Old-Fashioned Goulash

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In the culinary repertoire of comfort food, few dishes evoke the warmth and nostalgia that Old-Fashioned Goulash brings to the table. Originating from Hungarian roots, this one-pot wonder has found its way into kitchens around the world, each simmering pot telling a story of homey goodness and familial love. Join us on a gastronomic journey as we delve into the soul-soothing world of Old-Fashioned Goulash—a dish that transcends generations, bringing together flavors that speak to the heart.

Ingredients: For the Goulash:

  • 2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed for hearty bites
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced for aromatic depth
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (red and green for a burst of color)
  • 3 cups beef broth, for a savory base
  • 2 cups tomato sauce, for rich tomato goodness
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste, for concentrated flavor
  • 2 teaspoons paprika, for that classic goulash hue and taste
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, for a subtle earthy note
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, for herbal complexity
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni or your favorite pasta


  1. Step 1: Brown the Beef In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, brown the beef stew meat over medium-high heat until each piece develops a rich, golden-brown crust. This step is crucial for building flavor, so take your time to ensure a perfect sear.
  2. Step 2: Sauté Aromatics Add chopped onions and minced garlic to the pot, sautéing until they become translucent and fragrant. The melding of these aromatic ingredients creates the foundation for a deeply flavorful goulash.
  3. Step 3: Add Bell Peppers and Spices Introduce diced bell peppers to the pot, allowing them to sauté briefly until they soften. Sprinkle paprika, caraway seeds, dried thyme, salt, and pepper over the meat and vegetables, infusing the dish with the quintessential goulash flavors.
  4. Step 4: Pour in Liquid Ingredients Pour in beef broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (undrained), and tomato paste, creating a robust broth that will tenderize the beef and infuse the goulash with rich tomato goodness.
  5. Step 5: Simmer to Perfection Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low and let the goulash simmer for at least 1.5 to 2 hours. This slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld, and the beef to become melt-in-your-mouth tender.
  6. Step 6: Cook the Pasta In a separate pot, cook the elbow macaroni or pasta of your choice according to package instructions. This will be added to the goulash just before serving.
  7. Step 7: Combine and Serve Once the goulash reaches a delightful melding of flavors and the beef achieves the desired tenderness, stir in the cooked pasta, ensuring each piece is coated in the savory goodness. Serve piping hot, garnishing with a sprinkle of fresh parsley if desired.

Cook Notes:

  • Goulash often tastes even better the next day as the flavors continue to deepen, making it an excellent make-ahead dish.
  • Don’t be shy with the paprika; it’s the star of this dish, providing both color and a distinct Hungarian flavor.
  • Experiment with different pasta shapes or consider serving the goulash over rice or mashed potatoes for a comforting variation.


Smoky Paprika Twist:

  • Substitute regular paprika with smoked paprika for an extra layer of depth and smokiness.
    Vegetarian Delight:
  • Replace beef stew meat with a mix of hearty mushrooms and root vegetables for a flavorful vegetarian version.
    Spicy Goulash Kick:
  • Add a touch of heat by incorporating a diced jalapeño or a pinch of red pepper flakes during the sautéing step.

Keto-Friendly Version:

  • Swap out the elbow macaroni for cauliflower rice or spiralized zucchini to create a low-carb alternative.
  • Adjust the quantity of onions and bell peppers to fit your keto goals.
  • Use a sugar-free tomato sauce and tomato paste to minimize the carbohydrate content.

Low-Carb Version:

  • Opt for a leaner cut of beef, such as sirloin, to reduce the fat content.
  • Replace traditional pasta with a low-carb pasta alternative or skip the pasta altogether and serve the goulash over sautéed cabbage or cauliflower rice.
  • Ensure the beef broth used is low in carbohydrates or make your own to control the ingredients.

Old-Fashioned Goulash is more than just a recipe; it’s a culinary voyage back to the roots of heartwarming, homestyle cooking. As the rich aroma fills your kitchen and the flavors meld into a harmonious symphony of comfort, you’ll understand why this dish has stood the test of time. Whether you savor it as a weeknight dinner, a Sunday family feast, or a make-ahead meal for busy days, Old-Fashioned Goulash promises to transport you to a place where each bite tells a story of tradition and timeless flavor. So, gather your ingredients, embrace the slow-cooked magic, and let the warmth of this classic dish envelop you in a culinary embrace that transcends generations.

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