Recipe: Mom’s Chicken Paprika

“Whose recipe is this? No, no, no. Much more paprika! Heap it on!”

And so the Adventure to recreate a favorite childhood supper began.

say this is mom’s chicken paprika, but it didn’t start out that way. I had a basic recipe and then asked for her help to execute it. As we simmered along, however, mom tossed corrections my way – saving me from disaster and cluing me into how she would have made it, if she was the one wielding the wooden spoon.

I promise you – although Chicken Paprika is not much to look at (especially if you add chunky chopped onions, like I did), it tastes amazingly creamy and – if you use good, half-sharp paprika – surprisingly spicy. Serve with buttered noodles for a completely addicting bite of Hungary. You can also roll shredded bits of the chicken inside Hungarian Crêpes (palacsinta) [recipe] and coat with the sauce – a great way to use up leftovers.


One 4 lb chicken, cut into pieces (or 2 lbs assorted chicken pieces)
2 Tbsp oil, or as needed
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp half-sharp paprika
1 1/2 cups sour cream


First things first, find a chicken to bone. This is the way an old Hungarian family would do it. Slice it up into legs, wings, and breast. Keep the carcass to make chicken stock.

Next, brown the chicken in batches. Use hot oil.

My mom would like to tell you that this is definitely not brown enough. She might even have yelled “Burn it!”

So, with that being said, remove the chicken once it is much browner. Pour off all but a tablespoon of fat. Set the chicken aside while you brown the onions.

While they’re cooking, add in some paprika.

“More! More! Much more.” mom says.

Once everything is brown and toasty and your mouth is watering, pour in the chicken stock…

and return the much, much, much, browner chicken to the pan. (She’ll never let me live this down). Season with salt.

Let simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is falling off the bone.

While it’s cooking, shut your eyes and imagine you’re laying in a field of poppies, staring at clouds dance across the sky.

Field of Poppies in Hungary

Ah, beautiful Hungary. Thank you for that daydream.

When 45 minutes are up, turn off the burner and remove the chicken to serving platter/bowl. Whisk the sour cream into the cooking liquid to make a pale pink sauce. Check the seasonings and add more salt if necessary.

Pour sauce over chicken. Serve over buttered noodles. You could also shred the chicken and roll it up in Hungarian Crêpes, a.k.a. palacsinta [recipe].

Ah, the joys of tender, succulent, spicy, creamy chicken.

Don’t think, just dive in.

And ladle on more sauce for the noodles.

Thanks Hungary!

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  1. Hi Sasha:

    Looks wonderful!

    What is “half-sharp” paprika. I’ve seen “sweet” and “hot” on the shelves, but never, “half-sharp”. Can you achieve “half-sharp” by mixing the two types? Is it a 1:1ratio?



    • My mom gave it to me – she got it at Penzey’s. The label says “Hungary Half-Sharp” and seems to be a blend of the two. They don’t indicate what ratio. though I’d assume it was 1:1. The flavor has the perfect heat level for me since cayenne is usually too much.

    • Brian S. says:

      I think there are 8 grades in Hungary, though the stuff they export isn’t as finely graded. Here they are, copied from a website:

      •Special Quality (Különleges): The mildest and brightest red of all Hungarian paprikas, with excellent aroma.
      •Delicate (Csípősmentes csemege): Ranging from light to dark red, a mild paprika with a rich flavor.
      •Exquisite Delicate (Csemegepaprika): Similar to Delicate, but more pungent.
      •Pungent Exquisite Delicate (Csípős csemege, Pikant): A yet more pungent Delicate.
      •Rose (Rózsa): Pale Red in color with strong aroma and mild pungency..
      •Noble Sweet (Édesnemes): The most commonly exported paprika; bright red and slightly pungent.
      •Half-Sweet (Félédes): A blend of mild and pungent paprikas; medium pungency.
      •Hot (Erős): Light brown in color, this is the hottest of all the paprikas

  2. I could eat this nonstop!

  3. aunty eileen says:

    I’m with ‘Mom’…. “definitely not brown enough” for me.

    Sasha: Do ya think it would be as good/tasty if before cooking
    I removed the skin from the chicken? Or maybe I could just
    brown a few pieces of the removed skin for added flavor? Do
    you eat the skin of the chicken? Maybe that is why mom says


    • Sasha Martin says:

      You’d lose a bit of the flavor, but I think it would still be good. You could always use more dark meat (it has more fat/flavor than white meat). I rarely eat chicken skin – it has to be very, very brown and crispy.

  4. Brian S. says:

    When you brown the chicken, how do you avoid being splashed by hot oil?

    • low & slow….
      medium temp and deliberate browning…

      you could cover the pan with one of those “screens”

  5. low & slow….
    medium temp and deliberate browning…

    you could cover the pan with one of those “screens”

  6. I make this with boneless skinless chicken bread. It comes out great, not as good as with the skin, the skin adds flavor and fat. But still great. Don’t overcook the chicken.

    This is one of my fav, my mom used to make it all the time.

  7. Oh yeah. You can also used 1/2 cup white wine and 1/2 cup chicken stock.

  8. This one is another easy one, and my husband has asked for it at least twice a week. I don’t let him have it, but he should would eat it that much.

  9. Silly question. Can I use smoked paprika?


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