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An Easy Hungarian Goulash recipe with Paprika Souvenirs from Budapest

An Easy Hungarian Goulash recipe with Paprika Souvenirs from Budapest

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Souvenir Shop for Hungarian Paprika in Budapest, then use your paprika to make an Easy Hungarian Goulash recipe

red chili peppers hungary budapest

Paprika is a spice made from ground chili peppers.

Paprika is an ideal Hungarian souvenir— it’s cheap, available everywhere and weighs next to nothing, making it a cinch to toss in your suitcase. Think you can get paprika back home? (If you’re here just looking for the goulash recipe, scroll down!)

sweet paprika hungary souvenirReal Hungarian paprika sold in Hungary is nothing like the stuff you’ll find in the spice aisle of your grocery store– the freshness and potency of true Hungarian paprika blows away any supermarket brand. And this includes any imported brand that’s labelled “Hungarian”– it’s just not the same quality.

paprika from hungary souvenir central marketWhen visiting Budapest, authentic local paprika is not hard to find– you can even get it at the supermarket. But for the best prices and selection, head straight to Budapest’s Great Market Hall.

The Great Market Hall has stalls upon stalls of paprika– there is so much paprika that it can quickly get overwhelming. To navigate the market like a pro, just follow our paprika souvenir shopping tips.

Hungarian smoked paprika from Budapest

Although smoked paprika is traditionally Spanish, Hungarian producers have been coming out with their own versions in recent years. I love mixing a little smoked paprika in with hot and sweet versions for a deeper, rounder flavor.

1. First, narrow down your options by deciding what kind of paprika you want to buy. This could be a daunting task in and of itself– if you read the Wikipedia article on Hungarian paprika you’ll learn there are at least eight grades of Hungarian paprika alone. Or, you could skip the specifics (and difficult-to-pronounce Hungarian names) and just remember these three words– Sweet, Hot and Smoked.

2.  Next, figure out much paprika you really need. Paprika powder goes stale in about a year, so there’s no point in stocking up if your use will be limited to sprinkling on finished dishes. Because I planned to make several large batches of goulash this winter, I came home with three bags of hot and a one bag each of sweet and smoked.

souvenir paprika budapest hungary ceramic containers gift packaged

The quality of the ceramics vary, so check carefully for cracks and chips.

3.  Decide how you want your Paprika packaged. Simple, utilitarian bags of paprika are the cheapest souvenir option, but you can also buy your paprika packed in pretty ceramic jars.

souvenir paprika chili pepper ceramic containers from budapest hungary

My friend Amy’s souvenir pepper jars from Budapest look pretty on a shelf in her kitchen but are ornamental only– her paprika has been languishing in these jars, untouched, for several years.

These pepper jars were tempting– and a great buy if you have a place to display them. But if you’re going to put your paprika away in a cabinet, stick with a more basic shape or you might regret it when you try to fit these peppers onto your spice rack.

best souvenirs budapest4. If a plain bag of paprika is too boring to bring back as a gift, Budapest’s Great Market Hall has plenty of paprika gift pack sets. You can buy your paprika pre-bundled with a wooden spoon with a painted handle (perfect for stirring that goulash).

budapest souvenirs hungary

You’ll also find random souvenirs thrown into some of these gift sets. Can anyone explain to me what a wine stopper has to do with paprika?

Many of the paprika gift sets come with tiny wooden scoops. Cute, but I’m not sure how useful these little scoops are– I prefer to use measuring spoons (and can see the scoop ending up lost in my kitchen drawer).

5. If you’re planning to use your paprika for goulash, consider buying goulash paste as an alternative.

Goulash pastes are quickly gaining popularity because they keep longer than fresh, powdered paprika.

goulash paste hungarianThere are two different kinds of goulash paste, so make sure you know which one you’re buying (the vendors were all very helpful). One goulash paste is pretty much only used to make goulash, while a second goulash paste is used more like a condiment on sandwiches. I bought one of each. While I haven’t experimented with using the paste to make goulash yet, I can confirm the condiment version is excellent as a sandwich spread.

The final step– use your souvenir paprika back home to make this easy Hungarian goulash recipe.

There is nothing worse than bringing souvenir foods back home, putting them in a cupboard, then finding them years later, unused and stale (or expired). Fortunately, I can help you use up that souvenir paprika by sharing a super easy Hungarian goulash recipe that I’ve been making for years.

Purists take note: true Hungarian goulash is soup-like in consistency with lots of vegetables (and a lot more chopping). The version I make (from an Austrian chef) is more like a rich stew and the only vegetables are onions, making prep a snap.

Easy Hungarian Goulash (adapted from Kurt Gutenbrunner’s recipe)

Serves 4

2.5 pounds Beef Shin meat (trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes)
3 Spanish onions, finely diced
1.5 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika (or more if you love paprika)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Marjoram
1 pinch ground Caraway seeds
1 Bay leaf
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

sautee onions goulash

(Ed. note: do not try to save time by dicing the onions in food processor (as I once did)– they’ll get too wet and will never caramelize).

First, sauté the diced onions until caramelized, then add the garlic.

how to make goulashNext, add the ground caraway,

hot paprika goulash

Ed. Note: although the original recipe calls for only 1.5 Tbsp paprika, I add 3-4 total tablespoons. I use mostly hot paprika, but mix in some sweet and a little smoked.

the tomato paste, marjoram and the paprika and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Take care not to scorch the paprika.

cubed beef for goulashAdd the beef. Then add just enough water to cover the beef.

bay leaf for cooking goulashAdd the bay leaf and salt and pepper. Bring everything to a boil.

goulash cookingReduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for about an hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

easy goulash hungary soup The goulash is done when the meat is tender.

best hungarian goulashServe the goulash in bowls, with spaetzle on the side (wide egg noodles also work).

Unfortunately I haven’t tested out a vegetarian goulash version yet (do my vegetarian readers have any favorites?). For a meatless alternative, Hungarian paprika is also delicious sprinkled over deviled eggs.

[typography font=”Trocchi” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Pinterest-Friendly Images[/typography] [pinit size=”large”]

Do you have any favorite recipes using Hungarian paprika? Share in the comments below!

Want to read more posts about Budapest?

Shop the Festive Budapest Christmas market
The best Hungarian Treats and Snacks at the Budapest Christmas Market

All photos copyright 2014 by Souvenir Finder and may not be used without express permission.

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Marcia farkas

Monday 3rd of January 2022

Married to a hungarian who cant speak the language or have any living relies in budapest. Travelled there 3 years ago and I brought a cute little standing ceramic paprika jar. Sadly tonight I dropped it and it smashed 😢. Can't speak hungarian so their websites are out, just wondering if you know of where I can purchase another one. Marcia

Kristin Francis

Sunday 3rd of July 2022

Looks like you just have to make a return visit! I also bought those cute little jars :)

Thursday 26th of August 2021

Just stumbled across your recipe for Goulash. This is pretty much identical to how I make mine (which I got my recipe from an authentic German restaurant here in my home town years ago)! The 2 subtle differences are that I use 2 lbs. of beef and 1 lb. of pork and then I add 2-3 of the smaller size cans of sliced mushrooms along with the juices they come in. That's the only other vegetable I use other than the onion. Both of those items just add that awesome extra flavor and dimension to it while still keeping it a very simple yet amazing dish! Thanks for sharing!

Kristin Francis

Sunday 3rd of July 2022

Yum I can see how that would be extra good, thanks for sharing!

Wednesday 14th of October 2020

I put all ingredients in slow cooker, works great! Our favourite is to use moose meat, unbelievable taste! Very yummy, and tender!

Kristin Francis

Thursday 15th of April 2021

Never cooked with moose, but thanks for the tip! I've recently converted to the instant pot so I may update the recipes with another version.

Tuesday 18th of September 2018

Look for gulyas paste and paprika paste in international markets in your city! Use no more than 1tbls of the paprika paste in your dish or else it will overwhelm the taste!

Kristin Francis

Thursday 25th of October 2018

Thanks for the tip! I haven't experimented with the paste yet so good to know!

Wednesday 5th of September 2018

I just received lots of paprika from visitors from Hungary and googled to find this page. I received the paprika in forms of powder, paste, and in jars. Some is hot, some is smoked, etc. It's overwhelming, but I will try your recipe and try to find other recipes to use these wonderful Hungarian gifts.

Kristin Francis

Thursday 25th of October 2018

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I find myself tossing paprika on lots of things-- deviled eggs, chicken breasts, etc.