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Gulyás in a traditional "bogrács"
Type Soup or stew
Place of origin Hungary
Region or state Central Europe
Main ingredients Meat, noodles, vegetables (especially potatoes), paprika, spices
Cookbook: Goulash  Media: Goulash
Hungarian Gulyásleves, Goulash soup
Marhagulyás, Beef Goulash
Veal Goulash
"Fiaker" Goulash
Prague-style beef goulash
Szeged (Székely) Goulash served in a Prague pub with Czech knedliky.
Venison goulash with apples, berries and potato croquettes
Czech beef goulash being cooked

Goulash (Hungarian: gulyás [ˈɡujaːʃ]) is a soup of meat and vegetables, seasoned with paprika and other spices.[1] Originating from the medieval Hungary, goulash is a popular meal predominantly eaten in Central Europe but also in other parts of Europe.

Its origin traces back to the 9th century to stews eaten by Hungarian shepherds.[2] Back then, the cooked and flavored meat was dried with the help of the sun and packed into bags produced from sheep's stomachs, needing only water to make it into a meal.[2] Earlier versions of goulash did not include paprika, as it was not introduced to the Old World until the 16th century. It is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a symbol of the country.[3][4]


The name originates from the Hungarian "gulyás" [ˈɡujaːʃ] (About this sound listen). The word "gulya" means "herd of cattle" in Hungarian, and "gulyás" means "herdsman" or "cowboy".[5][6]

The word gulyás originally meant only "herdsman", but over time the dish became gulyáshús (goulash meat) – that is to say, a meat dish which was prepared by herdsmen. Also in medieval times the Hungarian herdsman of Central Europe made use of every possible part of the animal, as was common practice. As meat was scarce, nearly all of the animal was often used to make the soup; even part of the hide that provided foot protection was considered a necessity. Today, gulyás refers both to the herdsmen, and to the soup. From the Middle Ages until well into the 19th century, the Puszta was the home of massive herds of cattle. They were driven, in their tens of thousands, to Europe’s biggest cattle markets in Moravia, Vienna, Nuremberg and Venice. The herdsmen made sure that there were always some cattle that had to be slaughtered along the way, the flesh of which provided them with gulyáshús.[7][8]

In Hungary[edit]


In Hungarian cuisine, traditional "Gulyásleves" (literally "goulash soup"), "bográcsgulyás",[9] pörkölt, and paprikás were thick stews made by cattle herders and stockmen.[9] Garlic, caraway seed, bell pepper, and wine are optional. These dishes can be made as soups rather than stews. Excepting paprikás, the Hungarian stews do not rely on a flour or roux for thickening. Tomato is a modern addition, totally unknown in the original recipe and in the whole Central European food culture until the first half of the twentieth century.

Goulash can be prepared from beef, veal,[10] pork, or lamb. Typical cuts include the shank, shin, or shoulder; as a result, goulash derives its thickness from tough, well-exercised muscles rich in collagen, which is converted to gelatin during the cooking process. Meat is cut into chunks, seasoned with salt, and then browned with sliced onion in a pot with oil or lard. Paprika is added, along with water or stock, and the goulash is left to simmer. After cooking a while, garlic, whole or ground caraway seed, or soup vegetables like carrot, parsley root, peppers (green or bell pepper) and celery may be added. Other herbs and spices could also be added, especially chili pepper, bay leaf and thyme.[9] Diced potatoes may be added, since they provide starch as they cook, which makes the goulash thicker and smoother. However, chili peppers and potatoes are post-16th century additions, unknown in the original recipe. A small amount of white wine or wine vinegar may also be added near the end of cooking to round the taste. Goulash may be served with small egg noodles called csipetke. The name Csipetke comes from pinching small, fingernail-sized bits out of the dough (csipet =pinch) before adding them to the boiling soup.

The Hungarian cook Karoly Gundel claims that in a goulash recipe, meat should not be mixed with any grains or with potatoes, so if potatoes or noodles are used, the meat should be omitted.[11] Given the large number of goulash variants, however, this dictum is dubious.

Hungarian varieties[edit]

Hungarian goulash variations[12]

  • Gullies à la Székely. Reduce the potatoes and add sauerkraut and sour cream.
  • Gulyás Hungarian Plain Style. Omit the homemade soup pasta (csipetke) and add vegetables.
  • Mock Gulyás. Substitute beef bones for the meat and add vegetables. Also called Hamisgulyás, (Fake Goulash)
  • Bean Gulyás. Omit the potatoes and the caraway seeds. Use kidney beans instead.
  • Csángó Gulyás. Add sauerkraut instead of pasta and potatoes.
  • Betyár Gulyás. Use smoked beef or smoked pork for meat.
  • Likócsi Pork Gulyás. Use pork and thin vermicelli in the goulash instead of potato and soup pasta. Flavour with lemon juice.
  • Mutton Gulyás or Birkagulyás. Made with mutton. Add red wine for flavour.

A thicker and richer goulash, similar to a stew, originally made with three kinds of meat, is called Székely gulyás, named after the Hungarian writer, journalist and archivist József Székely (1825–1895).[9]

Paprikás krumpli[edit]

"Paprikás krumpli" is a traditional paprika-based potato stew with diced potatoes, onion, bell peppers, ground paprika and some bacon or sliced spicy sausage, like the smoked Debrecener, in lieu of beef.

In German-speaking countries this inexpensive peasant stew is made with sausage and known as Kartoffelgulasch ("potato goulash").

Outside Hungary[edit]

Thick stews similar to pörkölt and the original cattlemen stew are popular throughout almost all the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire, from Northeast Italy to the Carpathians. Like pörkölt, these stews are generally served with boiled or mashed potato, polenta, dumplings (e.g. nokedli, or galuska), spätzle or, alternatively, as a stand-alone dish with bread.


In Vienna, the former center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a special kind of goulash had been developed. The Wiener Saftgulasch or the Fiakergulasch on the menu in traditional restaurants is a must-have. It is a rich pörkölt-like stew; more onions but no tomatoes or other vegetables are used, and it usually comes just with dark bread. A variation of the Wiener Saftgulasch is the Fiakergulasch, which is served with fried egg, fried sausage, and dumplings named Semmelknödel.


Goulash (Croatian: gulaš) is also very popular in most parts of Croatia, especially north (Hrvatsko Zagorje) and Lika. It is considered to be part of traditional cuisine. In Gorski Kotar and Lika, deer and boar frequently replace beef (lovački gulaš). There is also a kind of goulash with porcini mushrooms (gulaš od vrganja). Bacon is an important ingredient.

Gulaš is often served with fuži, njoki, polenta or pasta. In Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian is augmented with vegetables. Green and red bell peppers and carrots are most commonly used. Sometimes one or more other kinds of meat are added, e.g., pork loin, bacon, or mutton. In Slovenia, they are known as perkelt, but are often referred to as "goulash" or a similar name.

Czech Republic and Slovakia[edit]

Goulash in Prague, Czech Republic

In the Czech and Slovak Republics, goulash (Czech and Slovak: guláš) is usually made with beef, although pork varieties exist, and served with bread dumplings (goulash with beef in Czech hovězí guláš s knedlíkem, in Slovak hovädzí guláš s knedľou), in Slovakia more typically with bread. In pubs it is often garnished with slices of fresh onion, and is typically accompanied by beer. Beer can be also added to the stew in the process of cooking. Seasonal varieties of goulash include venison or wild boar goulashes. Another popular variant of guláš is segedínský guláš (Szeged goulash), with sauerkraut.

In Czech and Slovak slang, the word guláš means "mishmash", typically used as mít v tom guláš: to be disoriented or to lack understanding of something.


Canned Gulaschsuppe as sold in German supermarkets (2016)
German goulash soup

German Gulasch is either a beef (Rindergulasch), pork (Schweinegulasch), venison (Hirschgulasch), or wild boar (Wildschweingulasch)[13] stew that may include red wine and is usually served with potatoes (in the north), white rice or spirelli noodles (mostly in canteens), and dumplings (in the south). Gulaschsuppe (goulash soup) is the same concept served as a soup, usually with pieces of white bread.


Goulash in Italy is eaten in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, regions that had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and still are in part culturally and linguistically Austrian. Here it is eaten as a regular Sunday dish.[citation needed] It can also, although less typically so, be found in the nearby Veneto. An interesting regional recipe comes from the Pustertal (Val Pusteria, Puster Valley) in South Tyrol. It is made of beef and red wine, and seasoned with rosemary, red paprika, bay leaf, marjoram and lemon zest, served with crusty white bread or polenta. The lemon gives its signature flavor. Goulash is also quite popular in the city of Ancona, which is culturally quite near to eastern Europe.


A form of goulash (Polish: gulasz) is also popular in Poland, though said dish is more similar to Hungarian pörkölt than actual goulash. Came to being around the 9th century. It is usually served with various forms of noodles and dumplings, such as pyzy.


In Serbia, goulash (Serbian: гулаш) is eaten in most parts of the country, especially in Vojvodina, where it was probably introduced by the Hungarian minority. It is actually a pörkölt like stew, usually made with beef, veal or pork, but also with game meat like venison, deer and boar. Compulsory ingredients are meat and onions, usually in 50-50% ratio, paprika, and lard or oil, other ingredients being optional: garlic, parsley, chilly pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, red wine, mushrooms, bacon. Sometimes, goulash is sweetened by adding tomato paste, sugar or dark chocolate at the very end. In Serbia, goulash is most often served with macaroni or potato mash.


In Slovene partizanski golaž, partisan goulash, favoured by Slovenian partisans during the Second World War, and still regularly served at mass public events; When cooking "Partisan Golaž" one has to use same amount of onion in terms of weight as there is meat. Slovenians usually use two or more types of meat in cooking "Golaž"

United States[edit]

American goulash, mentioned in cookbooks since at least 1914, exists in a number of variant recipes.[14][15] Originally a dish of seasoned beef,[15] core ingredients of American goulash now usually include elbow macaroni, cubed steak, ground beef or hamburger, and tomatoes in some form, whether canned whole, as tomato sauce, tomato soup, and/or tomato paste. In some areas it is called slumgullion.


Traditional clothes of a Hungarian gulyás (herdsman)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gundel, Karoly (1992). Gundel's Hungarian cookbook. Budapest: Corvina. ISBN 963-13-3600-X. OCLC 32227400. page 20
  2. ^ a b Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, Britannica Educational Publishing, 2013, p. 94
  3. ^ Gil Marks, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, John Wiley & Sons, 2010, p. 234
  4. ^ Food Journeys of a Lifetime: Top Ten Great National Dishes | Away.com
  5. ^ William White, Notes and queries, Volume 126, Oxford University Press, 1912
  6. ^ Judith Petres Balogh, This Old House by the Lake, Trafford Publishing, 2006, p. 244
  7. ^ MrGoulash.com - Goulash A plate of Hungarian history
  8. ^ Anikó Gergely, Culinaria Hungary [1], H.f. Ullmann, 2008.10.15. - p. 318
  9. ^ a b c d Gundel's Hungarian Cookbook, Karoly Gundel.
  10. ^ Famous Hungarian recipes Archived 14 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Gundel, Karoly (1992). Gundel's Hungarian cookbook. Budapest: Corvina. ISBN 963-13-3600-X. OCLC 32227400. page 31
  12. ^ Gundel, Karoly (1992). Gundel's Hungarian cookbook. Budapest: Corvina. ISBN 963-13-3600-X. OCLC 32227400. page 21
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ Metcalf, Allan (1999). The World in so Many Words. Boston, MA, USA: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 47–48. ISBN 0-395-95920-9. 
  15. ^ a b Cookbook of the Woman's Educational Club. Toledo, OH, USA: Woman's Educational Club of Toledo, Ohio. 1914. p. 49. 


  • Gundel's Hungarian Cookbook, Karoly Gundel, Budapest, CORVINA. ISBN 963-13-3733-2.

External links[edit]