What Is Goulash?

And what’s the difference between Hungarian and American goulash?

January 20, 2023
Traditional hungarian goulash soup (beef stew, potato, celery, parsley, carror, cummin, red pepper spice) on white background

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Traditional hungarian goulash soup (beef stew, potato, celery, parsley, carror, cummin, red pepper spice) on white background

Photo by: Aniko Hobel/Getty Images

Aniko Hobel/Getty Images

By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

Goulash is a one of those dishes that has one name but different variations. Here, we explore the different types of goulash, learn about the best cuts of beef for making goulash and share our favorite goulash recipes.

What Is Goulash?

Goulash is a stew of meat and vegetables cooked in an aromatic, paprika-spiced tomato broth.

There are two kinds of goulash: Hungarian goulash, which calls for the slow-simmered beef to be served alongside egg noodles, and American goulash, which pulls in ground beef and cooks the noodles in the pot alongside the sauce.

Goulash soup with flat leaf parsley

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Goulash soup with flat leaf parsley

Photo by: Westend61/Getty Images

Westend61/Getty Images

What Is Hungarian Goulash?

Hungarian goulash is a dish of paprika-spiced stewed beef and vegetables that’s typically served with buttered egg noodles (called csipetke, the Hungarian word for spaetzle). The paprika used in Hungarian goulash is a sweet paprika made from sweet peppers; it is often labelled Hungarian paprika. Goulash can also be served with other starches such as small-shaped pasta, mashed potatoes, dumplings, rice or bread, which is ideal for mopping up sauce.

american chop suey, american goulash, with elbow pasta, beef and tomatoes close-up in a saucepan. Horizontal

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american chop suey, american goulash, with elbow pasta, beef and tomatoes close-up in a saucepan. Horizontal

Photo by: ALLEKO/Getty Images

ALLEKO/Getty Images

What Is American Goulash?

American goulash is a one-pot dish of ground beef, pasta (often elbow macaroni), tomatoes and cheese. Sometimes it includes paprika, like its Hungarian counterpart. Since American goulash calls for ground beef, it cooks much faster than Hungarian goulash which relies on low-and-slow cooking to render the beef tender.

What’s the Best Beef for Goulash?

The best beef for goulash includes boneless chuck, stew meat or shanks. Because goulash is a stew, look for cuts of meat that lend themselves to the recipe’s low-and-slow cooking method; pork or veal can be substituted for beef. If you’re cooking American goulash, opt for ground beef.

Recipes for Goulash

This traditional Hungarian goulash recipe calls for cubed beef chuck cooked low-and-slow in a tomato-beef broth scented with paprika, garlic and caraway. Buttered egg noodles with parsley make an ideal accompaniment, while a dollop of sour cream adds a final flourish.

Food Network Kitchen’s Goulash, as seen on Food Network.

FNK_Goulash_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Goulash, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

This American goulash recipe makes for a satisfying, one-pot comfort food meal. Ground beef is seasoned with aromatics and spices, including paprika, then simmered in a tomato-beef broth alongside cavatappi while it cooks till al dente. To finish, the mixture is folded with sharp cheddar and fresh parsley, then ladled into bowls.

For a weeknight winner, turn to this riff on Hungarian goulash by pulling in quick-cooking cubed pork tenderloin instead of beef. The paprika-spiced meat simmers in a tomato-based broth before being tossed with egg noodles.

To cut down on the cook time required for traditional Hungarian goulash, this recipe pulls in thinly sliced ribeye. The steak slices get pan-seared, then finish cooking in a fragrant tomato-beef-broth base augmented with chopped bell peppers.

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