Paprika Baked Chicken


Baked chicken is one of those staple recipes that you can always count on to feed a crowd or as the foundation for the coming week’s make ahead meals. There was a few month stretch where every Sunday afternoon was baked chicken day. I would fill a sheet pan with 6 to 8 chicken breasts. After a sprinkling of salt and pepper, it was off to the oven. Once the chicken’s skin was crispy and the meat had cooked through, I would let it cool and then pull the meat off the bone to use as lunch or dinner throughout the week.

A little warning for you guys out there who are recently married. Pulling chicken can be a slippery business. I lost my wedding ring, for the first time, when pulling apart baked chicken. Luckily a dig through the trash revealed that it had slipped off while pulling. 

I was looking to up my baked chicken game, so I turned to my Mom (Sally) for help. I explained to her about the chicken rut that Sara and I were starting to fall into and she had one word to solve our problem: PAPRIKA.

I wasn’t sure what my Mom had planned, but upon seeing a sheet pan of deep red colored chicken with vibrant orange pan juices emerge from the oven, it became clear that Sally was right. Paprika was exactly what my baked chicken needed. The mix of smoky, sweet, citrus, and the smallest amount of heat was a welcome change to my traditional baked chicken. This Paprika Baked Chicken pairs well with Elegant Cauliflower Puree or can be a great foundation to a chicken salad. If you find yourself in a baked chicken rut, give Paprika Baked Chicken a try.

Here is the recipe Sally made.
Paprika Baked Chicken
Serve 6 to 8 people

10 to 12 pieces of bone-in, skin on chicken (about 5 to 6 pounds)

salt and pepper (to season chicken with)
5 Tablespoons clarified butter, melted

2 Tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika

1 Tablespoon light brown sugar

2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest

1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Put the chicken, skin side up, in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet. Set aside.
2. In the work bowl of a food processor, add the melted butter, sweet paprika, brown sugar, garlic, vinegar, orange zest, smoked paprika, hot paprika and salt. Pulse the processor on/off until a paste forms and the garlic is blended into the paste. Remove the  processor blade from the work bowl.
3. Using your hands, put paprika paste under the skin of the chicken pieces. Smear the remaining paste on the outside of the chicken pieces.(  *At this point, chicken can be refrigerated until the next day if making the dish as a do ahead meal. )

4. Put the chicken on the middle rack of the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees  Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken with the pan juices.Roast the chicken an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is brown and the skin is crispy. Remove chicken from the oven. Baste the chicken with the pan juices. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe ©Sally James Mathis

Photography © Taylor Mathis


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