Cooking lesson in Austria with Bianca Gusenbauer at Bianca Isst

[Recipe] Traditional Austrian Beef Goulash & Spaetzli

Beef Goulash. Is it Austrian or Hungarian?!

After having been to both countries and stayed with locals, I learnt that goulash is a shared dish between the 2 nations (kinda like how Aussies and Kiwis claim to have created the Pavlova) but Austrian Goulash is thicker like a stew and uses caraway seeds whereas Hungarian Goulash is like a soup. Both incredible!

My first beef goulash was with the lovely Austrian chef, economist and writer Bianca Gusenbauer at her Austrian cooking school in Vienna, Bianca Isst. Isst meaning is eating, in German. The Austrian cooking lesson (125 Euros) was the best thing I ever did in Austria.

She taught us so much about the socio-economic demographic division in Vienna, Austrian food culture, Austrian lingo, coffee culture and of course, how to cook the 2 most popular Austrian dishes – Beef Goulash and Apple Strudel. Anyway, let’s leave this incredible experience for another blog post.



Beef goulash and small spaetzli




Spaetzli Maker Equipment

Spaetzli is a simple egg noodle that the Austrians and Hungarians (and, Southern part of Germany, Munich/Bavaria) created. It is uncomplicated “poor-people food” simply due to the flexibility of the amounts of flour, eggs and milk used and those were ingredients the less fortunate could afford. The egg noodles will work – whether you have less flour or less eggs. It just will, I promise.

To make spaetzli, you can use:

  1. A chopping board and a knife – easy and roughly chopped. You just need to scrap fast, use that wrist power! Cheapest option as this will not require buying any new cooking equipment. You’ll probably yield bigger sized spaetzli and that’s perfectly fine. See picture below.
  2. A scraper and a metal plate with holes (looks just like a cheese grater)
  3. A proper metal spaetzli maker

Tip: If you’re going to Hungary, buy it there. Mine was ridiculously cheap. I got it for 3 Euros compared to the one I was looking at in Austrian for 30-70 Euros. I got it at the Budapest Great Market Hall (underground near Aldi).



Spaetzli egg noodles roughly chopped


Serves: 8
Prep time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Cooking time: 2 hours

Goulash Ingredients:

  • 2 kg beef (oyster blade), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 kg brown onions, sliced thinly (crazy I know, just do it)
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 700ml water
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 tsp caraway seeds – this makes it an Austrian goulash!!
  • 5-6 tbsp sweet paprika powder
  • White vinegar, just a splash (3 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp marjoram (optional)
  • 3 tbsp chilli flakes (optional)

Spaetzli Ingredients:

  • 500 g plain flour
  • 5 eggs
  • Milk (approximately 200 ml)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Butter
  • Cooking equipment: Spaetzli strainer or chopping board or scrapper

Goulash Method:

  1. Sauteed onions in a pot with olive oil until caramelised (be patient, the caramelising process brings out the sweetness and fragrance of the onions). When the onions are past the translucent stage, stir in the paprika powder and continue to sauteed until onions are caramelised. Add a splash of white vinegar and 200ml of water and mix together evenly.
  2. Blend the onion mixture. This is important as it will help thicken the goulash later, without having to use any flour or thickening agent. Onions are natural thickening agent!
  3. Put the beef pieces into the onion mixture in the pot. Add tomato puree, garlic, caraway seeds, marjoram, chilli flakes and 2 tsp of salt. Add the rest of the water until the meat is well-covered.
  4. Allow the meat and onion mixture to simmer gently, on a low flame, until the meat is soft. The meat should be really tender and pull apart when poked with a fork. This part will take about 2 hours.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Add more chilli flakes, if desired.
  6. Don’t worry if it’s saltier than you would normally have – you’ll be serving this with spaetzli which will be more plain and therefore, help balance the saltiness of this dish.

Spaetzli Method:

  1. In a bowl, mix plain flour and eggs. Relax, even if you have 4 eggs or 400g plain flour, this recipe will work.
  2. Gradually, add the milk and continue mixing until the spaetzli dough reflects a slightly thicker pancake batter.
  3. In a pot, boil water and add 2 tbsp of salt. Unlike normal Italian pasta, the water does not have to be boiling, just continuously hot will do.
  4. Cut the spaetzli dough or use a spaetzli strainer to put the dough into the hot water.
  5. Stir continuously to prevent the spaetzli egg noodles from sticking to each other. When they’re cooked, they will float to the surface.
  6. Scoop up the spaetzli egg noodles and add a few knobs of butter, again to prevent the spaetzli egg noodles from sticking to each other.
  7. Lightly season with salt.
  8. Serve spaetzli egg noodles hot with beef goulash.


Generation Kitchen