An easy lamb goulash recipe including sweet paprika, tomatoes, and red pepper. Whether you prepare the classic Hungarian stew in the oven or a slow cooker, you will be rewarded with tender and succulent lamb in a rich sauce. A comforting meal for the whole family.
Why you’ll love this goulash
Growing up in Germany, I have fond memories of a pot of “Gulasch” cooking in the oven for hours on a wintery Sunday afternoon, filling the with savory, smoky aromas.
You’ll love this one-pot lamb goulash recipe as well if you’re after an authentic slow-cooked meal that can easily be double batched to feed a large group. It works with a variety of sides to suit dietary requirements.
Can you make goulash with lamb?
Yes! While beef is certainly the most popular choice, goulash can be made with a variety of meat including lamb, pork, deer, or veal. Long and slow cooking in red wine brings out the lamb’s rich flavor in this traditional goulash recipe.
What’s the difference between goulash and paprikash?
Hungarian goulash is a meat stew or soup with vegetables that is traditionally seasoned with paprika. It does not rely on flour or roux for thickening which creates a thin stew or thick soup-like consistency.
Paprikash (Hungarian: paprikás) is another popular Hungarian meat dish that uses an even more generous amount of sweet paprika. It’s commonly made without potatoes.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Lamb – What cut of meat is best used for this goulash? Lamb leg or shoulder are great cuts for this recipe but bone-in lamb shanks work well too. If you’re using leg or shoulder meat, simply dice it before cooking and make sure to trim off any fat.
- Paprika – A generous 2 tbsp of sweet paprika, an authentic Hungarian spice, gives this goulash its signature rich, almost smoky flavor. You can use smoked, sweet paprika instead but I do not recommend hot paprika.
- Peppers – Bell peppers or capsicums are another key ingredient of a classic goulash. I recommend using a red or green medium-sized pepper.
- Tomatoes – This recipe calls for 2 fresh tomatoes but you can substitute it with 1/2 can of tinned tomatoes. The paste adds a more intense tomato flavor to this stew without extra liquid.
- Potatoes – The starch of the potatoes thickens the goulash while cooking, giving it a stew-like consistency.
- Red wine – I recommend using Pinot Noir as it pairs particularly well with lamb dishes but a Merlot or Bordeaux blend works well too.
- Stock – I use my lamb stock but you can substitute it with beef stock or bone broth as well for a thicker consistency and richer flavor.
- Rosemary – Dried or fresh rosemary works well in this recipe as it complements the lamb meat and gives the goulash extra depth.
- Bay leaf – Again, a dried bay leaf adds extra depth to this fragrant stew.
- Onion and garlic – These vegetables form the base of a good stew or soup and are required for this recipe.
- Olive oil – You can substitute it with vegetable oil if needed.
- Salt and pepper – I recommend seasoning the meat when you braise it but do not add extra seasoning until the goulash is fully cooked. My lamb stock does not include salt but store-bought ones do and they can easily add too much salt.
- Sour cream – Traditionally goulash is served with a dollop of sour cream. You can omit this or substitute it with creme fraîche or greek yogurt.
How to make lamb goulash
In the oven
Slow-cooking the goulash in a dutch oven or casserole in the oven is the most common way to prepare this dish. Simply brown the meat, soften the vegetables, and add the liquids, and spices in the dutch oven or casserole on the hob. Seal with a lid and transfer the dish to the oven. Slow-cook the goulash for 3 1/2 hours at 160C/320F to ensure the lamb is fall-off the fork tender.
On the stove-top
Follow the oven method above but simply simmer the goulash in the dutch oven or casserole dish with a lid on low for 3 1/2 hours on the hob. Check the liquid levels every half hour and give it a quick stir to prevent it from burning at the bottom. Add additional stock if needed.
In a large pan, brown the meat, soften the vegetables, and spices. Deglaze with wine but only add 3/4 cup of stock. Transfer everything to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
Pressure cooker / Instant Pot
Select sauté and brown the meat, soften the vegetables and spices. Deglaze with wine but only add 3/4 cup of stock. Add the lid, seal, and select the stew setting. Set the time to 25 minutes. Manually release the steam carefully when ready.
Boiled or stewed potatoes, potato or swede mash, fresh or dried pasta, polenta, couscous, rice, dumplings, and pearl barley are all great side dishes for goulash. I suggest serving steamed broccoli or green beans as additional vegetables. Serve with some crusty or soft bread such as my Turkish bread.
Add a dollop of sour cream to your goulash as a garnish alongside, fresh herbs, and freshly ground pepper.
Hearty and savory, traditional Hungarian goulash goes well with rich red wines with high acidity, such as Pinot Noir.
If you prefer a thicker consistency, simply add 1 tsp of cornflour mixed in warm water or stock and bring it back to a boil to thicken the goulash.
You can store the goulash in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days. In fact, the flavor will develop further and the goulash will taste more intense in the next day or two.
The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled and any leftovers store well in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Simply defrost in the microwave, oven, or on the stove until fully heated through.
Hungarian Lamb Goulash | Slow-Cooked Stew
- 750 g deboned lamb shoulder or leg diced
- 1 onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tbsp sweet paprika powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup lamb stock or beef stock
- 1 red or green pepper diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 2 potatoes peeled, diced
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup sour cream optional
- Preheat the oven to 160C/320F.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan or a dutch oven on high. Add the diced lamb, salt, and pepper, and brown all sides while stirring for 3 minutes.
- Add the diced onion, pepper, carrot, potatoes, and garlic. Sauté them while stirring for 2-3 minutes until they are starting to caramelize. Add the paprika powder and combine everything.
- Pour in the red wine and reduce the heat to medium. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the lamb stock, bay leaf, rosemary, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir until well combined.
- Transfer everything from the pan to a casserole dish or simply put the dutch oven in the oven. Make sure the meat is fully submerged in liquid. Add additional stock if required.
- Cook for 3 1/2 hours. The lamb should be extremely tender by now.
- Let the goulash rest for 15 minutes, remove the bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- You can adjust the consistency with 1 tsp cornflour dissolved in warm water if you're after a thicker stew.
- Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a side of stewed potatoes. Enjoy!