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Paprikás Csirke (Paprika Chicken)

(recipe, Carolyn Banfalvi)


Paprikás csirke (pronounced "paprikash cheerke") is one of the most classic of Hungarian dishes. Named for the large amount of paprika that goes into the sauce, the paprikás method can also be applied to veal. In Hungary, this dish is usually eaten with galuska (spaetzle), and a cucumber salad in a sweet-and-sour dressing is a perfect match to the peppery sauce. The best type of pot to use is a cast-iron casserole, but any pot with a tight-fitting lid will do. Cooking the chicken with the skin intact greatly benefits the flavor, so if you prefer your chicken skinless, remove it before serving. For best results, use a high-quality Hungarian sweet paprika.


  1. 2 Tbsp. lard or oil
  2. 2 large onions, peeled and minced
  3. 1½ tsp. salt
  4. 2 to 3 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  5. 1 or 2 tomatoes, chopped
  6. 2 lb. chicken pieces
  7. 1 banana pepper, sliced into rings
  8. 2 Tbsp. sour cream, plus more for garnish if desired
  9. 1 Tbsp. flour
  10. 2 Tbsp. heavy cream


  1. Heat the lard or oil in the pot, add the onions, sprinkle with half of the salt, and cook, covered, over very low heat until the onions are glossy but not browned. Turn off the heat (so the paprika doesn’t burn and become bitter) and stir in the paprika.
  2. Add the tomatoes and ½ cup of water and mix. Turn the heat back on low and place the chicken pieces in the pot. Sprinkle the remaining salt on the chicken, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes, checking every few minutes to see whether it needs more water.
  3. Remove the lid, add the sliced peppers, and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, flour, and heavy cream.
  5. Remove the pieces of chicken and place the pieces on a serving platter.
  6. Add the sour cream mixture to the paprika sauce and stir until blended. Cook for a minute or two, but don’t let the sauce come to a boil. Pour the paprika sauce over the chicken pieces. Garnish with a spoonful of sour cream, if desired, and sprinkle with paprika.


Culinate editor's notes: For a sauce with more heat, use a blend of sweet paprika and "half-sharp" paprika. Depending on the size of the chicken pieces you use, the cooking time will vary; the time given in the recipe is for smaller pieces of meat, such as small whole thighs and drumsticks. Whole legs will take at least an hour to braise.