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.
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!
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 :-)
How exciting for you! I hope you find some good goulash!
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?
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.
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!
Excellent! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know. Enjoy!
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!
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!
Thank you so much for your comment, Stacy. I’m so glad you liked this recipe!
I’m sorry but it’s not authentic Gulas.But it can be very tasty,I’m sure.
How big of a crock pot would you need for this? i have a feeling my 4 Quart crockpot is going to over flow!
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?
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.
I did not find d the veggies to be overly mushy. Would not cook them any longer than 6 hours. Putting the veggies on top of the beef helps. I stirred it after about 4 hours
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 :)
I’m so glad you liked this! Thanks for coming back to let me know. And…I think your adding red wine sounds wonderful!
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.
Thank you so much for writing. I love to hear all of this. I want to try the game versions, and with lingonberries!
In the crock pot as we speak!
Wonderful! Hope you liked it!
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?
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 :)
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
I am so happy to know you like this recipe and are sharing it with those you love! :)
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
Hello Len – c. = cups, T. = tablespoon, tsp. = teaspoon
Love this , my dad used to make something similar when I was growing up. LOVED LOVED the pics you added, what a beautiful place.
Thank you so much, Patty. I hope I can see that corner of the world some day!
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.
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!
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.
I hope you like this, Haley! :)