Authentic Chicken Paprikash (Hungarian Paprikás Csirke)

An authentic recipe for one of the most beloved and popular Hungarian dishes — saucy chicken paprikash (aka paprikás csirke) with tender chicken in a rich, creamy, and flavorful paprika sauce served over nokedli (spaetzle) with a dollop of sour cream.

Chicken paprikash on top of spaetzle or nokedli on a plate with a dollop of sour cream on the side.

You’re Going To Love Hungarian Chicken Paprikash With Spaetzle

  • Chicken paprikash requires only a few ingredients and there is room for versatility too.
  • The spaetzle (called nokedli in Hungary) is traditional and very easy to make but also entirely optional — you can serve chicken paprikash with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, blitva, rice, or just crusty sourdough bread instead.
  • If you raise chickens, this is a great recipe for older chickens like laying hens and roosters as the cooking time can be extended until the meat is very tender.
  • A traditional Hungarian peasant meal, this comfort dish is a great way to experience the delicious cuisine of Hungary with a straightforward, approachable recipe that families and children will love.

If you love Hungarian cuisine, try Segedínský Guláš (Pork & Sauerkraut Stew) which is a Czech/Slovak recipe (and name) that has Hungarian roots. It’s similar to this recipe but uses pork instead of chicken.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

Despite the simple ingredients, there is still room to play around. Some cooks will add bell peppers and fresh tomatoes, for example. I have chosen to omit both, but you can go right ahead and add them right after your onions just begin to soften. Read the ingredient notes below for any critical information and substitutions that can be made. The exact quantities are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this article.

All of the ingredients needed to make authentic Hungarian chicken paprikash.
  • Spaetzle/Nokedli | Traditional egg dumplings that are frequently served with chicken paprikash. In Hungary, these noodles are called nokedli, and in Germany, they are called spaetzle. Check out my German Spaetzle recipe for step-by-step photos and detailed instructions.
  • Chicken | I prefer to use skin-on chicken thighs or a whole chicken cut up into pieces. You can use whatever you prefer, including boneless, skinless chicken breasts or other parts.
  • Paprika | This recipe has few ingredients but the quality of the paprika you use will make the most significant difference. Use real, high-quality Hungarian paprika. You want sweet paprika, but you can also use hot or a mixture of sweet and hot too. This is the paprika I buy and it is very high-quality and a fantastic price for the four common varieties of paprika (hot, sweet, smoked sweet, and smoked hot).
  • Onions | Onions are essential to creating a flavorful sauce and we will be using lots of them. I prefer yellow or brown onions.
  • Chicken Broth or Stock | I use homemade chicken bone broth like my chicken feet bone broth, but you can use store-bought. Use chicken stock cubes or water if you don’t have broth or stock.
  • Flour | Flour is used to thicken the sauce towards the end. Use gluten-free or all-purpose wheat flour; it does not matter. You can technically skip this step but it will result in a thinner sauce.
  • Tomato Paste | I love the depth of flavor tomato paste adds to chicken paprikash, especially when combined with paprika.
  • Garlic | Use fresh garlic cloves, preferably.
  • Fat or Oil | I use lard or tallow, which is the traditional way. You can use whatever oil or fat you prefer.
  • Sour Cream | Sour cream is mixed into the flour to help thicken the sauce at the end of cooking time; it also adds another depth of flavor to the rich gravy. A dollop of sour cream is also a nice touch at the end of your plate for serving. I highly recommend using the real stuff — full-fat sour cream.
  • Parsley | Optional. Adds a bit of bright green flavor and color contrast for serving.

Instructions (Step-by-Step With Photos)

Thinly sliced onions.

Step 1: Prep all of your ingredients. Ideally, you will slice your onions as thinly as pictured above. Sprinkle your raw chicken with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Crispy, browned, bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs.

Step 2: In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt the fat or oil until hot and shimmering. Brown your chicken skin-side down (if the skinless chicken is being used, it doesn’t matter), and do not move it until golden and crispy. This takes about 5 minutes. Moving the chicken too early will tear the skin. Set the chicken aside.

Sliced onions cooking in oil

Step 3: Add the onions and a small pinch of salt to the same pot and cook until translucent and turning golden yellow. If required, add more fat.

Onions and paprika in pot.

Step 4: Add the tomato paste and stir until the paste begins to turn a darker red color—about 60 seconds. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 60 seconds.

Red paprika sauce being stirred in pot with the chicken added back in.

Step 5: Once the onions are very soft, turn the heat up and deglaze the pot with your chicken stock, scraping the fond with a wooden spoon. Add the paprika now.

Add the chicken (skin-side up) and nestle it into the liquid in the pot. The top should be emerging from the braising liquid you have created.

Now, turn the heat up and let it get to a low boil. Once that happens, cover the pot and turn the heat to low.

The chicken will take 30 minutes to tenderize and finish cooking unless you are using an older hen or rooster which will take longer.

Sour cream and flour mixture being tempered by hot, red paprikash sauce in bowl.

Step 6: At the end of cooking time, uncover the pot and let the chicken continue simmering. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.

Now we will temper the sour cream so that it does not break.

In a small bowl mix the sour cream and all-purpose flour with a fork. To this bowl of sour cream, very slowly add a ladle full of the hot liquid from the pot and whisk it the entire time.

Thickened red sauce of chicken paprikash in heavy pot with cooked chicken.

Step 7: Pour the sour cream mixture into the pot with the fresh parsley and stir it gently around the chicken. Let this simmer, uncovered, on the lowest setting until it thickens up.

This should take about 5 minutes.

Chicken paprikash on top of spaetzle or nokedli on a plate with a dollop of sour cream on the side.

Step 8: Spoon your buttered spaetzle onto plates. Add the chicken on top. Pour more sauce over the chicken.

Add a dollop of sour cream to each plate on the side and finish with a sprinkling of fresh parsley, cracked black pepper, and more paprika. Serve and enjoy.

Chicken paprikash on top of spaetzle or nokedli on a plate with a dollop of sour cream on the side.

Storage, Freezing, & Reheating

Store the chicken paprikash in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Reheat it by gently letting it come back to a warm to hot temperature in a covered pot on the stove with a splash of water or stock added.

Freeze up to 5 months but keep the chicken and sauce tightly covered.

FAQ

Can you substitute yogurt for sour cream in chicken paprikash?

If you plan to use yogurt as a substitute for sour cream in your chicken paprikash recipe, it’s best to use a very thick yogurt such as Greek or Balkan. The more sour the yogurt, the better it will be, and full-fat yogurt is always preferable. While you can experiment with different types of yogurt, the resulting sauce will not be the same, but still be delicious. If you have a thinner yogurt, you can strain it by pouring it into a colander that has been lined with a cloth such as cheesecloth, thin cloth, or a coffee filter, and set it over a bowl to drain out the liquid whey. This process may take a few hours to a few days, so plan accordingly.

What is the origin of chicken paprikash?

Chicken paprikash (Hungarian: paprikás csirke or csirkepaprikás) or paprika chicken is a beloved dish from Hungarian origins This is one of the most popular and well-known variations on the paprikás preparations found in Hungarian cuisine.

How To Make Chicken Paprikash With Older Laying Hens or Roosters

Like the famous French coq au vin dish, this Hungarian chicken stew can be made with a rooster or older laying hen. The instructions are the same but it will likely take longer than 30 minutes for the chicken to tenderize. That’s okay! Follow all recipe instructions exactly as written but let the chicken continue simmering until it is very tender when you pierce it with a fork. This can take up to 2 hours. I also recommend you brine your chicken for 24 to 48 hours in preparation and consider marinating it in milk or adding apple cider vinegar to your brine to speed up the cooking.

Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:

Chicken paprikash on top of spaetzle or nokedli on a plate with a dollop of sour cream on the side.

Authentic Chicken Paprikash (Hungarian Paprikás Csirke)

An authentic recipe for one of the most beloved and popular Hungarian dishes — saucy chicken paprikash (aka paprikás csirke) with tender chicken in a rich, creamy, and flavorful paprika sauce served over nokedli (spaetzle) with a dollop of sour cream.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Hungarian
Servings: 6
Calories: 500kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • 1 Batch Homemade Spaetzle Noodles
  • 6 Chicken Thighs I prefer bone-in, skin-on chicken, but you can use a whole chicken or whatever else you have and prefer.
  • 2 Cups Chicken Bone Broth or Stock
  • ¼ Cup Fat or Oil I prefer lard or tallow. Lard is most authentic.
  • 3 Large Onions Thinly sliced.
  • 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste I usually just use 1 whole small, standard can.
  • 6 Cloves Garlic Finely minced.
  • 2 Tablespoons Hungarian Paprika Sweet or a mix of sweet and hot. Quality matters.
  • 1 Cup Full-fat Sour Cream Plus extra for serving.
  • ¼ Cup Flour All-purpose and can be subbed with gluten-free flour.
  • ½ Teaspoon Sea Salt And more if needed.
  • ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper And more if needed.

Instructions

  • Prep all of your ingredients. Slice your onions as thinly as possible. Sprinkle your raw chicken with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. This is a good time to get your spaetzle started if you are making it from scratch.
  • In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt the fat or oil until hot and shimmering. Brown your chicken skin-side down (if the skinless chicken is being used, it doesn't matter), and do not move it until golden and crispy. This takes about 5 minutes. Moving the chicken too early will tear the skin. Set the chicken aside.
  • Add the onions and a small pinch of salt to the same pot and cook until translucent and turning golden yellow. If required, add more fat.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir until the paste begins to turn a darker red color—about 60 seconds.
  • Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 60 seconds.
  • Once the onions are very soft, turn the heat up and deglaze the pot with your chicken stock, scraping the fond with a wooden spoon. Add the paprika now.
  • Add the chicken (skin-side up) and nestle it into the liquid in the pot. The top should be emerging from the braising liquid you have created.
  • Now, turn the heat up and let it get to a low boil. Once that happens, cover the pot and turn the heat to low.
  • The chicken will take 30 minutes to tenderize and finish cooking unless you are using an older hen or rooster which will take longer.
  • At the end of cooking time, uncover the pot and let the chicken continue simmering. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.
  • Now you will temper the sour cream so that it does not break: In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and all-purpose flour with a fork. To this bowl of sour cream, very slowly add a ladle full of the hot liquid from the pot and whisk it the entire time.
  • Pour the sour cream mixture into the pot with the fresh parsley and stir it gently around the chicken. Let this simmer, uncovered, on the lowest setting until it thickens up. This should take about 5 minutes.
  • Spoon your buttered spaetzle onto plates. Add the chicken on top. Pour more sauce over the chicken.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream to each plate on the side and finish with a sprinkling of fresh parsley, cracked black pepper, and more paprika. Serve and enjoy.

Notes

Storage, Freezing, & Reheating
Store the chicken paprikash in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Reheat it by gently letting it come back to a warm to hot temperature in a covered pot on the stove with a splash of water or stock added.
Freeze up to 5 months but keep the chicken and sauce tightly covered. Let it thaw in the refrigerator first before reheating as described above.
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 136mg | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 652mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1643IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This turned out so well! The chicken was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was packed with flavor. Definitely a new favorite!

  2. 5 stars
    It has been a long time now since I have last made chicken paprikash. Can’t wait to try your take on it – it looks great!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve had a few different chicken paprikash recipes over the years, but none of them have tasted like this one. They were all more Americanized and didn’t have quite the same flavor profile. Love it.

  4. 5 stars
    Chicken Paprikash was one of my favorite meals growing up. I have only ever had it one way, but I decided to branch out and give your recipe a try. I really enjoyed this version although it is somewhat different than mine. The flavors were intense and our family really enjoyed it.