Beef Goulash with Dumplings

What better on a chilly day than a plate of steaming hot beef stew with light, fluffy dumplings? My super-hero father decided to make goulash for us recently and when the first recipe he tried didn’t work out (go figure—it asked for a quarter pound of paprika), down the drain it went (just the base, thank goodness), and back to the drawing board went dad.

The recipe we did end up with dad pulled from one of his thick recipe binders, with his own notes from a Wolfgang Puck Food Network show. The dumpling recipe comes from my friend Elizabeth who brought it back with her from a summer in Prague. The combination is a knock-out. Rich, flavorful, spicy beef stew balanced with light dumplings.

Beef Goulash with Dumplings

Beef Goulash with Dumplings Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6



  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups sliced onions)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon spicy Hungarian paprika
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh marjoram or oregano (or 1 Tbsp of dried)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes (trimmed of excess fat)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter


Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with sugar, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes. If the onions at any point look like they are drying out in the pan, lower the heat. Add the minced garlic and ground toasted caraway seeds and cook a minute more.

2 Sprinkle with the sweet and spicy paprikas and toss to coat. Stir in the marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook for another minute, until fragrant.

3 Stir in the tomato paste. Add the vinegar and stock and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cubed beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring the whole mixture to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat to low to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook until the beef is falling apart tender, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

4 To prepare the dumplings, sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with the milk and melted butter, mixing lightly. After the stew has cooked until tender in step 3, drop the dumpling batter by (heaping) teaspoonfuls into the simmering stew. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Once you have covered the pan, do not uncover while the dumplings are cooking!In order for them to be light and fluffy, they must steam. If you uncover the pan, the steam will escape and the dumplings will boil instead. After 15 minutes, test the dumplings with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, the dumplings are done.

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Hungarian Goulash from the Chili and Vanilia blog

Pork and Sauerkraut Goulash - from No Recipes

Potato Goulash - from The Passionate Cook

Venison Goulash - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

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Showing 4 of 56 Comments

  • jonathan

    Every new dumpling recipe gives me hope. Hope to forget the doughy, uncooked, gelatinous dumplings of past. I forge ahead. With any luck, you’ve helped me to finally reach the dumpling Holy Grail. The cake flour just might be the path to get me there.

  • Twila

    Can I just say…this recipe is FANTASTIC!

    It’s just spicy enough to give the impression of being hot but not so spicy it fumigates the sinuses. By caramelizing the onions to begin with, it creates a rich but not too heavy gravy that thickens with the addition of the dumplings. The beef turns out so tender, too!

    Now the dumplings…oh the dumplings! These are by far the BEST dumplings my husband and I have ever had! (And he grew up in Germany and knows from dumplings!) They’re tender, not gooey or heavy. They’re light and perfectly spongy. Just right for soaking up that sumptuous gravy.

    Thanks for sharing this one! (And I’m really glad you’re on the mend.)

  • Noel

    Hey Elise, I love paprikash. I had a hungarian friend in grade school and I thought her mom’s paprikash was to DIE for! Although she never used dumplings, she added potatoes and we ate it with bread on the side.
    I’m not sure which recipe your dad used but if it was one that called for a quarter pound of paprika, it might have been refering to the liquid, canned form that I came across when I lived in Macedonia. It was labeled paprika and my Macedonian friends said that you use it in stewed dishes like Paprikash. I was similar to the canned tomato sauces that you find in the US, except thicker. Its so yummy and sweet and peppery. I haven’t found any of it here, but if you ever come across any, be sure to stock up on the stuff.

  • Gary

    Up here in Northern New York (like, on the Canadian border) if you order Goulash you end up getting a pasta dish – baked macaroni with ground beef and tomato sauce.

    Definitely not what my Slovak mother made when I was at home.

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