Eastern European

Traditional Beef Goulash

July 12, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Carolina Gelen
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Serves 8-12
Author Notes

As someone coming from the foreign lands of Transylvania, growing up in a half Hungarian half Romanian family, I can safely say goulash (gulyás) was a staple dish in our home. I think the best way to describe goulash is as a classic, very rustic, beautifully colored and flavorful meat soup.

While it is the perfect comforting dish for a cold winter day, goulash is often eaten in the summer. While most people around the world would have a barbeque in the summer, in this region, it is very common for people to gather around a big pot of goulash, also called bogrács (bográcsgulyás), cooked in a traditional cauldron over an open fire. I remember my favorite part as a kid was to help my father get the fire started for the goulash. The goulash cauldron is suspended using a tripod, right over the fire. This method of cooking takes this classic stew to the next level by introducing a pleasant smokiness to the dish.

I’m pretty sure most of us don’t own the proper equipment to cook a pot of goulash over an open fire, in the most traditional way possible, but this flavorful Hungarian dish can easily be recreated at home, on a regular stove top. The recipe I’m sharing with you is adapted from the one my mother used to make for us growing up and it simply transports me back to my childhood.
Carolina Gelen

What You'll Need
  • For the goulash
  • 500 grams braising steak, preferably chuck steak, cubed
  • 350 grams short ribs
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons oil for sautéing
  • 3 carrots, cubed
  • 2 parsley roots, cubed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pepper paste or 1 red bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 80 grams knob of celeriac
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme or a small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 10 cups water
  • 500 grams potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • For the dumplings
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a 5.5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot on medium high heat, sauté the onion in 4 tablespoons of oil until translucent. Next, add the braising steak and short ribs to the pot and sear the meat for about 15 minutes. You are not looking for too much browning on the meat.
  2. Add the tomato paste and pepper paste (or cubed bell pepper) to the pot and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the garlic, carrot, parsley root and sauté those with the meat and everything else that is in there for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the salt, peppercorns, paprika, thyme, celeriac, water and stock to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then simmer everything for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender.
  4. Add the cubed potatoes to the pot and simmer everything for 15-20 more minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked.
  5. While the potatoes are cooking, combine the ingredients for the dumplings in a bowl, mixing them with a fork for a couple of minutes. You should have a thick batter like consistency.
  6. Dip a metal spoon in the simmering liquid, this will make the scooping process a lot easier. Scoop tiny pieces of the dumpling batter in the goulash. Once you are done scooping all the batter in, let the dumplings boil for 3-4 minutes, turn the heat off and pop a lid on top of the pot. Serve with fresh herbs and hot peppers on top!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Karen Steele Morrow
    Karen Steele Morrow
  • Carolina Gelen
    Carolina Gelen
  • caitolawso
Carolina is a resident at Food52. She's also one of the hosts of Choose Your Own Recipe Adventure, our YouTube show where our Food52 readers pick the ingredients and techniques for a brand new recipe. Carolina recently immigrated to the U.S. from Transylvania, a place she spent most of her life. She continues to get inspired by the classic Romanian and Hungarian foods she was raised on, creating approachable, colorful, and fun recipes. For more cooking ideas and candid moments, check out her Instagram @carolinagelen.

10 Reviews

caitolawso December 29, 2021

I tried exactly as it was the first time around (except we're vegetarian) and it was perfect. With a dollop of eros pista and sour cream, nothing could be better. Its just so flavourful!

My most recent attempt (with meat for my extended family) I put less water to other ingr. ratio, so it could be a bit more concentrated. I also threw in some caraway with the potatoes, but my fam really likes caraway in their gyulas.

I don't know if this will help anyone...
But I also started grating the dumplings in- like on a cheese grater- because the first attempts with the spoon just came out too large and too chunky. I did have to add a splash more flour to the recipe to make it a lil less sticky and more gratable, but all around it worked really well at keeping them smaller.

Thanks for such a refreshing recipe!
anubailey January 25, 2021
Love this recipe. It is so flavorful and delicious . Perfect! Making it again today. Chewy dumplings are so yummy! Thank you very much!
Anonymous January 13, 2021
I made it! I knew I wanted to make this recipe as soon as I set my eyes on it! Its delicious! I thoroughly enjoyed using somewhat unusual ingredients. I have used celery root, but never parsley root. I did not use quite as much liquid, and for the beef stock used a quality beef “bone broth” in a jar. The only change I really made was I made spaetzle rather than these dumplings. I doubled the recipe, and would be eating it over several meals, and thought the dumplings may not be as good later in the week. I scooped a generous 1/2 cup of spaetzle into each bowl, and will refrigerate the rest for our next meal of goulash. The short ribs gave it extra richness and flavor, and I picked the meat off the bones prior to serving, and tossed the fatty pieces. Thank you for an absolutely delicious, authentic recipe for Hungarian Goulash!
Smaug January 6, 2021
Given that goulash has been widely made for hundreds of years and has become a tradition over much of Europe and as far away as Northern Africa, and that a whole new batch of variations appeared with the introduction of tomatoes and peppers from the New World, the term "traditional" covers a lot of ground with this dish.
Ketel T. January 6, 2021
Dear Carolina, your gulyas is exactly what I have eaten myself as kid (half-Hungarian from Transylvania, half-French). Today, my parents also are preparing it in their French garden on the fire with a tripod brought back from a trip in Hungary. I really like this versatile soup full of flavor. Thank you for sharing this nice recipe.
Karen S. January 5, 2021
I studied abroad in Hungary in 1994. This is almost exactly how I was taught to make goulash! It is a favorite here with galushka (dumplings). Dipping into a bowl brings me back to early winter in the country where we were attending college.
Anonymous January 2, 2021
This looks delicious, Naila! My mom was from Slovakia (although some of the immigration papers of her parents in the early 1900’s said Hungary) so I definitely grew up with Goulash! We took a “Bohemian Dream” vacation, and we ate a LOT of goulash, and I was in heaven! I loved hearing the story of how you traditionally made this recipe! The ingredients which are unfamiliar to me are the short ribs (do you think they make a big difference?) and the celeriac (happen to have one in my frig!). If you could use ounces and pounds rather than grams you might make this recipe more accessible to the average American. I definitely want to make this recipe!
Carolina G. January 17, 2021
Thank you so much for sharing that, I really appreciate your input!
Jean-Claude January 22, 2021
Nancy, Perhaps I am an above-average American, but I find the use of metric weights perfectly acceptable. It's time for the US to get on board with the rest of the world!
Anonymous January 22, 2021
Due noted. I googled, and got out my kitchen scale and did just fine!