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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!

Overhead view of a bowl of Hungarian goulash

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.

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
Overhead view of a bowl of Hungarian goulash

Why You’ll Love This Hungarian Goulash Recipe

  • Authentic recipe. As mentioned above, this Hungarian goulash recipe is based on what my sister and her family ate in Hungary and it uses Hungarian spices to keep it authentic.
  • Ultimate comfort food. Like Irish beef stew, beef and barley stew, and lasagna soup, Hungarian goulash is definitely a “meat on your bones” dish! It’s the perfect thing to warm you up on a chilly winter day.
  • The slow cooker does all the work. With this recipe, the hands-on time is minimal. You’ll need to sear the beef but after that, the slow cooker does the work!
Angled view of bowls of authentic Hungarian goulash

What is Hungarian Goulash?

Hungarian goulash is a simple stew with chunks beef, potatoes, 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 and is one of the national dishes of Hungary.

It’s also very different from American goulash, aka American Chop Suey, which made with ground beef, elbow macaroni, and tomato sauce.

Overhead view of hungarian goulash ingredients

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.
  • Garlic
  • 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.

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! Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for more detailed instructions.

  • 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, along with the veggies, potatoes, 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.
A hand holding a spoon in a bowl of goulash

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.
A spoon over a bowl of goulash

What to Serve with Hungarian Goulash

The broth of this beef goulash 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. Beef goulash 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. Hungarian 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!

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Overhead view of a bowl of Hungarian goulash

Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash

Yield: 8 servings
prep time: 25 minutes
cook time: 6 hours
total time: 6 hours 25 minutes
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!
4.4 Stars (300 Reviews)
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Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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:

Serving: 1 Calories: 562kcal Carbohydrates: 34g Protein: 48g Fat: 27g Saturated Fat: 11g Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g Trans Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 141mg Sodium: 745mg Fiber: 5g Sugar: 11g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!
Overhead view of a bowl of Hungarian goulash
Overhead view of a bowl of Hungarian goulash

This post was first published in 2014 and last updated in 2023.

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157 comments on “Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash”

  1. About 40 hours ago I was eating goulash in Budapest! And I brought home paprika – of course. This looks very similar to what we ate. The broth in ours must have been reduced a lot as it was almost thick (but not creamy). Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Just got myself a slow cooker and looked up hungarian goulash recipes, I grew up in Slovenia and my mom would make this dish quite a bit and I absolutely love it! She would make this with creamy polenta as a side – try it, you will absolutely love the combination! Thank you for the slow cooker adaptation, can’t wait to make this!

  3. I made this today – great recipe, thanks for posting it!  I used Trader Joe’s smoked paprika and added about a half bag of shredded cabbage (in the last hour of cooking).  Not sure how Hungarian paprika tastes, but the TJ’s smoked wasn’t chili spicy at all. It came out really nice.  

  4. I didn’t realize Hungarian paprika was a thing and just added regular paprika….anything I can do to save it from being to hard on us?

  5. My husband and I visited Budapest and Prague recently and had the most wonderful Hungarian Goulash.  I have wanted to try to make it since we got back and found your recipe on line.  Well I made it today for dinner, following your directions exactly and I’m sorry to say that I found it quite tasteless.  It was such a disappointment and nothing like what we had tasted over there.  

    1. I agree, this recipe is currently in my slow cooker and I have added a number of spices trying to get some flavour into it. The paprika cannot carry it on its own. 

  6. My dear friend just returned from a trip to Hungary and brought me authentic Hungarian Paprika (I hope I find out that it is ‘sweet’ paprika which is what you used). I am 1/2 Hungarian and 1/2 Austrian due to my father being born in Budapest and immigrated to Austria in 1957 where he met my mother outside of Salzburg. I grew up with dishes such as Hungarian goulash and Austrian food. Both parents are deceased and I miss the foods of my childhood. Thanks soooo much for sharing your pictures and recipe. I can’t wait to try it! I read all the comments and I too am happy that it’s in a slow cooker. I may sautee the onions and beef for a little bit tho. Great to find this recipe!

  7. My mother in law recently passed away and she always would make beef goulash and I unfortunately never learned how to make it. My husband asked if I could make this since the weather is getting cooler and I’m glad I stumbled onto the recipe. I will be trying this out this week in the crockpot but I was wondering if I cook it on low can I leave it for 8hrs or so????

  8. Just returned from Budapest where we ate many bowls of goulash. I’m 1/2 Hungarian and my mom use to make goulash but of course I never had her recipe. I was looking for a crock pot version and came across yours. Thanks so much. I did bring sweet paprika home so will be using it. Hope it turns out as well as some of the ones we had in Hungary.

    1. No worries, Erika. I had tweaked a recipe that my mom had found, after she had enjoyed goulash on a trip to Hungary and Austria. She said the recipe was the closest one she had found that tasted similar to what she had eaten on their vacation. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  9. Hi,

    I’m a hungarian woman.That’s a very good recipe,could be tasty. What an honor that you share this recipe as hungarian.But please,let me say that it’s not authentic and not traditional Hungarian Goulash.This one could be a German,Romanian, Austrian Goulash I guess or I don’t know.Your recipe contains so many(almost all) ingredients that Hungarian’s one doesn’t.Dry mustard,mushrooms,tomato paste(we use tomato not paste,different taste),Worcestershire sauce,brown sugar….Hungarian Goulash doesn’t contains black pepper authentically,because the beef gives that flavor to the soup that needs.But we usually use black pepper,so it’s not problem.Cooking technics is not fine as well.Shortly:First sauté the chopped onion in oil,add bay leaf, give just a little bit water,reduced the liquid,then add chopped beef,give them a stir,roast 4-5 minutes,add salt, garlic,Hungarian sweet paprika or some good quality one.Add chopped tomatoes and yellow bell pepper(TV (means good for stuffed pepper) pepper in Hungary)give them a stir,add water to reach the top of the beef.Reduce the liquid at least 4 times or more.That is one of the most important thing,never skip this.After At the last one(when the beef almost cooked) add the sliced carrots and sliced Turpin or Swiss chard,chopped potatoes, roast them with the beef,add water,black pepper and cook.It can be a soup,not a stew at the end.

  10. I’ve been making my Hungarian grandmother’s variation of this recipe for over 30 years. I found your recipe when looking for a multipot version. I wasn’t sure that it would taste like my grandmother’s, as your recipe has many more ingredients, but I thought I would give it a try.

    Made it tonight and my husband and I both love the layers of flavor that your version has. Fabulous. The only thing different that I did was to brown the meat in a little bacon fat first. Especially easy since my new toy has a browning option.

    Didn’t have crusty bread, but did have homemade dinner rolls to mop up the juices. Will definitely make this again. Thank you for sharing a great recipe and photos.