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What Can I Substitute For Paprika?

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It is common to come across several recipes that use paprika. And since most of us have this spice in our cupboard, we believe it is necessary. However, paprika may be substituted if you run out. In this section, we’ll learn about paprika and its many variants. We’ll also discuss alternatives to the condiment in case you ever need it. Then, as you read, you’ll be astonished at how many common kitchen components, such as cumin or turmeric, may assist you address the problem of running out of paprika for your dish!

PaprikaNutrition Facts

What Can I Substitute For Paprika?

What is Paprika?

What Can I Substitute For Paprika?

Paprika is a powdered red pepper, but that isn’t what makes it intriguing. Though its parent red pepper is Mexican, the name paprika is Hungarian. The progenitor red peppers were initially obtained from Central Mexico, where they were transferred to Spain. And it was from Spain that the pepper was first brought to Hungary, which gave it its name.

The peppers are washed and deseeded before being dried to eliminate all moisture. The peppers are mashed in a mill and pestle once they have dried completely. Coffee grinders and food processors are now used to transform dried red peppers into paprika.

Both the Mexican and Hungarian areas possess the original paprika recipe, which is why the two most prevalent kinds are sweet and smoked paprika. Sweet paprika is a Hungarian cultivar with a vivid red hue and a tinge of sweetness. You’ll also notice a crisp, spicy taste and a lot of zing. Hungarian paprika is available in eight kinds, the most popular of which is edesnemes, or sweet Hungarian paprika.

Smoked paprika refers to the Mexican variant, which is also popular in Spain, earning it the nickname Spanish paprika. However, it was developed in Central Mexico, where it is also known as pimento, and has a powerfully smokey taste with a rich dark red hue. The taste is mostly due to the oak fire over which the capsicum peppers were smoked before to grinding. It also has a stronger taste, making it a specialist paprika kind designated for specific traditional foods. The heat level fluctuates, which is why it comes in three varieties: dulce (moderate), agridulce (semi-hot), and Picante (hot).

However, there is a typical paprika version that we often purchase at grocery shops and keep in our cupboard. These are paprika-flavored products manufactured from the meat and skin of sweet red peppers. They don’t have much heat but have a vivid red color, therefore we use them a lot in cooking.

Paprika Uses in Recipes

Paprika is famed for its balanced warmth and brightness, and its astonishing spectrum of tastes adds life and presence to any cuisine. While the basic flavor of paprika is warm, earthy, and spicy, different kinds may be sweet, smoky, savory, and sharp. Because the spices are prepared in various ways, the colors might vary from brilliant red to orange to dark red.

Despite its various varieties, paprika still stands out in a variety of recipes. The standard type is great for all recipes since it acts as a warm foundation without overpowering the taste character. Sweet paprika is more appropriate for typical Hungarian foods, although it also works in other areas’ meat and vegetable dishes. And smoked paprika adds a characteristic Mexican flavor to meals, which is why it’s used in so many Spanish and South American cuisines.

Paprika is often used in the following dishes:

  • Deviled eggs
  • Hummus
  • Goulash
  • Sauces
  • Grilled sardines
  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Potato salad
  • Paella
  • Chili con carne
  • Gnocchi
  • Gravy
  • Dips
  • Lesco
  • Marinades
  • Spanish patatasbravas
  • Grilled eggplants
  • Garlic and paprika chicken
  • Mac and cheese
  • Chowder
  • Creamy garlic dressings
  • Paprikash
  • Barbecued PiriPiri chicken
  • Red curries
  • Casseroles
  • Spicy salads
  • Lamb kabobs
  • Burgers
  • Cajun recipes
  • Meatballs
  • Spice rubs
  • Lamb al asador
  • Tacos
  • Salsas
  • Seafood
  • Rice dishes
  • Spicy beef shin hotpot

Substitutes for Paprika

You may now discover that your paprika supply is depleted and that you need substitute another variety. After all, you’d think they’re all paprika. That is far from the case since, while sharing the paprika name, their characteristics and taste effects are very different.

Simply said, if you use smoked paprika in a recipe that calls for sweet paprika, you may spoil the meal. And using plain paprika in a dish that asks for smoked paprika might take away the characteristic flavor of the latter.

To avoid such problems, you’ll need alternatives made of various spices to replace each variety of paprika. The good news is that most of these products are easily accessible and provide different advantages that are appropriate for each paprika type.

Ancho Pepper Powder

Ancho pepper powder is made from dried, roasted, and powdered poblano peppers, also known as ancho chilis, after the first two processing steps. And the spice imparts a rich crimson colour with a sweet and smokey taste. It also has a modest heat level when compared to other peppers.

Ancho pepper powder is a good substitute for ordinary paprika, but it may also be used in lieu of sweet paprika. It’s also delicious in meals that call for smoked paprika, and its mildness makes it an excellent substitute for dulce. Paprika that has been smoked. Use half to one teaspoon of ancho pepper for every teaspoon of paprika.

Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cayenne pepper is simple to obtain, and we may already have a container in our spice rack. It’s also quite similar to paprika, so you may use it as a replacement. Cayenne pepper powder is a wonderful substitute for ordinary paprika, but be aware that it is considerably hotter. Still, you may use it in whatever recipe you choose as long as you can handle the heat and measure it correctly.

Because the heat level is near, cayenne may be used in lieu of Picante smoked paprika in many Mexican cuisines. Consider beginning with a quarter or half teaspoon of cayenne pepper for every teaspoon of paprika. As you proceed, taste to see whether the desired heat level and flavor impact are achieved.

Chipotle Powder

The hotness level of chipotle powder makes it an excellent substitute for smoked paprika, and the heat level may work for both the agrodolce and Picante variants. This substitute’s smokiness is attributable to its parent component, smoke-dried jalapeño peppers. It also has a more earthy taste, which works well in this setting.

You may also use it in place of ordinary paprika, albeit the spiciness will change. In contrast, spicy paprika has a SCU count of 500, whereas chipotle has a SCU count of 8000 and a darker shade than paprika. So, when using this alternative, start small; a quarter teaspoon for every teaspoon of paprika, and then modify as desired.

Hot Sauce or Tomato Sauce (smoked/sweet or regular)

Any of these two selections will provide a nice kick of heat, color, and spice to your cuisine. You may substitute hot sauce for smoked paprika in recipes that call for it. It’ll also work as a substitute for spicy paprika kinds like Picante. And tomato sauce is the greatest accompaniment for either normal or sweet paprika.

Hot sauce may be substituted for paprika in equal quantities, but when using tomato sauce, start with two tablespoons for each teaspoon of paprika. Because tomato sauce isn’t as hot, you’ll need more of it.

Regular Chili Powder

Chili powder is a blend of spices and chilis that includes jalapeos, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, and ancho chili. And, like many paprika cultivars, it has a taste profile that includes earthy, sweet, savory, and spicy notes. Chili powder is hotter than paprika since it includes cayenne pepper, although its heat level is comparable to sweet and smoked paprika.

The taste range is vast and may entirely alter the flavor of your food, so use it only when a tiny quantity of paprika is required. As a consequence, start with a quarter teaspoon for every teaspoon of paprika and modify until you’re happy with the results.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I cumin instead of paprika?

You certainly can. However, cumin is somewhat hotter than paprika, so use carefully and gradually increase to taste. It’s also worth noting that it has a more yellowish hue. And although it will provide a reasonable spice basis akin to the genuine thing, it will lack the unique red coloration associated with paprika.

Can I use turmeric instead of paprika?

Yes, but only when a modest quantity is required. Turmeric has a distinct yellow tint, which is seen when a considerable quantity of it is used to replace paprika. It also has a strong taste that may be overpowering if used in excess. Combining it with anything else, such as ancho chili powder or cayenne pepper, may bring it closer to the taste profile of paprika.

How to make paprika?

To create paprika powder, you’ll need big red peppers, and one large pepper yields roughly two tablespoons. Peel and deseed the peppers first, then remove the white insides and thinly slice them. The slices should then be dried in an oven or dehydrator, cooled, and crushed in a mortar or coffee grinder. After obtaining a fine powder, put the homemade paprika in airtight containers (ideally glass) and use as desired.


Paprika has always warmed our hearts with its adaptability and brightness, but if you ever need a substitute, these alternatives may work. And you won’t notice the lack of this Mexican-Hungarian flavor with them. You’ll also have additional alternatives to experiment with and find new ways to prepare your favorite recipes.


What can I use if I don’t have paprika?

Don’t worry, you can still finish your meal without paprika by using the alternatives listed below.
Paprika Substitutes That Work. Best bets include: Flakes of Maras pepper.
Flakes of Maras pepper.
Cayenne pepper is a spicy pepper.
Peppercorns in black.
Bell peppers.

Can I replace paprika with chili powder?

The following is your best spice rack staple solution: Chili flakes

Chili powder offers a little heat that may be used in place of paprika, but it’s balanced with earthy and savory spices like cumin and garlic powder.

Can I use cumin instead of paprika?

Both of these spices have distinct smoky and earthy taste qualities. Paprika is a bright red spice with a moderate taste, while cumin is a brownish-yellow spice with a powerful flavor. And, sure, they may be used interchangeably!

Is paprika necessary in a recipe?

Paprika is one of the most crucial spices to have in your spice cabinet. It offers a unique taste to the meal as well as a vibrant color.

Is paprika same as chili powder?

What is the difference between paprika and chili powder? The primary distinction between paprika and chili powder is that paprika is a single chile, but chili powder is sometimes a mixture of chilies as well as additional components such as cumin and garlic powder.

What does paprika do to a recipe?

If you’ve ever gone to a potluck or barbeque, you’re undoubtedly aware that paprika can be used to color food. Fresh paprika, on the other hand, can do so much more. It’s a key component in many barbecue rubs and may give a sweet, warming taste to sauces from a variety of cuisines, including Hungarian and Spanish meals.

Can you replace paprika with cayenne pepper?

While the taste profiles are similar, paprika is notably milder than cayenne pepper. If used, twice the quantity of cayenne pepper called for in the recipe. What exactly is this? To make cayenne, twice the quantity of paprika.

How to make your own paprika?

Set your dehydrator to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and place the peppers inside. Dehydrate the peppers until they are absolutely dry. This might take anything from 4 to 12 hours.
Remove the seeds and crush the peppers into a fine powder in a spice grinder.
Keep it in an airtight spice container.

What seasoning looks like paprika?

Powdered cayenne pepper

Replace with “Picante” smoked paprika or other spicier types. Cayenne has a similar hue but a far higher heat level.

What flavor does paprika add?


It improves practically any meal with its fruity, somewhat sweet aromas and beautiful red color. It’s great in rubs and marinades, as a garnish for eggs and seafood, and as a showpiece in chicken paprikash. Fresh paprika should be a bright, toasted scarlet with a juicy, red bell pepper scent.

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