Skip to Content

Marha Porkolt | Hungarian Beef Stew

Marha Porkolt is a Hungarian stew that is as popular as Goulash, rich with tender beef mine is the product of 12 years of practice!

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

Slow-Cooked Hungarian 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

Choosing the Paprika.

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. 

But in general, it is dominated by the use of paprika, whether that be in the classic chicken paprikash, rakott kaposzta (layered cabbage casserole) or this marha pörkölt recipe.

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.

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 thick paprika gravy.

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 also 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 almost always serve or even order mine with nokedli, Hungarian egg noodles of sorts.

However, you could serve with everything from buttered noodles to boiled potatoes. You could even add Hungarian rakott krumpli to the side if you were feeling particularly greedy.

Adding pickles, any pickles will make the experience much more Hungarian!

Sqauare image of a marha porkolt, a Hungarian beef stew served with nokedli, hot wax peppers and pickled peppers served in a white bowl
Yield: 2 Servings

Hungarian Marha Porkolt Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Marinade Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 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.


  • 450g (1lb) Stewing Beef
  • 750ml (1 Bottle) Red Wine
  • 5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 200g (1⅓ Cup) 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:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 653Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 120mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 15g

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!


Monday 23rd of December 2019

I was wondering if it is possible to make this recipe in a slow cooker as well?

Brian Jones

Monday 23rd of December 2019

Hey Stefan, you can and I have but it results in a texture that just isn't quite right... The flavours all work and it tastes fab just not as intense, but a porkolt is meant to be thick stew and unfortunately, slow cookers do not drive off enough liquid.

Steve Harford

Friday 8th of November 2019

I’ve never seen beef neck in any of our butchers in the uk. Do we call it something else?

Brian Jones

Saturday 9th of November 2019

Hey Steve, that is odd I'm sure I remember beef neck in the UK although it has been nearly 12 years since I last visited... It used to be called clod before many moons ago and depending on the search I can find reference to neck in the UK although often it seems as though it is all being lumped together as chuck which is used to refer to the shoulder area rather than the neck.


Thursday 19th of September 2019

Wow, not only a great recipe, but a great read! And I love, love, love the black and white festival photo.

Brian Jones

Thursday 26th of September 2019

Thanks Pam :)


Thursday 19th of September 2019

Wow, this looks amazing! Thanks for the tips to helping me find Hungarian Paprika.

Brian Jones

Thursday 26th of September 2019

Anytime :)


Thursday 19th of September 2019

Oh wow this looks so rich and good! Thanks for posting it!

Brian Jones

Thursday 26th of September 2019

You are welcome!

Skip to Recipe