Marha Porkolt Recipe Hungarian Beef Stew

Not to be confused with Goulash a Porkolt is a Hungarian stew that is every bit as popular in Hungary as the ubiquitous gulyas. This Beef Porkolt is arguably the most common!

Portrait close up overhead image of a marha porkolt, a Hungarian beef stew served with nokedli, hot wax peppers and pickled peppers served in a white bowl

Hungarian Marha Porkolt, Slow Cooked Beef Stew.

I moved to Hungarian countryside in 2008 and when I say that this simple beef stew is just as popular as Goulash I am talking from experience.

It is the meal I order most often from restaurant menus whether it be beef, mutton or venison it is my favourite. Although I usually steer clear of the tripe variant!

It is a very simple way of cooking and originates on the Hungarian Great Plain, right where I live!  

Just like goulash, it would have been cooked in a kettle or cauldron over an open fire. In fact, it often still is at the countless local festivals I attend every year! 

I hate the use of the word authentic when it comes to food. It implies that there are ways of cooking that have more value.

So I will avoid it here and simply say that this is food you could put on the table in the Hungarian countryside in front of a Hungarian and be congratulated. This is a claim that I have tested on many occasions!

Traditional Hungarian cooking in a Cauldron or Kettle over and open fire at a food festival

Simple Hungarian Food.

Hungarian food remains steadfastly simple to this very day, grasping on to its traditions with a resolute determination.

Spices in general use are simply spicy paprika, sweet paprika, which is never smoked, caraway, salt and black pepper. 

Whether that is in the classic chicken paprikash or one of the many hundreds of variants on gulyas like this bean goulash.

Please do try and hunt down some Hungarian paprika, it really does make the dish!

If it is in its original Hungarian packaging you are looking for the word édes, which means sweet. Possibly even the phrase “1 Osztály” which means 1st class.

Marinating the meat in wine is something very common and not at all fancy! Many people in very humble houses in the countryside make their own wine, as do I.

What is the Difference Between This Pörkölt recipe and a Goulash?

Well simply one is a soup and the other is a stew, goulash contains lots of root vegetables, this doesn’t. It is simply and unashamedly meat in a paprika gravy.

There is on key difference between the two that I see ignored all of the time on the internet!

In all of my time here, eating out all over the country, I have never been served a goulash that can be served on a plate.

This dish should be thick and unctuous with meat that is fall apart tender.

Portrait overhead image of a marha porkolt, a Hungarian beef stew served with nokedli, hot wax peppers and pickled peppers served in a white bowl

What Beef to Use.

I use either neck or shin of beef for this recipe. They are the cuts that are typically available here in rural Hungary.

Every single person I have spoken too about this recipe say they are the cuts they use.

Quite often it is a mix of the two as shin is gelatinous and results in great body. Neck, on the other hand, offers a great flavour.

I have made one substitution in this recipe that would not usually happen in Hungary.

I have suggested using green bell pepper, here we would use what is called a TV Paprika.

It is a very pale green or yellow in colour and has a neutral pepper flavour with no heat and exists to add body to the stew. 

Do not be tempted to add red or yellow peppers, they add too much sweetness.

I always serve or even order mine with nokedli, egg noodles of sorts. You can find the recipe for this in my chicken paprikash recipe.

However, you could serve with everything from pasta to buttered boiled potatoes.

You could add a large dollop of sour cream, it is not unheard of over here, but it is not required.

But adding pickles, any pickles will make the experience much more Hungarian!

Portrait image of a marha porkolt, a Hungarian beef stew served with nokedli, hot wax peppers and pickled peppers served in a white bowl
Marha Porkolt Hungarian Beef Stew

Marha Porkolt Hungarian Beef Stew

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Marinade Time: 1 days
Total Time: 1 days 4 hours 20 minutes

Marha Porkolt is the classic Hungarian Beef Stew, no it is not a goulash but beautifully simple slow-cooked comfort food that will have you craving more.


  • 450 g Stewing Beef
  • 750 ml Red Wine
  • 5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 200 g Onion
  • 2 Tbsp Lard, substitute for goose or duck fat
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Tsp Caraway Seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • Generous Pinch Salt


  1. Cut the beef into 2.5cm cubes and place in a bowl.
  2. Pour over the wine and add the thyme and bay leaves, cover with cling film and marinate for a maximum of 24 hours.
  3. When you are ready to cook finely slice your onion into half-moons.
  4. Heat a medium pan over a medium high heat and when hot add the lard.
  5. Fry the onion, stirring occasionally until golden brown and soft.
  6. Finely dice the green pepper and finely chop the garlic.
  7. Remove the beef from the marinade discarding the thyme and bay leaves but reserving the wine.
  8. Pat the meat dry and then add to the onions and cook until lightly browned.
  9. Add the garlic and green pepper and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  10. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sweet paprika, salt and caraway seeds.
  11. Pour over enough of the red wine to just cover the beef and add the tomato puree.
  12. Transfer to the oven and cook at 150°C or 300°F for 3-4 hours.
  13. As the meat cooks the sauce will evaporate, and the exposed beef will darken, stir to put this darkened beef into the juices every so often.


I like to serve this with buttered nokedli which can be found in my chicken paprikash recipe. You could also serve with a pasta or even simply boiled and buttered potatoes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 653 Total Fat: 23g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 12g Cholesterol: 49mg Sodium: 120mg Carbohydrates: 31g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 10g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 15g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

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