A bowl of beef goulash with rich gravy.

Beef Goulash

A hearty, dark beef stew with onions and Paprika. No tomato paste, carrots or other stuff—this is a purists' beef goulash that needs nothing extra added. Serve over noodles, dumplings or potatoes. Trying to resist a second helping is futile.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Hungarian
Keyword beef, comfort, goulash, gravy, hungarian, onions, paprika, sauce, stew, szeged
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 8


  • 1/4 cup lard Tenderflake works well
  • 4-6 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2.5 lbs stewing beef
  • 2 tbsp Sweet Hungarian Paprika or more if desired
  • 1 tbsp Hot Hungarian Paprika substitute 1/2 tsp cayenne if you can't find hot Paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups water, divided 3 ways possibly more
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • spaetzle noodles, dumplings or potatoes for serving


  1. In a large pot, heat lard on medium-high heat. Add onions. Cook, stirring until they just start to brown, and turn down the heat slightly to avoid burning. Continue cooking until very dark and caramelized—they should be almost but not quite black. Once they reach the right colour, remove the onions to a side plate and reserve.

  2. Add 1 tbsp oil, turn up the heat to medium-high, and then add some of the beef, ensuring the pot isn't overcrowded. Don't touch the beef for about 3 minutes; check to see if dark brown areas have developed. If so, flip the meat until browned on all sides. If not, continue to heat until the right colour is there. Turn up heat if the meat isn't browning enough. Brown the beef in batches, usually two batches does the trick in my pot. Once all of the meat is browned, add both Paprikas and stir over the sizzling heat for about one minute to bring out the flavour of the spices.

  3. Add the onions back into the pot along with the salt and two cups of water (or enough to just cover the meat). Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer on low for about 1.5 – 2 hours, until meat is tender.

  4. Combine flour and cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water; stir well to dissolve, pressing out any lumps. Add to the pot with an additional two cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes until sauce is bubbling and thickened. 

  5. Serve over spaetzle style noodles, dumplings or potatoes.