Hearty and warming stews are a must when the weather turns cooler and this Slow Cooker Beef Goulash is delicious comfort food with minimal effort. Tender chunks of beef cooked in a rich and smoky tomato sauce makes a nice change from the usual slow cooker dishes and it freezes well for a batch cook meal.
Fall apart, melt in your mouth chunks of beef are what makes this recipe really special. Cooked low and slow, the beef is cooked to perfection. But what takes this slow cooker beef goulash recipe to the next level is the sauce. It might have minimal ingredients, but it has maximum flavour thanks to the smoked paprika.
We have also given the option to cook this in the oven, but cooking it in the slow cooker allows the beef to get really tender and for all the flavours to blend together. Looking for some other slow cooker beef recipes? Try our Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff, Slow Cooker Beef Curry, Slow Cooker Roast Beef or Slow Cooker Beef Ragu.
Why you will love it
- Easy - Once the beef is browned (a step not to be skipped - more on that below), you just dump everything in the slow cooker and turn it on. It's so easy.
- Adaptable - We have tried to keep this recipe as traditional as possible, however we have given some ways of adapting it with different vegetables if you want to make it more nutrient dense.
- Freezes well - We love a good batch cook meal and this is definitely one. Make double the portion and then keep some in the freezer for those busy nights.
- Can be prepared in advance - You could prep all the veg and brown the beef the night before and then put it in the slow cooker the next day.
- Diced beef - We used standard diced beef, however you could use chuck beef (braising steak in the UK), beef cheeks or boneless beef ribs.
- Carrots - These are fairly standard in a goulash and they add flavour and a little sweetness that compliments the sweetness of the paprika.
- Potatoes - This helps to really bulk out the goulash and means that you don't have to serve it with anything else. We used baby potatoes and halved or quartered them depending on their size. However, you could use larger potatoes and cut them up smaller.
- Onion - We used a medium brown onion, however you could swap this for 4 small shallots, which would give a sweeter flavour.
- Bell pepper - A classic in a goulash, these add crunch, colour and some added sweetness.
- Garlic - We used fresh and crushed it ourself, but you could save time by using frozen garlic.
- Chopped tomatoes - Good quality chopped tomatoes are important as inexpensive ones can sometimes be quite watery and we are going for a rich sauce.
- Tomato puree - This helps to thicken the sauce up without adding too much flour and also adds colour.
- Beef stock - We used a beef stock pot for convenience, but any beef stock will work. Try to use the best quality you can, as you will be able to taste the difference.
- Paprika - This is what gives the slow cooker beef goulash its classic flavour. We used a really good quality smoked paprika. Make sure that it hasn't been opened longer than 6 months, otherwise it won't have much of a flavour.
- Flour - This helps to thicken up the sauce to make it nice and rich.
- Sour Cream - Added on top for some creaminess.
- Parsley - A sprinkling of fresh herbs before serving really lightens the whole dish up and parsley goes perfectly with it.
A full list of ingredients and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
How to make beef goulash - Step by step
One: Season the beef with salt and pepper and had to a heated oil in a pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes until sealed on all sides. Once browned, put in the slow cooker.
Two: Add the onions, potatoes, carrots and peppers to the slow cooker.
Three: Add the garlic, flour and paprika.
Four: Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, stock and water.
Five: Stir well to mix everything together. Cook on high for 5 hours.
Six: Before serving, add 250ml sour cream and the chopped parsley.
What is goulash?
Goulash is traditionally a soup or stew that is made with meat and vegetables and seasoned with paprika and other spices and dates back to the 9th century. It originated in Hungary, where shepherds used to dry out meat before they left home, to be able to store it and then adding water to make a soup or stew. Over time, different spices and vegetables were added and turned goulash in to what it is known as today.
There are many different versions across Eastern Europe, and even the world, with different vegetables and spices being added. But paprika is always a common theme and is what gives goulash its classic flavour. If you are a big fan of paprika, then you might like our Spanish Bean Stew, Paprika Chicken Skewers and Mexican Beef and Potato Bake.
We wanted to keep it as traditional as possible, however we do have a few ways that you could adapt it. You could swap the beef for pork or even chicken to make it leaner.
You can use any colour bell peppers you like, and other vegetables that would work in it (although far from traditional) are mushrooms and courgettes. If you wanted to give a kick of spice to this, then stir in some red chilli flakes with the rest of the ingredients before cooking.
What to serve it with
Because this has got potatoes in it, it is already a filling and hearty meal. However, you could always leave out the potatoes and serve it on rice or mashed potato, or even on a baked potato for something a little different.
All that delicious rich sauce can't be wasted, so serve this up with a big chunk of crusty bread to soak up all the smoky sauce.
Frequently asked questions
The great thing about cooking a beef in a slow cooker is that you don't have to use expensive cuts of beef. You can go for the cheaper cuts like braising steak (also known as chuck steak), because cooking it low and slow makes it really tender. We wouldn't recommend using anything too lean, as it tends to dry out.
There really is no rule here, just make sure that the beef joint you are using can fit in your slow cooker. We use a Crock Pot DuraCeramic Slow Cooker and we love it. What I love most about it is that you can put the bowl insert on the hob too. So, we thicken the gravy on the hob, in the slow cooker bowl. You can also sear the meat in it first. I also love that it has a clear lid, as I am so impatient that I want to keep looking and seeing what it is doing. If you don't have a clear lid, then lifting it to see will release lots of the heat and add to the cooking time.
You don't have to, but we really recommend it as it adds such a depth of flavour. Basically, you want to trigger the Maillard reaction. It is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavour. You don't have to though, and you can just throw everything in to the slow cooker and leave it if you are really short on time.
Yes, you can do some of the prep in advance. You can sear the meat and add it to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients and then allow it to cool fully and then put it in the fridge (in your slow cooker pot) for up to 24 hours. You can then put it on the next day, but it might take longer to cook as it will be cold straight from the fridge.
Yes, you can easily make this on the hob instead of in the slow cooker. Follow step one in a large heavy pan and then add the rest of the ingredients to the pan rather than the slow cooker. Put a lid on and cook on low for an hour, until the beef it cooked.
Leftovers of this will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. Make sure it has cooled completely and then put in to an air tight container in the fridge.
You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Store the stroganoff without any sides though for best results.
To reheat, you can either microwave for a couple of minutes or heat through on the stove. Make sure it is pipping hot before serving.
This can easily be gluten free. Just make sure to use gluten free flour (or cornflour) to thicken it, and that the stock you use is gluten free and that there is no cross contamination and you are good to go. Traditional goulash that is cooked on the hob doesn't have flour, but when cooked in the slow cooker it can get watery, which is why we add flour to thicken it up.
Yes, you can easily double the recipe and it won't change the cooking time. Just make sure you have a frying pan big enough to brown double the beef and a slow cooker big enough for double all of the ingredients.
Cooking dishes in the slow cooker can result in a watery sauce. If it is too thin for your liking, then you can remove the lid from the slow cooker and cook for a further 30 minutes with the lid off.
More beef recipes
Slow Cooker Beef Goulash
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 600 g (1.33 lb) Braising steak (chuck roast) - cut into chunks
- 1 Onion - diced
- 4 Carrot - cut into large chunks
- 2 Bell peppers - cut into large chunks
- 500 g (1.1 lb) New potatoes - quartered
- 3 Garlic clove - crushed
- 2 tablespoon Plain flour
- 2 tablespoon Smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoon Tomato puree
- 400 g (14 oz) Chopped tomatoes - canned
- 200 ml (0.75 cups) Beef stock
- 2 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- 250 ml (1 cups) Sour cream
- 15 g (0.25 cups) Fresh parsley - chopped
- Heat 1 tablespoon Olive oil in a pan.
- Season 600 g Braising steak (chuck roast) with 2 pinch Sea salt and black pepper and had to the hot oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes until sealed on all sides. Once browned, put in the slow cooker.
- Add 1 Onion, 500 g New potatoes, 4 Carrot and 2 Bell peppers to the slow cooker.
- Add 3 Garlic clove, 2 tablespoon Plain flour and 2 tablespoon Smoked paprika.
- Add 2 tablespoon Tomato puree, 400 g Chopped tomatoesand 200 ml Beef stock.
- Stir well to mix everything together. Cook on high for 5 hours.
- Before serving, mix in 250 ml Sour cream and 15 g Fresh parsley.
- You can opt for a lean cut of beef and then chop off any visible extra fat.
- Swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt or a reduced fat creme fraiche. Greek yogurt is high in protein too, which is an added bonus.
- Give this sauce even more depth of flavour with a splash of red wine.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.