Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Learn How to Make Székely Gulyás: An Evolved Recipe of a Hungarian Delight

Published: December 28, 2023
Székely Gulyás is a savory Hungarian dish featuring pork and sauerkraut, enriched with spices like paprika and caraway seeds, and often served with a dollop of sour cream. (Image: Manos Angelakis)

Over half a century ago, when I began my culinary adventures, I adopted a simple philosophy: if a little of something tastes good, more must be better. This approach led me to generously use aromatics like onions, garlic, oregano, and a variety of spices in my cooking.

Whether I was in my basement apartment on Onslow Gardens in London, my attic in Rue Blanche, Paris, or my single-bedroom on Mott Street in New York, the rich aromas of my cooking would waft through the corridors. Back then, I believed many recipes were overly cautious with seasonings, so I boldly doubled the spices, often resulting in bold and beautifully flavored dishes.

A plethora of hearty flavors

However, I learned that more isn’t always better, as exemplified by my early tzatziki experiments, where an entire raw head of garlic proved to be excessive. My wife’s playful banishment of me to sleep facing the wall taught me that sometimes, a couple of large cloves of garlic are sufficient. My current cooking style has evolved, favoring subtlety and high-quality ingredients, though I still enjoy a generous use of certain spices like Chilean merquén, Egyptian mint, and tart Turkish sumac.

(Image: Manos Angelakis/Luxury Web)

Through my culinary travels, I’ve collected and frequently cooked a number of cherished recipes. One such favorite is Székely Gulyás, a pork and sauerkraut dish. I learned the basic recipe from András Hernádi, the former executive chef at the Hungarian Consulate in New York City.

Contrary to what its name might suggest, this dish isn’t a traditional goulash nor does it originate from the Székler ethnic group of Transylvania. It was named after a Hungarian bureaucrat, Székely, who improvised this dish with available ingredients at the Arany Ökör Inn in Budapest.

Tradition with a twist

The recipe I follow differs slightly from the original. I prefer pork loin over leg or shoulder and spice it with both sweet paprika and spicy pimentón de la Vera from Spain. This dish pairs wonderfully with egg noodles, Knedlíky dumplings, or rice cooked in chicken stock, offering a delightful and slightly spicier version of the consulate’s recipe.

I’ve encountered other variations of Székely Gulyás, each with its unique twist. Some include poppy seeds and sweet paprika, while others incorporate spicy paprika with tomato paste or crushed juniper berries. There’s even a version using pork sausage and smoked salty meat instead of pork shoulder.

Refined Székely Gulyás Recipe


  • 1.5 lbs pork (original recipe calls for leg or shoulder, but pork loin is used here)
  • 1/3 lb bacon
  • 2 lbs sauerkraut
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp crushed caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp spicy smoked paprika (pimentón de la Vera)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preparation:
    • Dice the pork into ¾ inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Finely dice the bacon, onion, and garlic.
    • Rinse the sauerkraut under cold water for at least 3 minutes and drain well.
  2. Cooking the Bacon:
    • Sauté the bacon in a skillet without any oil until crisp. Then remove and set aside on a paper towel to drain excess fat.
  3. Sautéing Aromatics:
    • Using the remaining bacon fat in the skillet, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant.
  4. Combining Ingredients:
    • Take the skillet off the heat. Add the pork, sweet paprika, spicy smoked paprika, and crushed caraway seeds. Return to a medium/low heat, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a small amount of water if necessary to prevent sticking.
  5. Adding Sauerkraut:
    • Add the sauerkraut to the skillet along with enough water to cover the meat and sauerkraut. Simmer until the meat is tender, making sure the liquid doesn’t completely evaporate.
  6. Thickening the Sauce:
    • Mix the flour with a small amount of water to make a smooth paste. Stir in half of the sour cream and blend well. Add this mixture to the skillet to thicken the sauce.
  7. Final Assembly:
    • Arrange the cooked pork and sauerkraut on a warm serving dish. Pour the remaining sour cream over the dish and sprinkle with the reserved crispy bacon.

Serving Suggestions: Serve this Székely Gulyás over egg noodles, Knedlíky dumplings, or rice cooked in chicken stock, according to your preference.

Whichever variation you choose, Székely Gulyás promises a delightful culinary experience that is sure to delight your palate!