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.

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!”

Angled view of bowls of authentic Hungarian goulash

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!

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.

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.

Overhead view of a bowl of Hungarian goulash

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.
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 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:

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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!


  • 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


  1. Sprinkle cut beef fairly generously with salt and pepper.
  2. 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.
  1. Add carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onion, and garlic over the seared beef.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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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.