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What side dishes go with goulash?

Goulash is a popular Hungarian stew typically made with beef, onions, paprika, and vegetables. While the hearty stew can stand alone as a meal, pairing it with complementary side dishes can take the flavor profile to the next level. So what are the best side dishes to serve with goulash?


A crusty bread is one of the most classic accompaniments for goulash. The bread can be used to soak up the rich, savory sauce. French bread, ciabatta, focaccia, and rolls are all excellent options. For an extra flavor boost, rub the bread with a cut garlic clove before serving. The garlic complements the paprika and other spices in the goulash.


Potatoes pair perfectly with the heartiness of goulash. Mashed, boiled, baked, or roasted potatoes all make great options. For mashed potatoes, try adding sour cream, cheese, or caramelized onions to complement the goulash. Boiled new potatoes tossed in parsley or dill are a simple side. Crispy roasted potatoes add texture contrast. Potatoes soak up the goulash sauce deliciously.


Spaetzle are tiny German egg noodles that are a traditional pairing for goulash throughout Eastern Europe. The soft, chewy texture of the noodles contrasts nicely with the meat and vegetables in the stew. Spaetzle is commonly tossed in butter or cheese for extra richness. The noodles can also be flavored with herbs and spices like parsley, chives, pepper, and nutmeg.


In addition to spaetzle, other types of dumplings pair excellently with goulash as well. Try serving your goulash with bread dumplings, potato dumplings, or even gnocchi. The soft doughiness of dumplings soaks up the goulash sauce for delicious flavor. Dumplings also add comforting heartiness, which is perfect for cooler weather meals.


As a classic German and Hungarian side dish, sauerkraut makes a tangy accompaniment to goulash. The fermented cabbage provides a nice contrast to the rich stew. The acidic crispness cuts through and balances the fattiness. Drain and rinse the sauerkraut before serving to reduce some of the saltiness. Caraway seeds are a customary seasoning for sauerkraut as the anise flavor pairs well with pork.

Green Salad

For a lighter complement, a green salad tossed in a vinaigrette is a great option. The fresh veggies and acidity from the dressing help cut through the hearty richness of the goulash. Opt for sturdy lettuces like romaine, kale, or spinach that won’t wilt under the warm stew. You can also add shredded cabbage, cherry tomatoes, and other vegetables to the mix.


Another salad option is a creamy coleslaw made from shredded cabbage, carrots, onion, and a mayonnaise-based dressing. Coleslaw is a staple side dish in Hungarian cuisine. The cool crunch of the veggies balances the heartiness of the goulash. The hint of sweetness in the cabbage also complements the paprika. Customize your coleslaw with different vegetables like bell pepper or radish.

Cucumber Salad

A cucumber salad is a refreshing, lighter side for goulash. A sliced cucumber salad tossed in vinegar, sour cream, dill, and salt is a classic Hungarian recipe. Other simple additions include red onion, tomato, and parsley. The cooling cucumber and acidic dressing cut through the richness of the stew.

Roasted Vegetables

Don’t forget the vegetables! Roast up a medley of vegetables like carrots, parsnips, zucchini, peppers, or Brussels sprouts to accompany your goulash. Roasted veggies match the deep, savory flavors. Toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, and other spices for maximum flavor. Roast at high heat until caramelized on the outside.

Paprika Potatoes

For a show-stopping side dish, whip up paprika potatoes. Dice potatoes into 1-inch cubes, toss with olive oil and plenty of paprika, and roast at high heat until crispy outside and fluffy inside. The potatoes take on the smoky sweetness from the paprika that mimics the goulash seasoning. Garnish with fresh parsley.


Spätzle are tiny German egg noodles that are a traditional pairing for goulash throughout Eastern Europe. The soft, chewy texture of the noodles contrasts nicely with the meat and vegetables in the stew. Spätzle is commonly tossed in butter or cheese for extra richness. The noodles can also be flavored with herbs and spices like parsley, chives, pepper, and nutmeg.


Kluski are Polish-style egg noodles that make an excellent match for goulash. Also known as Polish dumplings, these thick, dense noodles have a similar chewy texture to spätzle. Boil the kluski and then toss them in melted butter or olive oil to coat. The noodle’s doughy texture soaks up the goulash sauce perfectly.


Hearty barley is a satisfying accompaniment for goulash. Barley’s earthy flavor and chewy texture complements the stew nicely. Prepare barley according to package directions, then toss it in olive oil, salt, and pepper. For extra flavor, cook the barley in broth or use a risotto-style method by stirring in ladlefuls of the goulash as the barley cooks.


Creamy, comforting polenta is an ideal match for goulash. The coarse cornmeal takes on flavors easily, integrating deliciously with the stew flavors. Prepare polenta by whisking cornmeal into simmering broth or water until thickened. Stir in butter and Parmesan or Gouda cheese for extra creaminess. The texture opposites of creamy polenta and chunky goulash pair together perfectly.


For a lower-carb option, try roasted cauliflower florets. The cauliflower roasts up crispy on the outside and tender inside, contrasting with the stew’s texture. Toss the cauliflower in olive oil, cumin, paprika, and salt before roasting to complement the goulash spices. Roasted cauliflower soaks up the rich sauce deliciously.

Brussels Sprouts

For another vegetable choice, serve up roasted or sautéed Brussels sprouts as your side dish. Brussels sprouts caramelize beautifully when roasted, playing off the deep browned flavors in the goulash. Toss the sprouts in mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic before roasting. The vinegar’s slight acidity balances the richness of the stew.

Green Beans

Fresh green beans drizzled with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice make a light, veggie-focused side for goulash. Blanch the green beans briefly in boiling water before tossing them in the simple seasoning blend. The crisp-tender beans contrast with the tender meat and softened vegetables in the stew.

Rice Pilaf

Simple rice pilaf is a versatile choice that works well with many dishes. Cook the rice in broth rather than water for deeper flavor. Once cooked, mix in diced onions, carrots, peas, parsley, and spices like paprika or garlic. The rice soaks up flavors from the stew while adding texture contrast.


Egg noodles, fettuccine, or pappardelle pair nicely with goulash as they soak up the rich stew sauce. Boil until al dente, then toss the noodles with a bit of olive oil or butter. Noodles add a comforting element and cozy carbohydrate to balance the meal. Consider whole grain or veggie-based noodles for extra nutrients.


When creating the full meal, aim for a mix of textures and flavors that complement the goulash stew. Crispy, hearty, acidic, creamy, and fresh are all great qualities to look for. Consider lighter sides earlier in the meal to save room for enjoying the goulash stew as the main event. With the myriad of excellent options available, you’re sure to find the perfect pairing.