Creamy chicken paprika is an easy one-skillet version of traditional chicken paprikash, with all the same flavors that make the dish special. Chicken is braised with onions and bell pepper in a creamy sauce that's wonderful over pasta or rice.
This creamy chicken paprika recipe is a simpler version of Hungarian chicken paprikash. It's creamy and comforting, the type of dinner that makes you feel all cozy and satisfied.
The vibrant red color come from the spice paprika. Paprikash is traditionally made with chicken (usually legs) and onions that are braised in chicken stock. Sour cream (or creme fraiche) is whisked in at the end to thicken the stock into a flavorful sauce.
What makes this recipe quick, easy and flavorful?
- One-skillet dinner
- Made with boneless, skinless thighs or breasts (no browning necessary)
- Flavored with a combination of sweet and smoky paprika
- Braises in about 20 minutes
- No flour necessary to thicken the sauce
- Try rich and creamy creme fraiche instead of sour cream
- Chicken thighs
- Chicken broth
- Olive oil
- Onion and garlic
- Red bell pepper
- Creme fraiche
*see recipe card for ingredient amounts
Ingredient substitutions & variations
Sour cream: I prefer making creamy chicken paprika by whisking creme fraiche into the broth instead of sour cream. Creme fraiche is cultured cream that's thick, rich and very creamy. It has a higher fat content than sour cream, which means it doesn't curdle when added to hot liquid.
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: I use boneless, skinless thighs in this recipe because they're easy to cook and flavorful. But you can use chicken breasts or bone-in, skin on thighs or legs. If the pieces have skin, you'll want to brown the chicken in the skillet first, then set the chicken aside while sauteeing the onion and bell pepper. Cooking time for breasts and bone-in thighs are included in the recipe card below.
Make it vegetarian: Substitute sliced mushrooms for the chicken, and make this dish vegetarian. Add the mushrooms after the onion and bell pepper have cooked and saute the mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add vegetable stock (only ½ cup) and simmer briefly before turning off the heat and whisking in the creme fraiche. No need to put the skillet in the oven!
White wine: A splash of white wine is optional, but does help boost the flavor.
Paprika: Paprika is a spice made by grinding dried red peppers. Most paprika found in grocery stores is very mild. Finding a high quality, flavorful jar of paprika usually means buying from a specialty store or spice company. Paprika also goes stale faster than other spices. It's likely that the jar in your spice drawer needs to be replaced!
This dish is named after the spice paprika, is so it's difficult to recommend an alternative. You really can't make creamy chicken paprika without paprika. However, in general, substitutes for paprika can include aleppo pepper, chipotle chile powder or cayenne (for hot paprika).
What does paprika taste like?
Paprika is made from different types of red peppers that have been dried and ground into powder. So the flavor is similar to both mild and spicy red peppers. But the flavor of paprika really depends on which style. It also depends on where it's from. The flavor of Hungarian paprika can be slightly different from the flavor of Spanish paprika. Most paprika found in grocery stores has a mild flavor without much complexity.
Sweet paprika: This is what you'll find in most grocery stores. It's usually just labeled as "paprika." It's mild and very faintly sweet in the same way that a red bell pepper is sweet, with some earthiness thrown in.
Hot paprika: This style has a peppery, spicy and sometime slightly bitter kick to it. It's usually added to recipes in smaller amount than sweet paprika.
Half-sharp or bittersweet: A blend of sweet, spicy and earthy flavors, usually not as spicy as full-on hot paprika.
Smoked paprika: Smoked paprika is made from sweet red pepper pods that have been dried and smoked over a fire, then ground into a fine powder. It has a strong, smoky flavor and is used in recipes like vegetarian fajitas, vegetarian chili, and rubs for meat like cider-braised pork.
Hungarian: Paprika from Hungary comes in all the styles above, plus more. If you buy any style of Hungarian paprika instead of generic grocery-store paprika, you'll notice more flavor, sweetness, pungency and complexity.
Spanish: Also called pimentón, most of the Spanish paprika found in the US has a smokey quality and can be sweet or hot.
Step 1: Saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil.
Step 2: Add white wine (optional) and simmer 1 minute. Then add chicken broth, paprika and salt.
Step 3: Add chicken thighs. Lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bring broth to a simmer and slide the skillet into a 425 F oven
Step 4: Braise until chicken is cooked, about 18 minutes
Step 5: Remove the chicken to slice, and whisk in creme fraiche
Step 6: Return the sliced chicken to the skillet. Add salt if needed.
Step 7: Serve over egg noodles, rice, whole grains or mashed potatoes
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