Hungry? Cold? Grumpy? Try This Hungarian Goulash!


On a cold, wintery day, there is nothing better than the warmth of a hearty bowl of Hungarian goulash. After much research, I adapted a recipe by Wolfgang Puck. I’m glad I trusted my instinct that his would taste pretty authentic considering he is from Austria. According to my research, traditional goulash should NEVER contain green peppers or tomatoes. So many recipes I found contained canned tomatoes, but this is supposedly a BIG no-no. Another key, I learned, to a kick-ass goulash is onions, and lots of ’em. Slicing them thin (use a mandolin if you can) and sweating them down may take a bit more time, but the sweetness and oomph it adds along to the paprika is a taste that can’t be beat.

I have used most of Puck’s recipe, but have adapted a bit of it based on a few other recipes I read as well. Many eat goulash alone, with a side of spaetzle or flour dumplings. I added some boiled potatoes for my starch. Americans may put goulash over rice or egg noodles and top with sour cream, but that is not traditonally Hungarian. I’m also a big lover of paprika, so I use alot… you can scale it down a bit if you’d like. In fact, if you do not like it a bit spicy, do not add the hot paprika and just add one more tablespoon of sweet.

HUNGARIAN GOULASH (Adapted from Wolfgang Puck’s recipe)

Serves 4


  • 2 medium to large onions, thinly sliced (about 4 – 5 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted and ground
  • 3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon hot paprika
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram (I substituted oregano), minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 pounds of beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut in halves or quarters
  • Salt and Pepper

What to do:

  1. In a large saute pan or dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium low and slowly cook your thinly sliced onions until they are translucent. This should take about 30 minutes if you cook them on low and slowly. If you want to cook ’em faster, go right ahead. I just love the sweetness the slow cooking of the onions brings.
  2. Add your beef pieces and allow to sear a bit.
  3. Add your garlic and ground caraway seeds and cook for a minute or so.
  4. Add the paprika (both hot and sweet), the marjoram or oregano, thyme and bay leaf and allow to saute for a minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste and your stock along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. Bring this to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for at least an hour (an hour and a half is optimal). This will allow the meat to become tender.
  7. While meat is cooking, boil your potatoes until they are parboiled and then add them to your goulash a few minutes before you are ready to serve. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed. Serve in a bowl with enough bits of meat and a few halves of potatoes and enjoy.


15 thoughts on “Hungry? Cold? Grumpy? Try This Hungarian Goulash!

  1. Thanks Kevin, Nuria and Margaret. I really recommend giving it a try. You see, it’s about 15 degrees in NYC right now (about -7C) and all I can think about it cold-weather dishes! But, I’ll tell ya, I’ve been daydreaming about eating cold soups, BBQ and salads recently. I CAN’T WAIT FOR SPRING! Is there a count-down widget for this? – amy

  2. Amy,

    I was having Hungarians for a meal. I researched recipes for several days, settled on this one. (Added several cut up carrots and parsnips, omitted potatoes. I made potato dumplings and ladled goulash on those. It was excellent and the guests were thrillled and delighted. Thank you!

  3. My Nanny (grandmother)was straight out of the old country and made the most delicious Hungarian goulash ever. The last time I had it was at 15 years old before she became too ill to go down to her ‘downstairs’ kitchen. I remember very little about it except that I was crazy about it and we sopped it up with a lot of bread. Unfortunately, she died without leaving the recipe behind so I am hunting for something I barely remember. I am at the simmering point of your recipe right this very minute and will let you know! I admit, I didn’t recall there being so many onions. We shall see. The true test will be to make it for my father!

    1. Jacki – thanks for trying our recipe and please do let us know what you think. Like many national dishes (or in this case international dishes since it has been adopted as a local dish throughout central Europe), there are countless variations on the main theme, so it’s entirely possible our recipe doesn’t match your grandmother’s exactly, but it is delicious, and that, as with any dish, is the main thing!

  4. Just wanted to tell you that I have made this twice now and it is absolutely delicious! My mother is German, and this is a very close match to hers. So glad I found this recipe.

    1. @Angelique: Thanks so much for the feedback. We’re delighted that it worked out so well for you – both times! Please let us know if your mom has any suggestions for improving it.

  5. My Grandfather and uncles all come from Hungary and they always add one single tomato to their goulash that cooks down into the broth and on occasion add a rantas (spiced flour mixture) to thicken it but more often than not the potatoes are sufficient. I never understood when people who claim to know Hungarian food claim that using tomatoes and rantas isn’t authentic Hungarian cooking, this never made sense to me as my family is very traditional in its Hungarian heritage.

Like this post? Hate this post? Let us know!