Beef goulash is a cozy, rustic stew filled with chunks of tender beef, savory vegetables, and fragrant spices such as paprika, ground caraway seeds and bay leaf. It is one of my family's favorite cold weather comfort foods, and absolutely delicious served over egg noodles or mashed potatoes!
Beef Goulash, an Eastern European Family Favorite
Growing up in a household with two Slovak parents, I had the pleasure of enjoying a lot of delicious and comforting Eastern European meals.
In the cold of winter, one of my family's favorite meals to prepare was a Hungarian-inspired beef goulash, a stew-like dish filled with tender chunks of beef and veggies, all simmered for an extended period of time in a rich sauce infused with a hint of aromatic caraway seeds, paprika and bay leaf.
My mom would most often prepare little homemade dumplings, similar to spaetzle, or even mashed potatoes, and we would ladle the beef goulash over top, allowing the copious sauce to glide over every nook and cranny.
Talk about a super cozy and warming meal!
These days, I often prepare homemade beef goulash for my own loved ones in the style that my parents prepared it, even making the tiny homemade spaetzle from scratch if I have a bit of extra time. Or, to keep things simple, I like to use tender, extra-wide egg noodles, as I do here with this version.
Beef goulash is one of those rustic and cozy meals that we thoroughly appreciate and take lots of comfort in when the nights are chilly, and I thought I'd share this Eastern European family favorite of ours here with you, so that you too, could to find some comfort in it.
How to Make Beef Goulash That’s Rich and Flavorful
When it comes to a beef goulash recipe, it's all about rustic simplicity with lots of rich flavor.
While there is a generous amount of onions in this recipe, along with some carrots and some diced tomato (mainly for color and for a bit a added texture), the beef is meant to be the star of the show.
The nice thing about my recipe for goulash is that it doesn't require an expensive cut of beef. I use a slightly tougher grass-fed beef chuck roast, cut into medium-size chunks.
The reason I choose the chuck roast over traditional beef stew meat (the pre-packaged kind) is because of the collagen and marbling found in it, excellent for cooking to delicious perfection over a longer period.
That extended cooking time, needed for this goulash recipe, will allow the meat to become flavorful and tender.
As for the aromatics, there's the onions along with lots of garlic, a good dash of ground caraway seeds, paprika (not the hot paprika, but the more sweet and mild “Hungarian” variety), a couple of bay leaves, some diced carrots, and a few roughly chopped, whole tomatoes from a can.
Here's my beef goulash recipe at a glance: (or just jump to the full recipe further down...)
- First, I season my beef with salt and pepper, then toss it with a bit of flour to coat; I then add it to my hot pan or pot, sear it off until browned, and remove it when done.
- Next, the onions and carrots go into the same pot I used for the beef, and I saute those until they become softened and translucent; I then add in the seasonings along with the garlic and the tomato.
- At this point I return the browned beef to the pot, add in some beef stock or broth; and then, everything is gently simmered until the beef is tender and the sauce slightly thickened, about 2 to 2 ½ hours.
- I garnish the beef goulash with parsley, and serve over egg noodles, or even mashed potatoes.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 613 calories
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
- 2 ½ pounds beef chuck roast, cut into medium-size chunks
- Black pepper
- 3 tablespoons of flour, divided use
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground caraway seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups beef stock/broth
- 4 whole, peeled San Marzano-style tomatoes (from can), roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley
- Egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or favorite side to serve alongside
- Place the chunks of the beef into a large bowl, and season with a couple of generous pinches of salt and black pepper; sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of the flour, and toss to coat.
- Place a large braising pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 3 tablespoon of the olive oil; once hot, add in about half of the beef (work in 2-3 batches), and brown on all sides for about 4-5 minutes; remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
- To the same pan, add in 2 more tablespoons of olive oil along with the butter, and once melted, add in the onions and carrots, and saute for about 2-3 minutes until softened; then, add in the paprika, the ground caraway seeds and the bay leaves, and stir to combine.
- Next, add in the garlic, and once aromatic, stir in the tomato paste to incorporate; sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and stir to combine, then stir in the beef stock/broth, followed by the chopped tomatoes.
- Return the browned beef back into the pan, stir to combine, and bring everything to a vigorous simmer; then, reduce the heat to medium-low or low, cover partly with a lid so that some steam can escape, and cook until the beef is tender, about 2 – 2 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
- Finish the beef goulash by stirring in the chopped parsley, and serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or your favorite side.
Tips & Tidbits for my Beef Goulash:
- Beef chuck for tender, succulent results: While pre-packaged beef stew meat can be used, I recommend using beef chuck cut into medium-size chunks. It's a terrific cut of beef to use for extended cooking, as it contains more collagen and will remain more tender and succulent, rather than becoming dry.
- Ground caraway seeds: I like to use freshly ground caraway seeds in my beef goulash, and you can achieve this by using a spice grinder or even a mortar and pestle. If you prefer to use whole caraway seeds, which is also an option, use a little less, about ¼ teaspoon rather than the ½ teaspoon of the ground called for in this recipe.
- Hungarian or sweet paprika: I use traditional, mild Hungarian paprika in this recipe, and you can typically find it in a little red box, in the spice section of the market. Or, if you can't find one labeled “Hungarian”, simply use regular “sweet” paprika. (Just make sure not to choose hot or spicy paprika.)
- Time is your friend with beef goulash: To ensure tender and delicious beef and a flavorful sauce, you'll need to treat beef goulash like a braise and allow for about 2 to 2 ½ hours of simmering. Check the beef after 2 hours, and if tender and succulent, it's done.
- Serve with egg noodles or perhaps mashed potatoes: If you can find extra-wide egg noodles, then opt for those. Or, you can also prepare these best basic mashed potatoes—another super cozy recipe!