Oma's Chicken Paprikash

By • December 10, 2013 • 38 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.
Jump to Comments (38)

Comments (38) Questions (1)

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about 1 month 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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10 months 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.

Stringio

10 months ago Michele Heaton

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

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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months ago vlucky

thank you!

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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months ago Arrxx

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

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10 months ago Kathy

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

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10 months 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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10 months ago vlucky

In the author's note it says by hand.

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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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10 months ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

wow, I bet those peppers are amazing!!!

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10 months ago vlucky

Very tempting. Has anyone made this with chicken broth instead of water? Can't see how it would hurt but was wondering if it messes with the flavor.

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10 months ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Try it! I bet it would be great!

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10 months ago kmpmilano

Yes, we always use chicken broth.

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10 months ago vlucky

Thanks!

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10 months ago Kathy

My mom is Slovak, too, and used to make this with pheasant ! I was gifted with three beautiful pheasant this week and was planning on making Pheasant Paprikash today. How serendipitous that this arrived in my emailbox this morning :)

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10 months ago kmpmilano

My dad is Hungarian and my mom Slovak; this was one of our favorite meals growing up. Mom's recipe was basically the same, though she used a browned a whole cut-up chicken and of course started with lard. lol

My least favorite part was beating the dough for the halušky (dumplings) because she would always say, "Not yet, keep going" until my arm was about to fall off. Looking forward to trying yr day-after dumplings, though we rarely had any left over!

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10 months ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

My Oma used a whole chicken too, and probably lard-- the chicken breasts were my mom's tweaks she made so that us picky kids would eat it! It is tough saving the dumplings, but they're so good the next day, totally worth it! :)

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10 months ago Melanie Kercmar

I will try the lemon zest next time or maybe some lemon juice.

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10 months ago Melanie Kercmar

One of the best versions I've tried! Love it!!

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10 months ago Sofia

Chicken paprika is one of our family recipes too, except that there isn't really a recipe, so this will be a helpful recipe. We don't use sour cream though. Most interested in the dumpling (which in our house are spaetzle) recipe--because we also have trouble with them disintegrating in the water. To which my mom unhelpfully replies, don't mix in so much air.

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10 months ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Sofia, my Oma's dumplings are a denser, bigger, and more doughy than regular spaetzle, but they hold up really well in this dish. I do love spaetzle though!!

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about 1 month ago Windischgirl

Sofia, if your spaetzli are disintegrating in the water, you probably need to add more flour, or decrease the amount of liquid (regrets to your Anyu). If I'm making spaetzli, I use eggs and flour (but minimal water or milk) and make a few test spaetzli to see if I've added enough flour. The batter should be fairly stiff.
And no sour cream? Oh dear. Every Hungarian dish needs sour cream...even dessert!

Stringio

11 months ago Nicole Boyd

Made this tonight for dinner. Pretty good. Definitely in the "comfort food" category. Followed the recipe exactly, after one bowl, we put some lemon zest in the rest of it to brighten it up a bit. Over all tho I really lik this dish. Thank you!!

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11 months ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Thank you Nicole, so glad you liked it! I love the lemon zest idea, I'll try that next I make it, and will pass the note on to my mom :).