Oma's Chicken Paprikash

By • December 10, 2013 51 Comments

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Author Notes: When my mom married into my dad’s Eastern European family with their slivovitz (plum brandy), goulash, and strudel, she tried to get my dad’s favorite recipes from my Oma (dad’s mom), but nothing was written in English, and Oma was tight-lipped with her secret ingredients. So my mom watched Oma make this dish -- chicken paprikash -- time and time again to get it right.

This version has the tweaks my mom made along the way, and was one of the most requested recipes in my house when I was growing up. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods: chicken and plump, chewy dumplings, floating in a deep red, creamy gravy spotted with little shiny pockets of oil. It's tangy and sweet, with a slight peppery bitterness when the paprika hits the back of your throat.

One of the best things about making chicken paprikash for dinner? Setting aside extra dumplings for cinnamon sugar dumplings the next morning!

The second photo I've uploaded is of Oma & Opa in the 50s or 60s on their egg farm; the third photo is me cooking with Oma last summer.
Loves Food Loves to Eat

Food52 Review: Here's a warm and inviting dish of comfort food that's ideal for my 4-person family. The prep was deceptively simple, and I worried there would be little flavor -- but I was wrong. The final product was very tasty and was enjoyed by my 38-year-old husband as well as my 4-year-old daughter. I served it with steamed broccoli, which was a nice side.Molly Fellin Spence

Serves 4

Paprikash

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 heaping tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 2 chicken breasts, quartered (or 4 bone-in thighs)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 spoonful flour
  • Salt and pepper

Dumplings

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 cups flour
  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil, and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost translucent. Add paprika -- it will seem like a lot, but trust me, the more the better -- and stir to combine. Heat through for several more minutes -- adding the paprika at the beginning of the cooking process intensifies the smoky-sweet, robust flavor -- and cook until the onions are cooked through, stirring almost continuously.
  2. Add chicken and stir to coat with paprika, let it brown slightly, and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Add more water if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Combine all dumpling ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with bread hook until combined -- the dough will be thick and sticky. In a pot of boiling, salted water, drop in 5 tablespoon-sized dollops at a time, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until cooked through. The dumplings should be slippery on the outside, and bready on the inside. Set aside a bowl-full for the next day's breakfast, and refrigerate it overnight.
  4. Before serving, add the remaining dumplings to paprikash.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, a spoonful of flour, and a splash of water, and stir into the paprikash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Give the chicken a rough shred with your fork, and serve in a bowl, as you would a stew.
  6. The next morning, slice the dumplings you set aside, and heat with a healthy-sized pat of butter. Top with a good shower of cinnamon and sugar.
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Comments (51) Questions (1)

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3 months ago David Cannon

Wait - you add raw flour to the bowl just before serving? That doesn't sound right.

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3 months ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

David I'm not sure I understand your question? Just before serving, add the dumplings (which were prepared in the previous step) to the bowl. Good luck!

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3 months ago David Cannon

I was looking at step 5 where you add cream and a spoonful of flour to the soup just before serving. I've never put raw flour in a dish before - are you sure that will work?

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3 months ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Oh! :) Yep.. That's how I've always made it! You whisk it with the sour cream first, then stir it right into the pot! It helps thicken it up just a bit, but is such a small amount (just a little spoonful in a large pot of Paprikash) that it doesn't have that raw flour taste!

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3 months ago lastnightsdinner

It's kind of like using a slurry to thicken a soup or sauce - at any rate, it works and I've not noticed any raw flour taste at all.

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3 months ago lastnightsdinner

I've made this three times now and it is SO, SO GOOD. Seriously brilliant recipe, and thank you so much for sharing it with us!

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4 months ago Marie Frank

A friend gave me a recipe for chicken paprikash, and his family was Hungarian, and this was exactly how they made it! No green peppers or tomatoes like other recipes I have seen. This is delicious!!!

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4 months ago Phyllis

We had this for dinner today, thoroughly enjoyed by all! Just like Mom's except called for chicken stock and a whole stick of butter (!). I stuck with the chicken stock rather than water, but gladly gave up the butter and it wasn't missed at all. Mom would also freeze portions for a quick lunch. If we had left overs but no ingredients for dumplings or spaetzle, Mom would serve over white rice. Thanks for the perfect comfort food dinner that I'll make on a regular basis! FYI I found on Livestrong.com ..."At 19 calories per tablespoon, paprika adds only a negligible amount to your daily calorie intake, but it comes packed with nutrients. Just a single 1-tablespoon serving provides ample amounts of several beneficial nutrients, especially carotenoids -- a nutrient family that includes vitamin A."

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7 months ago Yvonne VanderHorst-Busdeker

This is a family recipe that's been passed down in our family. It's my pride and joy that I can make it perfectly. It's a special occassion meal because I trash the kithcen every time! So happy to see it being shared. It's a recipe more people need to make. Such an easy comfort meal! Thanks for sharing.

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7 months ago linda holly

this is awesomely easy and delicious

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7 months ago molly yeh

i made this last night and it was deeeeeelicious!! i didn't have any sour cream, so i subbed unsweetened whipped cream that i had made earlier in the day, added a bit more flour, and it was perfect :)

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7 months ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

whoa thanks Molly! (having a fangirl moment!)

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9 months ago NoONE

I love the way everyone adds their own comments! I was barred from Allrecipes for posting comments like the ones I read here all the time! Glad I'm in good company!

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over 1 year ago Anita

Lard was a staple. It was rendered and kept in a crock. Used for everything from cooking to baking. When the cupboards were bare, so to speak, a smear of lard on a slice of crusty french/italian or german rye bread with a sprinkle of salt and paprika. In reading the commentary, I would like to encourage NOT using any liquid of any kind. If done correctly-slow and low-you will be amazed as to the amount of natural juices that will accumulate and that is the essence of this delicious dish. At a well known national cookware store they have a "Chicken Paprikash Starter". It's absurd.

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over 1 year ago Michele Heaton

Just wonderful...made it with chicken thighs. This I'll definitely make again!!

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over 1 year ago paula katz

Tasty recipe and even better in the days that followed as the chicken and dumplings soaked in the sauce. I would make the dumplings much smaller next time. Considering a technique for pulling up the dough and cutting it with sharp scissors so that dumplings are gnocchi size. Otherwise, delish, even as I ended up supplementing my sour cream with Greek yogurt. Thank you.

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6 months ago Deanna Jackson

I know this may be late to comment but had you considered putting the dough into a pastry bag and cutting off the desired length from that?

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over 1 year ago Meghan0323

Delicious. Made last weekend with chicken thighs; tried it this weekend with chicken breast and added mushrooms. Prefer the thighs--but delicious either way. I served my over a vat of mashed potatoes--perfect in the cold, dark depths of winter. Thanks for the great recipe.

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over 1 year ago Anita

I am Hungarian and immigrated with my family. Our Paprikás Csirke is made in a heavy Dutch oven (LeCreuset) with Hungarian paprika, the best coming from Szeged. We add a whole Hungarian banana pepper, cored and seeded for heat (spiciness) to the onions. Then add the chicken pieces. Cover and turn down the heat - slow and low, checking every few minutes to make sure the natural juices are developing. Add a splash of water, if needed, to prevent scorching. Simmer until chicken is fork tender, Dumplings or spaetzle are made with eggs, flour, a pinch of salt and a small grate of nutmeg. Combined by hand in a bowl or wooden cutting board. They can be formed with the tip of a heated spoon out of the bowl or scraped and cut with a knife off the board or placed in a spaetzle maker. A large holed colander can work as well.

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over 1 year ago phzs

This seems the authentic version but you haven't mentioned the fat.
I'm still campaigning for duck fat or lard. :)

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over 1 year ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Anita, I love the idea of adding a whole pepper to the onions, and nutmeg to the dumplings. Great tips. phzs, re: the comment about "the authentic version," this recipe is my family's version of authentic (and also... I replied below too....duck fat for the win!)

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over 1 year ago jmspdx

RE: chicken broth. I used homemade stock rather than water, and the flavor was excellent. We really loved the chicken and sauce, but the dumplings were very different from what we're used to. The flavor was good with the dish, but we're accustomed to a leavened dumpling, and this was a bit gluey for us. I've made versions of paprikash that didn't have dumplings, so I will probably skip those next time, and just make the chicken, which, again, was wonderful.

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over 1 year ago vlucky

thank you!

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over 1 year ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

So glad you liked the flavor of the chicken and sauce! I've also seen version that use egg noodles instead of dumplings... that could be an option if you didn't care for my dumplings (though I love them!!) :)

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over 1 year ago peggy

My mother was a Hungarian and a fantastic cook. Regarding the dumplings: Mix them first and then make the chicken. Your dumplings must rest after they are mixed. Try it. You'll find they are must lighter and fluffier.

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over 1 year ago phzs

My experience is the sooner you cook the dumpling after mixing the better. If you wait the batter will be rubber-like and hard to cut.

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over 1 year ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Oh man... conflicting advice on the dumpling wait time... I'll try both next time, and report back :)

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over 1 year ago phzs

Some of you mentioned using lard. It makes a real different in taste and in consistency as well. Goose or duck fat will do or even better. Try it and you will use it from then on. :)

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over 1 year ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Thanks for the note phzs...duck fat is always a good answer, regardless of the question!

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over 1 year ago Arrxx

That's what grandma probably did too ;-))

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over 1 year ago Kathy

Well, I always used a bowl and a wooden spoon..... :)

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over 1 year ago Arrxx

My heart always sinks when I see a recipe that I want to make and then it says "in your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook." I cook a lot but don't have a stand mixer. I have lots of equipment but my kichen is small and a stand mixer takes up lots of room. So I wonder what grandma did in Budapest. Did she have a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook? Maybe she had a standing cook who did all the heavy work? Can the dumplings be made any other way other than in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook?

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over 1 year ago vlucky

In the author's note it says by hand.

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over 1 year ago kmpmilano

We never used a mixer--just a fork and our arms. My mom's recipe says, "Beat until bubbly", which is about when yr arm falls off.

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over 1 year ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Hey Arrxx, My Oma definitely made these by hand with a fork and bowl, but as noted above, this recipe has my mom's 'modern' tweaks that she made along the way. Feel free to use a fork and bowl... your arms will be tired, but the results will be delish! And no, Oma (in Yugloslavia...back when it was still Yugoslavia) definitely didn't use a stand mixer or have a paid cook :)

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over 1 year ago arcane54

This dish brings back so many fragrant memories -- of my German grandma who learned how to make chicken paprikash (and strudel!!) from her Eastern European neighbors on Chicago's south side. I've been growing my own paprika peppers and the ground powder is like gold. The yield is small but the flavor is BIG.

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over 1 year ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

wow, I bet those peppers are amazing!!!