A Hungarian staple, this classic chicken paprikash recipe is made with browned chicken simmered and served in rich and creamy paprika sauce, so satisfying. You can make it mild or spicy!
Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (Paprika Chicken)
Have you ever heard of Chicken Paprikash? You are in for a treat, my friends, because I think you're going to love this dish.
If you're looking for a quick and easy chicken dinner option that doesn't take much effort, print or save this one for your recipe book, because it may become your next go-to weeknight meal.
Paprika sometimes gets overlooked as a spice in the spicy food lover's arsenal because it usually isn't very "hot", but that's because most grocery stores only carry one or two brands.
The truth is, there are many different types of paprika ranging from sweet to hot and varying in levels of overall pungency, from sweet paprika to Spanish paprika, smoked paprika and more.
With so many paprika options, you could make this dish in so many ways. Time to stock up on some paprika!
Let's talk about this famous dish.
What is Chicken Paprikash?
Chicken Paprikash is a hugely popular Hungarian dish so named because of the heavy use of paprika, which is the National Spice of Hungary.
The recipe is made by simmering browned chicken in a rich and creamy sauce spiced with paprika, giving this comfort food its wonderful flavor. It's also known as Paprika Chicken. There are many variations, of course, depending on the region and preference of the cook.
Some versions of the recipe skip the onion and focus on bell peppers, and vice versa. Some use tomato paste instead of tomatoes, and some skip the tomato entirely and use only broth to thicken a light roux.
Some older versions skip the sour cream addition, though many modern versions include it.
My version incorporates both bell peppers and jalapeno peppers, which add a bit more zestiness. I also include canned tomatoes for ease of cooking, and use a lot of paprika, the dish's signature spice.
I also stir in sour cream or crema at the end because it's just so darned delicious that way.
Let's talk about how to make chicken paprikash, shall we?
Chicken Paprikash Ingredients
- Butter. Use 1 tablespoon butter (or use olive oil)
- Chicken. Use 2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces. I used thighs for this recipe, skin on. You can also make paprika chicken with chicken breast.
- Vegetables. Use 1 large onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper, (optional, for more spice factor) and 3 cloves garlic. Traditional chicken paprikash uses only onion and skips the peppers.
- Paprika. I use 3 tablespoons sweet paprika and 1 teaspoon hot paprika. You can use cayenne powder if you can't find hot paprika.
- Salt and Pepper. To your personal taste.
- Tomatoes. I use 15 ounce can tomatoes. You can also use crushed tomatoes or fire roasted tomatoes, or you can use fresh chopped tomatoes. Optional. Many traditional chicken paprikash recipes do not include tomato, but many modern versions do.
- Dairy. Use 1/2 cup sour cream (room temperature - or use crema, yogurt, quark or heavy cream). This is what gives it the creamy quality we all love.
- FOR SERVING: Spicy chili flakes, fresh chopped parsley, cooked egg noodles if desired
How to Make Chicken Paprikash - the Recipe Method
FOR THE CHICKEN
First, heat the butter or oil in a large pan or large pot to medium-high heat. I like to use my Dutch oven for this usually when making a larger batch.
Pat the chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken skin sides down. Sear the chicken 4-5 minutes per side, allowing the fat to render and the skin to turn a nice golden brown.
Patting the chicken as dry as you can really helps the browning of the skin.
After you brown the chicken, remove it and set it aside for now. I just it with the skin sides up onto a plate.
FOR THE CHICKEN PAPRIKASH SAUCE
Drain some of the fat from the pan, leaving about a tablespoon. Add the onion and peppers. Stir to get all those flavorful brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Cook for 5 minutes to soften at medium heat.
Add the garlic, sweet paprika, hot paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for one minute. I like to add the paprika when I add the garlic to allow the spices to bloom a bit in the pot.
You'll be able to smell that gorgeous garlic cooking. Don't let it burn.
Add the tomatoes to incorporate, stirring constantly. If you're using fresh or chunkier tomatoes, break them up a bit with a wooden spoon.
THE SIMMER & FINISH
Add the chicken back to the pan. You can scoop some of the sauce over the pieces of chicken if you'd like for more of that paprika sauce flavor to work its way into the chicken.
Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, cooking until the chicken is cooked completely through. It should measure 165 degrees F (74 C) internally when measured with a meat thermometer.
NOTE: I like to use my ThermoPop meat thermometer from ThermoWorks (I’m an affiliate). Works great!
Remove from heat. Remove the chicken and swirl in the sour cream a bit at a time until it is fully incorporated. Adjust with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Add the chicken back to the pan and spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces. Heat a bit more if needed.
Garnish and serve!
Boom! Done! Chicken Paprikash in the house! It's definitely one of our favorite recipes here, so incredibly easy to make. I love a good easy recipe. Perfect for weeknight dinners.
Recipe Tips & Notes
Best Chicken for Paprika Chicken. Bone-in chicken parts are more traditionally used in Hungarian chicken paprikash, though you can use any cut of chicken you'd like. Try it with skinless, boneless chicken thighs or chicken breast for a healthier version.
Tomato Alternative. When I was in Budapest, Hungary, I did not see chicken paprikash made with tomatoes, but I love to add them, and it is common in many newer recipes.
If you'd prefer to skip the tomato, use the same amount of chicken broth instead. The results are still nice and creamy from the sour cream and from the overall thickening as it simmers. The choice is yours.
Best Paprika for Chicken Paprikash
The liberal use of the popular Hungarian spice, paprika, is what gives this dish its name. There are many varieties produced in Hungary with 8 different types, ranging in heat level and pungency.
I recommend Szeged Paprika. They offer great flavor and many varieties and options. Buy Szeged Paprika from Amazon (affiliate link, my friends!). Great stuff.
What to Serve with Chicken Paprikash
Chicken paprikash is traditionally served with "nokedli", which are boiled egg noodles similar in thickness to German spätzle, like tiny dumplings.
However, you can serve it up with other pasta noodles, or serve it over rice, couscous or other grains, and even creamy grits. Try it over cauliflower rice for a lower calorie meal.
Store any leftover chicken paprikash in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 5 days.
You can also freeze it in vacuum sealed bags for 3 months or longer.
That's it, my friends! Home cooks rejoice in your new favorite easy chicken dish! I hope you enjoy my chicken paprikash recipe. It's so good! Paprika chicken! Let me know if you make it, and if you enjoy it.
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Hungarian Chicken Paprikash Recipe (Paprika Chicken)
- 1 tablespoon butter or use vegetable oil
- 2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces I used thighs for this recipe, skin on
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped (optional) - Hungarian bell peppers are ideal
- 1 jalapeno pepper chopped (optional, for more spice factor)
- 3 cloves garlic chopped (optional)
- 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon hot paprika or use cayenne powder
- 15 ounce can tomatoes use crushed tomatoes or fire roasted tomatoes, or you can use fresh, chopped
- 1/2 cup sour cream room temperature - or use crema, yogurt, quark or heavy cream
- FOR SERVING: Spicy chili flakes, fresh chopped parsley
- Heat the butter or oil in a large pan.
- Pat the chicken dry, then season with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken 4-5 minutes per side, allowing the fat to render and the skin to brown. Remove the chicken and set it aside for now.
- Drain some of the fat from the pan, leaving about a tablespoon. Add the onion and peppers. Stir to get all those flavorful brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 5 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic, paprika, hot paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for one minute.
- Add the tomato and stir to incorporate.
- Add the chicken back to the pan. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. It should measure 165 degrees F (74 C) internally when measured with a meat thermometer.
- Remove from heat. Remove the chicken and swirl in the sour cream a bit at a time until it is fully incorporated. Adjust with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces. Heat a bit more if needed.
- Garnish and serve!
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 1/18/23 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 3/16/20.