Don’t let the fancy name fool you, Pörkölt is an easy and flavorful Hungarian beef stew (often refered to as goulash in the united states) made with simple ingredients.

Serve pörkölt with homemade egg noddles and a side of roasted vegetables and you’ll feel like your in a 5 star restaurant.

Hungarian pörkölt served over egg noodles, in a bowl.

Hungarian Pörkölt vs Goulash

Pörkölt (Peur-keult) is Hungarian for beef stew and is a popular Hungarian recipe made by braising meat and simmering it with onions in a tomato based sauce.  It’s served warm, over noodles and it’s absolutely delicious.

My brother lived in Hungary for some time and came home with a new found love of Hungarian food.  He even brought my mom a Hungarian cookbook (translated to English of course) so she could test out some native recipes.

This recipe is often confused with Hungarian goulash and in fact is often called Hungarian goulash by mistake.  Authentic goulash is a meat and vegetable soup where Pörkölt is thicker, similar in consistency to beef stroganoff, and is served over noodles.

What I LOVE about this recipe:

  • Easy– It requires very little prep, simple ingredients, and is super easy to throw together and let it simmer while making your house smell amazing.
  • Sweet paprika– this is the ingredient that really shines in this dish.  Sweet paprika is Hungarian paprika you can find at the grocery store (or on amazon).  If you must substitute regular (hot) paprika, the flavor will change slightly, and you will only need a few teaspoons, rather than Tablespoons. Adjust to taste. 

Purchasing Beef for Stew (what to know):

  1. Save your money!  Don’t buy expensive cuts of meat for stew!  Cheap, tough cuts of meat are perfect.  That’s right, I said tough cuts of meat!  The best thing about stew is that it simmers for long periods of time, causing the connective tissue in tougher meat to break down, turning the meat into soft, tender pieces.  In contrast, nice tender and marbled meat with become tougher the longer it simmers because the fat will melt into the soup.
  2. Avoid pre-cut stew meat.  This type of packaged meat is put together by the butcher from the odds and ends of different cuts of beef.  This means they won’t cook as evenly.
  3. Choose the right cut of meat.  Hit the sale section and look for cuts of meat that come from the shoulder or rear of the cow.  My first choice is always chuck: chuck shoulder, chuck roast, top chuck.  Or choose a round roast, tump roast, or top top round roast.

How to Make Pörkölt:

1. Sear meat.  Season with salt and pepper and place meat pieces in a skillet of hot oil, browning on all sides. *Don’t crowd the meat in the pan or it will steam instead of sear. Set aside.

2. Make Sauce.  Cook onions in oil until golden. Return the meat back to the pot, along with tomato sauce, bouillon cubes, water, paprika and vinegar.

Two process photos for making Porkolt in a cast iron pot.3. Simmer.  Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, until meat is fall apart tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

4. Serve.   Stir in the sour cream and serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Porkolt Hungarian stew in a white cast iron pot with a spoon.

Variations:

  • Substitute meat– any kind of meat can be used.  Substitute chicken, pork, or other game meat.
  • Add vegetables– feel free to add your favorite vegetables during step 2.
  • Paprikás – Add additional sour cream and this dish becomes a new hungarian favorite, paprikás!

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Recipe

Hungarian porkolt served over egg noodles, in a bowl.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 2 hours
Total 2 hours 10 minutes
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Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 pounds chuck roast , cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • Fresh cracked Salt and pepper
  • 2 onions , diced
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon paste , or 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons Hungarian Sweet Paprika
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • ¼ cup of sour cream
  • 1 pkg egg noodles

Instructions
 

  • Season steak pieces on all sides with salt and pepper. Add oil to a large cast iron pot over medium heat-high heat. Once hot, add steak, in small batches, and brown on all sides. Don’t crowd the meat in the pan or it will steam instead of sear. Set aside the seared steak onto a plate.
  • Add a little more oil to the pan, if needed and reduce heat to medium. Add onions and cook until golden. Return the meat back to the pot, along with tomato sauce, bouillon cubes, water, paprika and vinegar.
  • Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, until meat is fall apart tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the sour cream. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, as needed.
  • Boil noodles according to package instructions and serve pörkölt over them.

Notes

*Hungarian Paprika is sweet paprika and can be found in the spice aisle at the grocery store, or on amazon.  If you must substitute regular (hot) paprika, the flavor will change slightly, and you will only need a few teaspoons, rather than Tablespoons. Adjust to taste. 
Variations:
  • Substitute meat- any kind of meat can be used.  Substitute chicken, pork, or other game meat.
  • Add vegetables- feel free to add your favorite vegetables during step 2.
  • Paprikás - Add additional sour cream and this dish becomes a new hungarian favorite, paprikás!
Freezing instructions: Prepare recipe up until adding the sour cream. Allow to cool and then add to a freezer safe container and freezer for 3-4 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Once warm, stir in sour cream.
Nutrition information does not include egg noodles.

Nutrition

Calories: 439kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 37gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 407mgPotassium: 929mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2360IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 5mg

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

4.97 from 33 votes (22 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. We have ourselves another winner on our books right here. When I had a recipe on back-up to use up some cauliflower in the fridge – the classic karfiolleves (a.k.a. cauliflower soup) – it was high time to pair it with a Hungarian meal. And I needed to venture beyond the classical paprikash.

    While there was a mistake firsthand on my part, finding out the defrosted meat was mince instead of steak, it was time to make lemonade from the lemons. The rest of the ingredients combined created something close to a bolognese sauce, albeit with a slightly spicy tinge. That was in part of serving it alongside spaghetti.

    For how good it was substituting ground meat on a whim, that is merely a taste of how good it would be with a decent cut of beef. And the paprikash was enough for me to consider Hungarian worthy of a bit more love, and a second-round success will have me seeking the next recipe from Hungary before I know it.

  2. Perfectly delicious! I should not be surprised! I love all your recipes! I ordered the paprika off Amazon and I am glad I did! Served over mashed potatoes. I will definitely make this again.

  3. While this stew looks delicious, it’s goulash (Gulyás in Hungarian) not Pörkölt. They are two different things. Gulyás is made with beef, Pörkölt is made with pork.

  4. 5 stars
    I thought this was absolutely fantastic! It only got better with time, so was perfect for leftovers. I initially hesitated putting the vinegar in, but so glad that I did. It really added something. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    So yummy and simple. Just takes a little planning ahead to allow for the slow simmer. Mine ended up needing about 2.5-3 hours for the fall-apart meat.

  6. 5 stars
    My mom was Hungarian (immigrated to USA in 1951) and I grew up eating these types of dishes. You nailed it!! Delicious and authentic.
    If you make this, don’t change a thing!! ❤️

  7. Made this today and it was magnificent! Thank you for the recipe. It was full of flavor, very easy to make and enjoyed by all.

  8. Hi, I want to congratulate you. We also add a tiny sliced ​​paprika after the onion.
    All the Best, Nikolett
    from Hungary

  9. Real Hungarian Gulasch doesn’t have vegetables in it, unless you consider onions vegetables.
    The seasonings for a real Gulasch are different as well.
    You must be thinking of Letscho, it is another beef dish that contains Bell Peppers along side of onions, garlic and tomatoes.

    1. The Letscho doesn’t contain any meat, only bacon cubes, hungarian wax peppers, tomato, onion and paprika powder. The original Goulasch is a soup with meat, carrot, onion, potato, tomato, wax pepper and spices. This recipe looks pretty promising, only in authentic Pörkölt don’t put sour creme and vinegar.

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