Hungarian Pepper Pork Stew (Borsos Tokány)

hungarian pepper pork stew

 🍴  Servings: 4

🥣 Category: Stew

💪 Difficulty Level: 3/5 

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The heavenly pepper pork stew

Hungarian pepper pork stew is a deservedly popular dish. Its pleasant peppery taste and thick, rich juice make this very easy-to-prepare dish unforgettable.

Stew, paprikash or "Tokány"?

In Hungary, what is simply stew (“pörkölt”) in English often means something completely different. In Hungarian, for example, this dish is called “tokány” because it is made without paprika and the meat is prepared by cutting it into pencil-thick strips 4-6 cm long, perpendicular to the grain. It, like stew and paprikash, has been refined since the nineteenth century and has become a staple of Hungarian cuisine. Tokány juice is short, thick, substantial, and brown in color due to the pepper. It is possible to make it from pork, beef, game, or poultry.

The story of the Hungarian Tokány

The thin, finger-sized strips of meat are most likely a continuation of the ancient preservation method used by Hungarians who roamed the steppes, when the meat was sliced into small oblong pieces and dried in the sun. Shepherds were the only ones who prepared and consumed dried meat in Hungary. It was made from veal, beef, mutton, and occasionally foal, and the meat was cooked into a stew-like dish in its own juice in an uncovered cauldron.

The Transylvanian connection

Tokány appeared alongside goulash, stew, and paprika dishes as Transylvanian food spread in Hungary in the nineteenth century. Transylvanian tokány is steamed for an hour until it cooks in its own juice, and then a little water is always poured over it to prevent the meat from browning and to ensure that it never cooks in a lot of juice. It’s done when the meat is red, the fat has been reduced, but the meat isn’t crispy. According to some sources, the tokány peppered meat dishes came from Turkish subjugation areas to Transylvania via Romania, and then to the Hungarian Great Plain. Vetrece, the sour meat, for example, is mentioned in 16th-century sources as a type of goulash or stew. Vetrece is now a type of tokány, a sour dish from Transylvania made with beef, smoked bacon, and sour cream.

Tokány variants

Pepper is a must-have and the most important spice in tokány. Paprika can be found in some versions, but it has no effect on the flavor of tokány. It produces countless variations when other spices and auxiliary ingredients, such as marjoram, tomatoes, smoked bacon, sausage, mushrooms, or even green peas, are added. The best pepper pork stew can be made from the tenderloin’s side meat. The names of stew, paprikash, tokány, and ragout dishes are sometimes synonyms, sometimes attracted by the ingredients that characterize the food, and sometimes attracted by the ingredients and flavoring of the food. Finally, there’s our pepper pork stew recipe. Follow the instructions, watch the video and have a good cooking!

Ingredients of pepper pork stew:

  • 100 g smoked bacon
  • 2 tbsp of cooking oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 800 g pork shoulder or beef shank
  • 2 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of ground caraway
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 tsp of tomato paste
  • salt


  1. Fry the bacon cubes in oil until crispy.
  2. Add the finely chopped onion. Fry over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, then add the crushed garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the striped pork and fry over high heat until the meat turns white.
  4. Season with ground black pepper, caraway and salt.
  5. Add the chopped tomato, tomato paste and yellow pepper. Cover with water and cook until the meat is tender. Add water if necessary. At the end of the cooking time, allow the stew to thicken.
  6. Serve with cooked rice or pasta and enjoy!

Watch our video about this pepper pork stew recipe: