of converting this recipe for a crockpot?

    Todd, let me take a look. – RG

  10. steve moyo says:

    I tried this recipe @ work in south Africa and our customers really enjoyed it

  11. Tom says:

    My dad is Hungarian and he makes goulash, porkult, paprikash, etc all the time. Instead of lard, he uses bacon and some sausage (Hungarian sausage if he can get it, otherwise Polish or German, sliced up). Together these have enough fat, and they also add great flavor to the dish.

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