One of the most famous and beloved of all Hungarian dishes, this authentic Chicken Paprikash recipe features tender chicken in an unforgettably rich, flavorful and creamy paprika-infused sauce! It’s Hungarian comfort food at its tastiest and it is absolute heaven!
What is Chicken Paprikash?
Chicken Paprikash, also known as Paprikás Csirke in Hungarian, is a traditional Hungarian dish that features tender chicken pieces that are cooked in a rich, flavorful and creamy paprika-based sauce and commonly served with egg noodles or dumplings. It has been enjoyed in Hungary for centuries, likely dating back to the 18th or 19th century. A reflection of the peasant origins or Hungarian cuisine, chicken paprikash was made from simple and available ingredients like chicken, onions, sour cream, and paprika. Older, tougher chicken could be utilized because the low and slow cooking time ensured tender meat and the end result was a dish that was both hearty and delicious. This is Hungarian comfort food at its best, a symbol of Hungarian culinary heritage, and has since become popular throughout the world.
Hungary is a country with beautiful landscapes, cities, villages, cultures, traditions, people and food. I love hearing from our readers about their experiences visiting Hungary and falling in love with the country and its food. That’s what visiting Hungary does to people…they fall in love. I certainly did.
Just taking a tiny glimpse of Hungary – Budapest, the country’s capital, is a city bustling with life, color, beautiful architecture, and the aroma of food wafting from over 1500 restaurants. Below is Zrinyi Utca (street), leading to Saint Stephen’s Basilica, built in 1905 in honor of the first king of Hungary. (Incidentally, his mummified hand is kept as a relic in that basilica as they couldn’t find the rest of his body! Not really a topic for a recipe post though, is it? ;)
My favorite area of Budapest is the Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya). Built in 1895 its neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque architecture is breathtaking. It’s situated on the hill on the Buda bank of the Danube overlooking the city and the atmosphere is so romantic. An evening stroll after dinner is a must – watching the lights of the city dance on the water, gazing at the magnificent Chain Bridge, and resting in the soft shadows of the Bastion walls.
But let’s get back to the FOOD. Specifically, one of Hungary’s most popular and beloved dishes, Chicken Paprikash – a very simple but incredibly flavorful dish.
The “Essential” Ingredients in Traditional Chicken Paprikash
Each time I’ve been served chicken paprikash it was prepared virtually the same way with the same basic ingredients: Chicken, onions, garlic, water or broth, lots of paprika, sometimes tomatoes, salt, pepper and cream. Sometimes Hungarian bell peppers are included though most versions I’ve seen made by older generation Hungarian home cooks did not. The inclusion of bell peppers varies by region and cultural tradition.
What is the Best Paprika to Use?
The name of this dish, paprikash (paprikás), of course comes from the most important ingredient in the dish: Hungarian paprika. This star ingredient is central to the dish and as such there are two critical factors to the success of an authentic Chicken Paprikash:
1) Use the RIGHT paprika (see below) and 2) Use LOTS of it.
For the BEST chicken paprikash, both the quality and quantity of ground paprika must be ensured. Trust me, you will taste the difference!
We recommend this genuine imported Hungarian paprika from the Kalocsa region of Hungary. It has an extraordinarily rich flavor and an exceptionally vibrant red color. Many of our readers have tried it and have reported back that quality Hungarian-imported paprika makes all the difference.
There are relatively few ingredients in this dish and so it is especially important to use the highest quality ingredients you can find. Get quality chicken, quality chicken broth, and quality sour cream. And if you at all possibly can, use lard to fry the chicken. Not just because it’s traditional, but because it makes food taste amazing! Lard will transform your cooking and baking. You can buy lard here on Amazon but I strongly recommend rendering your own. It’s super easy, learn how to render lard!
Should I Use Water or Broth?
While using broth is not “traditional” (traditionally just water is used), we highly recommend it for a richer flavor. For the chicken broth we recommend our personal favorite and in our opinion the best on the market: Aneto 100% All-Natural Chicken Broth imported from Barcelona, Spain.
Other broths on the market (including “premium” organic brands) are made with a “formula” using powders, extracts, flavorings, MSG masked in the form of “yeast extract”, and mystery ingredients like “natural flavors” that are FDA loopholes for things the manufacturers rather not spell out and we’d rather not have in our food system. Aneto makes their broths following a recipe using real, whole ingredients the same way we do at home: The freshest vegetables, chicken meat and bones are selected and go into large pots where they simmer for hours until they’re reduced to a wonderfully rich, flavorful and healthy broth. Aneto is truly remarkable. Here is a list of the store locations selling their broths (with more locations regularly being added).
We took a tour of their factory in Barcelona few years ago and it was such an inspiring experience. Read more about what sets Aneto apart from other broth manufacturers.
Equipped with the BEST ingredients you’re now ready to make the BEST Chicken Paprikash!
I don’t know about you but I’m hungry. Are you ready to eat??
Chicken Paprikash Recipe
Then let’s get started!
Heat the lard in a heavy pot and brown the chicken on all sides (traditionally the chicken is simmered without browning it but we HIGHLY recommend doing so – it vastly increases the flavor of the final dish). Transfer the chicken to a plate.
In the same oil, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the garlic and tomatoes (and pepper if using) and fry another 2-3 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the paprika, salt and pepper (paprika becomes bitter if scorched). Return the chicken to the pot and place it back over the heat.
Pour in the chicken broth. The chicken should be mostly covered. Bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate.
In a small bowl, stir the flour into the sour cream/cream mixture to form a smooth paste. Stir the cream mixture into the sauce, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring it to a simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the sauce and simmer to heat through.
Chicken paprikash is traditionally served with Hungarian nokedli, which are the same thing as Spaetzle only they’re much shorter and stubbier. You can make nokedli using a Spaetzle scraper and here is the Spaetzle recipe which is the same as for nokedli.
Be sure to try these other delicious Hungarian dishes:
Authentic Chicken Paprikash (Paprikás Csirke)
- 2 tablespoons pork lard , or butter (lard is traditionally used and we strongly recommend it for the best flavor)
- 3 pounds chicken pieces, bone-in and skin-on (this is traditional and recommended because it creates the most flavor, but alternatively you can use boneless/skinless pieces of chicken)
- 2 medium yellow onions, very finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and very finely diced
- 1 Hungarian bell pepper, diced (optional)
- 3-4 tablespoons quality, genuine imported sweet Hungarian paprika
- 2 cups Aneto 100% All-Natural Chicken Broth (our most favorite chicken broth)
- or Aneto low sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup full fat sour cream , room temperature (important to avoid lumps; be sure also to use full fat)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- Heat the lard in a heavy pot and brown the chicken on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate. In the same oil, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the garlic and tomatoes (and pepper if using) and fry another 2-3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the paprika, salt and pepper (paprika becomes bitter if scorched).
- Return the chicken to the pot and place it back over the heat. Pour in the chicken broth. The chicken should be mostly covered. Bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate.
- In a small bowl, stir the flour into the sour cream/cream mixture to form a smooth paste. Stir the cream mixture into the sauce, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring it to a simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the sauce and simmer to heat through.
Originally published on The Daring Gourmet October 15, 2018