Paterson deftly headed Billy Davies’ side into a 63rd-minute lead and then produced a moment of class that would not look out of place in the Barclays Premier League when making sure of the points for the visitors in 82nd minute.
Forest substitute Darius Henderson added a late third to give the scoreline a lop-sided look and inflict on Huddersfield their first home league defeat since mid-December.
The contest was certainly not a classic, but Forest will remember it for Paterson’s game-clinching second goal – his seventh in nine appearances.
Henderson played the ball into Paterson’s path and once inside the penalty area the 22-year-old former Walsall forward turned Huddersfield’s covering defence inside out before wrong-footing goalkeeper Alex Smithies with a neat finish.
Defeat for Huddersfield dealt a huge blow to their play-off chances, while Forest remain fifth but climb to within a point of rivals Derby.
There was little to stir either the home or away fans until two contrasting challenges after 20 minutes.
Huddersfield striker James Vaughan, making his 50th league start for the club, was booked for an innocuous challenge on Forest winger Danny Fox.
Referee Nigel Miller further incensed home supporters when letting play continue after Forest goalkeeper Karl Darlow had clattered into Huddersfield midfielder Jonathan Hogg.
Huddersfield were unchanged from the side that started in Saturday’s home win against Wigan but lacked cohesion early on, Jamie Paterson and Radoslaw Majewski returned for Forest, who were equally disjointed.
The visitors were first to threaten when skipper Andy Reid’s curling free-kick into the box bounced inches wide, before Jack Hobbs did well to block Huddersfield striker Nahki Wells’ angled shot.
The home side were dealt a blow when Vaughan limped out of the action.
The club’s 12-goal leading scorer, who had only returned to action at the weekend following a knee injury, was replaced by Danny Ward in the 37th minute.
Huddersfield midfielder Oliver Norwood crashed a low shot just wide before the break and it was Mark Robins’ side who carved out the early second-half chances.
Defender Paul Dixon was twice off target with long-range efforts before Ward followed up his rising shot on the run with a header from Tommy Smith’s cross, which was narrowly off target.
But Forest served warning when Rafik Djebbour headed Reid’s excellent cross wide and took the lead in the 63rd minute when the impressive Fox curled in fine ball for Paterson to steal in front of his marker and head beyond goalkeeper Alex Smithies.
Referee Miller was unmoved when Huddersfield substitute Sean Scannell went tumbling in the penalty area under Greg Halford’s 78th-minute challenge.
Paterson then produced the game’s outstanding moment when running on to Henderson’s path and weaving this way and that before sliding home his side’s second goal.
The visitors rubberstamped their fifth league win on the road this season when Henderson latched on to a rebound and side-footed home from eight yards in the 88th minute.