How to Make Goulash in a Braiser

Here’s an easy recipe for Hungarian Goulash–made with boneless beef short ribs for extra succulence. (PS: This is an easy Goulash recipe for your braiser.).

My easy recipe for Hungarian Goulash, made in my braiser.

My easy recipe for Hungarian Goulash, made in the Le Creuset Braiser.

I wonder how many people grew up thinking that Goulash looked something like this:

This isn't Goulash, but I grew up thinking it was. If you want a recipe for this style of "Goulash," you'll do no better than the recipe for Chili-Mac Skillet.

This isn’t Goulash, but I grew up thinking it was. If you want a recipe for this style of “Goulash,” you’ll do no better than this recipe for Chili-Mac Skillet.

Indeed, for many of us, “Goulash” was a dish of ground beef in a saucy tomato mixture with macaroni, onions, green pepper (maybe) and maybe a little spice.

Me. Brooklyn Heights. Back in the day. I love my vintage coat. Wore it for years and years.

Me. Brooklyn Heights. Back in the day. I love my vintage coat. Wore it for years and years.

Of course, most food-lovers know better now. But I didn’t until I was 23 and living in Brooklyn Heights. For our first Valentine’s Day in New York, Dave and I went to a Hungarian restaurant on Montague Street, near the famed Brooklyn Promenade. It was a cute spot with tall tapered candles glowing atop lace tablecloths on the parlor level (the second floor) of a brownstone storefront; we got a table looking out out over the snow falling on the busy street. I remember dinner cost us $25 (for both of us!), which seemed like a lot at the time (yes–those were the days!). I fear the locale has long since morphed into a Banana Republic store. Sigh.

We ordered Goulash, and because I knew I was a long way from Kansas (so to speak), I figured it wasn’t going to be the homey ground-beef dish of my Midwestern past. And yet, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would love this Old World version. What came to the table was a wonderful, meltingly tender beef stew, deeply spiced with paprika, and served with thick, broad noodles. It was warming, cozy, and romantic–the perfect thing for a cold winter night.

After that, I made Hungarian Goulash over the years, but I could never quite get it right. While the flavors were good, the meat itself always came up short in the tenderness category and way too dry (where was the succulence I’d experienced in Brooklyn?). Beef stew meat just never did the trick.

Boneless beef short ribs. The key to the best goulash ever. Photo courtesy of Beef: It's What's for Dinner

Boneless beef short ribs. They come from the chuck (shoulder), like most stew meat–but they’re better than most stew meat. Photo courtesy of the beef council.

Then other day, I found myself with about 2 pounds of boneless short ribs left over from a Boeuf Bourguignon cooking class I gave. Suddenly, the light bulb went off: Short ribs would make a great Hungarian Goulash. I set to work, and came up with this recipe.

Of course, I used my braiser (though you can use a deep, oven-going skillet or Dutch oven). The other trick was that I rubbed the short ribs with salt, pepper, and paprika so that the meat would get unmistakably seasoned. I also added paprika to the dish itself. And—oh yes—I used smoked paprika. I just loved the added boldness it gave. But you can use sweet or hot paprika, depending on your tastes.

When Dave came home for dinner and asked what smelled so good, I told him it was Goulash.

“Oh,” he said. “Remember that Valentine’s Day dinner we had on Montague street….?”

Indeed. There are some meals you never forget. I hope this one becomes memorable for you.



5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy Hungarian Goulash--In Your Braiser, of Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
I love smoked paprika in this dish, but you can use Hungarian paprika, hot or mild. You can also use Spanish paprika, if that's what you have on hand.
  • 2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, divided
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the short ribs all over with the salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the paprika. Cut the short ribs into 1- to 2-inch pieces.
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high in a 3- to 4-quart braiser (or use a deep, oven-going skillet or a Dutch oven). Cook the beef in the hot oil until brown on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan and drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion to the pan and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until the fragrance is released.
  4. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, and the remaining 1 tablespoon paprika to the skillet, stirring to combine and to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pan. Bring mixture to boiling.
  5. Cover the pan and slide it into the oven. Bake for 1 hour, 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until meat is tender. Stir before serving.
  6. Serve with parsleyed noodles, pureed potatoes, spaetzle, or soft polenta.





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5 comments to How to Make Goulash in a Braiser

  • Oh my gosh, I must be getting vibes you. I have had trouble with vegetable beef soup and then last week I woke up and decided to braise the beef before it became soup. It is the best vegetable soup I ever ate even if I did make it. I will be posting about it soon.

    Your goulash sounds so comforting and delicious. btw, I have had that macaroni goulash, but it has been a really long time.

  • Ellen

    What a lovely story! I’ve been sold on short ribs every since making your boeuf bourguignon recipe and I’m sure they will be perfect in this. BTW, tonight I’m making the smothered top blade steak recipe that you shared the other day. That is a cut of steak that I actually find and prepare fairly regularly. I fix them in a grill pan and they are fine, but unspectacular. I have a feeling this recipe is going to be a game-changer.

  • Wow, your goulash looks wonderful! It’s so interesting how different from what we know to be “goulash.”

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