Authentic Hungarian Goulash – Gluten Free

Published on Apr 06, 2016

  by   Kristina Stosek

40 reviews

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 120 minutes Serves: 6
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This Hungarian Goulash, also known as “gulyás” in Hungarian, is a hearty and flavorful thick beef stew or soup. The traditional version includes vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and bell peppers.

The goulash is slowly simmered in a light tomato sauce seasoned with paprika, the key spice marjoram, bay leaves, and caraway seeds, and the meat will practically melt in your mouth.

Hungarian goulash in a bowl topped with sour cream

History of Hungarian goulash

This beefy stew is considered one of Hungary’s national dishes. Hungarian Goulash has its roots in Hungary, where it has been a traditional dish for centuries. 

It was initially prepared by Hungarian cattle herders (known as “gulyás” in Hungarian) who needed a hearty and nourishing meal on the open plains. It has become popular worldwide and is enjoyed for its rich and robust flavors.

Grandma’s Hungarian goulash recipe

My childhood was spent growing up in Eastern Europe, enjoying all the Old European classic dishes. Hungarian goulash was a weekly meal in our home, prepared by my grandmother, who was born in Budapest.

When there wasn’t enough meat during the war, she often told me that the thick, meaty goulash stew was served as a soup. This is where the sour cream comes in.

The sour cream is added to make the soup creamier and heartier. And there was always freshly baked delicious healthy millett bread to make the goulash a satisfying meal.

Is Hungarian goulash gluten free?

Yes, the traditional goulash is naturally gluten free. The stew recipe includes meat, veggies, herbs and spices, and sometimes sour cream. Thickeners such as flour or starches are not added to classic Hungarian stew recipe.

I would watch out for two things when making goulash: canned tomatoes and spices. They can sometimes contain gluten because of the way they are processed. Please read the labels to ensure they are gluten free.

Hungarian goulash topped with sour cream

FAQs about Hungarian goulash

Before we dig into the recipe, here is some information that you may find helpful.


Traditional Hungarian Goulash is made with beef, mainly cuts suitable for slow cooking, such as chuck or stew meat. I prefer a chuck cut because the beef is juicier. However, pork, veal, or venison variations are also used.


Paprika is the key spice in Hungarian Goulash, giving the dish its characteristic red color and smoky flavor. Hungarian sweet paprika is the preferred choice.


 Onions are used for flavor and as a base for the stew.


Potatoes are often added to thicken the stew and make it heartier.

Other vegetables: 

Some variations include bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes.


Paprika, marjoram, caraway seeds, and bay leaves are used in traditional goulash recipe for seasoning

red wine in a glass

Replacement for red wine in Hungarian goulash

There are several options if you’re looking for a replacement for red wine in a Hungarian goulash recipe. Red wine is often used to add depth and complexity to the dish. Here are some alternatives.

Beef Broth:

Beef broth is a common substitute for red wine in goulash. It provides liquid and flavor while maintaining the savory aspect of the dish. You can use homemade beef broth or a good-quality store-bought version.

Red Wine Vinegar:

Red wine vinegar can add a tangy and slightly fruity flavor to your goulash. Start with a small amount and adjust to taste, as it can be quite strong. Dilute it with water or broth if needed.

Pomegranate Juice:

Pomegranate juice can be used instead of red wine for a slightly fruity and tart flavor. It pairs well with the other ingredients in goulash.

Non-Alcoholic Red Wine:

If you want to retain the wine flavor without alcohol, you can use non-alcoholic red wine, available in some stores.

When substituting for red wine in goulash, consider the overall flavor you want to achieve and adjust the quantity of the substitute to your taste. Start with a smaller amount and add more as needed while cooking, as you can always adjust the flavors later in the cooking process.

storing Hungarian goulash

If you have leftover Hungarian goulash, allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating it. Store it in an airtight container to prevent moisture and odors from affecting the dish. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

If you want to store Hungarian goulash for a longer period, freezing is a great option. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. The stew will keep 3 – 4 months in the freezer.

If the goulash has thickened during storage, add a little water or broth to reach your desired consistency.

Hungarian goulash topped with sour cream

Step by Step Instructions:

STEP ONE: The meat is cut into bite-sized pieces and browned in a large pot with onions and spices without the bay leaf

STEP TWO: Add wine or broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, salt and water. Simmer until the beef is tender

STEP THREE: Add the veggies, and maybe more water if needed, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Enjoy!

As with all meat stews, Hungarian goulash is always better the next day as the flavors develop with each day.

You may enjoy these gluten free stew recipes

African Beef Stew 

Instant Pot American Beef Stew

Irish Lamb Stew Recipe

Instant Pot Spicy Dominican Beef Stew


Hungarian Goulash is an important part of Hungarian culture and heritage. The beef stew is rich and hearty, with tender meat and a creamy, thick, flavorful sauce complemented by vegetables and served with hearty bread or noodles. 

Its distinctive flavor comes from spices like paprika, caraway seeds, marjoram, bay leaves, and tomatoes. This wholesome beef stew is a satisfying dish popular worldwide for its robust flavor.


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Many thanks!

Kristina xx


Leave a Comment

Rosamarie Zimmerman

I have never at Goulash with potatoes but I'll certainly give it a try. Look delicious.


Osmund, maybe the brand of tomatoes you used. Some brands are very sour, sorry

Osmund Wambeek

Just made it with all the ingredients and it was very sour!!


Thank you Natalia, sometimes I skip the potatoes and serve the goulash over rice


This goulash is excellent! I added extra veggies and served it with noodles, my family (Polish) loved it.

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