Chicken Paprikash: A Classic Hungarian Dish


 Chicken Paprikash: A Classic Hungarian Dish


Chicken paprikash is a classic Hungarian dish that is known for its rich flavors and hearty ingredients. This comforting dish features tender chicken thighs cooked in a flavorful sauce made with paprika, onions, peppers, and tomatoes. It is traditionally served with boiled potatoes, noodles, or rice, making it a satisfying meal that is perfect for any occasion. In this article, we will explore the history of chicken paprikash, the key ingredients used in the dish, and a step-by-step guide on how to make it. So let's dive in and discover the wonders of this delicious Hungarian specialty.

History of Chicken Paprikash

Chicken paprikash, also known as "paprikás csirke" in Hungarian, is a beloved dish that has been a staple in Hungarian cuisine for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the 18th century when paprika, a spice made from dried and ground red peppers, was introduced to Hungary. Paprika quickly became a popular ingredient in Hungarian cooking, and chicken paprikash emerged as one of the most iconic dishes showcasing this flavorful spice.

The dish was traditionally prepared by Hungarian peasants using affordable ingredients like chicken and paprika, making it a popular choice among the working class. Over time, chicken paprikash gained popularity beyond Hungary and became a beloved comfort food in many other countries.

Key Ingredients of Chicken Paprikash

Chicken paprikash is made with a handful of simple yet flavorful ingredients that come together to create a delightful culinary experience. Let's take a closer look at the key ingredients used in this classic Hungarian dish:

1. Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are the star of the dish, providing tender and juicy meat that absorbs the flavors of the sauce. The skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs add richness and depth to the dish, making it incredibly satisfying.

2. Paprika

Paprika is the key spice in chicken paprikash, giving the dish its vibrant red color and distinct flavor. Hungarian paprika is the preferred choice for an authentic taste, but you can use sweet or smoked paprika depending on your preference. The paprika adds a mild heat and a touch of smokiness to the dish.

3. Onions

Onions are an essential component of the sauce, providing a savory and slightly sweet flavor. Finely chopped onions are cooked until golden brown, adding a rich caramelized taste to the dish.

4. Peppers

Red or green peppers, or a combination of both, are added to the dish to provide a subtle sweetness and a hint of crunch. The peppers complement the flavors of the chicken and paprika, adding a vibrant touch to the overall presentation.

5. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another key ingredient in chicken paprikash, adding a tangy and slightly acidic taste to balance out the richness of the dish. Fresh, ripe tomatoes are deseeded and chopped, or you can use canned chopped tomatoes for convenience.

6. Flour

Flour is used to thicken the sauce and create a velvety texture. It also helps to coat the chicken thighs, ensuring that the flavors are evenly distributed throughout the dish.

7. Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is the base of the sauce, providing a savory and flavorful liquid that enhances the taste of the dish. It adds depth and richness to the sauce, making it even more satisfying.

8. Soured Cream

Soured cream, also known as sour cream or crème fraîche, is added at the end of cooking to create a creamy and luxurious texture. It adds a tangy flavor and helps to balance out the heat from the paprika.

9. Boiled Potatoes, Noodles, or Rice

Chicken paprikash is traditionally served with boiled potatoes, noodles, or rice, providing a comforting and filling accompaniment to the dish. The starch helps to soak up the flavorful sauce, creating a complete and satisfying meal.

How to Make Chicken Paprikash

Now that we've explored the history and key ingredients of chicken paprikash, let's dive into the step-by-step process of making this delicious Hungarian dish. Here's a simple recipe to guide you:


  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 red or green peppers (or a mixture), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely grated
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes (around 400g), deseeded and chopped, or a 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1½ tbsp plain flour
  • 3 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp hot paprika (optional)
  • 350ml chicken stock
  • 200ml soured cream
  • Boiled potatoes, noodles, or rice, to serve


  1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Fry the chicken thighs in batches for 5-8 minutes until browned all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the chopped onions to the pan and fry for 8-10 minutes until softened and turning golden.
  5. Stir in the chopped peppers and cook for 3 minutes, then add the crushed garlic and tomatoes. Cook for another 5-8 minutes until the tomatoes have started to break down.
  6. Sprinkle in the flour, sweet smoked paprika, and hot paprika (if using), and cook for 30 seconds more.
  7. Return the chicken thighs to the pan and mix gently to coat them with the sauce.
  8. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the lid and simmer for another 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  10. Stir in the soured cream and cook for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened further.
  11. Serve the chicken paprikash with boiled potatoes, noodles, or rice.


Chicken paprikash is a classic Hungarian dish that showcases the flavors of paprika and brings comfort and satisfaction to the table. With its tender chicken thighs, flavorful sauce, and hearty accompaniments, it has become a beloved dish in many households.

Whether you're looking to explore Hungarian cuisine or simply craving a comforting meal, chicken paprikash is a must-try. Its rich flavors and simple preparation make it a versatile dish that can be enjoyed any time of the year. So gather the ingredients, follow the step-by-step recipe, and savor the taste of this delightful Hungarian specialty.

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