Pörkölt – Hungarian Goulash

This classic Hungarian Goulash recipe is very easy to make and quite delicious. The main spices that give its distinct taste are Caraway and Paprika. One portion of this and you are all set: no need for other dishes.

I like making goulash with plenty of vegetables. Because it takes quite some time to cook it, I prefer making large amounts which can also be stored in the freezer for a longer period of time. Although you need about 4 hours to make it, you mostly need to wait, add some vegetables, and stir from time to time. It’s definitely worth the wait.

Ingredients for about 6-8 servings:

  • 1-1,2 kg veal (beef) – you can also use pork
  • 6-8 big potatoes (~1-1,2 kg)
  • 3 onions (~300 g)
  • 3-4 carrots (~ 300 g)
  • 2-3 parsley root, parsnip, or a piece of celery root (~300 g) – optional
  • 2 tomatoes or 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 big bell pepper or 2 small peppers (~ 200 g)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 4-5 tbsp vegetable oil or lard (with lard tastes better)
  • 5-6 tbsp paprika (I use half sweet and half spicy)
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2-3 tsp caraway powder
  • 3-4 bay leafs
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh parsley leaves (or celery leaves)

Hungarian Goulash goes well with Csipetke (pinched noodles). It’s very easy to make and you can prepare them days, even weeks before. Here is a detailed recipe of how I make them: Csipetke – Hungarian pinched noodles (opens in new tab).

For the goulash:

  1. Add the oil/fat to a big pot and roast the cumin seeds till they start popping.
    Roasting caraway seeds in a pan for Hungarian Goulash
  2. Add the meat cut in small cubes and brown it. For extra taste, you can coat the pieces of meat in flour. Make sure you only use very little flour so the goulash soup doesn’t get too thick. You can also fry the meat together with the onions.
    Roasting the veal (beef) in a pan for Hungarian Goulash
    Browning the veal (beef) in a pan for Hungarian Goulash
  3. Chop the onions, add them to the pan and fry them for a few minutes until they become soft.
    Browning the veal (beef) and the onions in a pan for Hungarian Goulash
  4. When the meat has a nice color and there’s no liquid left, add 2 tbsp of paprika, 1 tsp of salt, pepper, and cumin powder, and half of the garlic cut in small pieces or minced. This will ensure that the meat also get some of the good spice taste.
    Garlic added to the pot for making Hungarian Goulash
  5. Mix everything a few times, add the diced pepper(s) and tomatoes or tomato paste and let it cook until no liquid is left (about 10-15 min). If you don’t like the tomato peel, you can remove it before cooking by soaking the tomatoes for few seconds in boiled water. The tomato peel should now come off easily.
    Diced peppers and tomatoes added to the pot for making Hungarian Goulash
  6. Mix regularly so it doesn’t burn.
    Diced peppers and tomatoes added to the pot for making Hungarian Goulash
  7. You will get a nice base for your soup. Like this, you can also make a curry base.
    Curry, stew and Goulash base
  8. Cover everything with water, add the bay leaves and simmer for about 1,5 h. For my pot, I added about 0,75 – 1 l water.
    Goulash base: veal (beef), onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, bay leaves and spices
    Goulash base: veal (beef), onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, bay leaves and spices cooked for about 1.5 hours
  9. When the meat is tender, add the remaining garlic, carrots, and root vegetables. Add water again to cover, about the same amount as before, and let it cook for about half an hour.
    Goulash base: veal (beef), onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, bay leaves and spices with added root vegetables and carrots
  10. Add the potatoes and the pinched noodles if they were made days before and had enough time to dry. If they are freshly made, add them 15 min later since they cook very fast. Make sure to remove the excess flour from the fresh ones so the soup doesn’t thicken up.
    Csipetke - Hungarian pinched noodles for goulash, stews, and soups: you only need an egg, a pinch of salt and flour
  11. Cook for another half an hour. Add enough water to cover everything. It should look like a thick soup.
  12. When the goulash is almost done, add salt, pepper, paprika, and cumin powder to fit your taste.
    Hungarian Goulash spiced at the end with paprika and cumin powder
  13. Boil everything for a few more minutes and it’s done.
    Pörkölt - Hungarian Goulash
  14. You can serve it with fresh parsley.
    Pörkölt - Hungarian Goulash served with fresh parsley

My family likes meat and vegetables cut into smaller pieces. I love spices so I tend to use them a lot. Since there are people who can’t eat spicy food, I first use sweet paprika and add just a little bit of the spicy one. I set aside some of the soup for serving and then I add the spicy paprika powder. In this way, everyone can enjoy their food, be it mild or spicy.

In Germany Goulash is also served with/on noodles. In this case, no Csipetke (pinched noodles) are added to the goulash.