The Best Slow Cooker Goulash Recipe (Hungarian Inspired)
The best slow cooker goulash, featuring savory ingredients like paprika, beef bone broth, and chuck eye roast. Only 20 minutes of prep time and 8 simple steps.
Goulash (pronounced goo-laash) is a traditional Hungarian meat and vegetable soup or stew that’s made with beef, tomatoes, and a generous amount of paprika. It’s comfort food at its finest: hearty, savory, rich, and warming.
- The History of Hungarian Goulash
- Slow Cooker Goulash: Hungarian Style vs. American Style
- What’s the Difference Between Beef Stew and Beef Goulash?
- How to Make Beef Goulash in the Slow Cooker (8 Easy Steps)
- The Best Slow Cooker Goulash Recipe (Hungarian Inspired)
The History of Hungarian Goulash
Goulash is traced all the way back to the ninth century when it was eaten by shepherds in Hungary and Central Europe. Back then, a beef goulash recipe wasn’t a whole lot more than a “meat and liquid” soup, consisting mainly of beef, broth, onions, and in some cases, potatoes. It was made in what you could call a prehistoric slow cooker or crockpot: a cauldron.
Although paprika is a hallmark ingredient of goulash, it wasn’t likely added to the recipe until the 16th century. Diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato paste are also said to be modern-day goulash additions.
Since the 16th century, traditional goulash has evolved, and many variations are enjoyed all over the world. Today, it’s still one of the most popular dishes in Hungary and Central Europe.
While goulash consistently gets its signature taste and color from smoked paprika, you can find it made with a variety of different veggies—such as bell peppers, peas, and celery—and different types of meat other than the usual beef (like veal, pork, or lamb).
Goulash can be served as soup or over your favorite starchy carbohydrates like rice, mashed potatoes, egg noodles, garlic bread, or pasta al dente.
Slow Cooker Goulash: Hungarian Style vs. American Style
An American goulash recipe can be quite different from a traditional Hungarian goulash. It’s more likely to be a lean ground beef, tomato served over elbow macaroni noodles and topped with cheddar cheese. It can be somewhat comparable to an American chili made with beef and tomato paste.
In this recipe, we’re using traditional ingredients like chuck eye roast, beef bone broth, and paprika, so it can be considered more of a Hungarian-style goulash. I didn’t include potatoes in this slow cooker goulash recipe, but if you want to go the traditional route, you can serve it over mashed or regular potatoes instead of the suggested rice or egg noodles. You can also add potatoes (or cornstarch) to the soup to thicken it up.
What’s the Difference Between Beef Stew and Beef Goulash?
If goulash is considered Hungarian beef stew, you may be wondering what the difference is between American beef stew and goulash. The difference is mainly in the seasoning. Goulash is known for its predominant smoked paprika taste, while beef stew contains a greater variety of vegetables and savory seasonings like Italian seasonings, caraway seeds, black pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce (sometimes soy sauce), and red wine. Stew is also often thickened with flour, while goulash is thickened only with potatoes or cornstarch.
How to Make Beef Goulash in the Slow Cooker (8 Easy Steps)
It takes just 20 minutes to prepare this goulash. All you need to do is combine the aromatics in a skillet on the stovetop and season the beef with salt and pepper.
Then, you’ll leave it to slow cook for eight hours as the chuck eye beef roast becomes perfectly tender and the broth rich, savory, and flavorful. I didn’t think this was possible, but it tastes even better when you reheat it the next day.
Note: If you want to serve the goulash on top of potatoes, rice, or egg or rice noodles, prepare the side dish according to the package directions (if applicable) as the goulash cooks.
Add onion, paprika, salt, tomato paste, garlic, and cumin to a non-stick skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the onions are soft and lightly browned.
Add cornstarch to the skillet and mix until it’s fully incorporated.
Add beef bone broth or beef broth to the skillet and stir until the mixture begins to thicken.
Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. Lightly season beef with salt and pepper and add the beef and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for eight to ten hours. If you want to speed up the process a bit, you can also cook on high for five to seven hours.
Once the cooking time is up, let the cooking liquid set for a few minutes and skim as much fat as possible from the surface with a spoon. Remove the bay leaf.
Put aside one cup of the cooking liquid in a small bowl. Add peas and cover the slow cooker for another five minutes.
Add sour cream to the small bowl of the cooking liquid. Mix well until blended.
Once the peas are cooked, add the sour cream mixture back into the slow cooker. Dish up the slow cooker beef over cooked egg noodles, rice, or potatoes.
The Best Slow Cooker Goulash Recipe (Hungarian Inspired)
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 hours
- Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Hungarian
- Diet: Gluten Free
The best slow cooker goulash, featuring savory ingredients like paprika, beef broth, and chuck eye roast. Only 20 minutes of prep time and 8 simple steps.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions or 1 large onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups beef bone broth or low-sodium beef broth/stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 pounds beef chuck eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch piece
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen sweet peas
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until simmering. Add onion, paprika, salt, tomato paste, garlic, and cumin. Cook, stirring often until the onions are softened and lightly browned (about 8-10 minutes).
- Stir in cornstarch. Mix until the cornstarch is evenly distributed.
- Add beef broth and stir until the mixture is thickened, scraping up any browned bits (about 2-3 minutes).
- Transfer the mixture into a slow cooker. Add bay leaf. Lightly season beef with salt and pepper and add to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-7 hours.
- Let the cooking liquid settle for a few minutes and remove as much fat as possible from the surface using a big spoon. Remove the bay leaf, as well.
- Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid in a small bowl. Add peas to the slow cooker and cover it for another 5 minutes.
- Add sour cream into the small bowl. Mix with cooking liquid until well blended.
- Once the peas are tender, stir the sour cream mixture back into the slow cooker. Serve the goulash over egg noodles, rice, or potatoes. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 722
- Sugar: 12.1g
- Sodium: 1189.1mg
- Fat: 32.1g
- Saturated Fat: 9.3g
- Trans Fat: 1.2g
- Carbohydrates: 33.7g
- Fiber: 8.5g
- Protein: 80.1g
- Cholesterol: 261.7mg
I just came back from Budapest and Authentic Hungarian Goulash definitely does not have peas in it.
I’ll pass on this recipe.
Delicious! A friend of mine shared the recipe with us. We both loved it!
Thanks for trying out this recipe. Very glad to hear that you loved it.
OMG this dish is AMAZING!!! I just finished making it for dinner tomorrow night and there might not be any left…… I could eat it all right now! I will be pairing it with mashed potatoes and my family is going to love this!! Thank you so much!! I have also shared it with my two girlfriends who love slow cooker recipes!! Thank you so much!
Hi Suzi, thank you for your lovely comment. I am very pleased to hear that you enjoyed this recipe so much! <3
I love and appreciate all slow cooker recipes
This is such a delicious recipe and full of flavor! My family absolutely loved it especially my son! I will be making this recipe again soon. So excited to have this again!
My family didn’t make goulash much growing up, but I had a friend who made it all the time and I remember loving it. I love you suggestion of pairing it with white rice and I definitely am going to have to try that. This sounds delicious!
I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to make in my slow cooker, so thanks for this!
So great on a day when you just need a little comfort food!
Oh yum! This goulash looks perfect! Meat is perfectly cooked and flavors are delicious. I will give your recipe a try, for sure.