Beef Goulash with Dumplings

Beef goulash with light, fluffy dumplings. Central European goulash, a beef stew with Hungarian paprika, onions, tomato paste, cubed chuck roast, herbs and stock.

  • 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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  • Val

    Hi Elise I was wondering if all purpose flour would work and if so how much would be needed? Thanks! :)

  • Jenny

    Simply delicious!

  • Monica Flint

    Hi Elise,
    I’m delighted to have found your blog.I’d like to adapt this recipe for a slow cooker. I then plan to refrigerate it for a couple of days. Then to reheat in a pot on the stove top.
    Do you think the dumplings would still work, added after the stew regains simmering temperature?
    Thank you :)

    • Elise

      Hi Monica, you mean making the dumplings once you’ve reheated the stew? Yes, they should work fine.

      • Monica Flint

        Thanks so much :)

  • Maria Serge
  • Beth

    Elise, I’m having trouble distinguishing between spicy Hungarian paprika and sweet Hungarian. Obviously you are not recommending smoked Spanish paprika. There is no distinction in the supermarket, even the more esoteric ones. I even went to a spice seller in Napa and they were completely baffled. I have on hand the Szeged brand and bought some organic bulk paprika as it seemed slightly spicier.

    I’m making this for my boyfriend’s birthday in a day or two.

    Also, what would you recommend as a green vegetable with this dish?

    Hi Beth, most paprika sold these days in the spice jars is sweet paprika. The Hungarian paprika that I’m referring to you can find in metal tins like this product on Amazon. At our local Raley’s market you can find the Hungarian paprika on a shelf well underneath the commercial jarred spices. Your guess is good as mine on a side veggie. ~Elise

  • KariVery

    Made a quick version of this for 2 last night using a couple of filet Mignon steaks, and I cut the simmering time down to 30 minutes. I only had smoked Spanish paprika, so I also added some white pepper and cayenne pepper to the spices listed above. It was so good! And the dumplings came out awesome! I don’t know why I never thought to use cake flour for these before – it made all the difference.

  • Ruth Merriam

    I made this using venison and served it with a dollop of sour cream on top. Fantastic!!!

    I’ve been to Hungary a couple of times, and by using the venison and sour cream this recipe comes as close to what I’ve eaten in small “mom and pop” restaurants in the countryside as anything I’ve ever tried.

    Also, the dumplings were incredible. Light, fluffy, just the right texture to soak up the delicious sauce.

    Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe!

  • Karen Visser

    I altered this recipe as there was stuff I needed to use in the fridge. Added carrots, mushrooms, red pepper and cream. It turned out so well! Have added it to my recipe book as my husband says I can definitely make it again :)

  • Ottavia

    My family and I have loved this recipe for years! I am finally getting around to thanking you for it. I didn’t use this website again for a long time, I had forgotten about it. But then one day I looked for a good lemonade recipe, and found this site again. Lately I have just moved accross the world, and not having any of my cookbooks with me (they are in shipping), I have relied on this website to make my grocery list for weeks. I love it, and will never let it go again.

  • bookwormbethie

    hi, hubby & i made this last night and it is fantastic!!!! we followed the directions exactly (although we did substitute some lesser amounts of dried herbs for the fresh) and it came out perfect! thanks for sharing!

  • Kurt

    I made a double batch of your goulash for a Halloween party yesterday. It was a hit. Thank you for providing so many wonderful recipes.

  • Robin Langford

    Elise, I’ve always thought of goulash as something you didn’t want to have for dinner, since it was the stock response my mom gave when, as a kid, I asked what was for dinner. But it was so cold this week and your promise that this is the perfect meal to chase away the chill got my interest piqued.

    I had some leftover pot roast, so I made the sauce and then added the meat near the end. It was perfect! And I’ve never made dumplings before, but you made it seem so easy — and it was.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • Elise

    You don’t mention browning the beef, so I didn’t . But now I’m worried. Please let me know if the beef should have been browned so I can recook tomorrow if necessary.

    No need to brown the beef, though if you did, it would make it even more flavorful. ~Elise

  • Devery

    Prepared this last evening (halved the recipe but in all other respects followed to the letter). Perfect autumnal recipe, and the husband and I both loved it. The dumplings are absolutedly the best, and were described by my husband as “velvety”. So happy to have found your blog !

  • araz

    I just made this and it was fantastic. Followed the recipe exactly, including the 2 kinds of paprika. I don’t know if it was ‘authentic’ or not, and don’t really care. It was delish and I can’t wait to have leftovers. Caramelizing the onions takes a long time – mine took at least 30 min. They basically melt down in the sauce, and make it wonderfully flavorful. Thanks for a great recipe.

  • lenala

    After making pulled pork from your site (which was SO good! Made it several times!) I have decided to try the Goulash. Followed the recipe to the dot with the exception of adding Balsamic Vinegar and caraway seeds (simply because we do not like it). I have saved the recipe, will SO definitely make it again. Thanx a lot!
    Oh, I will be making beef stroganoff tonight, will try your recipe again (I’m a really bad cook, but I manage to make good dishes if follow your directions)

  • Jane

    YUM YUM YUM. I made this for dinner last night in my slow cooker (without the dumplings, as our daughter is gluten intolerant, I just added 3 potatoes cut into large dice instead), and it was absolutely delicious! We became somewhat addicted to goulash while in Europe last year, and this is the nearest taste to those we loved so much over there. It is going to be a winter staple in our household, for certain. I can’t wait to try it with the dumplings…

  • Michelle Landers

    I use this dumpling recipe as the standard basis for stew dumplings, but I really have no idea how you use so little wet ingredients relative to the dry? I always have to splash in some extra milk to even get the dough to come together, let alone to be anything even resembling a droppable consistency.

    So many things could be at play. I once did a comparison of “cup” measures and found them to vary dramatically. It could be the measure, it could be how you are scooping the flour, etc. The only accurate way to do this would be by weight, and here in the US we just don’t typically do weight measurements for flour when cooking. Which is why this recipe is just a guideline, adjust for what works for you. ~Elise

  • Di

    We’ve never had a homemade dumpling dish before so I decided to try this one. I added thinly sliced carrots & parsnips with the onions (didn’t have caraway marjoram or bay) and used oregano instead of thyme but the stew was delicious. Didn’t have cake flour so used the idea posted of a flour & corn starch mixture instead. The dumplings did not quite come together when I tried forming them to cook, but I had to half the recipe so maybe my mixture ended up being a bit too dry. No tough or lead dumplings tho’ so must have been close enough. Thanks for a great easy cheap dish for our recessionistic February.

  • David

    Oh my!

    This goulash is delicious. And this web site is quickly becoming my favourite place on the web. This is the third of your recepies that I’ve tried, and all have been really good. It looks like I’m going to be forced to try more of them.

  • Deb

    Okay Elise, I’ve been a subscriber for a LONG time and have turned on many of my friends to you. I’ve made many of your dishes and all with great success but I have to tell you and everyone else out there – This is THE best goulash dish I’ve ever had! Complex flavors, easy to prepare and it just gets better the following day or two. And the dumplings were just right.

    I just moved to the Netherlands and brought Hungarian Sweet and Hot paprikas with me just to be sure I’d have it to make this dish.

    Thanks and know that there are a lot of us out here who love you and what you do even though we may not write in to tell you so.

    Thanks Deb! ~Elise

  • Tana Gillespie

    Is cake flour just a instant cake mix box?

    No. Cake flour is a specific type of wheat flour that is especially good for making cakes because it is finer grain and has a slightly lower gluten content than regular flour, allowing for a more delicately structured cake. It does often come in a box, but it is definitely not an instant cake mix. ~Elise

  • Jo

    Hi Elise

    This stew looks fabulous. I live in South Africa and I have never seen Hungarian paprika -I don’t think we get it here. Could I use ordinary paprika instead?

    Yes. Just make sure that it is fresh and strong. Paprika can go flat if stored too long. ~Elise

  • Isabelle

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I returned from Hungary last week having enjoyed the goulash there. I searched for a recipe and found a great one. I can truly say it is very similar to the goulash I had there. Definitely a winner!!!!

  • Linda

    Another excellent recipe, Elise! Here in ice covered Ohio, I thought this would be a good time to try your Hungarian Goulash. OMG it is so good. I used only the regular paprika. Also, I had to use a can of tomato sauce as I had no tomato paste. It was still excellent. Thank you for sharing yet another wonderful treat from your dad and kitchen.

  • Elise Lafosse

    Elise, Another question, how do you know the onions and sugar are caramelized? What does it look like? You just saute and it looks caramelized after a certain time?

    Caramelization is the process of cooking sugar until browned, so the onions will be caramelized when they are browned. ~Elise

  • Elise Lafosse

    Hi Elise,

    I have a question. Can I easily find in the grocery story Sweet Hungarian Paprika as well as Spicy Hungarian Paprika? Or will I just find Paprika. Any insights?

    Also re the dumplings, I assume I place those on top of the stew after it has cooked about 1 1/2 hours?

    Depends on your grocery store. I have no problem finding both sweet and spicy Hungarian paprika at our local Raley’s, but Whole Foods only stocks plain paprika. If all you can find is plain paprika, use it. As for the dumplings. Yes, put them in after the stew has cooked for 1 1 /2 hours. ~Elise

  • Sheryl

    I’ve been looking at this recipe for a while and finally decided I was in the mood for it tonight. I wasn’t disappointed! It was fabulous, and the dumplings were very light and fluffy instead of hockey pucks! Thanks Elise! I’ll definitely make this one again!

  • George

    Those dumplings look awesome! I am going to have to give this recipe a whirl if you picture is any indication of how good it is….looks awesome.

  • deb

    I am loving the idea of adding dumplings to this–just brilliant. I am also (predictably) giggling given your recent email to me on this topic.

  • Gira

    Mmm. My mother made goulash while I was growing up and it was always ground beef in a tomato paprika sauce with elbow macaroni, peas and corn. ;)

    Somehow this looks a little more authentic (and delicious. I’ve always been a sucker for dumplings, but she always put them in chicken soup.)

  • Karen

    I’ve never had goulash of any sort before, until I found a recipe for it, done in a slow cooker. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Just curious, would I be able to do this recipe in my slow cooker as well? Would the dumplings also be done in 15 min if I put it to high at the end?

  • Kristopfer

    This is a fantastic recipe! I used a little more paprika and added some spanish smoked paprika. I also used red wine instead of the balsalmic vinegar. It was fantastic. The dumplings make it very hardy.

  • Bambi

    I tried this recipe a few weeks ago. It was a hit! You’re right! The secret to good dumplings is letting it cook without constantly uncovering the pot. Grazie!

  • katy

    Oh yum — I was in Budapest a few years ago and astounded by all the goulash variations you could find! I brought some paprika back, but it’s long gone by now… and sense of what would happen if you used smoked paprika in this recipe too?

  • Elke Sisco

    I like to add bell peppers to my goulash. Bell peppers are called “Paprika” in German – could this be what was called for in the recipe?
    Yours sounds really great, with the caraway and balsamic vinegar. I’ll have to give this a whirl, thanks for posting!

    Really? Bell peppers are called paprika in German? Maybe this would explain it. Hmmm. ~Elise

  • Barbara

    My father use to make us Goulash and we would eat over french fries.
    I can’t wait to try this recipe it sounds delicious!

  • Janet V

    I can’t wait to try this. My first MIL was Hungarian, so I’ve eaten and cooked my share of goulashes. But like other posters here, I seem to have never gotten the hang of dumplings. These seem to be not just a better solution with the cake flour, but a perfect way to top off a perfect dish!

  • meeso

    My mom use to cook goulash all the time when I was a kid, and if she would have just added these dumplings I would have so looked forward to it :)

  • Mike

    I’ve actually been making the Food Network version of Hungarian Beef Goulash by Wolfgang Puck for a number of years and it’s a winter favorite among my family and friends. Although, instead of oil I usually render some pork fat in the pan before browning the meat and use “steak tips” instead of a roast. I serve it in a bowl on top of a mound of very dry and chunky mashed potatoes, it’s amazing.

  • Sasha Johnson

    Really loved this recipe. Thanks so much. I think next time I’ll use all-purpose flour, rather than cake flour, because the dumplings were so fluffy that the smaller lumps of dough kind of dissolved into mush. I liked the vinegar and caraway seeds with the beef, because it reminded me of a version of sauerbraten. It definitely had a eastern-european taste to me. :) The photo is great too- sometimes just the right sort of photo can convince me to try out a recipe. This one will become part of my repertoire.

  • Elise Lafosse

    Hi Elise,

    This looks really good and I want to try it. However I have a question.

    I am not sure when you put the dumpling mixture in the stew. After the stew has simmered for 1 hour and 1 half? and then you put in the dumplings and simmer/cook for 15 minutes more?

    I suppose you could make the stew without the dumplings as well? But probably not as good.

    Yes, you cook the stew first for an hour and a half, then add the dumplings and cook 15 minutes more. You can make the stew without the dumplings, it’s up to you. It’s great with the dumplings. ~Elise

  • Gloriana

    Hungarian or not, this is an incredibly flavorful, delicious stew. To be honest I was a bit nervous about the caraway. I had never used it before and its fragrance is so intense I thought it might overpower the other flavors. Not a chance…the seasoning here is beautifully balanced and I was thrilled with the finished product. I didn’t have cake flour so I subbed 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch…the dumplings turned out light and fluffy, a wonderful match for this hearty stew. This recipe christened my brand new Mario Batali Dutch oven and I can’t wait to use it again. Next up is your Irish beef stew with Guinness. Perhaps sometime in the next couple of weeks in honor of St. Patty’s Day!

  • Richard Olszewski

    A nice stew, but not Hungarian. Hungarians would use lard or sunflower oil, not olive oil, and balsamic vinegar is hardly known, let alone used by our Magyar friends. Beef stock or water would be used in preference to chicken stock. A total of only two tablespoons of Hungarian paprika to 2 1/2 lbs of meat is on the light side, but acceptable, given the American audience. You did well to call it Beef Goulash, and not “Hungarian Goulash” or Gulyás.

  • Rebecca

    This goulash is fantastic! I made it last night, and I was a little nervous about not browning the meat before dropping it into the simmering liquid, but all was well. Toasting the caraway really brings out the flavor, and the combination of paprikas is just delicious. I will definitely be making this again.

  • zsofi

    Dear Elise,
    I’m sure this is a delicious stew; it looks great.
    If anyone is interested, here is a link to my Hungarian goulash post (oh, I’m a Hungarian foodblogger)

  • Matt

    This recipe is simply outstanding! I can’t get over how well this turned out. Just incredible. Two days later for lunch, the left overs were enough to make me weep for joy. Thanks for sharing yet another winner.

    – Matt

  • Mary Remmers

    Wonderful recipe, Elise. Kudos to your father as the seasoning is just right. I didn’t have cake flour so I served it over couscous, which soaked up that wonderful sauce very well. Keep ’em coming, please!

  • beth

    Hi Elise, can you help me out with 2 questions? 1. What kind of sauce pan would work? I have a 10″X 2″ covered skillet, is that deep enough? 2. On the dumplings do I just use a teaspoon? Won’t that make a ton of little dumplings? Thanks I can’t wait to try this.

    Hi Beth, will that sized pan hold 1 quart of stock and 2 1/2 pounds of meat? Doesn’t seem like it to me. I would go with a bigger pan. Regarding the dumplings, they fluff up quite a bit. ~Elise

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.