One Pot Rustic German Goulash Recipe

German Goulash over noodles.

German goulash is a hearty beef stew, seasoned with onion, paprika and caraway seed. It’s a simple but rich and comforting one pot meal that’s great over egg noodles, mashed potatoes or spaetzle. Learn how to make this easy German goulash recipe in one pot with a Dutch oven, slow cooker or Instant Pot. It only takes 30 minutes of hands-on prep for a delicious, home cooked meal.

I was sauteing onions in a Dutch oven.
This may look like a lot of onions, but they will cook down into a soft, sweet base for my German goulash recipe.

History of Goulash

The term “goulash” has evolved over time to mean a “soup or stew”, but it’s origins date back to the 9th century gulyás (shepherds) who raised cattle on the plains of Hungary and sold their herds on cattle drives.

On those long treks to market their steers, goulash sustained the shepherds. Goulash, traditionally a soup, was made with the weaker cattle that couldn’t survive the arduous trip. Every part of the animal was used.

Onions and caraway, prolific on the plains of Hungary, were natural mainstays to season the goulash. (Paprika wasn’t introduced until centuries later.)

As the gulyás traveled between towns and cities, selling cattle and sharing their goulash, it became a popular dish in each region they visited. Variations to the traditional goulash recipe sprang up from the different locales, each putting their own twist on classic Hungarian goulash.

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Goulash: German, Hungarian, Czech, American – what’s the difference?

As with regional American barbecue, goulash recipe variations abound, depending on who’s making it. Here’s a small, but not exhaustive list.

  • Hungarian Goulash – Is traditionally served as a soup. Sometimes has potatoes added to add starch and thicken the hearty soup.
  • German Goulash – Is enriched with a little red wine, but no potatoes and is more of a stew than a soup.
  • Czech Goulash – Can be made with pork or beef and is served with bread dumplings, fresh onion and beer.
  • Croatia – Replaces venison or wild boar with the beef and often adds porcini mushrooms and bacon (that sounds good).
  • Italy – In addition to beef and red wine, it’s seasoned with paprika, rosemary, marjoram and lemon zest and often served with soft polenta.
  • Poland – Eaten all over the country, Goulash is usually served with mashed potatoes or over noodles.
  • Serbian Goulash – is typically made with beef, veal or pork, but sometimes wild game as well and served with noodles or mashed potatoes.
  • Slovenian Goulash is usually made with at least two types of meat and is commonly served with mashed potatoes.
  • U.S. and Canada – this is not really a goulash in my opinion. A typical American goulash is made with ground beef instead of chunks of meat, lots of tomatoes (where tomatoes and tomato paste are sparingly used in more traditional recipes ) and the elbow macaroni is cooked in the same pot as the meat. I’d categorize it as an easy one pot or skillet dinner (it’s good, but it ain’t goulash).
chopping bell peppers and tomatoes to go with the onions.
Green bell pepper and tomato are supporting cast members to the onions.

This recipe uses 1 1/2 POUNDS of onions. That might seem like overkill, but it’s not. The onions cook down until they’re soft and sweet. They add depth, but not sting to this simple German stew.

Ingredients for German goulash

  • Onions
  • Olive Oil
  • Beef Chuck Roast
  • Green Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Tomato
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Marjoram
  • Tomato Paste
  • Caraway Seed
  • Beef Broth
  • Red Wine
  • Sour Cream (optional)

Note: I’ve added sour cream to this German goulash recipe, which technically makes it lean toward a paprikash. You don’t have to add it if you don’t want to, but I’ve found that the rich, tangy notes of just a little sour cream pair very well with the beef goulash.

How to make German goulash in the oven

  1. In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, cook the onions in olive oil over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until they’re very soft and sweet. Transfer onions to a bowl.
  2. Add the beef to the pot and cook for 5-10 minutes until it’s browned on the outside.
  3. Transfer the onions back to the pot along with the green pepper, garlic, tomato, salt, pepper, paprika, marjoram, tomato paste, caraway seed, beef broth and red wine. Stir to combine and heat to boiling.
  4. Once the goulash comes to a boil, place the lid on the pot so that it’s slightly askew and steam can escape and transfer to the oven. Braise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. Once the goulash has cooked, stir in the sour cream (you could also use crème fraiche).
Browning chunks of beef in the dutch oven.
Brown the beef before assembling the German goulash in the Dutch oven.

Other cooking methods

Can I make German goulash in a slow cooker?

Yes. Follow the instructions to the point of browning the meat, then transfer the ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4.

If the stew isn’t as thick as you’d like, let it simmer without the lid for 45 minutes to an hour towards the end of cooking to evaporate some of the liquid.

Can I make it on the stovetop?

Yes. After the goulash comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium to medium low and place the lid on the pot so its slightly askew and steam can escape. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and/or burning.

Can I use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot?

Yes. Follow the instructions to the point of combining the browned meat with the rest of the ingredients (except the sour cream), then bring the pot to high pressure and cook for 35 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.

If the stew isn’t as thick as you’d like, continue to simmer using the sauté function, stirring occasionally (so it doesn’t scorch) until some of the liquid evaporates and the goulash thickens, about 20 minutes.

I am adding the seasoned vegetables to the stew.
Add the seasonings with wine, broth, tomato paste and bay leaf to the beef and simmer the goulash.

Types of paprika

There are several types of paprika and you might think that they’re interchangeable. They’re not.

Hungarian paprika

Also known as hot paprika, is made with dried, ground peppers and provides a spicy kick to many dishes. I use this paprika for the German goulash.

Sweet paprika

Sweet paprika is made from sweet dried peppers and adds color, but little heat to finished dishes. This is the type of paprika you want for adding a hint of color without changing the flavor profile of a dish. (Think the garnish on deviled eggs or a scoop of cottage cheese).

Smoked paprika

Smoked paprika (aka pimento or Spanish paprika) is made from peppers that are smoked over wood fires. They add a definitive rich smokiness to many dishes. True pimenton is made according to very strict, regulated standards.

German goulash in the dutch oven after simmering.
After the ingredients are mixed, cover the dutch oven and braise the goulash in the oven.

Pro Tips:

Check the dates on your spices

Spices (especially ground spices) lose their flavor over time. Most spices will be good to use for 6 months to a year, and whole spices can last for up to 2 years. You want to make sure that your paprika and caraway are flavorful and the best way to do that is with your NOSE. Smell the spices. If the aroma is muted, they’re probably old and you’ll want to replenish your stock before making this German goulash.

Use a good quality beef stock

I like to use my homemade beef stock (it uses beef neck bones), but you can also use a good store bought brand. Just be sure to get the low-sodium version. As it cooks, the liquids in the German goulash evaporate somewhat to thicken it — and if you use a full-sodium stock it can over-salt the dish.

The goulash after braising.
See how rich and deep the braise gets? Adding a bit of sour cream adds more richness to the goulash.

Can I make German goulash ahead of time?

Yes. Follow the directions through the braising, but don’t add the sour cream. Let the goulash cool to room temperature and refrigerate it in a sealed container for up to 3-4 days. Reheat it in a heavy pot or dutch oven and stir in the sour cream just before serving.

Can I freeze goulash?

Yes. Freeze it in plastic storage containers for up to 3 months. Defrost completely before reheating over medium heat.

How long will it keep in the refrigerator?

German goulash is best if eaten within 3-4 days.

I am stirring in optional sour cream.
Who can resist this rich braised goulash?

What to serve with German goulash?

What readers are saying about this German Goulash recipe

This homemade German goulash is very popular with my followers, here’s what a few of them had to say:

Eiko says: “Best German Goulash recipe ever! Followed the recipe exactly. Great Flavor! Will be making this over and over!”

From Lynda: “Great goulash recipe good flavour.”

Kim says: “Family enjoyed this dish!! Easy to make. Tastes better when making a day ahead of time.”

From Schwan: “I made this tonight per the recipe. It was excellent! Something different that I will definitely make again. Thanks!”

We love this hearty German goulash over noodles.

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Serving up a dish of German Goulash over egg noodles.
Print Pin
4.12 from 141 votes

Classic German Goulash

This savory braised beef stew is made with lots of onions, caraway seed, paprika and beef stock. It only takes 30 minutes of hands on prep and a few hours of braising. Serve this hearty, rich German Goulash over egg noodles, mashed or steamed potatoes for a delicious family dinner.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine German
Keyword beef, stew
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Egg Free, Gluten-Free, keto, Low-Carb, Paleo
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • Dutch Oven


  • 1 ½ pounds onions chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef chuck roast or stew beef cubed into 1 to 1 1/2" pieces
  • ½ green pepper chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tomato seeded and diced, (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth or bouillion
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup sour cream


  • Place the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°.
  • Add olive oil to a heavy pot or dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are very tender and golden.
  • Transfer the onions to a separate dish and set aside.
  • Season the beef with the remaining salt and pepper and transfer to the Dutch Oven. Cook over medium high heat for 5-10 minutes or until the beef has browned.
  • Stir in the the onions, peppers, tomato, garlic, paprika, marjoram, caraway, tomato paste, beef broth, red wine and bay leaf to the pot. Heat to boiling.
  • Place the lid on the pot, so that it's askew and steam can escape. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender.
  • Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the sour cream. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve over buttered noodles.


Calories: 655kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 171mg | Sodium: 1309mg | Potassium: 1339mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 2238IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 6mg

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a pin of classic beef goulash.

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  1. Cindy Pavan says:

    5 stars
    Very easy recipe to make. So delicious!! I did not have the caraway seeds or the marjoram so replaced with dill and oregano. Suggestions from the internet as substitutions. Will definitely make this again.

  2. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe really enjoyed it. My suggestion would be to include all cooking methods when you print out the recipe. Maybe under the notes section. Definitely a keeper & thank you for sharing. ?

  3. Diane Flanagan says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is phenomenal. I didn’t have caraway, but it’s still turned out delicious. I baked it in the oven for an hour and a half and then transferred to a crockpot. It was so moist and delicious. I will definitely make this again. We served it over rice pilaf.

  4. 5 stars
    Oh boy, was this delicious. Made exactly as the recipe called used Hungarian paprika, next time I will Use 1/2 sweet 1/2 Hungarian cause it was spicy but absolutely will be making again. Also, after researching what wine to use I used Barefoot – Cabernet Sauvignon as suggested per my source. So good, thank you for sharing the recipe.

  5. 5 stars
    Simply delicious, very easy to make, makes such a rich and flavoursome meal enjoyed by all except the pickiest of kids and their leftovers were gobbled up by their dad. I cooked it in my multi cooker on slow cook high heat. Thank you for sharing, this recipe after just one making is a favourite to keep and make again and again.

  6. Annette Palladino says:

    5 stars
    I made this in the instapot and it is amazing!

  7. 5 stars
    Looking for something different to serve for an Oktoberfest party. I prepared the night before for my family to try and get their approval first. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough for the party(I plan on just reheating the leftovers) so I added some carrots and cubed pork. I was out of bay leaves so substituted thyme. Served with knödel and buttered noodles to see which my family preferred. Delicious!

  8. 5 stars
    I have a cooked leftover beef tenderloin in my freezer. Could I use that.

  9. 5 stars
    This is delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  10. 5 stars
    My family recipe is basically 3 lbs meat, 3 lbs of onions, 3-5 tbls of GOOD (very important!) paprika, a few bay leaves, put in pot and simmer for 3-4 hrs. The onions cook down to make a beautiful broth. Simple. But satisfying! But I’m always looking to do something different and this one is fantastic!

    1. Sharon Soldo says:

      Any liquid added to the list of ingredients? Sounds so good?

  11. 5 stars
    1.5 POUNDS of onions???? I never would have thought, but it adds such sweetness and depth to this German Goulash recipe.

  12. 5 stars
    Love this in my Dutch oven, but wondering can you make this in the crockpot?

    1. Of course. It’s perfect for the crock pot. Follow the instructions to the point of browning the meat, then transfer the ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4. If the stew isn’t as thick as you’d like, let it simmer without the lid for 45 minutes to an hour towards the end of cooking to evaporate some of the liquid.

  13. Cherre F Grunert says:

    5 stars
    I have a question regading the dry red wine? Do you need to use it or any wine at all? I want to make this but I don’t the the wine and hate to spend the money!

    1. Marc Griffin says:

      5 stars
      Made today very good and easy to put together full flavor and a rich body. I added extra garlic , would have added carrots as well but went by the book for the first time making.

    2. 5 stars
      You can buy a bottle of wine for $6.

  14. 5 stars
    I used homemade beef stock concentrate without diluting it. About an hour into the braise, the sauce/stew juice was divine, but as I continued cooking, it got sour. Still delicious, I love sour, but absolutely no reason to add sour cream. Any suggestions on what might have gone on with my dish? PS My husband was absolutely delighted with the dish as is.

    1. 5 stars
      I’ll definitely be making this again, paying better attention to my concentrated products (also used tomato paste concentrate). Really like the suggestion of cream and/or baking soda. The flavor is intense… LOVE the caraway seeds!

  15. Barbara G says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely fabulous recipe. Very easy to make. I picked up dry white wine instead of red wine by mistake so i used that. It is one of the best recipes I’ve had. I can’t wait to make this again. My husband, who is German kept saying ‘this is so good” throughout the whole meal. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe.

  16. Mark Knowles says:

    If your sweet paprika only adds color you need to find a better quality product. I use Penzeys. It has great flavor. If your sweet paprika has no flavor, you’ve never really had paprika!

  17. 5 stars
    What a great recipe. Very flavorful and super easy to make. I noticed the bay leaf missing and added it. Thanks for sharing, will absolutely be making this again.

    1. 5 stars
      Amazing flavors, so rich and delicious. We served with mashed potatoes but next time will make with spaetzle.

  18. This sounds like, after sautéing the onions and browning the beef, that it would be a good crockpot recipe. Your thoughts?

  19. Natasha Veegh says:

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe. I use it regularly. If using hot smoked paprika you probably only need 1 teaspoon of paprika.

  20. 5 stars
    Needing comfort food to get through 2020! Sounds terrific!