What to Serve with Goulash: 11 Tasty Side Ideas

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Goulash is a traditional Hungarian stew with meat, tomatoes, bell peppers, and paprika.  Hungarian shepherds first started making versions of this stew as far back as the 9th century.  Since that time, its popularity has spread to other European countries, many of which have added their own twist to the meal.  If you’ve never made, or even eaten, goulash before, you may feel stuck selecting the right sides to serve with this stew.  Continue reading to learn some delicious ideas for what to serve with goulash.

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What is Goulash?

As mentioned above, the origins of goulash go as far back as the 9th century.  Hungarian shepherds first made this stew by slow-cooking pieces of meat with vegetables (primarily onions).  They’d continue cooking the meat until all the liquid was absorbed, then dry it in the sun.  After this, the dried stew was placed into special bags (made from the stomachs of sheep).  The shepherds would bring the bags of stew with them, and when it was time to eat they’d simply need to add water to the contents of the bag to create a ready-to-eat stew.

Since its beginnings, goulash has continued to be a popular dish in Hungary.  In fact, today, it is even one of the country’s national dishes and is often used as a symbol for Hungary.  Today’s Hungarian goulash is typically made with beef, tomatoes, peppers, and paprika.  Other vegetables, potatoes, and other seasonings may also be used when making the dish.  Over time, goulash’s popularity spread to other European countries, particularly those in Central Europe.  While beef is most commonly used to make goulash, other meats such as pork, turkey, or chicken may also be used.

What Goes with Goulash?

Now that you know a little more about what goulash is, the next step is to decide what you’d like to eat with your goulash.  There are actually quite a few delicious options to consider:  from breads or biscuits to soak up the delicious sauce in the bowl, to traditional Hungarian sides or healthy roast vegetables.  The right choice for you will really depend on what you feel like, whether you’re looking for something on the healthier side, and who else will be enjoying the meal with you.  

What to serve with goulash

What to Serve with Goulash

Ready to discover the perfect side dish to pair with your goulash stew?  There certainly are some tasty choices you may choose to serve alongside this traditional Hungarian meal.  Some of the possible side dishes for goulash to consider include:

  1. Cabbage Rolls
  2. Cornbread
  3. Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  4. Buttered Noodles
  5. Potato Pancakes
  6. Biscuits
  7. Spaetzle Dumplings
  8. Fresh-Baked Bread
  9. Rice Pilaf
  10. Mashed Potatoes
  11. Side Salad

Cabbage Rolls

If you’re looking for the perfect goulash side dish, try cabbage rolls.  In addition to how well the flavors pair with those of goulash, you can also quickly whip up a batch using shredded cabbage and ground beef.  Then, just fry your rolls in butter to get them ready to serve with your goulash.  To add an extra touch to the meal, consider making a special sour cream sauce for your cabbage rolls.


What do you serve with goulash?  Why not consider cornbread?  Cornbread is loved by nearly everyone and will taste absolutely delicious with your homemade goulash.  Having some cornbread available when eating goulash will also come in handy when you get to the bottom of the bowl.  

Rather than wasting all that delicious sauce or trying to scrape it out, not so effectively, with a spoon, rub a piece of cornbread along the bowl to soak it up.  Plus, the combination of the flavors of the cornbread and goulash will be just heavenly.

What to serve with goulash

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Looking for something tasty, but not too high in calories?  Brussels sprouts are an ideal choice.  With all the different options for cooking brussels sprouts,  from roasting to sautéing, to steaming, you can find a recipe that everyone will enjoy.  The robust flavor of the brussels sprouts will taste great alongside the meat, tomato, and paprika flavor of the goulash.

Potato Pancakes

Potato pancakes are one of the other goulash side dishes you might want to try.  A crispy and flavorful potato pancake paired with a bite of goulash will make your mouth sing.  The contrasting, yet complimentary flavors of the potato pancake and tomato and paprika broth of the goulash will be enough to keep you and all of your guests reaching for second, or even third, helpings.  

Potato pancakes are relatively easy to make; simply grate potatoes and onions, and add eggs, salt, and pepper.  Pan fry the patties in hot oil until they’re golden brown and ready to enjoy.  You may also want to offer some applesauce or sour cream on the side for people to enjoy with their potato pancakes.


Biscuits are another great option to consider.  Like cornbread, they can be used to help soak up all the sauce and broth in the bottom of the bowl, making sure nothing gets wasted.  Whether you make your own biscuits, buy refrigerated, ready-to-bake biscuits, or purchase biscuits from the store or a local bakery, they are sure to be a tasty pairing for the meal.

You could even consider making a variation of goulash.  Rather than baking the biscuits separately in the oven, place your cooked goulash in an oven-safe pan and add drop the biscuit dough right on top.  Then, bake it all together for about 20 to 25 minutes.  To serve, scoop out a biscuit along with some stew.  Yum!

Spaetzle Dumplings

If you want a more traditional accompaniment to beef goulash, try spaetzle dumplings.  Spaetzle dumplings are popular in many European countries, including Hungary, where goulash originated from.  Spaetzle dumplings are made using eggs, flour, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  The same ingredients can also be used to make spaetzle noodles, you’ll just need to add some extra flour for a clumpier-looking batter.  If you’d prefer to cut down your prep time, look for a pre-made spaetzle mix.

Once prepared, the spaetzle dumplings can be added to the goulash.  They’ll soak up the sauce and create a flavor combination that won’t disappoint your taste buds.

What to serve with goulash

Fresh-Baked Bread

Can you really go wrong adding fresh-baked bread to any meal?  Well, you certainly can’t go wrong pairing a loaf of bread with your goulash stew.  Dip the bread in the goulash, break it up and add it to the stew to enjoy a taste with every bite, or even just eat it separately with some butter on it, it’ll all taste good.  Since goulash has a soupy consistency, many individuals like saving some of their bread for the end of the bowl; it can really help make sure that none of the tasty stew on the bottom of the bowl gets wasted.

While you can grab a loaf of bread at the grocery store, making your own in the oven or with a bread maker isn’t difficult at all.  Nothing beats the taste of hot, fresh bread.  If you’re really looking to impress your dinner guests with your goulash meal, consider getting a new bread maker to make this fresh and tasty side possible.

Buttered Noodles

Buttered noodles are one of the top easy side dishes with goulash.  Either eat the noodles on the side or ladle the goulash stew directly over them.  Adding noodles to goulash can make the hearty soup even more filling and perfect for a cold winter night.    

Noodles are very simple to make.  Simply cook them in boiling water for a few minutes, and they’ll be ready to eat.  You can even make extras to serve with your leftover goulash.  In addition to using traditional egg noodles, you may also want to consider making your own batch of spaetzle noodles.  These will be a bit more work, but can be a great choice if you are looking to create a traditional Hungarian dining experience.

What to serve with goulash

Rice Pilaf

Rice pilaf also pairs well with goulash.  Depending on the preferences of each person sitting at the table, they can choose to eat it on its own or may even want to mix it in with their stew.

While you could serve just a plain white or brown rice with goulash too, choosing rice pilaf will make the meal more interesting.  Rice pilaf is more flavorful; it is sautéed with aromatics and then cooked in broth, as opposed to plain water.  These added flavors will help enhance the taste of your goulash.

Mashed Potatoes

If you made a spicier goulash, you may want to find a more mild side dish that can help to neutralize the spice a bit.  Mashed potatoes are ideal for this purpose.  Pairing a bite of goulash with a scoop of mashed potatoes can cut the spice and also help bring out the other flavors in the stew.  Plus, the mashed potatoes have the perfect consistency and texture to absorb all the delicious gravy and soup from the goulash.

You can easily prepare a batch of mashed potatoes shortly before you’re ready to serve the goulash.  Simply peel and chunk the potatoes and place them in a large pot of water.  Boil them until they become fork tender.  Then, use a hand mixer to mash up the potatoes and mix in butter, milk, and any other seasonings you’d like.

What to serve with goulash

Side Salad

A side salad is a healthy and easy complement to nearly any meal.  Serving a side salad along with your goulash is no different.  Chop up some lettuce and add some fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots.  You could purchase dressings, or keep things simple by preparing your own by combining equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Solved: What to Serve with Goulash?

As you can see, there truly are some really great side dishes you can serve with your goulash.  Consider whether you’re looking for a heartier meal, where bread, biscuits, or butter noodles may seem more fitting, or if you want to stay on the lighter side with something like potato pancakes, cabbage rolls, or brussels sprouts.  

What’s it going to be?  Which side is calling your name?  If too many sound appealing, don’t worry; you can always make goulash again in a few weeks to try something new with it!


What nationality eats goulash?

Goulash is a traditional Hungarian stew.  It is also popular in other European countries, especially those in Central Europe.