Chicken Paprikash

Chicken paprikash with chicken pieces, browned in butter, cooked with onions and paprika, then served with a little sour cream mixed in.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Chicken, onions, butter, stock, paprika, salt, sour cream. That’s about it, and all you need for one of the best dishes on the planet, chicken paprikash.

Uncomplicated. Unpretentious. So good you’ll be drinking the sauce. Cooks up quickly too. Serve it with noodles or dumplings (shown with spaetzle).

We first posted a version of this recipe in 2006 and quickly learned that many people have a family favorite way of making chicken paprikash. The dish is a tradition of Hungary (spelled there “paprikas”), though we are not claiming that our version is traditional. Some people add tomatoes and peppers, some a lot more paprika, or more or less sour cream.

Feel free to experiment with amounts to find what works best for your taste. And if you have a favorite way of preparing it, please let us know in the comments.

Chicken Paprikash Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

We like cooking chicken skin-on and bone-in, but this recipe will easily work with boneless, skinless chicken pieces as well, if that's what you prefer.

Paprika can go flat and tasteless if it is too old. So check your paprika first, before starting this dish.

Ingredients

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  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces, preferably thighs and legs
  • Salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, (about 2-3 large onions)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian
  • 1 teaspoon (or to taste), hot paprika or cayenne
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Method

1 Salt the chicken pieces well and let them sit at room temperature while you cut the onions. Slice the onions lengthwise (top to root).

2 Brown the chicken pieces: Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. When the butter is hot, pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and place them skin-side down in the pan.

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Let the chicken pieces cook 4-5 minutes on one side, until well browned, then turn them over and let them cook 2-3 minutes on the other side. (Take care when turning so as not to tear the skin if any is sticking to the pan.)

Remove the chicken from the pan to a bowl, set aside.

3 Sauté the onions: Add the sliced onions to the sauté pan and cook them, stirring occasionally, scraping up the browned bits from the chicken, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.

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4 Add the paprika and some black pepper to the onions and stir to combine. Let cook for a minute.

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5 Add the chicken broth, place chicken on onions, cover and cook: Add the chicken broth, again scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and then nestle the chicken pieces into the pan, on top of the onions.

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Cover and cook on a low simmer for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken pieces).

When the chicken is cooked through (at least 165° if you use a thermometer, or if the juices run clear, not pink when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a knife) remove the pan from the heat. (If you want, you can also keep cooking the chicken until it begins to fall off the bone, which may take another 30 minutes or so.)

6 Remove chicken, stir in sour cream: When the chicken is done to your taste, remove the chicken from the pan. Allow the pan to cool for a minute and then slowly stir in the sour cream and add salt to taste. If the sour cream cools the sauce too much, turn the heat back on just enough to warm it through. Add the chicken back to the pan and coat with the sauce.

Serve with dumplings, rice, egg noodles or potatoes. (If cooking gluten-free, serve with rice, potatoes or gluten-free noodles or dumplings.)

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Links:

Chicken Paprikash with Traditional Hungarian Dumplings - from No Recipes

Pork Paprikash - from Meats, Roots and Leaves

Homemade spaetzle - from Deb of Smitten Kitchen

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Showing 4 of 106 Comments

  • CLS

    From a Real Hungarian Great-Great Grandmother…

    Recipe Chicken Paprikash

    Ingredients:
    Chicken – at least 6 to 8 pieces, (depending on how many people your feeding)
    thighs have best flavor, and easier to clean, but a whole chicken, or whatever you have works fine too.

    INGERDIENTS:
    Paprika (bright red, not brown is best)
    4-5 Bay Leaves
    1 Onion
    Corn starch (or flour) for thickening
    Salt & Pepper (to taste)
    Chicken broth (if you have it, but not necessary – bullion cubes or chicken bullion powder dissolved in a little water works too)… or just plain water works in a pinch- and get the flavor from your chicken…
    16 oz Sour Cream

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Sprinkle paprika, salt, pepper, onion salt on chicken, mix or rub to coat evenly.
    Chicken should be have a nice reddish hue from the paprika (you can also soak chicken overnight covered with water-with the seasonings and add a crushed bay leaf)

    On medium heat, melt a little butter in the pan you are going to use… enough to thickly coat the bottom – about 3-4 tbl or more

    Add about ½ of the onion – chopped into aprox ½ inch pices/chunks, stir to cover in butter. (be careful not to let the onions burn)

    Turn the heat up for about a minute, to get pan nice & hot… (be careful not to let the onions burn)

    Add chicken to hot pan to sear and brown, (be careful not to let the onions burn)

    Cook chicken on one side, turn, so evenly browned (does not need to be cooked thru, just seared)

    Quickly add “boiling” water to cover. (or boiling chicken broth – if you don’t have canned broth, make your own by dissolving bullion in boiling water – 1 cup water per 1 tblsp bullion or 2 cubes)

    Add the other half of the onion, chopped into aprox ½ inch pieces/chunks.
    Add aprox 2-3 tsp paprika to the water, salt pepper, onion salt – to taste.
    Add bay leaves
    Stir gently
    Cook/boil, (aprox 2 hrs) stirring occasionally so spices get mixed in, chicken cooks evenly and does not stick on bottom of pan)
    … breathe… clean up your mess… breathe… and …

    Then… After the chicken has cooked about an hr & half… remove about 2 to 3 cups broth, set aside- allow to cool a little….

    Then Start Making your dumplings – see recipe below

    Your dumplings should be on cooking by now… and your chicken should have been cooking about 2 hrs)

    Then…

    Remove chicken – set aside.
    *If using thighs, legs or breasts and you want to serve the whole piece, be carful not to break it apart when removing, cover with foil and keep warm.
    * If using a whole chicken, allow to cool so its easier to clean from the bones. Be especially careful to remove all the small bones… (“feel” it with your hands)

    After removing chicken, remove pan of broth from heat, set aside… allowing to cool “just a little”

    THEN… (usually while your dumplings are still cooking ) …
    To the 2-3 cups of cooled broth you set aside… Take 2-3 TBLS of cornstarch (or 3-4 TBLS flour) and place in a medium bowl, slowly add the cooled broth to the corn starch or flour a little at a time, and whisk until smooth. … or make a roux… (see below)

    Slowly add Sour cream to the bowl, a scoop at a time, whisking each scoop until smooth and creamy.
    Then slowly pour this into the pot of broth, whisking as you add it, (and pray it doesn’t curdle  )

    and put pot back on a low heat to simmer, cook on low heat stirring every minute or so.

    If you plan on adding the chicken back into the sauce with the dumplings for a one pot meal… somewhere in between cooking the dumplings, cleaning up your mess, the glass of wine, and adding your thickening-sour cream sauce mixture to the broth…) clean the chicken meat from the bones, set aside.

    DUMPLINGS

    2 Cups flour
    3 eggs
    water

    Put a large pot of water on to boil… add about a tsp or so of salt..
    Leave at least 3 – 4 inches from the top of the pan (the dumplings expand and have a tendency to boil over)  keep on med-high heat, just “to” boiling… and place a wooden spoon in the pot usually helps avoid the boil over…

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    In a bowl, make a well in your flour (that kinda looks like a crater in the middle of your flour)
    – Drop in the eggs and about ¼ c water into the well
    – Sprinkle a little paprika, salt, onion salt (I don’t measure, but its probably about 1 (measured) tsp or more.. each seasoning.

    Don’t forget to stir your sauce that has been simmering!

    Inside the flour well, mix just the eggs, water & seasoning, then slowly pull flour from the sides into the mixture.

    Continue, little by little slowly pull flour into the mixture and fold until a gooey sticky dough
    * if you over mix your eggs, the dumplings will be tough and chewy)
    * If your dough feels dry, keep adding water a little at a time… until a gooey sticky
    * If your dough is too runny, add a little dusting of flour, a little at a time

    Then using a regular t-spoon, (long handle ice tea spoons are helpful)… “pull” globs of sticky dough and “push” it into the boiling water.
    Try to keep all dumplings the same size.

    To keep the dough from cooking on the spoon, as you are pushing the dough into the water, dip spoon and dough under the boiling water and swirl to stir – the dumpling should fall right off the spoon…
    Get your rhythm going, scoop, slide, pull, push, dip, stir …

    Don’t forget to stir your sauce that has been simmering, should be getting slightly thicker!

    Takes about 12-15 minutes for dumplings to cook – depending on the size of your dumplings.
    To test if they are done, take one out, cut it in half, if it has holes and looks airy inside, it’s done, if it is goohey – it’s not… taste it. If it feels mushy in your mouth, and tastes “doughy” not done.

    While dumplings are cooking… clean up your mess, keep stirring your sauce until it starts to thicken… If it doesn’t “feel” like its getting thick… add a couple heaping teaspoons to the bowl you used to make the sour cream mixture… add a little cold water, whisk till smooth, and slowly our into your broth mixture, while stirring… Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken upon standing, so resist the urge to speed up your thickening by adding too much.

    Then add the chicken back into the sauce… or if serving whole pieces of chicken on the side, make sure chicken is still warm/hot and spoon sauce over chicken (to cover) in separate dish…

    When dumplings are done, drain well in a colander, (Do Not rinse), to keep dumplings from sticking together, add a spoon of sauce right in the colander and fold carefully.
    *The trick is to allow as much water to drain out of the dumplings as possible, so the extra moisture doesn’t thin out your sauce…

    Then add the dumplings to your sauce… stir “slowly” so you don’t break everything up and turn it all to mush…

    Ta-Da… ready to serve!

    — Sides that go well with Chicken Paprikash:
    Corn, Green Beans, Broccoli
    Small garden salad
    Cucumber salad (just sliced cucumbers mixed with mayo & dash of S&P)
    Mom’s sweet-n-sour cucumbers
    Pickled Beets

    ROUX
    For a Roux for Gravy. the ratio of flour, fat, and liquid is important to make perfect gravy
    A roux is a mixture of equal parts of oil, butter, or fat renderings and flour. The roux mixture is cooked at least three to five minutes over low heat to remove the raw flavor of the flour, then the liquid is added which thickens into the gravy. The roux method is least likely to produce lumpy gravy.

    The basic formula is
    2 tablespoons fat, (oleo, butter, bacon renderings, etc)
    2 tablespoons flour,
    and 1 cup of liquid (strong broth, milk or heavy cream)
    to equal 1 cup of gravy.

    To make a sour cream roux…

    Melt butter in skillet.
    slowly add flour while stirring quickly to coat flour and make a thick goo
    then add your HOT liquid, VERY slowly, a little at a time, while stirring like a maniac to keep it from lumping

    Remove from heat… keep adding the remaining broth until mixture is thin and runny, slowly add your sour cream… (should be runny and watery)

    Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken upon standing, so resist the urge to speed up your gravy by adding additional flour.

  • Lynda

    We had to cancel our family dinner because the cook wasn’t feeling well, but the paprikas sauce was already made. Can we successfully freeze the sauce for a future dinner?

  • jeanne

    I don’t know what I did wrong but mine was terrible. It was so greasy that I finally had to pour the sauce out and let it separate and skim it off. I think it was all those butter and then the grease from the chicken itself. My family liked it but it didn’t taste like any paprikash I’ve had in the past. I will keep looking for a better recipe.

  • Nicki

    My version (actually it came from my mom) is definitely not traditional. However, I will post it anyway, this is what I grew up thinking Chicken Paprikash was, and LOVE it, my kids love it so much they renamed it “MommyOhMyGosh!” We use 8 to 10 skinless chicken legs, cook them in approx. 2 Tbs oil on both sides until browned (both sides also get sprinkled with salt and paprika), after both sides are browned we pour on 3-4 large tomatoes that have been cut into small chunks, add more paprika to cover the top of the tomatoes. Cover and simmer on low for half an hour. After half an hour turn the chicken legs over, sprinkle more paprika over the chicken and tomatoes (which by now is becoming a watery consistency), cover and simmer on low for another half an hour. When time is up, remove the chicken legs, add 8 ounces of sour cream, sprinkle on a bit more paprika and stir over low heat until it all blends nicely. We pour the sauce over the chicken legs and white rice, and serve it with bread. My boys love to dip the bread in the sauce, it is truly so good you could drink the sauce!! I have used regular Paprika and Hungarian Paprika, and both taste delicious in this dish.

  • Penny

    I grew up with my first generation Hungarian mom making this dish frequently. The one difference in hers from many of these recipes is that she used half and half rather than sour cream to make the sweet creamy sauce. We children loved dipping bread into it to soak up the delicious juices; the sweet oniony, chicken, paprika combination with sweet creamy half and half is delicious, almost like a dessert at the end of the meal.

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Chicken Paprikash