Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash {Hungary & Austria}

Quite simply, this Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash is a humble stew of beef, potatoes, and vegetables. And yet, it’s so much more.

Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash -

Mom passed along to me a recipe for this Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash awhile back, saying that it tasted very similar to what they ate almost seven years ago while visiting my sister’s family living in Romania. I tucked the copy away with my pile of saved recipes, with no urgent desire to reenact what Mom and Dad ate for lunch during their first visit to Hungary.

And then recently I was wishing I had a beef stew recipe fit for the slow cooker, and ran across the one Mom gave me years ago. Included were handwritten notes of how she had changed the recipe to more closely mimic the bowls of stew they had enjoyed on their trip. I decided to dig into this story further and asked my sister Cheryl of her own Hungarian goulash memories, since her family ate it regularly while living in Romania. She embellished upon Mom’s recipe notes and then gave me a little background on how they used to eat goulash.

Whenever Cheryl and Dave and their two young kids traveled from the airport in Budapest, Hungary to Oradea, Romania, where they lived for two years, they would stop at a small roadside panzió (Hungarian for boarding house, small hotel, or bed and breakfast) along the way for a bowl of goulash. This particular panzió was recommended to them by Romanian friends, and cooked their goulash in a big cast iron pot over the fire. The humble stew was served in bowls, steaming hot, along with big loaves of fresh, crusty bread for dunking and swiping up every last drop of goodness.

I asked Mom and Cheryl to email me a few pictures from the time they spent together visiting Budapest and Vienna, Austria that summer, when my parents ate their first Hungarian goulash. I am sharing a few of those photos here. Because this is what I now think about as I’m eating this delicious stew…

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

A highlight of their trip was visiting Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. A former imperial 1,441-room summer residence, it is now a major tourist attraction. The grounds are meticulously kept, and are home to numerous gardens, pools, fountains, and sculptures…and a maze!

(Schönbrunn Palace is shown in the top photo. The Palm House, on the palace grounds, is in the bottom photo, with Mom, Dad, and Cheryl and Dave’s kids in the foreground.)

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Pictured on the left are Cheryl and Dave with their son and daughter in front of the Neptune Fountain at Schönbrunn Palace. The grounds also feature the world’s oldest zoo, constructed in 1752 (bottom right).

Vienna, St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Danube

While in Vienna, they also visited St. Stephens Cathedral, a medieval limestone landmark. It was constructed in 1147 and named after the first known Christian martyr. Massive in size, sitting atop underground tombs, catacombs, and crypts, it houses 18 altars in the main part of the church, plus more in various chapels.

I found information on the Schönbrunn Palace and St. Stephens Cathedral completely fascinating. As my dad always says, “google it”. The history on these places is amazing.

(Left photo is of St. Stephens Cathedral. Top right photo is of Dad, Mom, and Cheryl and Dave’s kids sitting along the Danube River. Middle right photo is of Cheryl and Dave’s family taking a carriage ride in Vienna. And the bottom right photo is of a pianist playing in the street near the cathedral.)

Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash -

After talking to Mom and Cheryl about their memories of Hungarian goulash, this is what I’ve come away with. Quite simply, it’s nothing more than a humble stew of beef, potatoes, and vegetables. And yet, it’s so much more.

This version is incredibly easy to make. Cubes of beef roast turn ultra tender along with potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms, magically transformed by a few hours in the slow cooker. The broth is beefy, with just a bit of tomato flavor, along with the signature sweet Hungarian paprika goodness. It’s beautiful. My family loves it. I hope yours does, too.

Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


  • 3 lbs. beef chuck roast, cut into 1" cubes
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2" diagonals
  • 4 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 16 oz. whole fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 c. low sodium beef broth
  • 3 T. tomato paste
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


Place beef in slow cooker. Cover with carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onion and garlic. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients, and then add to the slow cooker. Stir a bit to combine. Cover and turn heat to high. Cook for 4 to 5 hours, or until beef and veggies are very tender. Serve in bowls with a warm loaf of fresh crusty bread.

From my mom's recipe box...heavily adapted from this recipe, with input from Mom and my sister Cheryl from their travels to Hungary and Austria.

Thank you to Mom and Cheryl for sharing your memories and your photos. xo


65 Responses to “Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash {Hungary & Austria}”

  1. #
    Karen @ The Tasty Bite — January 17, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Would like to give this a try – but I don’t have Hungarian sweet paprika. Would the dish taste very differently if I use regular paprika?

    • Brenda replied on January 20th, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      Yes, this would taste different. Regular paprika usually has more chili flavor to it = more spicy. The sweet Hungarian paprika is just warm and flavorful and very lovely. If using regular, I’d cut it back quite a bit.

  2. #
    Liz — January 17, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Thank you Brenda for the beautiful recipes and pictures. Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

    • Brenda replied on January 20th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      You’re so welcome, Liz – thank you for always following along! :)

  3. #
    Melody Olson — January 17, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    So fun…I found this recipe on Pinterest and came to your blog and what did I see…Vienna! My daughter, son in law and grandson live there as missionaries and my husband and I went there this past summer for 3 weeks. We went to Schonbrunn and it was AMAZING!

    • Brenda replied on January 20th, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      How wonderful for you to have visited there, too! That’s why my sister’s family was living over there, too. :)

  4. #
    Wendy — January 17, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    What a great recipe to post this time of year when all I can think of is comfort food, soups and stews. Using a crockpot is even better! Can’t wait to try this recipe! Happy weekend Brenda!

    • Brenda replied on January 20th, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      Hope you like it, Wendy!! :)

  5. #
    Wendy — January 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Brenda, the recipe says 1/4 c. Hungarian Paprika is that right?

    • Brenda replied on January 20th, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      Yes, it is, Wendy. And I used sweet Hungarian paprika, not regular paprika, so it really isn’t spicy. It’s just warm and flavorful.

  6. #
    Gaby — January 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    What a wonderful comforting dinner. I know I would love it!

  7. #
    Tieghan Gerard — January 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    I loved reading this post and looking through the pictures. Very fun!!

    And the soup!! Sounds so great. I love the hearty, cozy flavors!

    • Brenda replied on January 20th, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you so much, Tieghan!

  8. #
    Meredith Stevens — January 19, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    I love this post and how it combines two of my favorite things… food and travel!!! Thanks for sharing such a special recipe.

    • Brenda replied on January 20th, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      And Favorite Thing #3…beef! :) Thanks, Meredith!

  9. #
    Mom — January 22, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    It was so fun to see how you put this post together Brenda, and it brought back so many wonderful memories. Now my mouth is watering for Hungarian Goulash!!

    • Brenda replied on January 28th, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Thanks, Mom – I hope you like this version! xo

  10. #
    Sarah — January 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I have it in the crock pot right now. So excited for dinner tonight.

    • Brenda replied on January 28th, 2014 at 7:32 am

      I hope you liked it, Sarah!

  11. #
    Cheryl — January 25, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    This looks so good on this cold winter’s eve.

    • Brenda replied on January 28th, 2014 at 7:28 am

      You’re going to make it, right?! ;)

  12. #
    Janet — January 26, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Beautiful post, both food and photos! My Mom and I visited the cities where her father had grown up – Prague, Vienna and Budapest – and had a wonderful time eating and exploring. Did you know that all three of these cities have Roman ruins? In Vienna, they are 60 feet below today’s city. They were found during a construction project.

    • Brenda replied on January 28th, 2014 at 7:28 am

      The history in these places is incredible! It’s hard to fathom ruins that far below ground level, but experienced that when we visited my sister’s family in Cairo, Egypt a couple years ago. Makes a person realize how “young” our country is!! Thank you so much for your comment!

  13. #
    maritachicita — January 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I am German and I grew up with this recipe! Your version sounds really yummy and I will give it a try! I sometimes add it to pasta or rice to make it even more filling.

    Thanks Marita

    • Brenda replied on January 28th, 2014 at 7:13 am

      Well, I hope you like this! My dad likes to eat his goulash over mashed potatoes…a very warm and hearty meal!

  14. #
    Becky — January 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    My grandmother used to make goulash when I was growing up…I am cooking this recipe tomorrow and I can hardly wait! I know it’s going to be delicious thank you so much for this recipe!

    • Brenda replied on January 28th, 2014 at 7:09 am

      I hope you like it, Becky! Thank you so much for visiting!

  15. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — January 28, 2014 at 9:41 am

    I am drooling over this recipe – gorgeous photos as well! Austria is beautiful!

  16. #
    Tammy — January 31, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Where can you buy the paprika?

  17. #
    Adelina — February 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I lived in Budapest for a couple of years and I have to say, this goulash looks really authentic. Hungarian goulash is a lot more watery compared to what most people think as goulash. I’ll have to try your recipe for sure.

    • Brenda replied on February 19th, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      That’s a beautiful compliment, thank you! I asked my sister and my mom alot of questions about it. Without actually having it for myself in Budapest, I had to go off of their descriptions and memories. If you try this, I’d love to know what you think.

  18. #
    Lauren — February 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I grew up eating my Grandfather’s version of goulash, so I’m excited to try yours! (And all those gorgeous pictures…now I want to travel!!)

  19. #
    Alison — February 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Where do you get the sweet paprika ? I saw “Smokey” and “Hot/Spicey” and just plain but no “Sweet” ….

  20. #
    Bea — April 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I am Hungarian and I like your recipes. I am so happy to see a Hungarian recipe here. Hungarian Gulyás (Goulas) is a thick soup. Hungary and Austria are beautiful, you have to visit them! Sorry for my English…. :)

  21. #
    Haley — April 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I’m excited to try your recipe because it looks authentic. I spent much of my youth in Germany, and my dad loves to make Hungarian Goulash. We make it with German Spaetzle. I had a hard time finding smoked paprika in grocery stores, but found it in World Market and in Home Goods also.

    • Brenda replied on April 8th, 2014 at 7:31 am

      I hope you like this, Haley! :)

  22. #
    Sam — April 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve eaten alot of foreign foods and I’ve only had it once but Hungarian Goulash is my favorite! I haven’t cooked in a very longtime I would have to say years and even when I did it was very rare. Though I eat extremely healthy I have found that even in healthy foods prepared by a store or restaurant there are certain ingredients you cannot avoid unless you cook for yourself. I have now prepared this dish and it is cooking right now. I am hoping it turns out good and that this is just the first of many dishes for me to learn to make well. Thank you so much for providing this recipe!

  23. #
    Edna — April 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I just put this in my crock pot but like others didn’t have the sweet Hungarian paprika BUT I did have Spanish sweet paprika hope it tastes as wonderful as my kitchen is smelling right now.

  24. #
    pattym — May 20, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Love this , my dad used to make something similar when I was growing up. LOVED LOVED the pics you added, what a beautiful place.

    • Brenda replied on May 21st, 2014 at 7:01 am

      Thank you so much, Patty. I hope I can see that corner of the world some day!

  25. #
    Len — June 11, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Hi Brenda, goulash recipe looks good – I’m not experienced cook – can you tell me whether 4c. low sodium beef broth is 4 cups or something else, and whether 3T. tomato paste is teaspoons or table spoons, and 2 tsp dry mustard is 2 tablespoons or teaspoons

    sometimes dummies like me need more explanation…..please advise…..thanx

    • Brenda replied on August 29th, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Hello Len – c. = cups, T. = tablespoon, tsp. = teaspoon

  26. #
    Carolyn — August 23, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    I have just returned from Eastern Europe where I enjoyed several bowls of wonderful goulash. Now sharing it with friends using your great recipe. Thank you

    • Brenda replied on August 29th, 2014 at 9:45 am

      I am so happy to know you like this recipe and are sharing it with those you love! :)

  27. #
    cristina — September 8, 2014 at 4:51 am

    I’m from Transylvania(living in London at the moment) and goulash is one of the traditional dishes over there:)..and i have hungarian paprika aswell..just one question.we usually had bread(ciabatta) with this dish..what would you recommend? many thanks :)

  28. #
    Rebecca — October 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Brenda,

    I have a quick question – when you say “dry” mustard, do you mean dry in the way that we describe wine or champagne, or do you mean powdered mustard?


  29. #
    Jill — November 16, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    In the crock pot as we speak!

    • Brenda replied on November 18th, 2014 at 7:11 am

      Wonderful! Hope you liked it!

  30. #
    Elisabeth — November 22, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Dear Brenda, I am expatriate Austrian and I love your receipe. My mother made the stovetop version, but I love the slow cooker. We would eat it with small pickles on the side. There are lovely versions with game, when you serve it with lingonberries; cranberries would work, too.

    • Brenda replied on November 25th, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you so much for writing. I love to hear all of this. I want to try the game versions, and with lingonberries!

  31. #
    Eva — November 27, 2014 at 5:55 am

    My son and I made this today for dinner and it was wonderful! We will make it again and next time add a half cup of red wine. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe :)

    • Brenda replied on November 27th, 2014 at 7:44 am

      I’m so glad you liked this! Thanks for coming back to let me know. And…I think your adding red wine sounds wonderful!

  32. #
    Barbara — December 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Hi! I’m Hungarian, so this is one of my favorite dishes. My only struggle usually is, that the beef needs to be cooked for a long time in order to become tender (this is preparing it in a regular pot). If I cook it in a crock pot will it be tender and moist? And if I put the veggies in the same time, cooking it for 5-6 hours on high, won’t it end up being mushy?

    • Brenda replied on December 13th, 2014 at 8:32 am

      The beef is definitely tender from being in the slow cooker. I don’t find the veggies to be “mushy”, just very soft. If you like them less soft, just add the veggies later in the cooking process.

  33. #
    Paddy — December 9, 2014 at 9:51 am

    How big of a crock pot would you need for this? i have a feeling my 4 Quart crockpot is going to over flow!

  34. #
    Stacy — January 10, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    This is by far the best, and most authentic tasting, hungarian goulash recipe I’ve tried. The sweet paprika makes all the difference-don’t be scared by the (seemingly) high amount used. Love it, thanks!

    • Brenda replied on January 18th, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment, Stacy. I’m so glad you liked this recipe!

  35. #
    Stephanie — January 18, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I’m very excited anout this recipe! My grand parents are from Hungary and I’ve grown up on “old country” goulash (sometimes even done over a fire in a cast iron pot) :) Although there are few ingredients my grandma never used im interested to see how this recipe tastes. Im going to try it tomorrow, can’t wait to find out how it stands up to my nagymama’s!

  36. #
    Angel McCollum — March 1, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    OMGGLHM!! (Oh My Goodness Gracious Lord Have Mercy) that was awesome! I just made this for dinner and we LOVED it. I made it in a Dutch Oven instead of the slow cooker since I was home all day. This is a permanent addition to our menu! Thank you so much for sharing it! You are the BOMB!

    • Brenda replied on March 4th, 2015 at 6:44 am

      Excellent! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know. Enjoy!

  37. #
    Sarah-Mai Simon — April 27, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Used chuck short ribs — meat turned out tender but did not fall apart, veggies were not mushy. BUT, 4 cups broth turned into 4 QUARTS in the 4-5 hours in the crock pot. If I ever make it again, I’ll add no more than 1 cup broth. My husband told me to throw out the leftovers which filled three quart jars. However, I shall try heating one quart of the soup/gravy and letting it evaporate and then add more of the seasonings. If you have a better idea, please let me know. Thank you.

  38. #
    Paige — August 18, 2015 at 3:48 am

    I’m really excited to try and make this! I’ve had goulash i Germany but this looks even better than that. I was wondering what size crock pot you used though because I only have a 4 quart one?

  39. #
    Cheryl — January 6, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I’m so excited to see your post! My husband has had business trips to Transylvania the last two years, and next month I get to go with him! We’ll fly to Budapest, then take the train to Cluj, Romania. I have some paprika from his last trip, and I plan on stocking-up while I’m there. Thanks for the recipe. I was going to ask for the name of the panzio, but I doubt the train will make many stops :-)

    • Brenda replied on January 14th, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      How exciting for you! I hope you find some good goulash!

  40. #
    Laura — February 1, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Well I can see that I’m a little late to the party but after searching the web, and all my cook books, your recipe looked just right. I brought home several bags of paprika from a recent trip to Budapest as well as delicious memories of the Goulash. I’m so excited…its in the slow cooker now! Out of necessity I had to make two changes, chicken instead beef broth and freshly sliced/sautéed mushrooms snatched from the jaws of the stroganoff currently on the stove. Is there anything I can add to make up for the chicken vs beef broth?
    I am really enjoying your blog…and your style!

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