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Hungarian Lecso – Traditional Pepper Stew

Hungarian Lecso (properly spelled lecsó and pronounced leh choh) is the food the heart of Hungary is made of. During my years in Hungary I don’t think I ever met anyone that didn’t know how to make lecso. It’s the thing that is in every household, so common that you wouldn’t see it in restaurants because everyone can just throw some together at home, no?

authentic Hungarian lecso, easy, healthy and delicious.

Hungarian Lecso Recipe

Lecso can be eaten at any time of day. It can be a main dish for a simple lunch or dinner, but is also commonly eaten during breakfast. My Hungarian mother-in-law beats a couple of eggs and scrambles them along with lecso and serves it with a big chunk of fresh bread. To me, lecso tastes of Hungarian summer mornings. Of lake Balaton and hot, lazy days.

Tri Colored Bell Peppers for Hungarian Lecso

The main three ingredients for Hungarian lecso are onions, hungarian wax peppers and tomatoes. Everything else is kind of optional.

If, like me, you’re having trouble finding Hungarian wax peppers, you can substitute them for bell peppers, ideally red, yellow, orange or a combination of them.

Organic Lard

Most traditional Hungarian recipes call for lard or rendered duck fat. For a rich, authentic flavor I recommend cooking it with lard. If the word lard still rings bells of clogged arteries and heart disease to you, then you might be surprised to learn about the benefits of cooking with lard. If you live in the Woodlands you’ll find Wholefoods just started stocking Tendergrass Farms organic lard. You can also get some here.

This recipe is gluten-free and paleo and can be made vegan.

I know it seems awkward to suggest this recipe to be vegan, especially if you watched the video below, which asks for bacon, lard and sausage (lol!). But my Hungarian mother-in-law makes this vegan, honest to heart. In fact many Budapest city dwellers cook this just with oil and the three veggies. The lard and sausage variant is considered the “country folk” version.

Recipe for Hungarian Lecso

So here it is! You can also check out my 30 second video recipe down below – you’ll see how easy it is to make!

Hungarian Lecso - Traditional Pepper Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Hungarian
Serves: 4-5
  • 2 medium onion, diced or cut into strips
  • 4 bell peppers, cut into strips or half strips
  • 4-5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 slice bacon, diced
  • 2 teaspoons lard (I get my organic lard here)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1-4 bratswurth or sausage links (optional)
  1. In a big pan over medium heat, cook bacon and lard for a minute or two. Add onions and cook until translucent.
  2. Turn the heat off and/or remove the pan from the heat. Add paprika and stir well. It's important to do this off the heat as paprika burns easily.
  3. Add tomatoes, peppers and salt and return to the heat. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 25-30 minutes.
  4. Add sausage and cover again, simmering for 10 minutes.
  5. Now, I like to thicken the lecso by uncovering and simmering for an additional 15 minutes or so until the tomatoes have lost most of the liquid. (But some people like it runnier to sop bread on!)
Hungarian Lecso Recipe

This is my first attempt at a Tasty-like recipe video! I spent HOURS on premiere trying to figure it out. Now that I’ve got it down, I’m hoping to share a new recipe every Tuesday. So see you here next week for Tribute Tuesday!

And here it is! Hungarian Lecso in 30 seconds:


Hi! Thanks for reading! I’m a certified nutritionist exploring the local & sustainable foods scenes in The Woodlands and Houston! Keep in touch and follow me! As of 2017 my sister and I just opened an outdoor dessert café – check it out! I couldn’t be more excited!


  1. Hi,
    Great recipe just one question what is the best way to preserve it in jars.
    My garden produced a lot of Hungarian peppers, tomato’s and I tripled the recipe.

  2. Mmmm many memories growing up of my dad (Zoli) making Lecso. Going to have to make some soon! Thanks for the recipe refresher. Cheers!

  3. Someone suggested cubanello peppers so i bought some and printed your Lecso recipe and plan to make it but need to bake bread first tomorrow.
    I like the idea of adding eggs for a complete meal.
    My family is from Brünn which used to be part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire, now the Czech republic so i grew up with a very mixed cuisine but other than Goulash never cooked anything Hungarian.

  4. Have you ever added potatoes? At what point would you add them, and would you parboil first?

    • You could parboil them and add them 15 min near the end. I would honestly serve the potatoes separately – but that’s just me!

  5. This is a great recipe. I’m from the Czech republic and we cook this very often as well. In my family, we usually add eggs as well towards the end of cooking (so that they’re not overcooked).

    • My Hungarian in-laws also do this! Adding scrambled egg near the end of the cooking process. The scrambled eggs will cook/boil rather than be fried as is conventional in the US and will make the stew a bit clumpy.

  6. I also like to mix in quinoa or rice that way you do not have to have bread with it . .

  7. Wow! Lecso… I love it!! Looks delicious and easy to make this dish!!

    • Super easy! I like making a big batch and having read-made breakfasts and lunches. It freezes wonderfully too!

  8. Yum! Ah brings back memories. My mom used to cook with lard. She switched to butter but I should try it again.

    • Butter is not a bad choice. My grandmas used to cook with lard, but switched to vegetable oils. Let’s bring lard back!

  9. Wonderful recipe, Natalia! I love Lecso and I am pinning this recipe for later!

  10. What a great recipe! This sounds so flavorful. I’ve never seen a recipe like this one, so I’ll definitely be saving it to try later.

  11. This sounds fabulous! I’d try it.

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