Goulash is the ultimate comfort food – it’s warm, hearty, and super flavorful. Traditional Hungarian Goulash is made by stewing beef with some vegetables in a thick sauce. There are several things to serve with and alongside goulash that can bring out the flavors, help cut the richness of the dish, and also provide a complete meal.
If you are looking for something that won’t overwhelm the goulash, try: mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, or even crusty bread. Other ideas to serve alongside that also help cut the richness, are: braised cabbage, roasted brussel sprouts, or a caesar salad.
What Gives Goulash Its Flavor?
Goulash is a hearty stew that gets its flavor from simmering: beef, vegetables, tomatoes, and broth together with the slightly smoky and sweet Hungarian paprika. Because it is simmered for a long time, the flavor profile is warm, earthy, rich and bold.
What Side Dishes to Serve with Goulash?
Even though goulash typically has meat and vegetables in it, it is still a good idea to serve it with something. Whether you are wanting something to sop up the rich broth, or perhaps something to cut the richness of the dish, finding something to serve with it is a good idea.
What Do You Serve with Goulash?
Typically, traditional Hungarian goulash is simply served with buttered egg noodles, or nothing at all. However, there are so many things you could serve with goulash. So, what should you serve with hearty meat and vegetable stew?
Start by thinking about if you are wanting a side dish, something to serve under the goulash (like rice, potatoes, or noodles) or something to help cut the richness of the stew. Let’s look at some delicious options you can make.
1. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes can be whipped up fairly quickly and easily. By seasoning the mashed potatoes simply, it will help not to interfere with the flavors of the goulash and will provide a nice base to absorb the liquid of the stew.
2. Braised Cabbage
Braised Cabbage is a wonderful dish to serve with goulash. It can be done on the stove or in the oven ahead of time, is not expensive, and it is tasty.
The braised cabbage will provide a nice vegetable that is brightened with the addition of vinegar, helping to cut the richness of the goulash. Follow these simple steps for oven braised cabbage:
- Core a whole cabbage and slice into large chunks.
- Add the cabbage and sliced onions to a casserole dish, along with: water, butter, caraway seeds, a little sugar, and splash of vinegar.
- Cover with foil and bake until cabbage is tender.
This humble braised cabbage dish will be delicious served with goulash.
3. Rice Pilaf
For a great starchy choice, serving a rice pilaf with your goulash is a great idea. By sautéing the uncooked rice in oil with some seasoning, you elevate plain boiled rice into rice pilaf.
Choose seasonings that will help enhance the goulash, such as: onion, garlic, cumin, and caraway. Stir in chopped parsley and toasted almond slivers to the finished rice pilaf for a delicious dish that can be served underneath or beside the goulash.
4. Fresh Garden Salad
Choosing a fresh and simple garden salad to serve alongside your goulash is a great idea. Salads can serve as a great side dish to help break up a heavy meal. Choosing salad ingredients that are in season, aren’t heavy, and served with a nice vinaigrette would work best.
5. Crusty Bread
Because goulash is a stew, having something to sop up the juices from the broth is a great idea. Whether you are baking your bread from scratch or simply choosing one from your local bakery, serving one that is crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside is a good idea.
6. Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts are good to serve with goulash, but when roasted, they pair even better. You can either core and finely shred the little cabbages, or simply slice in half before roasting them.
Drizzling the brussel sprouts with: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper before roasting will give them a bold flavor. The vinegar will provide a nice acidity to the meal. Try sprinkling on some parmesan cheese once they are done for a delicious addition.
7. Classic Caesar Salad
Serving a caesar salad to accompany your goulash would be a great idea. The briny, acidic, and creamy dressing made from: anchovies, garlic, egg yolk, oil, and lemon will provide a nice bright flavor contrast to the heavy goulash.
8. Buttered Egg Noodles
Buttered egg noodles are what is most commonly served with goulash. Egg noodles are small ribbons of pasta made from a pasta dough enriched with eggs.
They are easy to make: simply cook the dried noodles in boiling water, drain them once done, and then coat them with butter. It is that simple. The buttered egg noodles provide a great base to goulash and won’t conflict with the bold flavors of the stew.
Similar to buttered noodles, spaetzle is another great choice to serve with goulash. These little dumplings are made with flour, eggs, and milk and have a unique shape to them.
You can find spaetzle in some specialty grocery stores but they are also fun to make at home. While a large pot of salted water is coming to a boil, follow these steps:
- Mix together flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg together in a bowl.
- Take turns adding eggs and milk to the flour mixture until a soft dough is formed.
- Press the dough through a spaetzle maker (or metal colander) directly into the boiling water.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and continue this process until all the dough is cooked.
- Cook the spaetzle in some melted butter until coated, finish with salt and chopped parsley.
Spaetzle are commonly served with meat and gravy dishes and are traditional to German, Austrian, Hungarian, and other European cuisines.
Gnocchi is a soft and pillowy potato dumpling, perfectly matched to be served with goulash. You can find gnocchi in vacuum sealed packages in most grocery stores or you make these dumplings at home. They are simply a mixture of cooked potatoes, flour, and egg.
The gnocchi get their shape from a special tool, but you can certainly make them without one. Simply rolling out the dough and cutting little “nuggets” will work just fine. Taking only a few seconds to cook in boiling water, they can then be tossed in butter and served with goulash quickly.
11. Roasted Potatoes
Roasted potatoes offer a nice texture difference to the slow cooked vegetables and meat of goulash. Roasted until golden and crispy, potato rounds or wedges would make a great companion to serve with goulash.
Sauerkraut, whether you are making your own or purchasing from the store, is a tasty, briny, and fermented cabbage side dish. The vinegar used to ferment the cabbage offers a nice contrast to the heaviness of goulash and would be delicious served together. Look for a Bavarian style sauerkraut that has the flavor of caraway for an even better duo.
What’s the Best Side Dish for Goulash in this List?
It is important not to compete or contrast with the flavors from goulash when picking a side dish. Because goulash is such a traditional, comforting, and well-rounded stew it is best served with buttered egg noodles.
The humble noodle and simple flavor of the butter provide the perfect match to the rich, flavorful goulash. It is also an easy dish to make, and most people have egg noodles in their pantry.
Goulash may have been around for centuries, but not everyone has had the pleasure of enjoying it. If you are looking for some quick answers, here’s some more information about this delish dish!
What is the difference between Hungarian and American goulash?
There are two main types of goulash… Hungarian and American. Both have a similar flavor profile, being heavily seasoned with the use of paprika. American goulash stems from Hungarian goulash, which has been around for centuries.
Hungarian goulash may have slight variances to it, but a traditional one is a slow simmered stew, with: beef, lamb, or sometimes pork, onions, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, broth, and Hungarian paprika.
American goulash is a much quicker (and not so hearty) version, made with: ground beef, tomato sauce, and lots of paprika. Elbow noodles are usually cooked and mixed into the American classic.
What wine goes with goulash?
A nice full bodied and slightly acidic red wine, such as: Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, or Merlot would go best with the hearty goulash.
What cut of beef is best for goulash?
Using a lean, yet tender roast such as a chuck roast for goulash is the preferred cut of beef. Buying a whole roast and dicing it yourself will yield the best results, ensuring any extra fatty pieces are removed.
Summing It Up
Goulash is such a wholesome and hearty stew, especially enjoyed in the cold winter months. Because it is packed full with both meat and hearty vegetables, it doesn’t necessarily need a side dish to go with it.
However, serving one may be a good idea to help balance the meal. If you are looking to cut the richness try serving goulash with a caesar salad, braised cabbage, or even sauerkraut. Or, if you are wanting something to soak up all the brothy goodness, perhaps a traditional spaetzle, buttery egg noodles, or simply crusty bread will do the trick.