Ox Cheek Goulash

Ox Cheek Goulash

Goulash is the quintessential Hungarian one-pot dish. Flavoursome, filling and frugal this superb recipe has long been one of my favourites. Even so, the addition of ox cheek manages somehow to raise the level of goulash above any previous rendition. This is the paprika-based pinnacle.

Ox cheek is quickly becoming my favourite cut of meat. It’ dark, succulent and cheap (c. £6.50/kg) – a knockout combination you must agree. It is the ultimate stewing beef and though it takes a little effort to prepare any energy expended is doubly worth it.

Supermarkets tend not to stock ox cheek; it isn’t the most popular cut as some find the idea of eating cheek unappealing. Instead, head off in the direction of your local butcher – the meat is so much better and it’s always a good idea to support the community – who will be only too happy to help.

A big thank you to Tanya of Chica Andaluza for her assistance in making this goulash as delicious as possible. Tanya recently sent me a generous selection of Spanish paprika (pimenton) of which I’ve become an avid fan. I’m so pleased to have such fantastic followers!

Ox Cheek Goulash

Local connection: I urge all fellow Bristolians to head to Source in St. Nicholas Market when on the lookout for meat. They stock good quality, ethically sourced, delicious and well-priced meat, fish, vegetables, cheese and bread – I can’t get enough.

For more ideas about what to do with cheaper cuts of meat, why not check out my recipes for Oxtail Stew, Beef Shin Ragu and Ox Cheek Rendang?

Ox Cheek Goulash

Serves 4


  • 500g ox cheek, in large chunks

  • 2 red peppers, roughly chopped

  • 2 onions, roughly chopped

  • 2 sticks of celery, finely sliced

  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

  • 3-4 bay leaves

  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

  • 2 ½ tbsp sweet or smoked paprika

  • 500ml beef stock

  • olive oil

  • salt and pepper


1. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and brown your meat all over. Set the meat to one side and cook the onion, pepper, garlic and celery gently for 10 minutes. Once the vegetables are translucent add the browned cheek and bay leaves. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Ox Cheek Goulash

2. Stir in the paprika before incorporating the stock and tomato puree. Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 2 hours.

3. Remove the lid and allow to reduce until thick, season generously to taste and serve with sour cream and bread or giant cous cous.

Ox Cheek Goulash


Cost: As mentioned above, ox cheek is an incredibly well-priced meat, perfect for a simple dish such as this. As such, this recipe for ox cheek goulash should set you back a mere £5.

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55 comments on “Ox Cheek Goulash

  1. thesinglegourmetandtraveller
    September 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Perfect for the colder weather and really delicious.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Indeed – it’s warmed up again here though!

  2. drgaellon
    September 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Any suggestions on an alternate cut if one cannot get ox cheek?

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:27 am

      Let’s see: skirt, ox tail, or a good quality “stewing beef”

  3. cookinginsens
    September 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Good one. In pretty little green Staub casseroles. Pleasing.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Indeed – another of my kitchen accessories you covet?

      • cookinginsens
        September 30, 2013 at 9:43 am

        I’ve always liked them and haven’t yet bought any Staub. Yet 🙂

  4. Rachel
    September 21, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    I fell in love with ox tail ragu a while ago, and have been looking for more other ox tail recipes ever since. This looks flipping delicious, will definitely give it a go. Thanks so much! X

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Please do – I’ll be doing an oxtail soup soon if I get my way… and I always do 😀

  5. Korena in the Kitchen
    September 22, 2013 at 1:59 am

    That looks like a fantastic stew! Definitely going to try this as the weather turns colder.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

      Thanks, Korena – please do, it is lovely.

  6. Eha
    September 22, 2013 at 4:51 am

    Having had a Hungarian husband for a chapter in my life [and a fab cook at that!] I still oft make the dish ~ this sounds so much more flavoursome than the topside or blade etc I normally use! Probably will have to go to the local butcher [well, he keeps tripe, tongue and sweetbreads, so why not 🙂 !] And thank you for putting a ‘decent’ amount of paprika in: so many cooks tread far too warily around this delicious spice!!!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

      I despise it when people put a small amount of paprika in – it requires a lot, so use a lot!

  7. Conor Bofin
    September 22, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Hi Nick,
    That looks excellent. I have been getting ready to spring out of bed to start preparing today’s ox tail dish. It will be a first for me. I have not used cheeks either. Looking forward to trying them as the weather cools.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:24 am

      I am surprised – you seem like a cheeky man. Cheers, Conor.

  8. Chica Andaluza
    September 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

    What a lovely dish to make with the pimenton! Looks so good and the kind of thing I will be making in a few weeks when we get to England to start work for the winter. Don’t think I’ve ever had ox cheek, just pork, so am going to ask at the butchers.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:24 am

      Fantastic! I’m sure they’ll have some in stock. I’ll be doing more with your wonderful pimenton again. I love the stuff.

  9. cookingwithoutlimits
    September 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Goulash is one of my favorite food. Looks great. I never made it , so maybe it’s time to try .Thank you for recipe.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Oh you must try it – it is food perfection.

  10. Bonnie Brûlée
    September 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

    This looks absolutely stunning. Gorgeous photography.

  11. chef mimi
    September 22, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Oh my this looks so good!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Thanks! It was really hearty and delicious.

  12. Our Growing Paynes
    September 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Yum. So for the £5, how many servings does that give you?

  13. bakeritalia
    September 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Your photos are beautiful! A great piece of meat but sadly expensive in Australia because it is seen as ‘gourmet’!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Thank you so much – that’s a shame. You could easily use any other slow-cook cut.

  14. twophdsbaking
    September 22, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    This looks amazing. And I love the little pots 🙂

  15. angelica | table twenty eight
    September 23, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Looks divine – have only done beef cheeks, not ox cheeks before so will have to give this a go…

  16. midihideaways
    September 24, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Goulash ranks up there with a few other dishes as my all time favourite too! Have in the past always used shin, but cheeks are a great idea and much cheaper! Could also be made using pigs cheeks, I imagine?

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:21 am

      I don’t see why not! I’m going to make beef shin pasties soon 😀

  17. DellaCucinaPovera
    September 24, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Looks like the perfect fall stew!

  18. Sophia
    September 25, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Goulash is total comfort food for me – we usually eat it with flat egg noodles (that look a bit like Tagliatelle at home (no idea whether that is even remotely authentic or what Hungarians typically eat with their Goulash). As for the ox cheek? That is what my mum uses for the goulash as well and I think it is one of the best (if not THE best) cut of meat for these type of slow cooked dishes where the meat almost melts into the source.

    Great post and thanks for highlighting what delicious dishes can be cooked with cheaper and often overlooked cuts of meat!

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:20 am

      I’m glad you agree with my choice of cheek. It’s a wonderful meat.

  19. Liz
    September 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Beautiful dish! That meat looks out of this world.

  20. faerierhona
    September 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I make goulash the same way, but being vegetarian use mushrooms or quorn instead – which is also very cheap!

    If you want to make it go a little further, use 3 tins of chopped tomatoes and before reducing it remove 3/4 of the liquid and set aside.

    Then reduce as normal and eat, and heat up the reserved liquid for a goulash soup

    • frugalfeeding
      November 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Fantastic! That’s a great tip – thanks.

  21. Susan
    September 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Beautiful color. I love the return of fall stews.

    • frugalfeeding
      September 30, 2013 at 9:20 am

      Thanks – me too. I’ll be dong quite a few!

  22. My Edible Yard Urban Homestead
    September 28, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Beef cheeks here in the US are becoming much pricier as more and more restaurants are using them. You are right, they are delicious, and I love this recipe. I may have to find a more frugal cut of meat, but will stick to your recipe otherwise.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      That’s a shame! They’re still pretty frugal here and so delicious!

  23. Maya Oryan
    October 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Beautiful pictures and beautiful recipe!

  24. Ford On Food
    October 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Fantastic, I’ll have to make this. I love goulash, and the addition of ox cheeks must be divine. Cheers.

  25. the vegan kitchen of dr caligari
    November 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Love stews and Hungarian paprika above all. I’m going to veganize it as soon as I get the new seitan I found.
    Wonderful pictures as usual!

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