Skip to Content

Hungarian Goulash a Traditional Gulyásleves

My Hungarian Goulash recipe comes from the true home of gulyas, the Great Hungarian Plain, it features beef, veg & homemade csipetke (pasta).

A traditional gulyás cannot be rushed and this recipe takes nearly 3 hours, but it is very easy and you spend very little time in the kitchen!

Traditional Hungarian goulash soup or Gulyásleves with csipetke (pasta).

A Real Deal Gulyásleves Recipe

It is very apt that the first recipe on my website is a beef goulash from my adopted homeland.

Over time I will be introducing a host of Hungarian dishes, everything from langos and lecso to rakott krumpli and Brassói aprópecsenye with a load of stops in between!

I spent 13 years living on the Great Hungarian Plain a place that is the spiritual home of what I know as Gulyásleves.

There is much written about this dish which dates from the 9th century in pretty much my backyard! The first thing to note is that it is a soup, this is not negotiable.

A traditional Hungarian Goulash is a simple dish, it is beef, vegetables and they are cooked with water and paprika. Simple hey!

You may have seen thick stews called Hungarian goulash, these more closely resemble what Hungarians call marha porkolt if beef and birkapörkölt if it is mutton.

Black and white image of traditional hungarian cooking over an open fire

If you can serve it on a plate it is not a Hungarian Goulash! It is traditionally cooked in a cauldron called a bogrács over an open fire and comes in many varieties.

Halaszle is a form of “fish gulyas”, then there is the ever-popular babgulyas which features beans.

I also have a lamb goulash that is simply stunning.

This version is my Alföldi Gulyásleves adaptation that cooks it on a stovetop.

It’s delicious and simple homestyle cooking and it rocks little homemade balls called csipetke.

Close-up overhead traditional Hungarian goulash soup or gulyásleves with csipetke (pasta).

Frequently Asked Question

Do I have to use dripping or lard?

No, you could use a neutral cooking oil if you like. Everything from sunflower to rapeseed (canola) oil would work fine. Avoid oils with a flavour like olive oil.

But this dish is SO much better cooked with a “hard” meat fat, lard, beef dripping, duck or goose fat are all perfect.

What sort of paprika should I use?

You need sweet Hungarian paprika, and you really should avoid smoked paprika. You can add a pinch of hot Hungarian paprika if you like but I prefer to add heat at the end if I am going to add some.

Does the type of potato make a difference?

Yes, you should avoid floury potatoes because they break down and thicken the soup.

You should use a medium potato or a waxy potato in this recipe.

What is parsley root and where can I find it?

Parsley root is called petrezselyem gyökér or fehérrépa in Hungarian and it is unsurprisingly the woody root of parsley.

Unsurprisingly it tastes like parsley but looks like parsnip, I would avoid using parsnip in this recipe because it is too sweet.

If you are trying to hunt some down, the best option would be a Polish store. If you can’t find any, I think that the best substitution is celeriac.

What are white peppers?

White peppers are relatively mildly flavoured with thinner flesh than bell peppers and they almost completely break down in the soup.

Again the best place to find some in the UK tends to be Polish stores, if you can’t find any use a green pepper. I would avoid red peppers because they are a little too sweet.

Close-up traditional Hungarian goulash soup or gulyásleves with csipetke (pasta).

Serving Suggestions

A take on pasta is not unusual in Hungarian food the nokedli that I serve with my chicken paprikash is similar to pasta.

This Hungarian goulash recipe features a handmade pasta called csipetke, which means “pinch” and if you watch the video you can see why!

If you cannot be bothered to make your own then you can add small pasta shapes if you wish, they are very common in Hungarian stores.

Like all bowls of soup, this dish needs loads crusty bread to dip in the paprika rich broth. If you can get them some Hungarian hot wax peppers and or some crushed chilli peppers.

Overhead traditional Hungarian goulash soup or gulyásleves with csipetke (pasta).

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But, if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 24cm or 10″ heavy-based saucepan (with a lid).
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Vegetable peeler.
  • Mixing bowl.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
  • Weighing scales and or a combination of a measuring jug, cups and spoons.
Gulyásleves a traditional Hungarian beef goulash soup served with bread.
Yield: 4 Servings

Hungarian Beef Goulash Recipe Gulyásleves

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

A 'traditional' Hungarian goulash or Gulyásleves is not the thick stew most people believe but it is rather a glorious and simple soup!


  • 500g (17oz) Beef Shin or Stewing Beef
  • 1 Large (225g or 1½ Cups) Onion
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) Lard, Duck Fat or Beef Dripping
  • 1 Tsp Caraway Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt (Plus extra to taste)
  • 35g (⅓ Cup) Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 1 Medium (150g or 1 Cup) Carrot
  • 150g (1 Cup) Parsley Root or Celeriac
  • 300 g (2 Cups) Medium Waxy/Floury Potato
  • 1 Green Pepper (or white pepper if you can get one)
  • 2 Medium (125g or 4oz each) Tomatoes
  • 1 Litre Water

For the Csipetke:

  • 100g (¾ Cup) Plain Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ Tsp Salt


  1. Remove any silverskin and sinew from the outer edge of the beef, then cut it into a 2cm (¾") dice.
  2. Peel and cut the onion into a 1cm (½") dice.
  3. Peel the garlic and dice it as finely as you can.
  4. Add the fat to the pan over a medium-high heat and when it has melted add the onions and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and caraway seeds and cook for a minute.
  6. Throw in the beef and the coarse sea salt and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. The aim here is not to "sear" the meat, just to get the juices flowing and coat the beef in the flavoured oil.
  7. Reduce the heat as low as possible low then sprinkle the paprika over the top of the meat, onion and garlic mix (DO NOT STIR). Add a lid and cook very gently for 1 hour.
  8. If necessary peel the carrot then cut it into 1-1.5cm (½") chunks.
  9. Peel the parsley root or celeriac and cut it into a dice the same sices as the carrots.
  10. Peel the potatoes and cut them into a 2cm (¾") dice.
  11. Remove the stem and the seeds from the pepper and cut it into a 1cm (½") dice.
  12. Cut each tomato into 8 wedges.
  13. Remove the lid from the beef and throw in the potatoes, parsley root (or celeriac), carrot, peppers and tomatoes and give everything a stir to coat.
  14. Pour in the water, stir and have a taste adding salt as required, you will likely need at least 1 extra teaspoon. Bring the goulash to a simmer, then cook gently without a lid for at least 90 minutes.
  15. About 25 minutes before the dish is ready add the salt and egg to the flour for the csipetke and knead to form a dough. Then let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  16. Pinch off a small amount of the dough between your thumb and forefinger and roll to a small ball around 3-4mm (⅛") in diameter. Then repeat with the remaining dough.
  17. Add the pasta balls to the goulash and simmer for 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 688Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 758mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 10gSugar: 10gProtein: 43g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Saturday 18th of September 2021

Hi There,

My dad had many Hungarian restaurants here in British Columbia.

Ours is very similar to yours, but a few differences.

We added green peppers to garlic and onions, caraway seeds, and sautéed with the paprika . This caramelizes and makes the flavour better. Then add your cubed beef (pot roast cubed) more paprika, and Sweat the meat for an hour, then add in everything else, water veggies, ( potatoes, carrots, parsnip) seasoning, salt pepper and bay leaf.


Brian Jones

Sunday 3rd of October 2021

Hi Ildiko...

There are so many variants on Gulyas, the lid on with paprika sat on top of the meat seems to be very specific to the Alfold region, the place where we lived for 13 years. I love it all though, can't get enough, one of my favourite things to do was take a trip to one of the many dozens of gulyas festivals spread across the country.

Interestingly the Hungarians never use parsnip, it wasn't even available in rural stores in the east of the country until recently, traditionally parsley root would have been used which is far less sweet. But I love adding parsnip, the sweetness is a great addition as far as I am concerned, my Hungarian neighbours thought I was mad ;)

All the best.



Friday 30th of April 2021

SO IF i DOUBLE THE REICPE I also double the Paprika??

Brian Jones

Sunday 9th of May 2021

Yes that is correct :)


Thursday 1st of March 2018

I was curious to read your recipe for this "real goulash" vs the recipes you see around the net, well surprise, it's really the real one LOL! Such a hearty soup, I love all the ingredients you put in it, enjoyed the video too!

Brian Jones

Thursday 1st of March 2018

Well when you say "the" real one, it is "a" real one ;) I live in a village of 180 people and they all argue about a real gulyás but it is at least a gulyás that Hungarians would recognise as being what it is called...

Jacqueline Debono

Thursday 1st of March 2018

I love goulash. I have actually had it a couple of times in Hungary cooked by Hungarian friends! But I have never made it! This really makes me want to try! Not sure if I can find parsley root here in Italy. What could I use instead?

Brian Jones

Thursday 1st of March 2018

It is such a simple dish, you can use any roots you have to hand, lordie knows the Hungarians do ;) If you wanted a flavour similar to parsley root then add some parsnip but reduce the amount of it and add more potato, parsnip is much sweeter than parsley root.


Thursday 1st of March 2018

I love your video Brian and I'm really intrigued by the parsley root as I've never heard of it. This goulash looks delicious!

Brian Jones

Thursday 1st of March 2018

Thanks Amanda, parsley root is very similar to parsnip although not as nice to roast as parsnip but it gets used a great deal in this part of the world.

Skip to Recipe