How to make German goulash Bavarian style. Psst – a malty German dark lager with caramel notes elevates the flavor base.
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Read on for relevant tips and step-by-step images (2 mins)
What is Goulash?
Goulash is a hearty beef stew with lots of paprika. Deriving from the original Hungarian dish and adding on to centuries of shared Central European culinary history it has hundreds of variations and is popular in both stew and soup versions.
We are particularly fond of the way the Bavarians prepare it – this is an authentic German goulash recipe using beef stew meat from the land of Oktoberfest where beef goulash aka Rindergulasch is a staple on beer hall and beer garden menus.
What Makes German Goulash Special?
Since the introduction of peppers to the Old World paprika has been the principal seasoning for goulash, no matter the country. From the North of Germany to the South of Croatia it is a signature ingredient of the dish.
German goulash recipes however also benefit from the addition of flavorful German lagers, especially in the South part of the country. In Bavaria where beer is a highly esteemed recipe ingredient dark styles add lovely malty depth and roasty notes to goulash.
Another characteristic is that German goulash tends to have a thicker consistency unless it is intentionally prepared as a gulaschsuppe (German goulash soup).
As you will see – American goulash with its ground beef and frequent crockpot/slow cooker preparation, serve dover egg noodles has nothing to do with the traditional German version.
Ingredients for German Goulash Soup or Stew
Cooking oil. You can use olive or vegetable oil, some original recipes call for clarified butter (aka Butterschmalz, ghee).
Onions. Typically diced very small, they literally melt into the braising liquid by the time the dish is ready. Traditionally garlic is not used in this dish.
Beef meat. Use beef chuck or other beef stew meat cut into more or less uniform bite sized pieces so they can cook evenly.
Tomato paste. Adds umami, depth and acidity to the braising liquid.
Seasonings. The classics are salt and black pepper, marjoram, caraway seed and of course – sweet paprika (aka Hungarian paprika). You can add a bay leaf.
Beef broth. Many Rindergulasch recipes simply call for water, but using beef stock will reward you with a greater depth of flavor.
Beer. Select a German dark lager such as bock, doppelbock, Munich/Franconian dunkel, dark wheat beer (Dunkelweizen) or when in season – Märzen. Red wine can be used instead, but the goulash will taste entirely differently.
Potatoes and/or peppers, carrots. Optional – these are all historically late additions to goulash. More often than not classic German beef goulash is just the meat simmered in the flavorful liquid resulting from the ingredients listed above. Potatoes are most commonly added since they provide starch as they cook, which makes the goulash thicker and smoother. They can be diced small or cut in larger chunks. Peppers and carrots are also popular additions.
Step-by-Step German Goulash
Use a braiser, a Dutch oven or a good heavy pot with a lid.
The beef pieces are typically not seared, but rather added to the sauted onions and cooked until the juices run clear. If you feel strongly about it you could however follow the typical procedure of seasoning the beef with salt and pepper, searing it and then sauteing the onion and proceeding with the recipe. We find that there is no perceptible difference taste wise.
- Start by cooking down the onions in the oil or ghee until very soft.
- Add the beef and cook down until its juices run clear and most of the liquid evaporates.
- Add the tomato paste by the tablespoon, then the paprika, stir to mix then add the beer and delgaze the bottom of the pan.
- Add the beef stock and the rest of the seasonings, then bring to boil. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for about an hour and a half or until the meat is very tender.
- If using potatoes add them to the goulash towards the end of the simmer time and cook until soft.
Popular Ways to Serve Rindergulasch
- If you prepared the recipe with potato cubes you can simply go ahead and enjoy a bowlful as a complete meal. Serve it with bread to mop up the delicious sauce. Choose from rye bread, yeasty German beer bread, or even soft pretzels.
- German goulash when prepared without potatoes is often served with mashed potatoes, Semmelknödel, rice, noodles or spaetzle (here is How to Make Spaetzle from Scratch).
- Always sprinkle a pinch of paprika over each serving and garnish with a fresh herb such as parsley or oregano. A dollop of sour cream is quite complementary too.
- A flavorful German lager is always the best drink partner to Rindergulasch – tried and true!
Storing and Freezing Goulash
You can make it ahead and once completely cooled down store it refrigerated until you need to reheat it for serving the next day.
Leftovers will save well in an airtight container for as a long as a week.
If you made a really big batch and intend to freeze goulash use the wet option on a vaccum food sealer and a pleated bag for best results. To reheat after freezing first allow to thaw in the fridge, then transfer to a pot and warm up on medium heat until ready to serve.
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy
- 2 tbsp cooking oil or ghee
- 2 lbs onions, diced small (about 5 medium onions)
- 2 lbs chuck beef (or similar beef cut for stew)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika (aka Hungarian paprika)*
- 12 oz dark German lager such as Munich dunkel, bock, doppelbock, Schwarzbier or Marzen**
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tsp dried marjoram (sub with oregano)
- 1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (optional, about 3-4 medium sized potatoes)***
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat heat the oil and saute the diced onions until they cook down and become soft (7-10 mins).
- Add the beef, stir and cook until its juices run clear and most of the liquid in the pot has evaporated (about 10 mins).
- Stir in the tomato paste and paprika, cook for about 1 min.
- Add the beer to deglaze and scrape the bottom of the pot.
- Add the beef stock, salt & pepper, caraway and marjoram, stir and bring to boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 80 minutes. You may stir occasionally.
- After 80 mins add the potatoes. Add a bit of water if/as needed. Cook for another 20 minutes or so, depending on how large you cut the potatoes. (If not using potatoes simply continue to simmer the beef until it reaches your desired tenderness).
- Serve with rye bread, chopped parsley or oregano as garnish and sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of paprika.
*If you like paprika feel free to double the amount.
**You may substitute with the same quantity of beef stock or 6 oz of red wine (not the Bavarian way but will taste good)
***You may also throw in one bell pepper and a cup of carrots, cut uniformly into smallish pieces.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 596Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 1274mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 6gSugar: 9gProtein: 56g