Smoked Paprika Chicken with Creamed Spinach is a comfort food dinner that a whole family will love! Skinless, boneless chicken thighs seasoned with smoked paprika are seared to perfection in a cast-iron skillet and served with homemade creamed spinach.
Smoked paprika chicken
Looking for something easy and delicious to make on a busy weeknight when you don't have much time? Enter the smoked paprika chicken with creamed spinach.
- This gluten-free, low-carb, and keto-friendly recipe is a well-balanced meal that combines protein (chicken) with veggies (spinach).
- The chicken is seasoned with smoked paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper and seared to a perfect golden crust.
- Then, the cooked chicken is combined with creamed spinach made from scratch with cream, freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, and topped with lemon zest.
- It's comfort food that looks beautiful on a plate, and, as a bonus, is low in carbs!
Important tips for making perfect creamed spinach
Sometimes, making a creamed spinach results in unwanted texture or consistency, such as the cheese not properly melting. Or, the resulting mixture is too watery. Follow these tips below to troubleshoot and fix these issues.
- Bring heavy cream to a brief boil. Add 1 cup of heavy cream to the skillet together with minced garlic, and bring it to a brief boil. Then reduce to a visible, low-level simmer, and add 1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (see my note below!), constantly stirring, until the cheese melts nicely.
- Use an unopened block of Parmesan cheese and shred it yourself. If you used Parmesan cheese for some other recipe and then refrigerated the leftover block of cheese in the fridge, it is likely to get dry. For creamed spinach, open a brand new block of Parmesan cheese that has been sealed at the factory and shred it yourself before adding it to the sauce. Make sure the cheese you're about to use has never been frozen. Freezing changes the texture of the cheese.
- Damage control. If your creamed spinach still turns out to be watery, don't fret. First, mix everything (including the watery stuff) well together in a skillet on low-medium heat and reheat the spinach thoroughly. Then, drain extra liquid and serve creamed spinach without the watery stuff. It will still be delicious and will look good!
How to sear the smoked paprika chicken
Use skinless, boneless chicken thighs. If your chicken has been frozen, make sure to thaw it completely and pat it dry with paper towels before using (only if the chicken has been frozen and thawed).
Season the chicken with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and smoked paprika.
Heat an empty cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes so that the skillet heats through before we add the chicken. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet, then add chicken thighs. Cook the chicken on medium heat on one side for 5 minutes, without moving it around. This allows the chicken to get seared and acquire a nice color.
Then, flip it over and cook the chicken on low-medium heat on the other side for about 5 minutes or longer until the chicken is cooked through. The meat thermometer should register 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the chicken. Remove from heat.
- Parmesan or Mozzarella. If you don't have Parmesan cheese, use low-moisture, part-skim Mozzarella cheese that has been pre-shredded and never frozen. Freezing the cheese changes its texture. Don't use fresh Mozzarella cheese that usually comes as cheese balls.
- Greens. Smoked paprika chicken is a perfect recipe to use all kinds of greens. Make this with spinach first, then experiment with all the other greens. Cooked kale, cooked collard greens, cooked Swiss chard - all will work here!
How to store and reheat it
Smoked paprika chicken is a great recipe to make ahead and reheat later. Here are some tips:
- Fridge. Store it refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Freezer. Freeze this in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
- How to reheat. To reheat on the stovetop, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over low-medium heat, add the chicken and creamed spinach, and reheat, occasionally stirring, for about 5 minutes or until everything is heated through.
What to serve with it
Serve the smoked paprika chicken with a simple, refreshing salad. Here are some ideas:
- Arugula Salad with Lemon Zest, Parmesan, and Balsamic Dressing
- Simple Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts, Parmesan Cheese
Other chicken and veggie skillet recipes
If you like smoked paprika chicken and spinach made in a skillet, you might like other chicken and veggies skillet recipes. Try these next:
- Lemon Garlic Butter Chicken with Brussels Sprouts
- Maple Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
- One-Pan Basil Pesto Chicken and Veggies (Asparagus and Tomatoes)
Smoked Paprika Chicken with Creamed Spinach
How to Make Creamed Spinach
- Add heavy cream and minced garlic to a large skillet and bring to a visible boil. Add shredded Parmesan cheese and stir. Reduce to low-medium heat and keep stirring until the cheese melts, for about 2 or 4 minutes.
- Add fresh spinach, stir in the sauce on low-medium heat for a couple of minutes, just until the spinach starts to wilt and sinks into the sauce. You can remove from heat and cover to let spinach wilt, too. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
- Top with fresh lemon zest.
How to Make Smoked Paprika Chicken
- Generously season the chicken thighs with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and smoked paprika. Prepare a different skillet than what you used to make creamed spinach. It's best to use a cast-iron skillet to make chicken.
- Heat an empty cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. This allows the cast-iron skillet to heat through. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add chicken thighs. Cook the chicken on medium heat for 5 minutes, without moving it. This allows the chicken to sear.
- Flip the chicken thighs over, reduce heat to low-medium, and cook for about 5 more minutes or longer until it's cooked through. The meat thermometer should register 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the chicken. Remove from heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet and stir, off heat, to coat the chicken.
- When serving, top the chicken with chopped fresh parsley and serve alongside the creamed spinach.
- Troubleshooting problems when making creamed spinach. If your cheese doesn't melt properly or the creamed spinach gets watery, scroll up above the recipe card towards the top of the post to review the section Important tips for making perfect creamed spinach on how to fix these issues and how to do damage control should something go wrong.
- Parmesan cheese. Use an unopened block of Parmesan cheese and shred it yourself. Using a block of cheese that you've opened for another recipe several days ago will dry the cheese out and the cheese might not melt properly in the sauce. Also, make sure the Parmesan cheese that you use has never been frozen - that changes the texture of the cheese.
- Lemon zest. Use a vegetable peeler to peel a thin layer of lemon zest from a clean, fresh lemon.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.