Ingredients That Will Seriously Upgrade Your Chicken Stroganoff

When it's cold outside, comfort food is king, but that doesn't mean it has to be stodgy or a carb-fest. There's something gloriously warming and luxurious about a classic beef stroganoff. However, if you want to skip the meat, you might find a vegetarian mushroom stroganoff recipe more to your liking. Another option is to enjoy the creamy taste of the sauce with chicken instead. But, whether you want to treat yourself or throw a supper party, how do you make it taste that little bit special?

With few major ingredients, you may think it's not so easy to enhance chicken stroganoff greatly. However, there are plenty of ingredients that will seriously upgrade your chicken stroganoff. Find out how to elevate a much-loved dish by adding special tweaks to the sauce here and flavor boosts there. You can enhance the taste and the texture and even change what you serve your chicken stroganoff with. 

Porcini mushrooms

More often than not, mushrooms are added to chicken stroganoff. They add a wonderfully meaty texture and earthy taste that brings the creamy sauce and chicken together magnificently. Recipes call for cremini mushrooms, shiitake, Portobello, and white button mushrooms. But if you want your chicken stroganoff to blast off into another mushroom-flavor dimension, add dried porcini mushrooms to your shopping list. Rather than rehydrating them and adding them to the sauce, which you can do, grind them instead. It saves all the fuss of soaking them in water, giving your dish a powerful flavor punch. If you don't have a spice grinder, then you can use a coffee grinder. 

Add the porcini powder to the pan after you've deglazed it with white wine from cooking the mushrooms, garlic, onion, and Dijon mustard. Add paprika and any other ingredients after this, followed by the chicken stock. If you do rehydrate porcini mushrooms to add to chicken stroganoff, keep the water that you soak them in. You can pour this into the pan to add more liquid and flavor later. 

Smoked paprika

You don't need to go leftfield with the ingredients to upgrade chicken stroganoff. Instead, just elevate one of the classic ingredients to enhance the whole dish. Paprika is definitely a staple when you make beef stroganoff and also features in plenty of chicken versions too. It's often used to coat the meat before it's fried and is a fantastic color even if it isn't the hottest spice in the rack. 

To give the taste a boost, add smoked paprika as well as the regular kind. This enhances the aromatic quality of the dish and gives the meat a not-unexpected smokiness. In terms of ratio, try using a quarter of the smoked variety compared to the regular paprika to give the chicken stroganoff an appetizing depth of flavor. On the cooking show, "The F Word", celebrity Brit chef, Gordon Ramsay rubs smoked paprika into strips of chicken breast before sautéeing to give them an "oak" flavor. He doesn't use regular paprika at all.

KFC chicken

There's nothing wrong with using chicken breast, and if you source good-quality, organic, free-range meat, you'll hopefully taste the difference in a stroganoff. This dish presents distinctive-tasting elements, so you'll want the flavor of each of these to really zing. And what better way to elevate the taste of the chicken than by adding  KFC pieces into a delicious stroganoff sauce instead? Make your stroganoff sauce, and then simply drop the pieces in. Continue cooking so that the chicken soaks up some of the other creamy flavors, and serve your KFC stroganoff with rice. 

As well as being juicy, it's also crispy, which is a delicious contrast with the creaminess of the sauce and softness of the rice or noodles. Try chopping up KFC chicken pieces into smaller bits. Fry these in a pan with butter, adding Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and chicken stock. Once boiling, add mushrooms, garlic, and onions that you've previously sautéed with dried herbs. Finally, simmer with some sour cream, paprika, and flour until the stroganoff thickens. This is so good served with linguine or some other pasta or noodles. Twist the noodles in the sauce and plate up to serve. Spoon some mushrooms and chicken on top. 

Cream cheese

What's super delicious about stroganoff is that it's wonderfully creamy. However, one ingredient that's never usually added is cheese. A strong cheddar or a blue cheese may knock the subtle balance of flavors off balance. However, one of the must-try ingredients that will seriously upgrade your chicken stroganoff is cream cheese.

You can add cream cheese and sour cream and mix these with cream of mushroom soup, too, if you like. The cheese elevates the taste and texture, adding thickness to the sauce. Add chicken to a skillet and fry before stirring in chicken broth, the soup, and more stock mixed with flour. Cut the cream cheese into pieces before adding so that it melts into the sauce. Add the sautéed mushrooms after this, and stir in the sour cream once the pan is off the heat. You can also cook four chopped chicken breasts in a slow cooker before adding an eight-ounce block of cream cheese and some cream of chicken soup. Once you turn up the heat, the cheese will melt into the meat, and in 30 more minutes, your cheesy, creamy chicken stroganoff will be ready to serve. 

Double cream

It's no big deal to swap the beef out for chicken when you make stroganoff. The divine taste really comes from the creamy sauce. In many ways, the meat is secondary. Getting the rich sauce just right is vital, and one of the creamiest ingredients you can add, which will undoubtedly upgrade any chicken stroganoff, is double cream. 

Double cream is popular in the U.K., where it's scooped out onto desserts such as fresh strawberries and used in place of ice cream on a hot fruity crumble or apple pie. It's also used in recipes in much the same way that in the U.S., heavy cream and whipping cream are. However, the fat content of double cream is higher, at 48%, making it much richer and creamier. Heavy cream has a fat content of 36%, with whipping cream standing at 30%. Double cream is thick like sour cream, but you might want to switch if you aren't a fan of the tang that the latter leaves. As with most recipes, add the cream at the end once the chicken is cooked. Look out for double cream at gourmet food shops, independent delis, and farmer markets, as it's not so easy to come by.

Chicken thighs

While the creamy ingredients of a chicken stroganoff can weigh this meal down, chicken breast is way leaner than strips of beef. However, you'll want to avoid dried-up chicken pieces in a rich sauce and ensure the meat doesn't toughen up as you fry it. One practical solution is to use chicken thighs instead of breast meat as they are fattier and, therefore, juicier. Instead of chopping the chicken portions into pieces, fry them whole, using skinless, boneless thighs. They will brown perfectly and be less likely to dry up. Season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fry on both sides. Take the cooked thighs out of the pan while you make your stroganoff sauce, adding them back in at the end to cook through.

If you prefer, use bone-in chicken thigh cutlets. After searing, add the chicken to a baking tray. The same goes for the mushrooms and other ingredients. Once you've sautéed these in a pan, add them to the tin with the chicken. For the final 20 minutes of cooking time, in the oven, add a mix of sour cream and flour. Your chicken will have been baking with the mushrooms, wine, stock, and other ingredients for 30 minutes. Imagine how amazingly tender it's going to taste.


Sage is a glorious herb. It brings warmth and boasts earthy, pine, and citrus notes. Unlike parsley and cilantro, fresh sage is usually added to dishes rather than sprinkled on as a garnish. The taste is reminiscent of British-style sausages and Thanksgiving stuffing or sage and onion dressing. It's not only splendid in risotto and pasta dishes, but you can also add this herb to a chicken stroganoff, and it'll seriously upgrade it. 

One way to add fresh sage to chicken stroganoff is to chop it, sauté it with shallot and mushrooms, and then add some more after frying the meat. You can add some uncooked sage as a garnish to finish, too. Another impressive idea is to fry whole sage leaves in oil until they become crispy. Take them out of the pan and fry your chicken in the same oil to give the meat a subtle herby flavor. Sprinkle the crispy leaves with a bit of salt after soaking up any excess oil on them. Use these as a garnish on your stroganoff for a crispy herb hit that contrasts with the velvety cream sauce and juicy chicken. Not only do they look good, but they taste amazing as well. Keep an eye on them while you're frying them in olive oil so they don't turn brown or burn. 


If you are cooking dishes with wine or spirits, you may want to check out some tips on how to cook with alcohol. Chicken stroganoff is often made with white wine. You can't beat a creamy wine sauce made with mushrooms, stock, and chicken, with paprika to add extra oomph. However, wine isn't the only boozy kick that makes stroganoff rich and tasty. If you're making this dish for a dinner party and want to give it a luxury upgrade, then why not add a splash or two of cognac? 

After frying the chicken in butter, douse it with cognac in the pan. It's best to heat the alcohol in a small pan first to warm it when you pour it on the meat. That way, it will catch light briefly, and you can flambé the meat to give it a wonderfully smoky taste while leaving behind the distinct flavor of cognac. Once the flames have gone, it's time to move on to the next step and add the cream and mushrooms you've already sautéed. You can also add cognac and a dry white if you don't want to forgo the taste of wine. If you're not keen on flambéing, then add both types of alcohol to the sauce instead and let it simmer away as those flavors infuse the cream. Once it's ready, add your cooked chicken and heat through before serving. 

Beef Bouillon

A lot of chicken stroganoff recipes include chicken broth or stock. The salty lightness blends beautifully with the sour cream, any other type of cream you use, and other ingredients such as paprika, garlic, and mushrooms. And, of course, it pairs perfectly with chicken. However, you might not want to lose all the beefy meatiness you get from a traditional stroganoff because you're using chicken. After all, it's not necessarily the meat that elevates a stroganoff but the sauce. One of the best ingredients that will seriously upgrade your chicken stroganoff is to use beef bouillon in place of chicken stock. 

To keep that hearty flavor, use beef stock, too, and you might want to opt for a cube or mix that's not too high in sodium. Add beef bouillon to this, as it's more flavorful and definitely saltier. Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and a little nutmeg will also enhance the savory flavor of the stroganoff. You can buy beef bouillon cubes, but if you're planning a more indulgent upgrade, you might want to buy a jar instead. A beefy-tasting chicken stroganoff gives you the best of both worlds by not scrimping on taste but still delivering a leaner meat alternative. 

Cayenne pepper

Paprika is traditionally added to stroganoff, whether you're making a classic beef version, a meat-free mushroom one, or a chicken dish. While the color is incredible, this is definitely not one of the hottest spices. It's pretty mild spice-wise but does add a warm color to stroganoff and some earthy flavors that cut through the creamy sauce. One way to upgrade a chicken stroganoff, which already lacks the savory flavors of beef, is to ramp up the heat. Before you start throwing in some powerful chilis, consider adding cayenne pepper.

Cayenne pepper is used to make creole seasonings, so adding it to a creamy dish like chicken stroganoff lifts the flavor profile. It adds a nice amount of heat, as long as you don't overdo it. To give you some idea of how much to add, this can vary from around half a teaspoon to the same amount of paprika or a quarter of this if you want a more subtle spicy flavor. Try mixing cayenne pepper with paprika and dried herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme and rubbing the chicken with this before coating it in flour and frying. That way, the flavors lock into the meat and aren't lost in the sauce.

Lemon juice

A spritz of lemon juice can work wonders with so many dishes. Think about how good breaded pan-fried cod tastes with a lemon wedge on the side. And lemon gives fresh tomatoes unexpected flavor. It's a basic ingredient when making homemade salad dressing, whisked up with olive oil, with or without some Dijon mustard added. You might not consider squeezing some on a creamy bowl of chicken stroganoff. However, this simple ingredient can make this stunning dish taste even better, which is impressive given how mouthwatering a good stroganoff is already.

Add a squirt of lemon juice into the pan when adding the sour cream, and stir the sauce. Do this off the heat; otherwise, your scrumptious stroganoff might split, and the acidity may turn a smooth sauce grainy. Freshly squeezed lemon juice lifts the creamy taste, giving it a citrusy note that complements the creaminess. If you think sour cream might be too acidic with the lemon juice, use cream instead. You can then add the juice to the stock as you cook the chicken and pour the cream later.

Potato sticks

Have you ever heard of Brazilian stroganoff? If not, you have now. One of the main differences, compared to Russian-style recipes, is that they tend to be more tomatoey. Rather than adding tomato paste, which is often used to make all types of stroganoff, you use tomato sauce and even ketchup. This affects the taste and the color, giving the sauce a pinker hue. You might have tucked into a classic stroganoff with noodles or rice or even mashed potatoes or fries. If you want a crunchy, carby upgrade, Brazilian style, serve your homemade chicken stroganoff with potato sticks. You can serve a handful as a crunchy topping or on the side.

Brazilian potato sticks, known as batata palha, come in ready-to-eat bags. They are made from grated potatoes formed into matchsticks and fried. They are super popular in Brazil and served with many dishes, including stroganoff. Another way to add a crispy potato stick topping to elevate your chicken stroganoff is to use a box of Idaho Spuds Hashbrowns. Rehydrate the potato strands with water and then fry them in hot oil until they are crispy and golden. Serve as a crunchy topping with your chicken stroganoff. 


Serving chicken stroganoff with plain rice works every time. However, if you want to make this dish a little fancier, why not add some flavor to the rice? Instead of serving simple boiled rice, you could upgrade to a rice pilaf. This is where spices are toasted in a pan before uncooked rice is added, and the ingredients are cooked in a broth. If you get it right, the aromatic rice gives new meaning to this dish as the flavors expand beyond the creamy sauce. And one spice that will upgrade your stroganoff by adding a unique aroma to rice is cardamon. Cardamon has a sweet yet savory taste that's not easy to define, and this mix of so many contrasting notes makes it such an incredible ingredient. 

Fry green cardamon, fennel seeds, tomato paste, paprika, and rice. Add water so the fragrant rice cooks. You can also add cardamon, cloves, and a bay leaf to a stovetop Dutch oven with oil and butter. Sprinkle in cinnamon, turmeric, and ground cilantro before adding the uncooked rice and chicken stock. 


Dill and sour cream are a culinary pair, so it's not a great surprise that it's a fabulous herb to add to stroganoff. However, it doesn't feature in every recipe, so you may want to include this as one of your must-have ingredients that will seriously upgrade your chicken stroganoff. The slightly citrus taste complements the sour cream and Dijon mustard, so add in some freshly chopped dill when your dish is done, and you're ready to serve. You can use minced dill, too, if you add it at the end and it's fresh rather than dried. 

Why not infuse the stroganoff sauce with dill? Fry chicken in a skillet and then add a generous amount of freshly chopped dill, along with parsley and green onions. Cover the chicken with the herbs and continue to cook so that they soften. Mushrooms that you've already pan-fried go in next, along with whipping cream. The dill takes a strong herby lead in the sauce and transforms this dish in a mouthwatering way.