Authentic German Goulash (Rindergulasch)

Fork-tender beef is slow simmered with onions in a rich paprika-infused gravy and served over your choice of Spätzle, German potato or bread dumplings, egg noodles or boiled potatoes.  Known as Rindergulasch, it’s German comfort food at its best.  This traditional German Goulash recipe is like the way my Mutti and Oma made it and has been a personal favorite ever since I can remember!

german goulash recipe rindergulasch rezept authentic traditional best onions paprika gravy sauce

I could usually tell when my Mutti was making Rindergulasch by the wonderful aroma that came wafting from our kitchen.  Likewise when we went to my Oma and Opa’s house for Sunday dinner the smell was unmistakable as soon as we entered their home.  This is a popular dish throughout Germany and can found in virtually every German restaurant.  Where I’m from in Baden-Württemberg, German Goulash is most commonly served with Spätzle and where my Mutti is from in Bavaria Kartoffelklöße are traditional.  I love it both ways!

german goulash recipe rindergulasch rezept authentic traditional best onions paprika gravy sauce

German Goulash vs Hungarian Goulash 

You might be wondering, what is the difference between German goulash and Hungarian goulash?  German Goulash, known as Rindergulasch (“beef goulash”) in German, is comprised of beef and onions that are slow-simmered in a gravy seasoned with paprika, garlic, wine and other seasonings.  It is eaten as a sauce, served with German potato or bread dumplings, Spätzle, egg noodles or boiled potatoes.  In contrast, Hungarian Goulash is a soup and contains other vegetables like potatoes, carrots and peppers.  German Goulash is also typically made with red wine, sometimes with beer (in Bavaria), whereas traditional Hungarian goulash contains neither.  Germany also has a soup version called Gulaschsuppe (“goulash soup”), that is similar to Hungarian goulash though the broth often has a thicker consistency, more like a stew.

Variations also exist within Germany, for example in Bavaria beer is sometimes used instead of red wine.  Some cooks also like to add a pinch of crushed caraway seeds, though they are more typically not included.

There is also a version of German goulash that includes bell peppers and that version is more commonly differentiated as Rindergulasch mit Paprika (“beef goulash with peppers”).  To make this you would simply add a diced red or yellow bell pepper, or combination of both, after you cook the onions and cook the peppers for a few minutes until tender, then proceed with the recipe.

potato dumplings recipe kartoffelkösse rezept authentic traditional German knödel

What to Serve with German Goulash

German goulash is traditionally served with one of the following:

Additional German side dishes that pair nicely with German goulash are German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl), German Cucumber Salad or Creamy German Cucumber Salad.  For dessert you can serve some German Apple Cake, Apple Strudel, or something lighter like Rote Grütze drizzled with some homemade German Vanilla Sauce!

Can You Freeze Goulash?

German goulash is a great make-ahead dish because its flavor is even better the next day.  It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge and it also freezes well.  Let the goulash cool completely then transfer it to a freezer container and freeze it for up to 3 months.  Sauces thickened with cornstarch tend to break down once thawed so you may need to re-thicken it in the same way you did the first time, adding some cornstarch dissolved in a little water and bringing the goulash back to a simmer to thicken.

german goulash recipe rindergulasch rezept authentic traditional best onions paprika gravy sauce

German Goulash Recipe

Let’s get started!

Heat the oil in a deep heavy skillet or Dutch oven and brown the beef on all sides.  Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside.

browning the beef

Add the onions and cook until golden, 6-8 minutes.

Note:  To make Rindergoulasch mit Paprika (German goulash with peppers), add the diced bell peppers now and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened.

browning the onions

Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the red wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer steadily until it has evaporated by about half, 3-4 minutes.

adding garlic and red wine

Add the seasonings and tomato paste.  I strongly recommend using quality imported Hungarian paprika, it makes all the difference in flavor.

Return the beef to the skillet and pour in the beef broth.

adding seasonings and broth

Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour or until the beef is very tender.

Add the cornstarch slurry, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

adding cornstarch for thickening

Serve over your choice of Spätzle, German Potato Dumplings , German Bread Dumplings, boiled potatoes or egg noodles.

german goulash recipe rindergulasch rezept authentic traditional best onions paprika gravy sauce

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