Delectable Hungarian Chicken Paprikash is rustic comfort food at its best. Chicken pieces are stewed until fork-tender in a richly colored, ambrosial sauce of onion, tomatoes, spicy peppers, paprika and sour cream. I’ve included directions for cooking in an Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or on your stovetop. Plus, I’ve also shared tips and tricks I learned at a cooking class in Budapest, Hungary!

Blue plate showing a portion of Hungarian Chicken Paprikash

I’ve been making Chicken Paprikash for years. Like most peasant food, it’s easy to prepare with simple, readily available ingredients that magically blend together to form something divine. The basic recipe is straight forward – chicken pieces are simmered in a flavorful sauce of onions, paprika and sometimes tomatoes, garlic and/or peppers, then finished off with sour cream. In Hungary, it’s traditionally served with Hungarian Dumplings, also known as Nokedli.

Close up of blue plate holding a portion of Chicken Paprikash

I’d always thought my recipe for Chicken Paprikash was missing something. So, a few years ago while on a bike trip along the Danube River, I encouraged Robert and our friends Paul Maxwell and Evie Haskell to take a cooking class with me at Chefparade Cooking School in Budapest, Hungary. Fortunately, they agreed – and I’m so glad they did. We learned a lot about traditional Hungarian cooking ingredients and methods, and I discovered how to perfect my Chicken Paprikash recipe. (I also learned how to make Hungarian Dumplings – a.k.a. Nokedli!)

Lee and teacher in Budapest cooking class
Me and cooking instructor at Chefparade Cooking School

Best ingredients to use in Hungarian Chicken Paprikash

My key takeaways from the cooking class about perfecting my Chicken Paprikash recipe are largely about the ingredients:

  • Good quality, sweet Hungarian paprika.

    It’s the true star of the dish, and can make or break it. I purchase my paprika at Savory Spice in Denver; you can order from them online, too. FYI, “sweet” doesn’t mean it has a super sweet flavor; it just differentiates it from “hot” or “smoked” paprika.

  • Bone in, skin on chicken drumsticks or thighs.

    These chicken pieces provide the most flavor, have the best texture and stay moist after stewing. Chicken breasts tend to get dried out when slow cooked – yes, even when cooked in a sauce. Also, keeping the skin on helps the chicken pieces hold their shape.

  • Tomatoes.

    Some Paprikash recipes include tomatoes, others don’t. Fresh or canned, tomatoes add in another layer of tastiness – their acidity enhancing the chicken’s rich savory flavors.

  • Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers.

    Several US versions of Paprikash include green peppers (as did my old recipe). In Hungary, if peppers are used, it’s most often the Hungarian Wax Pepper. These peppers are not sweet, but spicy. On the heat index, they are comparable to jalapeño peppers.

    If you can’t find them, look for Caribe peppers (I found these at my local Kroger grocery store, in the produce section, by the jalapeños).



    Jalapeño or Serrano peppers are also a good substitute.

Tips to ensure your Hungarian Chicken Paprikash comes out perfectly

  • Sear chicken pieces in hot oil before adding the sauce. This is my addition – we didn’t do this in the class. I find searing meats over high heat before braising, baking, stewing, etc. not only provides a rich brown color on the outside, it brings out the natural umami flavors.
  • Sauté onion before adding to other ingredients. When slow cooking, I’ve found that first sautéing onions provides a deeper flavor to the finished dish.
  • Mix flour into sour cream before adding to sauce. When finishing the dish, we learned in class to whisk flour into the sour cream, for two reasons. First, the flour ensures a nice thick sauce. Second, putting it into the sour cream ensures even distribution in the sauce – no lumps!
  • Mix some of the sauce into sour cream mixture before adding. Similarly, to ensure the sour cream is evenly incorporated into the sauce, mix a few spoonfuls of sauce into the cream before adding.
blue plate showing a portion of Hungarian Chicken Paprikash

What to serve with Chicken Paprikash

The traditional side dish with Chicken Paprikash is Hungarian Dumplings, also called Nokedli. Similar to German Spaetzle, they are basically a small egg pasta. They are surprisingly easy to make, and I think their rustic look pairs perfectly with this dish.

Blue bowl holding Nokedli

If you don’t want to make the dumplings, I recommend serving with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

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Close up of blue plate holding a portion of Chicken Paprikash

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash

  • Author: By Lee Clayton Roper
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish, poultry
  • Method: Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Hungarian
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Delectable Hungarian Chicken Paprikash is rustic comfort food at its best. Chicken is stewed until fork-tender in a richly colored, ambrosial sauce of onion, tomatoes, spicy peppers, paprika and sour cream. Directions for cooking in an Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or on your stovetop included. Serve with Hungarian Dumplings (Nokedli).


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons organic canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 3/4 to 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (and/or drumsticks) – see Note
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 heaping teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika – See Note
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes, drained and juices reserved
  • 1 (2 to 3 inch) Hungarian hot wax pepper (or caribe pepper), seeded, deveined and finely chopped – see Note
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sour cream
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

Instant Pot directions

  1. Place the oil in Instant Pot, heat on High on Sauté setting.
  2. While oil is heating, place 2 tablespoons flour and chicken pieces in a large baggie; shake to coat chicken with flour.
  3. Add chicken to hot oil, skin side down, and sauté until lightly browned, around 3 to 4 minutes. Flip over and cook for 3 minutes. Remove chicken from heat and set aside. Don’t clean out pan!
  4. Turn temperature down to medium and add chopped onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft. Stir in paprika.
  5. Place chicken broth in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add reserved tomato juice to make 1 cup liquid. Stir into onion mixture.
  6. Add diced tomatoes, yellow pepper and salt to sauce. Nestle in chicken pieces. Place glass Instant Pot lid on Pot, switch setting to Slow Cook, on Medium; cook for 6 to 8 hours, or until chicken is very tender.
  7. Remove chicken pieces from sauce and set aside, leaving the sauce in the pan.
  8. Place 3/4 cup sour cream in a small mixing bowl; whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk in 3 spoonfuls of the sauce from the chicken, one spoonful at a time. Stir mixture into sauce in the pan and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  9. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. If desired, add more sour cream to taste. Place chicken back in sauce to heat through.
  10. Serve over Hungarian Dumplings, egg noodles or other pasta.

Slow Cooker Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.
  2. While oil is heating, place 2 tablespoons flour and chicken pieces in a large baggie; shake to coat chicken with flour.
  3. Add chicken to hot oil, skin side down, and sauté until lightly browned, around 3 to 4 minutes. Flip over and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove chicken from heat and set aside.
  4. Turn temperature down to medium and add chopped onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft. Transfer to slow cooker. Stir in paprika.
  5. Place chicken broth in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add reserved tomato juice to make 1 cup liquid. Stir into onion mixture. Add diced tomatoes, yellow pepper and salt. Nestle chicken pieces in sauce. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until chicken is very tender.
  6. Remove chicken pieces from sauce and set aside, leaving the sauce in the pan.
  7. Place 3/4 cup sour cream in a small mixing bowl; whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk in 3 spoonfuls of the sauce from the chicken, one spoonful at a time. Stir mixture into sauce in the pan and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If desired, add more sour cream to taste. Place chicken back in sauce to heat through.
  9. Serve over Hungarian Dumplings, egg noodles or other pasta.

Stove Top Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet (cast iron works well) over high heat.
  2. While oil is heating, place 2 tablespoons flour and chicken pieces in a large baggie; shake to coat chicken with flour.
  3. Add chicken to hot oil, skin side down, and sauté until lightly browned, around 3 to 4 minutes. Flip over and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove chicken from heat and set aside. Don’t clean out pan!
  4. Turn temperature down to medium and add chopped onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until soft. Stir in paprika.
  5. Place chicken broth in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add reserved tomato juice to make 1 cup liquid. Stir into onion mixture. Add diced tomatoes, yellow pepper and salt. Nestle chicken pieces in sauce. Cover pan and cook on low heat until chicken is very tender cooked through (165 degrees on an instant read thermometer), around 45 minutes.
  6. Remove chicken pieces from sauce and set aside. Leaving the sauce in the pan.
  7. Place 3/4 cup sour cream in a small mixing bowl; whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk in 3 spoonfuls of the sauce from the chicken, one spoonful at a time. Stir mixture into sauce in the pan and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If desired, add more sour cream to taste. Place chicken back in sauce to heat through.
  9. Serve over Hungarian Dumplings, egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Notes

Gluten Free: use gluten free flour.

Note on paprika: it’s important to use good quality, Hungarian paprika. It’s the true star of the dish, and can make or break it. I get mine at Savory Spice in Denver; you can order from them online, too.

Note on chicken: use bone in, skin on chicken drumsticks or thighs. These chicken pieces provide the most flavor, and have the best texture after stewing. Chicken breasts tend to get dried out when slow cooked – yes, even when cooked in a sauce. Also, keeping the skin on helps the chicken pieces hold their shape.

Note on Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers: These peppers are not sweet, but spicy. If you can’t find them, look for Caribe peppers (I found these at my local Kroger grocery store). Jalapeno or serrano peppers are also a good substitute.

Lee Clayton Roper

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I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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