Chicken paprikash is the epitome of Eastern European comfort food, and a much-beloved dish from my childhood that my mother often prepared. Fantastic served over buttered egg noodles, spaetzle, or tiny gnocchi, my chicken paprikash recipe features juicy chunks of boneless chicken thighs, vegetables, a generous sprinkle of sweet Hungarian paprika, a touch of bay leaf, and a rich, velvety sauce kissed with sour cream!
Eastern European Comfort Food That Reminds Me of Home
Being the daughter of two immigrant parents from Slovakia, I grew up enjoying many comfy-cozy, Eastern European dishes prepared with an abundance of TLC.
From homemade chicken soup that would simmer for hours on our stove, to beef goulash, to haluski, to either sweet or savory pierogi, to tangy sauerkraut soup, I had the privilege of partaking in many delicious meals that were slightly unique compared to those that my childhood friends ate at their homes. (You can check out my beef goulash recipe, my potato and sauerkraut pierogi, or how I make my chicken stock, if you'd like!)
One of our family's most beloved dishes to this day is my mom's chicken paprikash, one that she always put so much love into preparing for us and serving over small spaetzle, which she prepared by hand, or over hot, buttered egg noodles sprinkled with parsley.
Though she never wrote any recipes down, and always just used her senses and intuition as her guide when preparing our meals, she pretty much prepared her chicken paprikash the same way every time she made it, tweaking things ever-so slightly here and there depending on her taste.
Mom's version always contained bite-size chunks of chicken rather than large, bone-in pieces, plus lots of diced veggies such as carrot, celery, onion, and diced tomato if she had a couple of fresh ones on hand.
She loved to add a couple of dried, aromatic bay leaves to the sauce as it simmered, along with a copious amount of sweet Hungarian paprika for color, and finished things off with some generous spoonfuls of sour cream—so delicious!
And seeing as I myself enjoy preparing chicken paprikash as much as I do these days, I thought I'd share the recipe here with you so that you too can taste the coziness and the love that our family has had the pleasure of enjoying through this dish all these years.
Warming, rich and creamy, this chicken paprikash is one of those irresistible, comforting, rustic meals that speak to the soul, and is not only a pleasure to prepare, but a pleasure to share with those you love.
My Chicken Paprikash Recipe
What I appreciate about chicken paprikash is how uncomplicated it is to prepare, yet how delicious it is with its deep earthy flavors.
Every version seems to be just a little bit different, and I think this depends on how one's family prepared it, and from what region (Hungary, Slovakia, etc.) they gain their influence.
For my chicken paprikash recipe, I'm going based on how my mom made hers, and using skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-size chunks (as opposed to whole thighs and/or legs) for quicker cooking and more convenient eating.
I also like to use a basic mirepoix—the trio of veggies consisting of carrot, celery and onion—along with some garlic, a couple of diced, fresh tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock.
Sometimes you'll even see diced bell pepper added to paprikash (I even recall my mom adding some into hers from time to time, though not very often), but I'm not personally the biggest fan of bell pepper in this dish, so I leave it out.
And when it comes to the spices, let's talk paprika for a sec, shall we?
There are several types of paprika you can choose from on the market shelves, so you want to be sure to opt for sweet paprika here, not hot (unless you want your chicken paprikash spicy).
When choosing paprika, look for packages/bottles labeled either “sweet Hungarian paprika” or “Hungarian sweet paprika”, or just “paprika”, which will be a non-spicy, standard paprika.
All of these should be quite easy to find in the spice section of your local market—just avoid Spanish paprika or smoked paprika, as these will end up adding much more of a smoky-spicy flavor to this dish.
Here's a glance at my chicken paprikash recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I season my chicken and sear it for a couple of moments in my hot Dutch oven or pot to gain some color. Then, I remove the chicken and set aside for a moment.
- Next, I add in my aromatics and veggies and saute to soften them, then sprinkle with a bit of flour and whisk in my chicken stock (or broth).
- I bring the aromatics and veggie mixture to a simmer (or light boil), then add my chicken back into the pot, reduce the heat, and allow it all to gently simmer for about 35 minutes to meld the flavors, and until the chicken is completely cooked through and the veggies tender.
- To finish, I stir in some sour cream and a sprinkle of parsley, then spoon the chicken paprikash over top of spaetzle, buttered egg noodles, or little gnocchi.
by Ingrid Beer
This chicken paprikash is just like mom used to make, with juicy chunks of chicken, veggies, and a rich, velvety sauce kissed with sour cream!
Cuisine: Eastern European
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 326 calories per serving (paprikash only)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- 1 ¾ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 ¼ cups sliced baby carrots (or about 4 medium-small carrots)
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 2 large, dried bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons paprika (sweet, not hot)
- Pinch white pepper
- ¼ cup (level) flour
- 2 ¼ cups chicken stock or broth
- 2 Roma or campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- Chopped parsley, for garnish
- To get started, gather and prep all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Place the chicken pieces into a large bowl, and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Place a pot or a large, deep Dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in the olive oil. Once hot, add the seasoned chicken pieces and sear them for a few moments just until a pale golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add in the butter, and once melted, add in the onion, carrot and celery, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute to soften things a bit, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, the bay leaves, the paprika, and the white pepper, and stir those in to incorporate.
- Once aromatic, sprinkle in the flour in an even layer, and stir to incorporate it into the veggies, cooking it for about 30 seconds or so.
- Next, gently whisk in the chicken stock until well blended and smooth, and bring things to a vigorous simmer. Add back into the pot the chicken, as well as the diced tomatoes, then reduce the heat so that the chicken paprikash is gently bubbling.
- Cover with a lid slightly askew, and cook the paprikash for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the veggies and chicken are tender, and the flavors melded.
- To finish the chicken paprikash, remove the bay leaves and gently whisk in the sour cream. Fold in the chopped parsley, and serve with your choice of side such as buttered egg noodles, spaetzle, gnocchi, or mashed potatoes.
Tips & Tidbits for my Chicken Paprikash recipe:
- Bite-size pieces of skinless, boneless chicken thighs: I'm opting for bite-size pieces of chicken here, and like to use boneless, skinless thighs as they stay nice and juicy when simmered up. You could use large pieces of chicken such as skin-on and bone-in thighs and legs, just simmer them longer (about 45 to 50 minutes), then remove them before whisking in the sour cream at the end—add them back in, of course, before serving.
- Sweet paprika: When choosing paprika, be sure to go for “Hungarian sweet paprika” or “sweet Hungarian paprika”, or regular “paprika”. Avoid Spanish, hot, or smoked paprika here.
- What to serve with chicken paprikash: I love to serve this dish over homemade spaetzle, but these require a spaetzle maker to prepare. (A great alternative to spaetzle is small gnocchi, which are similar but a bit more pillowy.) My other favorite accompaniment is buttered egg noodles, or even mashed potatoes for a heartier side.