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Czech goulash served with dumplings.

Czech Beef Goulash (Gulas)

Hovězí guláš (beef stew or goulash) is undoubtedly one of the famous Czech foods everybody should try when visiting the Czech Republic. Slow-braised and seasoned right, this goulash is characterized by rich and hearty color, aromatic flavor, and insanely delicious taste.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Czech
Keyword goulash, guláš
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 389kcal


  • 2 pounds beef chuck or shank (900 g)
  • 1.½ pounds onion (675 g)
  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil sunflower or Canola / pork lard
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds crushed or ground
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika ground + optionally 1 tsp hot paprika powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper ground
  • salt
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour to thicken the goulash, optional
  • 4 cups water (720 ml) or beef stock


  • Peel the onion and chop it roughly. Cut the beef into 1-1.½-inch pieces.
  • Melt the lard or vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a pot with a thick bottom (I use a heavy iron cast Dutch oven). Fry onions until almost brown. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Finally, add the crushed caraway seeds and stir for another minute.
  • Add beef chunks, season with salt, and fry them from all sides until a golden brown crust is created. Expect the meat releases some juices when fried. Stir frequently, and scrape off the burnt residue on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula. If necessary, reduce the heat or add a spoon or two of water.
  • Turn the stove on medium heat, and add ground pepper, sweet paprika, and tomato paste. Fry for 1 minute while stirring. The base can’t get burnt, or else the goulash will taste bitter. Add 1-2 spoons of water to prevent burning.
  • Pour in water, so the meat is almost covered. Add bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a minimum, cover with a lid and allow the beef to simmer for 2–2.5 hours or until soft.
  • Check the goulash from time to time. Add some water if the level of liquid in the pot falls. When the gulas contains too much water, cook it uncovered at the end. The liquid will be reduced, and the gulas will gain a richer flavor and a nice red color. Stir occasionally. 
  • When the beef cubes are soft, add flour to thicken the stew. In the next step, I'll provide a helpful method for making the stew sauce smoother and more cohesive.
  • Thickening of goulash with flour (optional): Take off the pot's lid. Using a small sieve, carefully dust the surface of the stew with a tablespoon of flour. Do not stir. Cover with the lid and leave to cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove the lid and stir. The sauce will be just thick enough!
  • Remove bay leaves, add crushed garlic and dried marjoram, and stir. Season with salt to your liking. Cover with a lid and let it rest off heat for 10 minutes.


  • Makes 6 yields.
  • SERVING: Serve the goulash in a deep bowl with a piece of bread or warm slices of Czech dumplings (an iconic side dish!) arranged on the side of a plate. Top the dish with a few raw onion circles and sprinkle some green parsley for the final touch. And of course, don’t forget chilled Pilsner beer!
  • A less common side is pasta, typically elbow pasta (kolínka). 
  • Instead of water, cook the beef in beef stock, and the flavor of guláš will be even richer.
  • There is one unspoken secret: Czech guláš always tastes better the next day!
  • STORAGE: If you have any leftover goulash, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4-5 days.
  • REHEATING: Reheat the stew slowly on the stove while stirring. If the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water.


Calories: 389kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 176mg | Potassium: 686mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1258IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 4mg