Vegetarian Goulash Recipe

When you think of goulash — that thick, rich, nourishing Hungarian stew — you likely think of a zesty blend of spices, a mix of chopped veggies, a hearty serving of starch, and of course, the meat. After you try a bite of this vegetarian take on the Eastern European classic, you'll quickly accept that great goulash was always more about the spices (and the onion and garlic and such) than the meat. As hard as it might be to believe, you really won't miss the meat thanks to the satisfying texture of the tempeh. Which, it turns out, is every bit as filling as meat, too.

And in more good news, not only is this vegetarian take on goulash tasty, it's also pretty easy when you follow the steps laid out by chef and recipe developer Jaime Shelbert of Wholly Nourished. If you can handle a bit of chopping, stirring, and simmering, then you will be able to handle this recipe. And once you've tried it, don't be surprised if it becomes a regular part of your household menu.   

Gather your ingredients to make vegetarian goulash

Add a little green salad to the side of a serving of this goulash and you'll have your food groups covered and your appetite satisfied. To prepare the dish, you'll need extra virgin olive oil, tempeh, a small diced onion, about a cup of red bell pepper, diced, minced cloves garlic, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, salt and pepper, a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce, a 14.5-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, cups vegetable broth, a bay leaf, two cups of elbow macaroni, and optionally, for serving, Parmesan and fresh basil.

"The texture is pretty similar [to regular goulash] thanks to the 'meatiness" of the tempeh," says Shelbert. "It however, does not taste like its ground beef goulash counterpart. Tempeh takes on the flavor of the dish in which it's cooked so lots of veggie and Italian seasonings flavor shining through in this one."

Sauté the tempeh and veggies

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Once the oil has warmed, add the tempeh, onion, and bell pepper, and sauté them for five minutes, until the veggies are softening and the tempeh browning. Now add the garlic, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir and sauté everything for one minute more — the garlic will just begin to grow fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and broth, then cook the pasta

Now it's time to add the can of tomato sauce, the can of diced tomatoes (with the liquid), the broth, and the bay leaf. Stir everything and raise the heat so you bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the ingredients for 10 minutes.

When that time has passed, return the goulash to a boil and add the macaroni. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to a low boil for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked. "One thing to watch for is boiling the macaroni at too high a heat," cautions Shelbert. "If the heat is too high the liquid will absorb too quickly leaving the macaroni undercooked. Boil the noodles at a low boil. You can always add more vegetable broth half cup at a time if overzealous boiling is an issue."

Serve and enjoy

Once the noodles are tender, the goulash is done. (And do remember you can also serve it over diced, cooked potatoes, which can cook in the goulash, or over rice, which you'll need to cook separately.)

It's a great idea to serve the goulash topped with Parmesan, fresh basil, and some red pepper for those who like spice, but of course do note adding the cheese steps this recipe from vegan over to merely vegetarian.

Vegetarian Goulash Recipe
5 from 42 ratings
Not only is this vegetarian goulash easy to make, but it's packed with warm, wholesome flavors.
Prep Time
Cook Time
a serving of goulash
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces tempeh
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (15 ounces) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounces) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
Optional Ingredients
  • Parmesan
  • fresh basil
  1. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the tempeh, onion, and bell pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, and pepper, and stir and sauté for 1 minute more.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomato, broth, and bay leaf, stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Return to a boil and add the macaroni. Partially cover and reduce heat to a low boil for 10 minutes until the pasta is cooked.
  6. Serve the goulash topped with Parmesan and fresh basil as desired.
Calories per Serving 361
Total Fat 13.8 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 43.1 g
Dietary Fiber 4.5 g
Total Sugars 6.6 g
Sodium 634.5 mg
Protein 20.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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