Easy 4-Ingredient Chicken Paprikash Recipe

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Why It Works

  • Using high-quality paprika and toasting it in oil brings out its best flavors.
  • Chicken added raw and cooked slowly under a cover produces its own rich, flavorful sauce.

This version of chicken paprikash uses only four ingredients (okay, six if you count oil and salt), but it packs in the flavor by using high-quality paprika and a low-and-slow cooking technique to naturally draw flavorful juice out of the chicken as it cooks.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 60 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced or thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) high-quality Hungarian sweet paprika (see note)
  • 4 whole chicken legs, split into thighs and drumsticks (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for garnish
  • Egg noodles, boiled potatoes, or spaetzle for serving
  • Minced fresh parsley leaves or dill (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until completely softened and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add paprika and cook, stirring, until nutty and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken pieces, season with a little more salt, and turn them with tongs until well-coated in the onion/paprika mixture. Nestle the chicken in a single layer in the bottom of the pan, cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to the lowest setting, and cook until chicken is completely tender and pulls easily from the bone, 30 to 45 minutes.

  2. Remove chicken pieces and set aside on a large plate. Pour liquid into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Skim off excess fat and discard. There should be about 1 cup of liquid remaining in the cup. If not, add water or low-sodium chicken broth to the measuring cup for a total of 1 1/2 cups. Return liquid to the pan and whisk in the sour cream. Season to taste with salt and more paprika if desired. Return chicken to the pan and turn to coat in the sauce.

  3. Serve immediately over noodles, boiled potatoes, or spaetzle, tossing the noodles or potatoes with the sauce and placing the chicken on top. Garnish with more sour cream, paprika, and minced fresh parsley or dill (if using)

Special equipment

4 1/2-quart straight-sided sauté pan or large Dutch oven


It is important to use fresh, high-quality paprika for this recipe. Don't use the old jar you've been saving for three years in the back of your pantry. I recommend sweet Hungarian-style paprika from Penzeys, available at local outlets or online. The recipe is quite simple on its own but to bump up flavor, try adding a teaspoon or two of lemon juice and a dash of Maggi seasoning or fish sauce to the finished sauce before serving. Do not attempt to make this dish by searing the chicken before covering and cooking. It will not produce enough liquid and will end up burning.

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