Chef John's Chicken Paprikash


After many, many requests, I'm excited to be sharing what is my second favorite Hungarian dish of all time. I really love making anything Hungarian, since the recipes tend to be simple and easy to make, as well as comforting and delicious, and the names are never not fun to say. Top with extra sour cream and freshly sliced chives on top.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 25 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 35 mins
8 servings

There are no fancy techniques to explain when it comes to this chicken paprikash. There are no hard-to-find ingredients to substitute for, or any other major decisions to make. This is home-cooked comfort food at its finest, and the biggest mistake you can make with these types of dishes is overthinking things.

The only real consideration here would be regarding the choice of chicken parts. I'm a big believer in bone-in, skin-on thighs and/or leg quarter sections, but if you must use breasts, you can still achieve some excellent results (just as long as you don't stew the chicken too long). However, if you're one of these "I don't like thighs" people (and you were ever going to try making the switch to the dark side), this stew would be a great vehicle for that journey.

Speaking of great vehicles, this dish would be traditionally served over some spaetzle-like Hungarian dumplings called Nokedli, which would be a fantastic delivery system for the scrumptious sauce. But if time or your energy level makes that impossible, corkscrew pasta also does a very nice job. No matter what you serve this on, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

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  • 8 (5 ounce) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • salt to taste

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ¼ cup sweet Hungarian paprika

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • cup sour cream, room temperature

  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream


  1. Season chicken generously on both sides with salt. Heat olive oil in a heavy, deep-sided pan (that comes with a lid) over high heat and brown the chicken well, skin-side down, about 5 minutes; flip and continue to sear until other side is browned, 3 to 4 minutes more. Turn off heat. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and reserve until needed; spoon out excess chicken fat if desired.

  2. Add onions and a pinch of salt to the same pan and saute over medium until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, and flour and cook, stirring, another 3 to 4 minutes to form a tomato roux. Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer over high heat.

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and transfer chicken and accumulated juices back into the pan. Baste the tops with the sauce, cover the pan with the lid, and simmer, basting occasionally with the sauce, until the chicken is no longer pink in the centers and is fork-tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the chicken and transfer to a plate.

  4. Skim some fat off the top of the sauce if desired. Whisk heavy cream and sour cream into the sauce and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Transfer the chicken and any juices back into the sauce. Simmer, uncovered, basting often, until chicken is heated through and very tender, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.


Chef's Notes:

Use full-fat sour cream for this. Regular vegetable oil will work instead of olive to brown the chicken--traditionally lard is used, so if you have some, use it.

Any chicken parts will work for this dish. If you're using a whole chicken, use bones to make broth.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

353 Calories
25g Fat
8g Carbs
24g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 353
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 9g 44%
Cholesterol 100mg 33%
Sodium 406mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 24g
Vitamin C 6mg 31%
Calcium 55mg 4%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 371mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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