13 Best Paprika Substitutes That You Can Try


Today we are here to talk about the best paprika substitutes. Most of us love a kick of heat in our food, and paprika is the most common ingredient used to add heat to recipes. Moreover, paprika is common in almost every cuisine in the world!

However, even though this ingredient is common and might always be present in your pantry, there are always a chance that you might run out of it at some point! In that case, use a substitute! This article will guide you to find the best paprika substitutes. 

Now the main question is, what are the best paprika substitutes? The best paprika substitutes are cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, black pepper, smoked paprika, hot sauce, and cajun spice powder. 

However, before discussing the best paprika substitutes, let me discuss paprika itself with you. This will definitely help you understand the ingredient better! 

Quick Peek: Paprika

This section has all the information you need on paprika. You will get to understand the ingredient, its flavor, texture profile, uses, and nutritional information. So, let us discover paprika!

What Is Paprika?

Paprika, as you might know, is a spice made from ground and dried red peppers. It is made from the capsicum annuum variety, which also includes chili peppers. However, the peppers used to make paprika are milder and have thinner flesh. 

The peppers used to make paprika originated in North America. They grow in the wild in Central Mexico and have been cultivated by the people of Mexico for years. These peppers were later introduced to Spain in the 16th century as a part of the Columbian exchange. 

Now, there is paprika available in the market from various regions. It is produced in various countries like Argentina, Mexico, Hungary, Serbia, Spain, Netherlands, China, and some parts of the United States.

Out of this, Hungary is the main source of the most commonly used paprika. 

Describing Paprika: Flavor And Texture

Paprika is in powder form and has a shockingly red color since it is made using red peppers. It is usually in a fine powder form, much finer than chili flakes. It adds a pop of red color to various foods and adds heat, thanks to the red color. 

When we talk about the flavor of paprika, the flavor can range from mild to extremely hot. However, the most commonly used paprika is usually mild in flavor. The different varieties of paprika within the range are usually easily available in the market. 

Uses Of Paprika

Paprika is the most commonly used spice in most parts of the world. It is used to season and color dishes in various parts of the world. It is used to season rice, stews, soups, and everything in between.

It is an essential part of various curries from the Indian subcontinent. Paprika, moreover, is also used in seasoning sausages, such as chorizo. It can be sprinkled raw on food. However, the best flavor of paprika comes out once it is cooked.

These are just uses for savory food, though. Paprika has now found a place in the dessert world too! It is used to season various fruits to bring a contrast of flavor to desserts. Moreover, it pairs extremely well with chocolates too. 

Paprika On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Paprika is usually used in a very small quantity in various recipes. So, it does not impart too many nutritional benefits. Paprika is, however, a good source of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, which are important for strong teeth and bones. 

It is also a good source of vitamin A, B6, E, and K. A compound present in paprika called capsaicin has been shown to have various health benefits. Some of these benefits include improving immunity and reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. 

Why Use A Substitute For Paprika?

I know this question must have definitely popped in your head. Why use a substitute when you can just use paprika? While there are many reasons to use paprika, there are also a few reasons as to why you can consider using a substitute. 

Firstly, a lot of people may find the flavor of regular paprika too mild. In that case, using a substitute with more heat may do the trick in your recipes. Moreover, in case you don’t want your food to have a red color, certain substitutes with a similar flavor profile will come in handy. 

Lastly, in case you are just out of paprika, there is no need to run to the store! A substitute can very effectively be used in such a situation. Most of the given substitutes might already be present in your pantry and save you a lot of time!

I think I have given you enough information on paprika. Now, let me quickly guide you with the best paprika substitutes. So, let’s get started!

13 Best Paprika Substitutes

This section has all the best substitutes for paprika. Moreover, you will also get to understand how to use each substitute.

1. Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes are essentially almost the same as paprika, just in flakes form rather than a fine powder. They can work as a great substitute for paprika powder. 

Red pepper flakes, however, are hotter than paprika in flavor. So, this is something to be mindful about. Moreover, they are not in powder form and hence will not give the same appeal as powdered paprika. 

However, they can make an easy switch in certain recipes. Try using red pepper flakes in recipes such as goulash and hummus. You can generally use them as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio. However, if you want a milder heat flavor, you can reduce the quantity by half. 

2. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper has a red color similar to that of paprika. It can be used as a substitute for paprika in various recipes. 

Cayenne pepper and paprika are often confused with each other, as they have a similar look. However, cayenne pepper is much higher in heat as compared to paprika. Spice lovers might find paprika extremely mild after trying cayenne pepper. 

The color of cayenne pepper suits perfectly with paprika. However, when using it as a substitute for paprika, start with a very small quantity. You can always add more in case the flavor seems mild to you. 

3. Black Pepper

Black pepper does not have the same color as that of paprika. However, it can effectively be used as a paprika substitute, as it has a similar flavor profile. 

Black pepper will definitely not add color to your food, considering it is not red. However, it can be used as a substitute in recipes where color is not of much importance. It makes a great substitute, especially in marinades and dry rubs. 

Black pepper generally gives the same amount of heat as paprika does. So, it can be used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio. However, if you want a stronger kick of spice, you can always add more. 

4. Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika is made by smoking and drying peppers. It has a smoky taste with a red color and can be used as a substitute for paprika in various recipes. 

Smoked paprika is also often known as Spanish paprika or pimento. It comes in three heat levels: Picante – hot, agridulce – semi-hot, and dulce – mild. So, you can pick the paprika as per the spice level that most suits your palate. 

However, to get an exact match of the flavor as paprika, try using either the semi-hot or mild versions of this spice. You can use smoked paprika, especially the milder varieties in a 1:1 ratio. 

5. Hungarian Sweet Paprika

Hungarian sweet paprika, despite the name, comes in various heat levels. It has a red color similar to paprika’s and can be used as a substitute for the same in any recipe. 

Hungarian sweet paprika generally has a slightly sweet lingering taste. However, the amount of heat in the various types of this spice differs drastically. Usually, the packet contains information about the spice level. 

You can choose the spice level that best suits your flavor preference and heat tolerance. However, try using the mid varieties to get a similar flavor profile as regular paprika. You can use this as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio. 

6. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is made from smoke-dried jalapenos. It can be used as a substitute for paprika in various recipes.  Chipotle powder, again, has a sharper taste than that of paprika. It is much hotter than regular and even smoked paprika powder. So, it might not be the best substitute option if you are looking for a milder flavor profile. 

However, it will impart a similar red color. Chipotle powder makes a good substitute for paprika, generally in recipes such as meat rubs and marinades. To substitute, start with half the quantity of chipotle powder. In case you want the heat to be higher, you can always add more. 

7. Cajun Spice

Cajun spice mix is a mixture of various spices. Cayenne pepper is a part of the mix and sometimes so is paprika. Hence, it can be used as a substitute for paprika. 

Cajun spice does not have the dark red color of paprika but a more orange hue. Hence, it won’t give a dark red color to your food. Moreover, since it is a blend of various spices, it will have flavors of other spices too. 

Hence, you must use it carefully, as Cajun spice will definitely impart various flavors to your food. This is something worth keeping in mind, for sure. But, usually, a 1:1 ratio of substitution works. 

8. Hot Sauce

Hot sauce has hot chili peppers as one of the main ingredients. That gives it heat and red color, making it a good substitute for paprika in various recipes. 

Hot sauce comes in variations such as chili sauce, pepper sauce, etc. Any of those variations can be used as a substitute for paprika. As an alternative, you can also use hot sauce mixed with tomato puree. 

They will both impart a red color, and the addition of tomato puree will give it a milder flavor. However, that is completely optional. If you are using hot sauce as it is, you can use it as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio. 

9. Chili Powder

Chili powder is a combination of various types of chilies. It has a mild flavor and can be used as a paprika substitute in various recipes. 

Chili powder has a red color, similar to paprika since it is a combination of various chilies. Hence, it will impart the same color as paprika does. Despite the combination of various types of chilies, the flavor of chili powder is earthy. 

The mild flavor of chili powder goes well in most recipes as a substitute for paprika. It can generally be used as a substitute for paprika in any recipe in a 1:1 ratio. 

10. Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a variety of mild chili peppers. They are available in various colors, red being one of them. Hence, red bell peppers can be used as a substitute for paprika. 

With bell peppers, you can make paprika powder of your own. You can cut the bell peppers into roundels and dry them in the oven at 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. 

Make sure the bell peppers dry completely, so if they need a little extra time in the oven, don’t shy away from putting them back in the oven. Grind the peppers once they dry and use this powder as a substitute for paprika powder in a 1:1 ratio. 

11. Aleppo Chili Powder

Aleppo chili powder is another variety of chili powder from the Middle East. It has a red color similar to paprika. Hence, it can be used as a substitute for paprika. 

Aleppo chili powder is used extensively in the Middle East for meat rubs, salads, and dips. However, Aleppo chili powder is much hotter than paprika powder. Hence, it would make a better substitute for hotter variations of paprika. 

However, it can still be used as a mild paprika substitute too. Just start with half the quantity of the powder. In case you want the heat to be stronger, you can always add more later. 

12. Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho chile powder has a similar red color and taste profile to paprika. Hence, it can easily be used as a substitute for paprika. The flavor of ancho chile powder is quite similar to that of paprika. It is referred to as dulce paprika or mild paprika in Spanish. The flavor of ancho chile powder is also a little smoky. 

Since it has a mild flavor and a similar color, ancho chile powder works as a substitute for regular paprika powder in a 1:1 ratio. However, if you want the flavor to be stronger, you can add more. 

13. Gochugaru Powder

Gochugaru powder is an Asian chili spice mixture. It has a mild flavor, similar to that of paprika. Hence it can be used as a substitute for the same. 

Gochugaru powder is used extensively in Korean cooking. Despite being a blend of various spices, it still retains a mild flavor. Moreover, it has a rich red color that it imparts to various foods. 

This might not be the first substitute that comes to mind, considering not everyone might have it. However, if you do have it in your pantry, you can use it as a paprika substitute in a 1:1 ratio. 

Short Recap For Paprika Substitutes

Those were a lot of substitutes for paprika. I am sure you must have gone through all of them by now. However, are you still confused about which one would work best in your recipes? There is no need to worry! I have broken it down further for you. Have a look!

Most Suitable: The most suitable substitute for paprika is cayenne pepper. 

Easily Available: The most easily available substitute for paprika is black pepper. 

Best Flavor Profile: Ancho chile powder will give the best flavor profile when used as a substitute for paprika. 

Final Thoughts

As we have come to the end of this article, I hope it has helped you find the best paprika substitute. Paprika tends to work best when added to recipes while they are being cooked, rather than adding it raw. However, it still does impart a similar flavor otherwise. 

The list of substitutes given is definitely long. However, they all make extremely worthy substitutes for paprika. The options have their heat level mentioned, so you can pick your substitute based on what suits your flavor profile best!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Is paprika the same as chili powder?

No, paprika and chili powder are two different types of spices.

Is paprika and bell peppers the same thing?

No, they are both different. Paprika is a spice blend made of chili peppers, whereas bell peppers are a type of chili pepper.

What is paprika used for?

Paprika is generally used for adding color and a mild level of heat to food.

Are there any side effects of paprika?

If eaten in abundance, paprika can cause irritation and a burning sensation in the gut.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.