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Chicken Paprikash

March 21, 2021
Chicken Paprikash

I was a child of the 1980s, and that scene also first introduced me to chicken paprikash, or paprikas csirke in Hungarian: the country’s famous stewed chicken dish, which turns rosy under the heavy influence of sweet paprika. Over the ensuing decades, I have probably eaten the dish only half a dozen times. Still, I feel an unspoken connection to chicken paprikash as a food of my people. The dish—and a liberal hand with the paprika shaker more broadly—has always seemed implicitly Jewish.

Featured in: Red, Delicious: How Paprika Became Jews’ Favorite Hungarian Spice


  • 2tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1teaspoon salt, or more if needed
  • ½teaspoon black pepper, plus more if needed
  • 4pounds chicken thighs and legs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2onions, finely chopped
  • 1green bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 4cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2tablespoons tomato paste
  • cup chicken broth
  • ¼teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more if needed
  • chopped fresh parsley, for serving
Yield: Serves 4


  • Step 1

    In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture evenly over the chicken pieces, reserving any excess rub (you’ll use it in a minute). Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or another large, heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces and brown them on both sides, turning once with tongs, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove browned chicken from pot and set aside on a plate.

  • Step 2

    Lower heat to medium and add the onions, bell pepper, celery, and chopped garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 7-10 minutes. Stir in any remaining paprika rub along with the tomatoes and juice, tomato paste, broth, and cayenne. Return chicken pieces to the pot and spoon sauce over top. Lower heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and tender, 50-60 minutes.

  • Step 3

    Uncover the pot, remove chicken pieces with tongs and arrange on a serving platter. Allow the sauce to cook down in the pan, stirring often, until it thickens slightly, 3-5 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, and cayenne, if desired. Spoon sauce over the chicken and top with fresh parsley.

  • Note: Serve this dish over egg noodles, rice, or Israeli couscous.

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