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Székely Gulyás is made with sauerkraut and sour cream. Some claim that Székely Gulyás means gypsy gulyás in Hungarian. This is not true. "Székely" refers to a Hungarian-speaking ethnic group from eastern Transylvania. Székely Land existed as a legal entity since medieval times. It became part of Romania in 1920, returned to Hungary in 1940 and was again attached to Romania in 1945. Székelys remain Hungarians to this day.

Székely gulyás is the fast track version of Hungarian Cabbage Rolls. The taste is very similar, but it only takes a fraction of time to prepare. I tend to use round steak, but veal steak or pork tenderloin cooks even faster. It is important that you trim off all the fat and the bones whatever meat is used.

"Székely" could have been my maiden name, had one of my great great great grandpas didn't change his name for Vári. His surname was Székely, lived in the Village of Vári, and he was a Protestant minister. He would hold the service in Vári and then ride over on his bicycle to the next village. Eventually people in the next village began to call him the "Vári pap" [the minister from Vári]. The name stuck. It stuck so well he changed his name legally and our family name became Vári. My oldest brother has the family records.

500 g lean round steak
1 onions, diced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 + 1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
2 cloves garlic
1-1/2 cups sauerkraut, drained
1 cup canned tomato, crushed
sour cream

• Remove fat and cut the meat to bite-sized chunks.
• In a large pot sauté the onions in 3 Tbsp olive oil until soft.
• Add the meat and sauté until golden brown.
• Remove from heat.
• Stir in salt, caraway seeds, 2 Tbsp paprika and garlic.
• Add 1 cup water and bring to slow boil.
• Cover pot and gently simmer for 1-1/2 hours.

• Add the sauerkraut and the tomatoes.
• Add boiling water (not cold) to not quite cover the cabbage.
• Put in the oven at 350F.
• Finish cooking in the oven (uncovered) for 1 more hour.

• Stir in 1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika.
• Let it cool and place in the fridge for overnight.
• Next day reheat Székely gulyás in the oven.
• Serve with rustic bread and sour cream.


  1. Very nice website. I like the stories that accompany the recipes. My family expects Szekely Gulyas every Christmas Eve, and this year I will use your recipe….except my children prefer mashed potatoes AND rustic bread. Thank you. Susan Kertesz

  2. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and to your family/ :-)

  3. I make something similar with pork and layer rice, and sauerkraut with the meat mixture..delicious
    I so appreciate your website and recipes. So many of these recipes are only passed on by word of mouth or demonstration. As a second generation Canadian Hungarian, I will print and pass on many of the dishes of my youth to my children and grand children. Zsuzsi

    1. Your version must be delicious Zsuzsi. It sounds like a fusion between szekelygulyas and szekelykapozta.

  4. Anonymous30.12.16

    Hi Zsuzsa, I can't wait to try this recipe. I found the story very interesting. My Grandparents and my father are from Vari. I have been there several times and found that I have relatives still there. I went to that church in the village which is very old. The next village is moozhoy(phonetic spelling, I can't remember how it is spelled in Hungarian). And ,of course, I was in Beregszasz. Happy New Year! Doug Mester

    1. OMG! this is the first time I truly regret not following the comments, as you may never see my response. I would LOVE to hear more about Vari. Ah well... I am really sorry. I have a second cousin who went to Vari last year to find out more but she couldn't find out any more than what we already already knew. Thanks for your comment, sometimes this whole Vari thing sounds more like a legend than truth.

  5. Anonymous30.3.17

    leave the bone in for added flavour. it can be discarded once the meal is cooked. should always use the bone and tendons etc.

    1. I don't remember the last time I saw a round steak with the bone in, but sure if you have beef bones by all means add it to the dish.




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