An Instant Pot makes this hearty Goulash Soup weeknight-friendly, yet the results are absolutely company-worthy. This easy beef stew is the ultimate meat and potatoes dinner.

Why We Love This Recipe for Goulash Soup

A mash-up of everything I adore about Hungarian goulash and Austrian goulash, this easy beef dinner recipe is my modern twist on a centuries-old dish. Goulash, or gulyás, dates back to the 9th century when Magyar shepherds prepared it before long shifts out with their flocks. They would slow-cook meat, onions and seasonings in a stock, dry this goulash in the sun, then pack it into bags. Come mealtime, the shepherds would reconstitute the stew with water.

Goulash’s signature paprika appears to be invited to the party during the 1700s. Today, goulash soups are mainstays across Central Europe—and now can be a signature in your kitchen, too. 

beef stew with potatoes in a red sauce and topped with sour cream and dill

Why This Recipe Works

Every family seems to put their own stamp on the meat and potatoes dinner recipe, but a few elements seem to link all goulash recipes: an affordable cut of beef, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and paprika.

Hungarian goulash is traditionally made with equal parts (in weight) of meat and onions. That means it’s very onion heavy.

Austrian goulash tends to have a richer soup base, thanks to tomato paste and thickeners like flour. It also features a couple additional herbs and spices, including dill and caraway.

American goulash recipes are a bit like a mash-up of both; featuring ground beef, tomato sauce, and pasta. My Goulash Soup sticks more to the dish’s European origins.

Although this dinner recipe idea sounds similar to stroganoff, goulash recipes are in a category of their own thanks to their cooking method (often slow and low, but here, I speed things up in the Instant Pot, compared to stroganoff’s speedy skillet sauté) and service style (Goulash Soup is just that, soup, while stroganoff is piled over noodles).

chunks of beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, butter, herbs, broth and flour measured out and arranged on a counter

Grocery List

  • Boneless beef chuck-eye roast: Choose either the chuck roast, a large, collagen-rich cut of meat that’s often used for pot roast, beef stew meat, or roast beef, or chuck-eye roast. Chuck-eye, also sold as chuck steak, is a smaller, leaner cut. Alternatively, substitute another budget-friendly beef stew meat, such as oxtails or short ribs. Since we’re pressure cooking the protein in an instant pot, there’s no need to splurge on fancy cuts of steak.
  • Sweet Hungarian paprika: This spice is what makes Goulash Soup “goulash.”
  • Tomato paste: A mere ¼ cup spikes the soup base with a lot of sweet-tart flavor. Seek out tomato paste in a tube for easy storage, or freeze tomato paste (simply dollop 1 tablespoon portions on a sheet of parchment paper, freeze until solid, then transfer to a zip-top bag).
  • Whole-wheat flour or all purpose flour: To thicken the sauce.
  • Caraway seeds: To lend an Austrian element.
  • Yukon gold potatoes: Or another waxy small- to medium-sized potato, such as fingerling.

Watch How to Make Goulash Soup

You can also watch the webstory!

The Most Important Step in Goulash Soup

Unlike dump dinners where you set and forget, investing a little prep time at the beginning pays off in spades by the time you dive into your Goulash Soup.

It’s essential to give the beef roast and vegetables a head start before you lock the lid of the Instant Pot so they score the benefits from the maillard reaction. What’s that, exactly? It’s the reaction of food browning, aka flavor. It’s easy:

  • Pat the beef dry, season with salt, then add butter inside the Instant Pot. 
  • Turn the Instant Pot on to “sauté,” and brown half of the meat on all sides (do only half the batch to avoid crowding the pan), which should take no more than 8 minutes. Remove the meat from the Instant Pot and transfer to a bowl.
  • Repeat this step once more to brown all of the beef. 
  • In the beef drippings, cook the onions, celery, garlic and salt for 4 minutes. 
  • Turn off the Instant Pot and while it’s still warm, stir in the tomato paste, paprika, flour, caraway seeds, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cook this for 2 minutes.   

From there, you’ll add the broth, water, potatoes, partially-cooked beef and seasonings back into the pool. Lock the lid, pressure cook and dinner is done.

beef stew with potatoes in a red sauce and topped with sour cream and dill

Test Kitchen Tips

  • For a thicker, stew-ier version, skip adding the cup of water. 
  • Carrots and celery are not traditional Goulash Soup ingredients, but I found this recipe lacked a bit of sweetness without it. By the end of the cook time, all of the vegetables end up being quite tender, so the finished product delivers some majorly cozy classic beef stew vibes.
  • Use a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot.
  • Use a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot. The pot may get smoky when the beef is browning, so have a fan or vent hood handy. 
  • If you can’t find Hungarian Paprika, you can substitute with sweet paprika.

This sponsored post is in partnership with the Iowa Beef Council. As always the thoughts, opinions, recipe, photos and content are all my own.

Goulash Soup (Instant Pot or Stovetop/Oven)

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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Reaching Pressure 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Yield 10 cups (6-8 servings)
Category Dinner, Salad, Soup
Cuisine Austrian, Hungarian

Description

A hearty soup with loads of flavor, tender chunks of beef and large bites of carrots, celery and potato.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes (1 pound after trimming)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 pound yellow onions, diced (4 cups)
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch chunks (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks (1 ½ cups)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour or all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons caraway seeds, crushed
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 pound yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Fresh dill & sour cream for serving

Instructions

Instant Pot Instructions

  • Pat beef dry with paper towels; season with 1 teaspoon salt. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in Instant Pot on sauté function. Once melted, add half the beef in an even layer and cook until browned on all sides, about 6–8 minutes.
    chunks of beef cooking in an instant pot
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a bowl. Add remaining tablespoon butter to reserved drippings, repeat browning with remaining beef, cooking 4 minutes. Transfer beef to bowl.
    chunks of beef cooking in an instant pot
  • Add onions, celery, carrot, garlic, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to drippings and cook 4 minutes.
    carrots, celery and onion cooking in an instant pot
  • Turn Instant Pot off and stir in tomato paste, paprika, flour, caraway seeds, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cook 2 minutes.
    veggies and red spices cooking in an instant pot
  • Return Instant Pot to sauté functions and gradually add in 1 cup broth in ¼ cup increments, stirring and scraping up any browned bits after each addition. Stir in remaining 3 ½ cups broth and 1 cup water. Stir in browned beef and any accumulated juices, and potatoes.
    veggies and broth in an instant pot
  • Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select high pressure cook function and cook for 30 minutes. Turn off Instant Pot and quick-release pressure. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
  • Using a wide shallow spoon, skim excess grease from surface of stew.
  • Stir in lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sour cream and fresh dill.

Dutch Oven Instructions

  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325ºF degrees
  • Pat beef dry with paper towels; season with 1 teaspoon salt. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in Dutch oven over medium-high. Once melted, add half the beef in an even layer and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a bowl. Add remaining tablespoon butter to reserved drippings, repeat browning with remaining beef, cooking minutes. Transfer beef to bowl.
  • Add onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to drippings and cook, over medium, until softened (not browned) 6–8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in tomato paste, paprika, flour, caraway seeds, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cook 2 minutes.
  • Gradually add in 1 cup broth in ¼ cup increments, stirring and scraping up any browned bits after each addition. Stir in remaining 3 ½ cups broth and 1 cup water. Stir in browned beef and any accumulated juices, carrots, celery and potatoes, bring to a simmer.
  • Secure lid then transfer to oven and braise until meat is tender and a fork easily slips in and out of beef, 2½–3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  • Using a wide shallow spoon, skim excess grease from surface of stew.
  • Stir in lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sour cream and fresh dill.

Notes

A 6-quart or larger Instant Pot should be used.
The pot may get smoky when the beef is browning, so have a fan or vent hood handy.
To make it gluten-free: use sorghum flour instead of whole-wheat flour.
To make it dairy free: use vegan butter or grapeseed oil to brown the beef. Swap out the sour cream for vegan yogurt.
The Dutch oven version is more stew-like than the Instant-pot version and is absolutely phenomenal. If you want it to be more soupy, add some water or broth at the end to thin it out.

Nutrition

Serving: 1¼ cupsCalories: 255kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 16gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 585mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5g
Keywords goulash soup
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
beef stew with potatoes in a red sauce and topped with sour cream and dill

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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