9 Cozy, Hearty Goulash Recipes

Variations on a Traditional European Stew

Mediterranean goulash

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Goulash is a rustic stew or soup made with beef and vegetables, and usually seasoned with paprika. Goulash originates in Hungary and in many variations it remains a popular recipe throughout Eastern Europe.

Goulash can also be made with veal, pork or lamb in addition to beef. But no matter what kind of meat is used, goulash is best prepared with tougher cuts of meat which become tender when cooked with slow, moist heat, a technique known as braising. These cuts of meat are also rich in collagen, which will convert to gelatin during braising and thicken the stew without adding flour or other thickeners.

Although it has many variations, goulash is a simple dish. While goulash ingredients can include parsnips, carrots or tomatoes, goulash can really be made from nothing but beef, onions, and paprika, although it's fairly typical to flavor goulash with caraway seeds and garlic.

  • 01 of 09

    Hungarian Beef Goulash Recipe

    Hungarian goulash

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    This traditional one-pot meal can be made in a slow cooker. Beef chuck steak, onion, green pepper, tomato (a late addition to goulash), caraway seeds and red potatoes are braised with hot Hungarian paprika. It's served with traditional handmade Hungarian pinched noodles (csipetke).

  • 02 of 09

    Old-Fashioned Skillet Goulash

    Old-fashioned skillet goulash

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    This simple recipe for old-fashioned skillet goulash is delicious and quick to make. It uses shortcut ingredients like ground beef, condensed tomato soup and diced tomatoes with garlic. If you can't find diced tomatoes with garlic, add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the recipe. Cook the garlic with the ground beef and onions.

  • 03 of 09

    Beef Goulash With Caraway Seed

    Beef goulash with caraway

    Paul Poplis / Getty Images

    This goulash recipe incorporates slightly crushed caraway seeds to impart their characteristic orange peel and anise flavors. It calls for blanching and peeling fresh tomatoes, but you can substitute canned peeled whole tomatoes, which are generally an excellent substitution.

  • 04 of 09

    Viennese Goulash

    Beef goulash with onions

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    The secret to the popular "saftgulasch," the Viennese version of goulash made with lean beef and onions as main ingredients, is to use at least three-quarters of a pound of onions for every pound of beef. Something like beef round or sirloin, cut into thick chunks, would work well.

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  • 05 of 09

    Hungarian Goulash Soup (Gulyas Leves)

    Beef goulash soup

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    This recipe for Hungarian goulash soup or gulyas leves (GOO-yahsh LEH-vesh) is hearty enough to be eaten as a main course with rye bread.

    This soup benefits from a long, slow cook and is actually a goulash, which is a stew, to which more liquid has been added. Traditional gulyas leves is made with beef or veal.

  • 06 of 09

    Szegediner Gulasch: Hungarian Spiced Stew

    Hungarian spiced goulash

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    This goulash recipe uses two types of Hungarian paprika, sweet and sharp, to achieve a mildly spicy stew. Adding sauerkraut and onions stretches the meat and tastes great. Szegediner goulash is a regular German potluck item. It's made with sauerkraut and sour cream, which is either simmered with the stew or stirred in at the last minute before serving over noodles or boiled potatoes.

  • 07 of 09

    Italian-Style Goulash Beef Stew (Goulash di Manzo)

    Italian goulash with polenta

    Thorsten Suedfels / Getty Images 

    Goulash is also quite popular and traditional in Italy's northeastern Alps region, a rustic, mountainous area that was long under Austrian rule (the town of Bolzano, in Italy's Sudtirol province, is ethnically German and was annexed by Italy only at the end of World War I). The Austrians, in turn, learned how to make this delicious stew from the Hungarians. 

    This hearty, comforting winter dish is delightful when served together with a steaming pot of creamy polenta.

  • 08 of 09

    Slow Cooker Pork Goulash

    Slow cooker pork goulash

    Diana Rattray 

    This slow-cooker version of goulash is a real kitchen convenience, as well as a comfort on a cold day. This pork-based version is loaded with flavor, and the preparation is relatively easy. Quickly saute a few of your ingredients, toss in the rest, set your slow cooker, and come back to a hearty, warming meal. A little sour cream is the secret ingredient in the sauce and adds to the richness of the dish.

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  • 09 of 09

    Croatian Venison Goulash (Gulaš) Recipe

    Venison goulash

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    This recipe uses sweet Hungarian paprika and a venison roast from the hindquarters. The cubed meat is marinated overnight, seared in oil, then braised for three hours. Carrots, mushrooms, and vegetables are added, along with cayenne pepper and black pepper for extra spice. It is served over polenta or can be served with mashed potatoes or noodles.