Chicken Paprikash is a beloved Hungarian dish known for its rich, creamy sauce and deep paprika flavor. This comforting meal has a history as vibrant as the dish itself and dates back to the late 1800s. Initially prepared with game fowl such as partridge, today's recipe is commonly made with chicken and has become a staple in not just Hungarian households but worldwide. This guide will walk you through the perfect recipe to enjoy a taste of Hungary in your kitchen.

Chicken Paprikash

Ingredients Required

Here are the essentials you'll need to capture the essence of Hungarian cuisine with Chicken Paprikash. These are the traditional ingredients, resulting in a rich and authentic taste.

For the Chicken

  • 2 pounds of chicken, preferably bone-in and skin-on for added flavor (thighs and drumsticks are traditional choices)
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil (traditional) or any other neutral cooking oil

For the Paprikash Sauce

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sweet Hungarian paprika (not hot paprika)
  • 1 to 2 cups of chicken stock, depending on the desired thickness of the sauce
  • 1 and a half cups of sour cream (real Hungarian paprikash uses tejföl, a dairy product similar to sour cream and crème fraîche)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Garnish

  • Chopped parsley for color and a fresh, herby touch

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

Step 1: Prep Your Ingredients and Heat the Pan

Begin with preparing your ingredients. Finely chop the onions and set them aside. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels, season them with salt, and set them aside.

Heat the sunflower oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or a Dutch oven.

Step 2: Sear the Chicken

Place the chicken pieces in the pot, skin side down. Brown them on both sides, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pot. This step is crucial as it adds flavor to the dish.

Step 3: Cook the Onions

After the chicken is seared, reduce the heat to medium. Add the chopped onions to the pot and cook until they're soft and start to color, stirring frequently.

Step 4: Add Paprika

Once the onions are ready, sprinkle the Hungarian paprika over them. Stir well to coat the onions and cook for a minute to bring out the flavors of the paprika. Be careful not to burn it.

Step 5: Simmer with Stock

Pour in enough chicken stock to cover the chicken pieces halfway. You may not need all of the stock, so add it in increments. Give the ingredients a good stir. Paprikash should simmer gently. Too much liquid will dilute the flavor.

Cover and simmer for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and very tender.

Step 6: Skim the Sauce

Throughout the cooking process, some fat may rise to the top. Use a spoon to skim this off if desired.

Step 7: Finish with Sour Cream

Turn off the heat and slowly add the sour cream to the sauce while stirring continuously. This will prevent the sour cream from curdling. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Step 8: Plate and Garnish

Transfer the paprikash to a serving dish, or if you use a Dutch oven, you can serve it directly from there. Garnish with chopped parsley for a burst of color and freshness.

Serving Suggestions

Authentic Hungarian Chicken Paprikash is typically served with Nokedli (Hungarian dumplings) or Galuska (small egg noodles), which are ideal for soaking up the delicious paprika sauce. A simple cucumber salad is a refreshing and traditional side that complements the paprikash well. For the full dining experience, serve the paprikash and its sides on separate plates—minimally season the paprikash with salt and pepper to allow the diners to adjust it to their taste at the table.

Tips and Tricks

  • For a healthier option, use chicken breasts without the skin. Just be aware that the lack of bone and skin can alter the depth of flavor and texture slightly.
  • Substitute sour cream with crème fraîche or a non-dairy sour cream for a lactose-free or vegan version. The flavor will be different but still delightful.
  • If you can't find Hungarian paprika, use the best quality sweet paprika you can find. The better the paprika, the better your paprikash.


Cooking Hungarian Chicken Paprikash is as much about patience as it is about precision. It's a dish that rewards a mindful, hands-on approach, and it's a wonderful way to appreciate and share the heart of Hungarian cuisine. Whether for a family dinner or to impress guests, taking the time to cook this dish will surely leave a lasting and delicious impression. Remember, the key to a successful paprikash lies not just in the recipe but in the care and love you put into it. Enjoy and Jó étvágyat! (Bon appétit in Hungarian)

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