Traditional Hungarian Goulash Recipe

A ‘traditional’ Hungarian goulash or Gulyásleves is not the thick stew most people think it is but a glorious and simple Hungarian sweet paprika rich soupYes, a true Goulash is a soup!

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

Classic Hungarian Goulash or Gulyásleves.

I have been wondering what recipe to write up as the first on my new blog. Of course, I settled on something from the land I now call home a real Hungarian classic.

I am certainly no stickler for authenticity as I am sure we will establish as time goes on. But this recipe is definitely erring towards both authentic and traditional.

Just the same as many people, I thought a Goulash was a stew heavy in Paprika. Then I went and moved to Hungary.

I have been here since 2008, eaten dozens of variants of this dish and every one of them has been a soup!

A good gulyás is indeed heady with sweet paprika but other than that it is a simple affair of potatoes, peppers, onions and meat, traditionally beef.

There are of course many variations on this theme, babgulyás is a bean goulash, and even Halászlé a fish soup is very similar to a goulash. Although Hungarians will and do argue to the contrary!

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

How Do You Make Traditional Gulyás?

Traditionally any goulash recipe would have started with a fire and a big pot called a bogrács. Very similar to the mini one that this recipe is served in.

Then it is simply a case of adding stuff to the pot and allowing it to slowly cook.

Now the order in which things are added to the pot is hotly debated and on some occasions physically fought over.

My recipe is bodged together from a number of sources.

Principally from an old cookbook written by Hungarian Food Royalty, one of the Gundel clan. I have twisted and tweaked based on many great gulyás I have eaten since I have been here.

I then tweaked a little more to feed just 4 rather than 20 and then some more to cook on stove rather than an open fire!

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

The Paprika Choice.

Hungarian food is very much defined by paprika.

It goes in everything from sausages to porkolt and will be found in breakfast lunch and dinner dishes!

It is also the defining flavour in paprikash, or paprikás another classic Magyar recipe. I should say series of recipes because just as with goulash there are many variants on paprikash.

I have two here, a chicken paprikash and a catfish paprikash which is my absolute favourite!

Not all paprika is made equal and Hungarian paprika is never traditionally smoked. It varies from sweet to spicy and is typically much bolder in flavour than Spanish paprika.

I get mine from the local market rather than the store. But if you do find Hungarian paprika in the stores csípős denotes spicy édes denotes sweet. For this recipe you want sweet.

Most importantly for any Hungarian recipe take what you consider to be an appropriate amount of paprika… Then add the same again and then a little bit more for luck!

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

Authentic Hungarian Goulash or Gulyásleves

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 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!


  • 250 g Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 10 g Lard, Feel free to substitute with what you have available I use lard as I am cooking pork and have access to the most wonderful unrendered lard
  • 1 Tsp Caraway Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 500 g Beef Shin
  • 5 Tbsp Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 150 g Carrot
  • 150 g Parsley root or Parsnip
  • 300 g Floury Potato
  • 1 Green Pepper or 1 Hungarian TV pepper if you can get one.
  • 200 g Tomato, Cut into 8 wedges and deseeded
  • 1 L Water
  • 100 g Soup Pasta *See Note*


  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic.
  2. Remove any sinew and cut the beef into a 2cm dice.
  3. Cook the onions in the lard until they become translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and caraway seeds and cook for a minute.
  5. Add the beef and cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from the heat add the salt then stir.
  7. Then sprinkle the paprika on top of the meat, onion and garlic mix, ensure that the pan is small enough to ensure that the base is completely covered. 
  8. The paprika should sit on top of the mix and not on the base of the pan so that it can almost steam in the juices from the previous items.
  9. Add a lid and cook for 30-40 minutes on the lowest heat possible. You could do this on a slow cooker for a few hours if you wanted.
  10. Peel and cut the root vegetables into a 2cm dice and cut the tomato into wedges.
  11. Add the carrot, potato, parsley root, pepper, and tomato and stir in with the paprika which should now be quite wet with the water.
  12. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the potato is nearly cooked.
  13. Check the liquid for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if required and also add the pasta, cook until the pasta is cooked.


* Almost all Hungarian stores are littered with a variety of great quality bit of pasta usually about 5-10mm long and are the lifeblood of many a soup here. If you have nothing available find some good quality linguini, spaghetti or macaroni and break it into 5-10mm pieces*

Serve with Hot Wax Pepper cut into slices 3-5mm slices on the diagonal, if there is a substitute for this I have no idea what it is. They are delightfully spicy without being rip your face off hot but also substantial enough to add a fresh crunch to the soup.

You could go for some crushed red chilli flakes which I quite often add alongside the pepper.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1126 Total Fat: 45g Saturated Fat: 16g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 23g Cholesterol: 166mg Sodium: 1355mg Carbohydrates: 117g Fiber: 15g Sugar: 18g Protein: 67g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

29 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. 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!

    • 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… Notable as goulash is a Hungarian word describing a food from this part of the world. I have no idea what Americans call goulash actually is 😀

  2. 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?

    • 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.

  3. 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!

    • 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.

  4. Good to meet you Mr Krumpli! Hello from a Hungarian Australian lady who is envious to know that you and your good wife are living the dream in Hungary! Great to find your blog. Keep in touch.Szia xx

    • Szia Lizzy, I never cease to be amazed how many people of Hungarian lineage contact me through my site, we are lucky to live in a very beautiful place even if it is a little impoverished, wonderful to hear from you!

  5. Pingback: All About The Pig | Krumpli
  6. Who knew what I have been cooking up and serving for years as Goulash wasn’t intact goulash at all!!!

    This looks delicious, so warming! I just want to dig in with plenty of crusty bread. Yum 🙂

    • Of course what you have been cooking is goulash, just not a Hungarian one… I’m not much one for authenticity if the smell makes my belly rumble and it tastes good then who cares 😀

  7. I have seen a version of this on a food Channel and yours is pretty different. I agree, I all for a lil twist and turn to suit one’s own taste. Sounds like comfort food to me..potato, meat, pasta and spice it up!

    I have looked for Hungarian paprika before for a diffrrent dish and its pretty hard to find where I live.
    But another great post Brian! Cheers!

    • Thanks Roy, ingredients can be a challenge nothing quite compares to Hungarian Paprika, but any sweet paprika will do at a pinch, although don1t use the smoked stuff 🙂

  8. I reconnected with a friend I grew up with – and then found I had (from my mother) a fund raiser cookbook from our school, with his mother’s recipe for Goulash in it. His father’s family was from Hungary, and his mother had researched Authentic Hungarian Cooking (his father didn’t cook, and didn’t have any recipes, I gather) and he had grown up with this. (Of *course* sweet paprika!) I made it for his birthday (and gave his wife the recipe…) and he was in raptures.

    And – looking – it wasn’t quite as liquid as this, and didn’t have a parsley root (but she might have just omitted it – she would not have been able to get it here, when we were children) but otherwise I think it’s the same… sounds as if she did a good job in her research.

    So, now I’ll have to try this one, and compare – but just for me. For him, it will still be his mother’s (of course!)

    • Superb, I am sure there are many regional versions of gulyás but out here in the east it is always a soup holding firm to the idea of it being cooked over an open fire by ‘cowboys’, for instance I know in Budapest they will not use caraway but if you have gulyás out here with out caraway you will be shot at dawn 😀 You should see some of the more heated discussions that happen at the cooking competitions held over here, people almost came to blows one year at a halaszle (fish soup) competition whilst arguing about how it should be done!

      Parsley root is an odd vegetable that I had never come across until I moved here and initially I was not so impressed as I wanted to use it like parsnips but it is much more subtle in flavour and not as sweet but it does have a wonderful texture and really subtle flavour that really plays of the paprika broth.

      • LOL – Texans and chili. Yeah.

        We don’t have that much a Hungarian community here in New York any more, as I understand – but we do still have stores and – of course! – butchers… and people whose parents left the city still come back to get traditional food. Especially for holidays! As people do for every other ethnic group… the week before Christmas, especially, you suddenly see lines going into shops that have been there 100 years, and which half the neighborhood has forgotten about.

        • We only have 2 types of stores locally, Hungarian stores and stores that close down really quickly, I’ve never really been anywhere quite like where we live it is like stepping back in time in a great way!

  9. Woah…this just looks amazing! Never had authentic goulash but now i want to see if there’s any place near me that makes it!

    • There should be there is quite a sizable Hungarian community in the US, particularly in New York so I understand, the true test is if they make a lángos 😉

  10. Heard a lot about this dish but never had the chance to prepare it or taste it either.. I like your serving dish .. cool !!

    • Thanks Shobna, it is a traditional ‘bogracs’ although it is a small one for serving, typically they are used over and open fire for cooking the gulyás 🙂

  11. I love the red colour and it’s interesting to read about what an authentic goulash is actually like. I’d happily eat both kinds.

    • Thanks Corina… I too was surprised what a goulash was when I moved to Hungary, but it is big an bold in flavour despite being very simple. I am sure I will post a Porkolt recipe at some point in time which is much closer to what most people think of as a goulash, but it is definitely an autumn/winter recipe 🙂

  12. Parsley root! Aha! Now I know why, when I stuck some celeriac in mine just because it needed using up, it actually tasted more like the gulyas I’d eaten in Hungary than any I’d tried making before!

    • Well there you go, glad to help 🙂 Hungarians will typically put parsley root or celeriac in their gulyás but if you struggle with that you could use parsnip which seems to be largely unknown over here it will still give a similar flavour profile but increase the sweetness a little.

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