German Style Goulash

And the Never-Ending Goulash Controversy Still Continues

Goulash Plate2

I know I have covered a lot of this in my Goulash Soup Recipe, but for those of you who are just joining us: What is Goulash? If you asked 100 people, you would probably get 200 different answers. If Goulash was on Facebook, it’s status would be “It’s Complicated”. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it.

As you can see, the definition of Goulash changes as your location changes. First of all, let’s eliminate that glorified Hamburger Helper that some folks call Goulash. That isn’t Goulash. There is no macaroni in Goulash, although I do usually serve it with Spaetzle, which is a pasta, but it is not mixed in. Also, real Goulash is not made with ground beef. It contains chunks of meat. I usually use beef chuck.

In Hungary, the dish that is pronounced Goulash (Gulyás), is actually a soup. The dish that is closest to the goulash that most of us know is called Pörkölt.

Goulash Ingredients

Now that your heads are spinning, my recipe is based on the German dish Rindergulasch (Beef Goulash). Of course, there are also hundreds of variations, everyone claiming that theirs is the “authentic” version. Tomatoes or not. Potatoes or not. Green peppers, red peppers, carrots, what have you. It’s similar to the arguments over what constitutes Texas Chili.

I keep it pretty basic. In Germany, red wine is often used, but I use beer instead. I don’t use tomatoes either, but I do use a little tomato paste. As for potatoes and bell peppers, forget them. Not necessary.

Beer and Beef

Since it seems that many people received a shiny new electric pressure cooker over the holidays, I made this in my Instant Pot and wrote it for the electric pressure cooker, but of course it can be easily made in a stove top model.

A thickener such as flour could be used, but I prefer to just let it cook down for 7 minutes or so.

Cubed Chuck

Let’s start by browning the beef. Heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil with your sauté (or browning) setting on high. In batches, brown the meat on one side (this is enough to get the flavor of browning, but saves some time). Remove the beef to a plate.

Lower your heat setting to medium.

MandolineAdd another tablespoon of oil if necessary and sauté a couple medium onions until they soften. I like to slice them on “The Widowmaker” (my nickname for my mandoline), using the thinnest setting. Two sliced onions may look like a lot, but thinly sliced they will basically dissolve into the sauce, adding that oh-so-good oniony flavor.

Onions Sweating

When the onions soften a bit, add the meat back in.

Add in 2 heaping tablespoons of paprika, a teaspoon of caraway seeds, and a little salt and pepper. For full disclosure, I accidentally grabbed cumin seeds at the store instead of caraway. Since I was right in the middle of preparing dinner I substituted the cumin seeds, but I usually use caraway. I used Hungarian sweet paprika. If you like you can use half sweet and half hot, but I wouldn’t use only hot. That would change the flavor too much.

I also add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper at this point, but I will leave that up to you. I know some people seem to have a cayenne-phobia. 1/2 teaspoon doesn’t add much heat, but it is totally optional.

Plop in a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and, you guessed it, stir!

Now, pour in a cup of beer, 1/2 cup water, 2 teaspoons beef base (such as Better Than Bouillon) and 2 teaspoons of Kitchen Bouquet. A german lager works well for this. I used Stiegl, which isn’t German but Austrian. It’s not the best beer for drinking but works fine for cooking.

Toss a couple of bay leaves in.

Turn off the sauté mode and lock the top on the pressure cooker.

In manual mode, set the cooker for 25 minutes at high pressure.

When time is up, do a quick release and remove the cover.

With the sauté mode on medium, simmer the Goulash for 7 or 8 minutes to thicken a bit.

Goulash Finished

You can serve it with egg noodles, homemade Spaetzle (my favorite way), or boiled or mashed potatoes.

Goulash Plate3

I usually have red cabbage with it as well (you gotta have your veggies).

Hungarian Goulash
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: German/Hungarian
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 3-4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2-1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-1.5" cubes
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (I used my mandoline)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup german beer
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons beef base (like Better Than Bouillon)
  • 2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. In electric pressure cooker, heat 3 tablespoons oil on sauté mode, high setting (medium-high heat in stovetop pressure cooker)
  2. Brown meat in batches on one side only and remove to a plate
  3. Switch sauté mode to medium, add another tablespoon of oil if needed (for stovetop model, lower heat to medium)
  4. Sauté the onions until they soften
  5. Add the meat back in
  6. Sprinkle in paprika, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and cayenne (if using)
  7. Sauté for a minute
  8. Stir in tomato paste
  9. Pour in the beer and water
  10. Add the beef base and Kitchen Bouquet, then stir
  11. Toss the bay leaves on top
  12. Turn off sauté mode and lock top on pressure cooker
  13. On manual mode, set pressure cooker for 25 minutes on high pressure
  14. When time is up, do a quick release
  15. Remove lid and switch to sauté mode
  16. On medium setting, simmer for about 7 minutes to thicken a bit
  17. Serve with noodles, rice or spaetzle


23 thoughts on “German Style Goulash

  1. We’re about about to make this tonight, but I have a question. The ingredient list says 2 tsp Better Than Bouillon, but the written directions preceding it say 2tbsp, which seems like a lot. Which is it?

    • Yes, it should be teaspoons. I make them kind of heaping, but you can use less. Thanks for pointing that out, it has been fixed on the blog.

      • Thanks for the update! I’ve made this recipe twice now, and it’s easily one of the best things to come out of my pressure cooker! I wasn’t sure about replacing my old goulash recipe with an instant pot version, but this has been perfect.

  2. HI, Thank you for the recipe. I always make it on the stove top but now that I have the pressure cooker I can’t wait to try it on goulash. It is a family favorite and I expect it to taste even better this way. Thanks for your website. I will be returning frequently. Claire

  3. I made this recipe last week and my family loved it. I did make some changes – tripled the paprika and doubled the caraway seeds, used Guinness Stout instead of German beer, used a can of chopped tomatoes instead of paste, and I have to say that the outcome was awesome. Since the onions practically melted into an incredible gravy, I may add some more onions. Thank you so much for this great recipe.

  4. Delicious! I accidentally used a tablespoon of caraway, and the flavor came through a bit too much, but it was still awesome. I added a splash of red wine vinegar at the end to brighten things up, which I always do in stew/chili and highly recommend. I’m quite amazed by how tender the meat is with only 25 min in the cooker! To think all the years I did it the old-school way, low and slow in the Dutch oven for HOURS.

  5. I made this recipe today and it was exceptional. I will try it with carrots next time so that it will be a complete meal. My husband and I loved this recipe. I look forward to trying some of your other recipes. Also we even found the same beer in our area. Thank for the tip

  6. I thought I would try this and it turned out great! My entire family loves it! From my 82 yr old German Mother all the way down to 4 yr old grandson! I’ve had to make it 4 times in the past 2 months. Even my picky husband has asked me to make it again! Thank you sooooo much!

  7. I made your goulash twice this week. I also added carrots. I pressure cooked 20 minutes, then added sliced carrots, and pressure cooked 5 minutes more. This is a terrific recipe.

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