How To Make Goulash In Crock Pot [COMPLETE GUIDE]

Goulash, a traditional Hungarian stew, is a hearty and flavorful dish that has gained popularity worldwide. Its rich and robust flavor makes it a comforting meal, perfect for cozy evenings. Making goulash in a crock pot offers a convenient and time-saving approach, allowing for the slow infusion of flavors and tenderization of the ingredients. This article provides an in-depth guide on how to make delicious goulash in a crock pot, including the selection of ingredients, preparation techniques, cooking times, troubleshooting common issues, and more.

Quick Answer: How Long To Make Goulash In Crock Pot

Making goulash in a crock pot typically takes 6 to 8 hours on the low setting or 3 to 4 hours on the high setting. The extended cooking time on low heat allows the flavors to meld and the meat to become tender, resulting in a deeply satisfying dish.



Selecting the right cut of meat is crucial for a flavorful goulash. Opt for cuts with a good marbling of fat, such as chuck, shoulder, or round. These cuts are perfect for slow cooking as they become succulent and tender, infusing the dish with a rich meaty flavor.


Onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes are essential components of goulash. Choose ripe, firm, and fresh vegetables to enhance the depth of flavor.


Paprika is the star spice in goulash, and using high-quality Hungarian sweet paprika will elevate the dish. Additionally, caraway seeds, garlic, and bay leaves are common spices complementing the paprika. Ensure your spices are fresh to fully enhance the aroma and flavor of the goulash.


Meat Preparation

Trim excess fat from the meat and cut it into bite-sized chunks. Season the meat with salt and pepper, and lightly dredge it in flour to facilitate browning and thicken the sauce as it cooks.

Vegetable Preparation

Chop the onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes into uniform pieces. The onions should be finely diced to allow them to melt into the sauce, while the bell peppers and tomatoes add texture and brightness to the goulash.


Finely mince the garlic and have the bay leaves, caraway seeds, and paprika ready for the cooking process.

Crock Pot Cooking Times For Goulash

Low Setting

Cooking goulash on the low setting in a crock pot typically takes 6 to 8 hours. This extended cooking time allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a richer and more developed taste. It also allows the meat to become tender and succulent.

High Setting

When cooking on the high setting, goulash usually takes 3 to 4 hours. While this setting reduces the required cooking time, the flavors may not have the same depth and complexity as those achieved through slow cooking on the low setting. However, it is still a viable option for those with time constraints.

How To Make Goulash In Crock Pot

  1. Brown the Meat: In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the seasoned and floured meat in batches, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan. This step adds depth and richness to the goulash by creating a Maillard reaction on the meat’s surface.

  2. Build the Base: Transfer the browned meat to the crock pot and layer the onions and bell peppers on top. Add the minced garlic, caraway seeds, and bay leaves for aromatic depth.

  3. Paprika Infusion: Sprinkle the Hungarian sweet paprika over the ingredients, ensuring even distribution. The paprika will lend its vibrant color and distinct flavor to the goulash as it cooks.

  4. Tomato Addition: Place the chopped tomatoes on top of the paprika layer, ensuring they distribute evenly throughout the dish.

  5. Liquid Inclusion: Pour in the beef broth or stock to create a rich and savory base for the goulash. The liquid will ensure the slow and even cooking of the ingredients, allowing for the development of a luscious sauce.

  6. Slow Cooking: Set the crock pot to the desired setting—low for a longer, more developed flavor, or high for a quicker option. Cover the crock pot and resist the urge to lift the lid during the cooking process to maintain a consistent temperature and preserve the flavors.

  7. Adjust Seasoning: Before serving, taste the goulash and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and ensure the meat is tender and the vegetables are perfectly cooked.

  8. Serve and Enjoy: Ladle the goulash into bowls and pair it with your choice of accompaniments, such as crusty bread, rice, or buttered noodles.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Dry Goulash

If the goulash turns out dry, it may be due to insufficient liquid or overcooking. To remedy this, add a small amount of additional broth or water and adjust the seasoning to balance the flavors.

Lack Of Flavor

In the unfortunate event of a lack of flavor, it is essential to reassess the quality and freshness of the spices used. Additionally, increasing the seasoning levels slightly and allowing the goulash to simmer for an additional 30 minutes can help intensify the flavors.

Tough Meat

If the meat does not reach the desired level of tenderness, it may be due to using a leaner cut of meat or insufficient cooking time. To rectify this, extend the cooking time on the low setting and ensure the meat is simmering gently in the flavorful liquid.

Making goulash in a crock pot is a convenient and rewarding process that yields a dish packed with rich, aromatic flavors. By carefully selecting high-quality ingredients, properly preparing the meat and vegetables, and allowing the crock pot to work its magic, you can create a comforting and delicious goulash that is sure to impress. Whether it’s a cozy family dinner or a gathering with friends, goulash made in a crock pot is a versatile and satisfying dish that will leave everyone craving more. Embrace the slow-cooking process, savor the aromas, and enjoy the heartwarming experience of making and indulging in this classic stew.

Achieving Perfect Texture

Goulash, a traditional Hungarian dish, is a hearty and flavorful stew that combines tender chunks of meat with a rich and savory sauce. While traditionally cooked on the stovetop or in an oven, goulash can also be prepared in a crock pot, making it even more convenient and effortless to create this delectable dish.

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Cooking goulash in a crock pot has its advantages. It allows you to slow-cook the ingredients, ensuring that the meat becomes tender and the flavors develop to their fullest potential. Additionally, the crock pot creates a hands-off cooking experience, allowing you to effortlessly prepare a delicious meal while attending to other tasks.

To make the perfect goulash in a crock pot, there are a few key factors to consider. Achieving the desired texture, infusing the flavors, and creating an enticing aroma are essential elements that contribute to the overall success of the dish. Additionally, understanding the various cooking techniques and implementing useful crock pot tips can further enhance your goulash-making skills.

One crucial aspect of a well-executed goulash is achieving the perfect texture. The meat should be tender and melt-in-your-mouth, while the vegetables retain some firmness to provide a pleasant contrast.

To achieve the desired texture, it is vital to select the right cut of meat. Traditionally, goulash is made with tough cuts of beef, such as chuck or round. These cuts have more connective tissue, which breaks down during the slow-cooking process, resulting in tender meat. When preparing goulash in a crock pot, you can also opt for other meats like pork, lamb, or even chicken, depending on your preferences.

Before adding the meat to the crock pot, it is crucial to sear it. Searing helps to enhance the flavor and texture by forming a crust on the meat, which helps to lock in moisture. Heat a skillet with a small amount of oil over medium-high heat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season it with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the skillet and cook for a few minutes on each side until nicely browned. Transfer the seared meat to the crock pot, making sure to scrape any flavorful brown bits from the bottom of the skillet and add them to the pot as well.

Another key element to achieving the perfect texture is to avoid overcooking the meat. While the crock pot allows for long, slow cooking, it is essential not to exceed the recommended cooking time. Overcooking can lead to dry and tough meat. Refer to the recipe guidelines or consider using a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat reaches the desired doneness without overcooking.

Flavor Infusion

Flavor plays a pivotal role in any dish, and goulash is no exception. The combination of spices, herbs, and other ingredients creates a robust and aromatic base for the stew.

Paprika is the star spice in goulash, adding a deep red color and a slightly smoky flavor. Hungarian sweet paprika is the traditional choice, but other varieties like smoked or spicy paprika can be used for variations in flavor. Add the paprika to the dish early in the cooking process to allow its flavors to meld with the other ingredients.

Apart from paprika, various herbs and seasonings can be added to further enhance the flavor profile of your goulash. Common additions include garlic, onion, caraway seeds, bay leaves, and thyme. These ingredients provide depth and complexity to the dish, complementing the richness of the meat and the sweetness of the paprika.

To ensure that the flavors are well-distributed throughout the goulash, it is essential to sauté the onions and garlic before adding them to the crock pot. Sautéing helps to release their aromas and brings out their natural sweetness. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet and cook the onions and garlic over medium heat until softened and translucent. This step adds an extra layer of flavor to your goulash.


The aroma of a dish can evoke memories and anticipation, making it a crucial aspect of the overall dining experience. When cooking goulash in a crock pot, the aroma that fills your kitchen as it simmers is truly enticing.

To enhance the aroma of your goulash, consider adding a variety of ingredients. Apart from the spices and herbs mentioned earlier, you can include vegetables like bell peppers and carrots. These vegetables not only add flavor but also contribute to the overall aroma of the dish. The combination of simmering meat, vegetables, and spices creates a captivating scent that is sure to make your mouth water.

Cooking Techniques

While the crock pot is known for its slow-cooking capabilities, there are a few additional techniques that can be employed to further enhance the flavors and textures of your goulash.

Layering the ingredients is an essential technique when cooking goulash in a crock pot. Start by adding a layer of onions and garlic at the bottom of the pot. Next, add the seared meat, ensuring it is evenly distributed. Layer the vegetables and herbs on top of the meat, and finally, sprinkle the paprika and other spices over the vegetables. This layering technique allows the flavors to mingle as the stew cooks, resulting in a well-balanced dish.

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To prevent the goulash from becoming too watery, it can be helpful to thicken the sauce. Towards the end of the cooking time, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water until smooth, and pour it into the crock pot. Stir well to incorporate the thickening agent into the sauce, and continue cooking for an additional 15-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Additionally, if you prefer a richer and creamier goulash, you can stir in a dollop of sour cream or heavy cream at the end of the cooking process. The cream adds a luxurious touch and enhances the overall flavor profile of the dish.

Crock Pot Tips For Goulash

To ensure a successful goulash-making experience using a crock pot, here are some useful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Choose the right size crock pot: Ensure that your crock pot is large enough to accommodate all the ingredients comfortably. Overcrowding can affect the cooking time and result in unevenly cooked goulash.

  2. Use low heat for slow cooking: Goulash is best cooked on low heat to allow the flavors to develop and the meat to become tender. Avoid using high heat, as it can cause the meat to become tough.

  3. Resist the temptation to lift the lid: It can be tempting to check on the progress of your goulash, but lifting the lid can lead to a significant loss of heat. This can increase the cooking time and negatively impact the final results. Trust the slow-cooking process and let the crock pot work its magic.

  4. Adjust seasonings towards the end: It is advisable to taste and adjust the seasonings of your goulash towards the end of the cooking time. This allows you to add more salt, pepper, or any other spices as needed to suit your personal taste.

  5. Allow for resting time: After the goulash is done cooking, it is essential to let it rest for a few minutes. This allows the flavors to further meld together and ensures a more enjoyable eating experience.

Creative Crock Pot Goulash Recipes

While traditional goulash is undoubtedly delicious, there is room for creativity and experimentation when making it in a crock pot. Here are a few exciting crock pot goulash recipe variations to try:

  1. Beef and Mushroom Goulash: Replace some of the vegetables with a generous amount of sliced mushrooms. The earthiness of the mushrooms pairs beautifully with the paprika and creates a unique twist on the classic goulash.

  2. Vegetarian Goulash: Skip the meat and focus on an assortment of vegetables for a hearty and satisfying vegetarian version. Include ingredients like potatoes, butternut squash, and bell peppers to create a robust and flavorful stew.

  3. Goulash with Dumplings: Prepare dumplings separately and serve them alongside the goulash. The soft and pillowy dumplings soak up the flavors of the stew, adding another layer of texture and taste.

  4. Spicy Goulash: Add some heat to your goulash by incorporating spicy paprika or a dash of cayenne pepper. Adjust the level of spiciness according to your preference, keeping in mind that the flavors will mellow during the cooking process.


Cooking goulash in a crock pot allows you to create a flavorful and satisfying meal with minimal effort. By focusing on achieving the perfect texture, infusing the flavors, and creating an enticing aroma, you can master the art of making goulash in your crock pot.

Remember to give attention to searing the meat, layering the ingredients, and maintaining a slow-cooking process to achieve tender meat and well-developed flavors. Experiment with different variations and techniques to personalize your goulash, and don’t forget to savor the enticing aroma that fills your kitchen as it simmers away. With these tips and recipes at your disposal, you’ll be able to create a delectable crock pot goulash that will surely impress family and friends.


How Long Does It Take To Make Goulash In A Crock Pot?

The cooking time for goulash in a crock pot can range from 4-8 hours depending on the temperature setting you choose. It is recommended to cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours for optimal results.

Can I Use Ground Beef In My Crock Pot Goulash Recipe?

Yes, ground beef is a common ingredient in crock pot goulash recipes. However, some traditional goulash recipes call for stew meat or beef chuck roast, which can also be used in a crock pot.

What Spices Are Commonly Used In Crock Pot Goulash Recipes?

Paprika is the most common spice used in goulash recipes, along with garlic, onion, and caraway seeds. Some recipes may also call for bay leaves, thyme, or marjoram to add additional flavor.

What Type Of Noodles Should I Use With Crock Pot Goulash?

Egg noodles are the most traditional type of noodle used in goulash, but you can also use other types such as spaghetti or elbow macaroni. It is recommended to cook the noodles separately and add them to the crock pot during the last 30 minutes of cooking to prevent them from becoming too soft.

Can I Freeze Leftover Crock Pot Goulash?

Yes, leftover goulash can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and heat in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.