Chicken Goulash Recipe

March 2, 2007 16 Comments

Chicken Goulash Recipe

Chicken Goulash – Not Really

I received an email from Marisa who said she has “made a lot of dishes that are good but not great” and “know they could be improved by adding some of this or doing a little of that, so I invited her to send me a recipe to “fix”.

So what recipe did she send me? Her Hungarian mother-in-law’s recipe for Chicken Goulash. And we all know what a great idea it is to muddle with one’s mother-in-law’s recipes!

Marisa even said, “It’s always a dangerous proposition to mess with a mother-in-law’s recipe, but I’m willing to take the risk in the name of culinary advancement.”

The problem with her recipe she said is the “sauce is always very watery, even if I barely cover the chicken (as directed). Also, the flavor is nice, but it lacks a certain something.”

As part of my brand new Ask a Chef feature, I sent her recipe to Chef Ricco to get his opinion knowing he’s always ready to talk about a recipe and how to make it better along with adding a few interesting comments.

The first thing Ricco said to me was there is no such thing as Chicken Goulash, goulash is made from beef.”

Marisa’s husband’s Hungarian mother’s recipe is called Paprikas Csirke pronounced (PAH-pree_kash CHEER-kah). Chef Ricco also questioned the recipe only calling for 2 chicken thighs and wanted to know if this recipe was for one person?

Actually he said a child but we don’t need to go there.

So first I’ll post Marisa mother-in-law’s recipe and then Chef Ricco’s. You will see a big difference in the list of ingredients in addition to the cooking technique.

And to see Chef Ricco’s classic Beef Goulash recipe….

Chicken Goulash Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 13 minutes

Serving Size: 6 servings

Chicken Goulash Recipe


For Marisa's Mother-in-Law's Recipe

2 chicken thighs (remove skin and the fat), cut into two pieces each

2-3 onions, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 chicken bouillon cubes

For Chef Ricco's Reinterpretation

3 tablespoons oil

2 large sweet Spanish onions (coarse chopped)

2 green peppers (coarse chopped)

3-4 cloves garlic (fine chopped)

3 fresh plum tomatoes (coarse chopped)

3 tablespoons of sweet Hungarian paprika (very important)

Salt and Pepper to taste

6 chicken thighs (skinless)

3 cups chicken stock

How To Prepare At Home

For Marisa's Mother-in-Law's Recipe

Warm the oil in a cooking pot and add to it the onions, garlic and red pepper. From time to time mix them up till they turn to golden. Add the thighs, paprika and tomato paste, mix every thing. Cook the thighs till the flesh becomes white (three to five minutes)

Only then add water (not much - just enough to cover the thighs) plus the chicken cubes. Cover the pot, reduce the flame (after the water boiled) and cook for 1 hour.

For Chef Ricco's Reinterpretation

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot, over low heat. Add onion, cook over low heat until golden brown.

Add green peppers and garlic, cook for 5 minutes. Add paprika and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add fresh tomatoes, salt and pepper cook for 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock and bring to boil. When it comes to a boil, turn down heat to simmer. Simmer until done, about 45 minutes.

Ricco revealed if Marisa feels the sauce is too watery, she should remove the chicken and "crank up the heat and reduce the sauce."

He also explained this dish normally starts by cooking cured fatty bacon in the oil and finishes by folding sour cream into the braising liquid right before serving. Two great options to give this recipe even more flavor.

Chef Ricco likes to serve this with Spaetzle and would be more than happy to provide a recipe if anyone is interested.



Last modified on Wed 9 October 2019 2:21 pm

Comments (16)

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  1. Marisa says:

    RG, you are the best — thank you so much! The recipe looks delicious, and I can’t wait to try it. Please send a big thank you to Chef Ricco as well and let him know I’d love the spaetzle recipe, too.

    P.S. If you don’t hear from me again, it’s because my mother-in-law found this!

  2. Jackie says:

    Yes, indeed. I would love to have Chef Ricco’s Spaetzle recipe. I don’t have a Spaetzle press and have had poor results pressing through collander holes. All suggestions welcome.

  3. Jackie says:

    Jackie again. Would Chef Ricco share a true Goulash (beef) recipe? Thanks for your newsletter and blog and the new ask a chef feature.

  4. Linda Schaffer says:

    Just found the “Ask a Chef” – what a great idea – !!

  5. D says:

    Great post!!!

  6. RG says:

    For those of you who have emailed and asked for Chef Ricco’s recipe for Beef Goulash, it’s now posted at


  7. Jackie says:

    Well, I made the Beef Gulyas and it was a big hit, especially with the guys. But then, one definition of gulyas is cowboy.

    I served the goulash with dumplings but will try Spaetzle.

    Thanks again for my favorite food blog.

  8. Geo says:

    so glad to find this recipe, my Austria-Hungarian grandmother made this and called it goulash or paprikash, but of course those most always have sour cream. I thought maybe we were the only ones who made this. Can’t’ wait to try this version. Thanks.

  9. Joe says:

    The link for the Beef Goulash recipe does not work, could it be updated please?

  10. RG says:

    Thanks for pointing that out. It’s fixed now. RG

  11. Zoltan says:

    I am originally from Hungary, living in the USA and have studied in a culinary school, but I don’t work as a cook. Great explanation in this article: there is no such a thing as “Chicken Goulash”. In fact, despite of common misconception, Goulash (Gulyas in Hungarian) is a soup, not a main course.
    The recipe above is for Chicken Porkolt. It becomes Chicken Paprikash if you add sour cream towards the end.

    Hi Zoltan, thank you for helping clear this up. – RG

  12. Derek says:

    Good recipe, try adding 1/2 tsp fresh chopped thyme during the cooking period and add small handfull of fresh copped celery leaves towards the end.

  13. Linda says:

    Our family has made this for generations, instead of water we cover the chicken with tomato juice…We serve it over rice.

  14. Bev says:

    Ihave been searching for a recepie my dad use to make forty years ago. Thought he used cream or half and half and we had ours over mashed potatoes. It was yummy

  15. Deborah says:

    When I read that Chef Ricco said goulash had to be beef I was reminded of a mystery from my youth.

    I was 16 and in my first “official” job as a file clerk/switchboard relief person at one of the largest law firms in our city. I don’t know how we got on the subject of “Hungarian goulash,” but we did. One of the secretaries said she’d been so embarrass the time she had made it for her Hungarian in-laws, only to learn that the “Hungarian Goulash” her mother had been feeding them all those years bore no resemblance to the real thing.

    She described her mother’s “recipe:”
    Run all the leftover meat and vegetables from the previous night’s supper through the hand-cranked food mill. As much as possible, grind a bit of each leftover at the same time. Put resulting blob in large frying pan. Add 1 can green peas. Work the blob, pressing it and turning parts over to prevent burning and ensure even heat distribution. Serve with ketchup and other condiments.

    I had to thank her for the warning because that was the exact same way MY mother made “Hungarian Goulash!” Right down to the can of green peas, not sure if they were for colour or moisture. Neither of our mothers could remember where they got the idea. It could have come with the battery of pots, pans, knifes, etc. that they bought with their post-war army allowance. Never thought to ask if her mother was of Irish descent. The Irish like to embellish names of things to make them sound better than they are, or at least not as bad.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I would love the spƤtzle recipe thanks in advance

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