Can You Freeze Goulash? What You Need To Know

Goulash is a hearty and delicious stew that is popular in many cuisines. Like any leftover, the question arises – can you freeze goulash? The answer is yes, you can freeze goulash to extend its shelf life. However, the freezing process and results vary slightly depending on the specific type of goulash.

Freezing Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian goulash is the most well-known type of goulash. This beef stew is packed with vegetables like onions, carrots, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes simmered in a rich paprika-infused broth.

Does Hungarian Goulash Freeze Well?

The good news is that Hungarian goulash freezes very well. The high fat content from the beef and paprika in the stew means it retains moisture and flavor when frozen.

Recommended Freezing Time

Properly stored, Hungarian goulash can last 3 to 6 months in the freezer. Freezing prevents bacterial growth and texture changes.

How to Freeze Hungarian Goulash

Follow these steps for best results freezing Hungarian goulash:

  • Allow goulash to cool completely, then divide into portion sizes for individual meals. Pour into airtight containers, freezer bags or ice cube trays.
  • Leave 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion during freezing.
  • Seal the containers tightly. Wrap with plastic wrap or foil for extra protection.
  • Label with contents and freezing date.
  • Place flat in the freezer. This prevents breakage as the goulash expands.
  • For quick thawing and reheating, freeze goulash in single serving sizes.

Freezing American Goulash

American goulash has a different twist, containing ground beef and pasta like macaroni or elbow noodles simmered in a tomato-based sauce.

Can You Freeze American Goulash?

Because of the pasta content, American goulash does not freeze as well as the Hungarian stew. The pasta absorbs liquids and continues to swell when frozen.

How to Freeze American Goulash

To freeze American goulash, it’s best to freeze the components separately:

  • Cook the ground beef mixture as normal and allow to cool fully. Portion into airtight containers and freeze.
  • Cook the pasta separately according to package directions. Drain, portion and freeze as well.
  • When ready to eat, thaw both components in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Mix together the goulash and pasta, adding a splash of water or broth to rehydrate if needed.
  • Add chopped fresh herbs before serving for extra flavor.

This method prevents the pasta from becoming mushy or the goulash from drying out.

Step-by-Step Freezing Process

Follow these steps for freezing any type of goulash:

1. Allow the goulash to cool

Goulash should be completely cooled before freezing, otherwise it can turn soggy or ice crystals can form.

2. Portion into individual servings

Divide cooled goulash into single serving sizes in airtight containers, bags or ice cube trays. This allows for easy reheating.

3. Pack containers tightly

Make sure to remove excess air from containers or freezer bags before sealing to prevent freezer burn.

4. Label properly

Mark containers with contents, quantity and freezing date. This lets you keep track of storage times.

5. Freeze flat

Place filled containers or bags flat in a single layer in the freezer. This prevents breakage as food expands.

Freezing Duration

How long does goulash last in the freezer?

Properly stored, goulash can be frozen for 3 to 6 months while maintaining optimal quality.

Freezing for longer than 6 months can result in diminished flavor, discoloration and mushy texture. Always discard goulash if it has been frozen beyond the recommended duration.

For best quality, aim to freeze goulash for no more than 2-3 months if possible.

Alternative Storage Methods

Other than freezing, here are some other options for storing leftover goulash:


Freshly cooked goulash can be left out on the countertop for 1-2 hours before refrigerating. This allows the flavors to develop fully.


Properly stored in airtight containers, goulash will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Make sure to reheat thoroughly when ready to eat to prevent bacterial growth.

Thawing Frozen Goulash

Once frozen, goulash needs to be thawed properly before reheating and eating. Here are some safe methods:

Overnight in the Fridge

The slow thaw in the refrigerator helps retain moisture and texture. Transfer the frozen goulash to the fridge at least 24 hours before needed.

On the Countertop

For small portions like single servings, thaw on the countertop for 1-2 hours. Never thaw at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

In the Microwave

Thaw frozen goulash in the microwave using the defrost setting in short bursts. Check often and stir to distribute heat evenly. Avoid microwave thawing large batches.

On the Stovetop

You can also start cooking frozen goulash on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, stirring regularly. This gently thaws and reheats it simultaneously.

Always monitor thawed goulash carefully and discard if showing any signs of spoilage. Never refreeze thawed goulash.

Reheating Frozen Goulash

Once goulash has thawed, it needs to be reheated thoroughly before eating.


Reheat single serving portions of thawed goulash in the microwave for around 2 minutes, stirring halfway through.

On the Stove

For larger amounts, heat thawed goulash in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat. Stir continuously until heated through, about 10-15 minutes.

Bring goulash to a rolling boil before serving to ensure it has reached safe internal temperatures.

Is Refreezing Goulash Safe?

It is not recommended to refreeze thawed goulash. The multiple freeze-thaw cycles deteriorate the texture and taste.

To avoid having to refreeze, portion goulash into single servings before freezing initially. Thaw only what is needed for each meal.

If goulash is accidentally thawed and still has ice crystals, it can be safely refrozen although the quality may suffer slightly. Discard any thawed goulash left at room temperature for over 2 hours.

Creative Uses for Leftover Goulash

Don’t let leftover goulash go to waste! Here are delicious ways to repurpose it:

  • Serve over fresh pasta like fettuccine or rigatoni
  • Use as taco or burrito filling
  • Make a tempting Hungarian goulash pot pie
  • Mix with rice for a quick goulash fried rice
  • Layer into a hearty lasagna
  • Fold into omelets or quiches
  • Top baked potatoes for a satisfying meal
  • Stir into tomato sauce for added depth of flavor

How to Tell If Frozen Goulash Is Spoiled

Here are tips for spotting spoiled frozen goulash:

  • Unusual discoloration like gray, green or black
  • Off odors when thawing, such as sourness or rottenness
  • Slimy or overly mushy texture
  • Mold growth on the surface
  • Significantly changed consistency
  • Stored for over the recommended freezing duration

Discard goulash immediately if any signs of spoilage. Do not taste or eat spoiled frozen foods.

Freezing Goulash With Pasta or Sour Cream

Pasta Goulash

As mentioned, pasta goulash does not freeze well. Either freeze the components separately, or add the pasta fresh when reheating. Undercook the pasta slightly before adding to thawed goulash.

Sour Cream Goulash

Variations like goulash with sour cream can also be frozen. The high fat content of sour cream prevents separation or curdling. Stir some fresh cream into thawed goulash before serving.


With some simple preparation and care, goulash can be frozen successfully for 3 to 6 months. Allow goulash to cool fully before portioning into airtight containers and freezing flat. Thaw frozen goulash overnight in the fridge before reheating thoroughly. Avoid refreezing thawed goulash. Follow these guidelines and your frozen goulash will stay fresh and delicious.

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