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This traditional Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (or Chicken Paprikas) recipe is comfort food at its best! A rich, creamy sauce flavored with sweet Hungarian paprika surrounds tender chicken and chewy spaetzle for a delicious meal!
I LOVE Hungarian food and this is the quintessential Hungarian dish. When I think of using sour cream to finish a dish, I think of Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (Csirkepaprikás) and Russian Beef Stroganoff. They rank up there with Hungarian walnut cookies and kiffles for me!
When I was working in Cleveland, Ohio, I’d go out to authentic Hungarian restaurants as a treat. But in NYC, if you want Chicken Paprikash with Hungarian dumplings, you are just going to have to make it yourself! So I did just that. I will walk you through every step needed to make this flavorful recipe below.
With a dish that has so few ingredients, one must use THE BEST of each. That means a rich chicken broth (preferably homemade chicken broth), authentic, imported Hungarian paprika (Kalustyans is one of my favorite spice emporiums in NYC), and a good quality sour cream. They will make all the difference!
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Why you will love Hungarian Chicken Paprikash:
- It’s a bowl full of comfort. If you’re enduring a long, cold winter, or you just need a truly comforting meal, the savory chicken, warm, creamy sauce, and delicious dumplings will make you forget about the snow outside.
- It’s easier than you think! If the thought of making homemade dumplings sounds intimidating, I thought so too. But truthfully, it isn’t that hard! You stir them up in one bowl and drop the dough into boiling water with a spoon. That’s it!
- The flavor is perfectly balanced. The earthy, sweet flavor of the paprika complements the bold, tangy sour cream to create a warm and deeply savory dish.
Professional tips for making Chicken Paprikash with Spaetzle
- Be sure to cut your chicken into uniform pieces to ensure it cooks at an even rate. If you have larger and smaller pieces in the same pan, the smaller pieces will dry out before the larger pieces have cooked through.
- Add a little flour at a time. When thickening a sauce using flour, add a small amount of flour at a time, and stir until it is fully incorporated before adding more. The sauce is thick enough when it coats the back of a spoon.
- Cook only half of the spaetzle dough. If there are too many dumplings in the pot at a time, they may stick together or cook unevenly.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is best in this dish. It allows you more control over the saltiness of the sauce.
- Chicken: This recipe calls for both boneless, skinless chicken thighs and boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- Onion: I recommend using a sweet or yellow onion in this dish for the most authentic flavor.
- Chicken Broth: Homemade chicken broth or chicken stock will yield the most flavorful result in this recipe, but a good quality container of store-bought broth or stock will work well, too.
- Paprika: I recommend Hungarian sweet paprika for this dish. It has a mild and earthy flavor that works well with the rich, tangy sour cream.
- Salt and Pepper I always recommend using kosher salt in your cooking. It is less salty by volume than table salt or sea salt, allowing greater control over your seasoning.
- Flour All-purpose flour is best here. It coats the chicken and also helps the sauce to become thicker. Flour creates the structure for the dumplings and binds the ingredients together when mixed with water.
- Sour Cream Be sure to use a high-quality, full-fat sour cream in this recipe.
- Water: Regular, cold to room temperature water will work best here. This will help the gluten develop better than hot water.
- Whole Eggs: The egg’s only job here is to act as a binder for the dumplings while adding flavor. It keeps them from falling apart in the water!
- Use egg noodles. While cooking homemade spaetzle is totally manageable, you can always pick up egg noodles if you don’t want to bother with it!
- Different types of paprika are possible in for this recipe. Hot paprika has a spicy kick to it that may appeal to you. Smoked paprika has a smokier taste. You can also combine different types of paprika.
- Use different cuts of chicken. Some people enjoy whole, bone-in chicken legs or drumsticks in this dish. If using these, ensure you cook them to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit rather than relying on the times listed in the recipe.
How to Make Chicken Paprikash with Homemade Spaetzle
Use these instructions to make the perfect Paprikas every time! Further details and measurements are in the recipe card below.
Make Hungarian paprikas:
Step 1: Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and dry and dust lightly with flour.
Step 2: Heat a large skillet over medium heat until it is hot. Melt ¼ cup butter. Add the chicken pieces, paprika, salt and pepper, and sauté until the chicken’ is lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and let the chicken rest, tented loosely with foil.
Step 3: Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. Add the onion and sauté until they are translucent. Return the chicken to the pan.
Step 4: Add chicken broth and gently simmer over low heat until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and tent loosely with foil.
Step 5: Stir 2 tablespoons of flour into the pan and boil until the sauce has thickened to your taste.
Step 6: Add sour cream and return chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce.
I always recommend tasting as you cook to ensure everything is in balance. If you find your dish is under-seasoned, add an extra pinch of salt.
Prepare homemade spaetzle:
When making dumplings from scratch, I suggest you make the spaetzle while your chicken is simmering in the broth. If made too early, they may sit for too long and dry out.
Step 7: Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Step 8: Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs, water and butter.
Step 9: Stir until the batter is smooth and thick.
Step 10: Drop batter (each dollop is about a teaspoon) into boiling water with a spoon; dipping the spoon into the water each time. This will keep your spoon clean and make the whole process less painful.
Step 11: Stir the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, so that the dumplings will rise to the top. After the dumplings rise to the top, let them boil for about 2 minutes more.
Step 12: Remove to a large colander and drain while you repeat the process with the second half of the batter.
Step 13: Add about a teaspoon of butter to the spaetzle and toss to coat. (This isn’t traditional but I found that it kept them from sticking together.)
This dish has a beautiful, vibrant red sauce that doesn’t require much embellishment to impress. However, you can add some fresh herbs, like parsley, to the dish for an extra pop of color.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
Many people (including some very famous people and magazines) incorrectly call this dish Chicken Paprikash, which is how it is pronounced. The dish is technically Hungarian Chicken Paprikas (Csirkepaprikás)! It came about when, around 1920, a Hungarian chef was looking to mimic the French cooking style of adding heavy cream by using the sour cream available to him, which resulted in the tangy, savory sauce used in this dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can store leftover Chicken Paprikas and homemade spaetzle in separate airtight containers. They will last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Storing them separately will prevent the dumplings from becoming mushy.
Chicken Paprikash is made from chicken that is browned in butter with Hungarian paprika and onions. Sour cream helps to create a tangy, savory sauce for the dish. It is generally served over spaetzle or egg noodles.
Spaetzle is a type of small dumpling with simple ingredients including flour, water, salt, and butter. The dumplings are poached in boiling water to create their soft but chewy texture.
To reheat Chicken Paprikas, place the chicken and sauce in a saucepan over low heat until warmed through. Low heat will help prevent the sour cream from separating from the sauce. To reheat spaetzle, place them in a pan with a bit of butter. Cook on medium to medium-high heat until the spaetzle is warmed through.
If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!
Hungarian Chicken Paprikash
For the Chicken Paprikas:
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour as needed for coating chicken
- 1 cup sour cream
Prepare the Chicken Paprikas:
- Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and dry and dust lightly with flour.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat until it is hot. Melt ¼ cup butter. Add the chicken pieces, paprika, salt and pepper, and sauté until the chicken is lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan and let the chicken rest, tented loosely with foil.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. Add the onion and sauté until they are translucent. Return the chicken to the pan.
- Add chicken broth and gently simmer over low heat until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan and tent loosely with foil.
- Stir 2 tablespoons of flour into the pan and boil until the sauce has thickened to your taste. Add sour cream and return chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce.
- Serve with spaetlze or egg noodles.
Prepare the Spaetzle:
- I suggest you make the spaetlze while your chicken is simmering in the broth. I made mine too early and they sat around for way too long.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs, water and butter.
- Stir until the batter is smooth and thick.
- Drop batter (each dollop is about a teaspoon) into boiling water with a spoon; dipping the spoon into the water each time. This will keep your spoon clean and make the whole process less painful.
- Stir the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, so that the dumplings will rise to the top. After the dumplings rise to the top, let them boil for about 2 minutes more.
- Remove to a large colander and drain while you repeat the process with the second half of the batter.
- Add about a teaspoon of butter to the spaetzle and toss to coat. (This isn’t traditional but I found that it kept them from sticking together.)
Before You Go!
I hope you enjoyed this professional chef-tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed easy chicken recipes!