Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash
This Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash is a simple stew with chunks of tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef and vegetables. It features a rich, beefy broth flavored with Hungarian paprika – authentic comfort food at its best!
Authentic Hungarian Beef Goulash Recipe
This Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash recipe features a rich, beefy broth flavored with Hungarian paprika. With fork-tender bites of beef and vegetables, it’s a simple, hearty dish that’s big on comfort. And so easy to make in a Crock Pot!
My sister’s family once lived in Romania and would fly in and out of the Budapest, Hungary airport. Whenever they travelled to Budapest, they’d stop at a certain small roadside panzió (small hotel) for bowls of their hot goulash.
The goulash was cooked in a large cast iron pot over the fire, then served with loaves of fresh, crusty bread for dunking and swiping up every last drop of deliciousness.
So this recipe is a compilation of dining memories from my sister and mom. They helped me create this goulash recipe, to copy the flavors of the bowls they enjoyed in Hungary. Now our entire family can enjoy this dish whenever we want, wherever we are!
“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!”Angel
What is Goulash?
Goulash is a simple stew of beef and vegetables, with a good dose of Hungary’s trademark spice, paprika.
Its origin can be traced back to the 9th century, to stews eaten by Hungarian shepherds. The name originates from the Hungarian gulyás. The word gulya means ‘herd of cattle’ in Hungarian, and gulyás means ‘herdsman’ or ‘cowboy’.
Goulash is a common meal of Central Europe, and one of the national dishes of Hungary.
Hungarian Goulash vs American Goulash
Though the names are similar, Hungarian goulash is very different from American goulash.
The American version, also called American Chop Suey, consists of ground beef, elbow macaroni, and tomato sauce. And the Hungarian version is a stew that features chunks of meat and potatoes, and is heavily spiced with paprika.
They are both tasty comfort foods, but nowhere near the same dish!
What You’ll Need
For this goulash recipe, I stuck as close to the authentic Hungarian ingredients as possible, from the experiences of my sister and mom when they ate goulash in Hungary.
Be sure to check the recipe card below for full measurements and instructions.
- Beef Chuck Roast – When cooked for a long time, chuck roast becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender. And it has a lot of flavor!
- Vegetables – Carrots, yellow onion, and mushrooms add nutrients and substance to the stew.
- Potatoes – Red potatoes will hold up better during the slow cooking process, but feel free to use a yellow potato if you like.
- Beef Broth – Use a low-sodium broth, so you can control the amount of salt.
- Tomato Paste – Just a little bit adds rich flavor to this dish!
- Worcestershire Sauce – This adds another layer of savory flavor that is beautiful with the beef.
- Hungarian Sweet Paprika – I know the amount seems like a lot, but just trust me – traditional Hungarian goulash includes a hefty dose of paprika. Use whatever paprika you already personally like. Our family prefers Hungarian sweet paprika.
- Brown Sugar – Just a little bit helps to soften the broth’s flavor.
- Dry Mustard – This helps to enhance the other flavors but won’t give the goulash a mustard-y flavor.
- Salt & Pepper
What is Hungarian Paprika?
Hungarian paprika is a key ingredient in making this authentic goulash recipe…but what’s the difference between Hungarian paprika and regular paprika?
In general, paprika is a spice made from dried and ground red peppers. And “regular” paprika, that doesn’t specify on the package what it is, can be any type of paprika and is often mixed with other types of chiles.
Hungary is a major source of this vibrant spice. In Hungary, the word paprika translates to “pepper”.
Hungarian paprika is made from peppers that are toasted, then blended, to create different combinations. You can find everything from sweet to spicy Hungarian paprika, but it always has notes of sweet red pepper flavor – as the peppers used for paprika in Hungary tend to be milder.
For this recipe, I like to use Hungarian sweet paprika.
How to Make Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash
This stew could be simmered for hours on the stovetop – or in a big kettle over an open fire, if you want to be truly authentic. But I choose to let the slow cooker do the work!
- Sear the beef. Season the beef with salt and pepper, then sear for a few minutes on each side until browned. You can do this on the “brown/saute” function if you have a multi cooker or in a skillet on the stovetop.
- Add everything to the slow cooker. Place the beef in the slow cooker. Add the carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Whisk together the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings – and then pour it over the other ingredients and stir gently to combine.
- Cook. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or until the beef is super tender.
- Enjoy. Ladle into individual bowls, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and enjoy.
Tips for Success
This is a simple dish and I have just a few simple tips for you!
- Use a flavorful cut of beef. An inexpensive cut is best – beef chuck is my #1 choice. It’s full of flavor and the slow cooker will magically transform this otherwise tough cut of meat into irresistible, fork-tender bites of beefy heaven. If you can’t find chuck, top round would be my second choice.
- ALWAYS include Hungarian paprika! There are many different kinds of paprika, but I always look for “Hungarian sweet paprika” for this recipe. If you use a spicier paprika, you will probably want to cut back on the quantity (unless you LOVE all things spicy, of course!).
- Don’t skimp on the cook time. The slow cooking process produces a stew with an intense, well-rounded flavor and fabulously tender chunks of beef. My recipe states a cook time of 4 to 6 hours – and while it usually doesn’t take 6 hours for the beef to become fork-tender, I always allow that time to ensure the best flavor and texture.
What to Serve with Hungarian Goulash
The broth is wonderfully rich and beefy, with a hint of tomato flavor. It just begs to be sopped up by some warm, crusty bread or tender biscuits. For a little different twist on bread, try some buttery Texas Toast. Or these honey cornbread muffins – my family goes crazy for them!
This stew would also be wonderful ladled over some steaming hot mashed potatoes. Although I’d then alter the goulash recipe to delete the chopped potatoes and add more carrots and mushrooms.
Noodles would also be great. I would recommend some wide egg noodles, cooked just to al dente. Add some of the hot noodles to a plate or bowl, then ladle the goulash over the top.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Hungarian goulash makes great leftovers…and you know how I live for leftovers!
- Fridge. This homemade stew recipe will keep very well for up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Simply reheat single or multiple servings in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop.
- Freezer. Goulash also freezes perfectly. Use either larger freezer-safe containers or smaller single-serving freezer containers, and then thaw them in the fridge overnight before reheating. It’s so wonderful to have goulash on hand for a quick, delicious homemade meal!
More Slow Cooker Soup Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew
- Slow Cooker Beef and Sweet Potato Soup
- Italian Crockpot Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup
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Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash
This Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash is a humble stew loaded with chunks of tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef and vegetables. It features a rich, beefy broth flavored with sweet paprika - authentic comfort food at its best!
- 3 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1" cubes
- Morton kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2" diagonals
- 4 medium gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" cubes
- 16 ounces whole fresh mushrooms, quartered
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup Hungarian sweet paprika
- ¼ cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
- fresh chopped parsley for garnish, optional
- Sprinkle cut beef fairly generously with salt and pepper.
- If you own a multicooker, where you can brown meat right in the slow cooker - click "brown/saute". Once it's hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the beef. Let it sear for a few mintues on each side, or until nicely browned. Otherwise use a large skillet over medium-high heat to heat the oil and then brown the beef. Drain off fat. If using a skillet, transfer beef to slow cooker.
- Add carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onion, and garlic over the seared beef.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, brown sugar, and dry mustard, and then add this mixture to the slow cooker. Stir everything gently to combine.
- Cover slow cooker and turn heat to high. Cook for 4 to 6 hours, or until beef is ultra tender. Sometimes the beef is fork-tender in 4 hours, and sometimes it takes 6 hours or even a bit more, it just depends on the cut of meat. I always allow 6 hours, because the goal is fork-tender beef.
- To serve, ladle goulash into individual bowls. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, if desired. A warm loaf of fresh crusty bread works great for dipping.
Note that you will need a large slow cooker for this recipe, as it makes a big quantity. We use this 7-quart multicooker.
From my mom’s recipe box, which was heavily adapted from this recipe, with additional input from Mom and my sister Cheryl from their travels to Hungary and Austria.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 562Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 745mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 48g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
This post was first published in 2014 and last updated in 2023.
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…. :)
Where do you get the sweet paprika ? I saw “Smokey” and “Hot/Spicey” and just plain but no “Sweet” ….
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!!)
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.
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.
Where can you buy the paprika?
I am drooling over this recipe – gorgeous photos as well! Austria is beautiful!
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!
I hope you like it, Becky! Thank you so much for visiting!
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.
Well, I hope you like this! My dad likes to eat his goulash over mashed potatoes…a very warm and hearty meal!
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.
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!
This looks so good on this cold winter’s eve.
You’re going to make it, right?! ;)
I have it in the crock pot right now. So excited for dinner tonight.
I hope you liked it, Sarah!
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!!
Thanks, Mom – I hope you like this version! xo
I love this post and how it combines two of my favorite things… food and travel!!! Thanks for sharing such a special recipe.
And Favorite Thing #3…beef! :) Thanks, Meredith!
I loved reading this post and looking through the pictures. Very fun!!
And the soup!! Sounds so great. I love the hearty, cozy flavors!
Thank you so much, Tieghan!
What a wonderful comforting dinner. I know I would love it!
Brenda, the recipe says 1/4 c. Hungarian Paprika is that right?
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.
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!
Hope you like it, Wendy!! :)
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!
How wonderful for you to have visited there, too! That’s why my sister’s family was living over there, too. :)
Thank you Brenda for the beautiful recipes and pictures. Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!
You’re so welcome, Liz – thank you for always following along! :)
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?
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.
You can buy it on AMAZON.
Or even in hungarian shop