Food TipsSubstitute for Paprika: 10+ Quick and Easy-to-Find

Substitute for Paprika: 10+ Quick and Easy-to-Find

Pop and eureka–that’s paprika! This smokey spice has been around our pantry to give our boring dishes a little bit of red sunshine.

What is Paprika

Of course, you know that paprika does not mean pop and eureka–it is actually Hungarian in origin and not Spanish. But these two countries are the most famous when it comes to this powdery sensation.

By definition, Paprika can be confused with red hot chili peppers (not the band) or the big, brightly-colored bell peppers; but they’re actually both. What is paprika made from: Paprika is made by air-drying a combination of bell peppers and red peppers, crushed and ground into powder.

What does Paprika taste like

Paprika is not as sweet as you should expect. It just has a tinge of sweetness depending on the variety of peppers used, bell peppers more specifically. But I am sure about paprika is that it is less saltier than regular salt. It has low sodium content making paprika a better salt alternative.

What is Paprika good for: Peppers are also known as good sources of Vitamin C. They are actually three times more loaded with Vitamin than an orange. It was even used by the soldiers of World War II as their Vitamin C supplement.

Health benefits of paprika: Donning a Hungarian symbolic heritage or the New World Columbus Spanish talepaprika has been a valuable spice plant for many centuries. It has been used either or both as taste and coloring agent.

There are also different varieties of paprika depending on brightness of color (from pale to deep dark red), spiciness (from mild to strong) of taste, depth of heat (warm to hot) and country of origin. From Hungary to Spain, paprika is now traded and grown in some parts of North America, Africa and even Asia–leading to new varieties.

What is paprika used for

You sprinkle paprika as a garnish to the classic deviled eggs but they also work so great with stew, braised, grilled fish, chicken, meat–vast variety of recipes! I would suggest to heat paprika with some oil first to bring out its natural flavor before adding liquid ingredients.

And even though it can lasts up to 4 years, you should opt to buy paprika in small quantities. Paprika tends to lose its flavor very easily and the stale paprika can taste like chalk.

So in case we have a paprika emergency, that is running out of or just can’t seem to find the bottle of paprika, we may commence search-and-rescue operation in the pantry. Open those cupboards and kitchen cabinets, because we’re going to look for spice substitutes for paprika!


We’re going to choose substitutes for paprika that work as flavor (spiciness) and color (red) enhancements. And here are the top contenders – What can i use instead of Paprika:

  1. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a Capsicum cousin of paprika peppers, though they are hotter and stronger than the latter. Half or third of a teaspoon of ground cayenne is definitely enough to replace one teaspoon of paprika.

You may counteract or accompany that strong spicy flavor of cayenne with something sweet, like sugar or honey. It would also be best to add cayenne as substitute for paprika in paprika recipes that uses cream or heavy broth. This would help lessen the powerful spicy flavor of cayenne.

  1. Chili Powder

When you’re just looking for a blended flavor of chilis, chili powder is a great substitute for paprika. It’s as flavorful as paprika because cumin or oregano are sometimes added to the mixture.

In this case, one teaspoon of chili powder can replace the equal amounts of paprika in your recipe.

  1. Cajun Spice

Cajun spice blend is a mixture of cayenne, black and white peppers. Even though paprika can be added to the cajun spice mix, it’s a great substitute for paprika because of the fragrant aroma of onion and garlic granules.

Because it’s mild, one teaspoon of Cajun is just the same as one teaspoon of paprika. You may blend your own cajun seasoning with this or this and use it however you like here.

  1. Hot Sauce

Mixing together peppers or chilis and other ingredients (vinegar, oil, water and even alcohol) to make into a sauce is definitely a hot sauce. This condiment is best to be used as a substitute for paprika in terms of depth of flavor. So one teaspoon of hot sauce is perfect to replace one teaspoon of paprika in your dishes.

With the variety of peppers or chilis used, hot sauce has created that heat element from warming to burning. You can select the top 5 or top 10 hot sauces to enjoy or endure it’s taste.

  1. Aleppo Peppers

You can never go as Mediterranean as you can with aleppo peppers. It’s a great paprika option because aleppo peppers has the smokey paprika with a bit of cayenne pepper kick taste. So in this case, one half to one teaspoon of aleppo peppers can replace one teaspoon of paprika.

  1. Pimenton de La Vera

Pimenton de La Vera is a Spanish pride. It is a smoky, brick-red powder. It has three levels of spiciness: mild (pimentón dulce), moderately spicy (pimentón agridulce), and very spicy (pimentón picante).

You can use a teaspoon of pimenton instead of a teaspoon of paprika to brighten up lamb stews, briskets, potatoes, yogurt, meat dish or bowl of nuts. You can adjust the amount accordingly to the kind of pimenton you are using or to your level of spicy tolerance.

This video can show you how much labor are put into making the best Spanish paprika in the world.

  1. Chipotle Powder or Ancho Chile Powder

The chipotle or ancho chile powder is as paprika as it gets. Why? Because they went to the same process of drying and grounding; only that they are their own variety of peppers. Ancho chile comes from the sweetest dried chile, while chipotle comes from smoked, dried jalapenos chiles.

So a teaspoon of these smoky, sweet, spicy seasonings can replace a teaspoon of paprika.

  1. Red Pepper Flakes

Grinding pepper creates a fiery powder and crushing these dried red rockets are no different. But there’s more to these flat, thin peelings of peppers that are great to work in paprika dishes.

Red pepper flakes can sometimes have the smokiness of a paprika. So you can replace one teaspoon of paprika with one teaspoon or half or a third teaspoon of the fiery flakes.

  1. Bell Peppers/Capsicum

Bell peppers are the biggest, the sweetest and the most colorful of the Capsicum annuum family. With bell peppers, you may create a homemade paprika that can be bright red or sunrise-orange in color. You may need a dehydrator to do this recipe or just heat the peppers in the oven at 120 degrees.

Since bell peppers are the mildest of peppers, your homemade paprika will be milder as well but is more fragrant, distinct and flavorful. You can now use two teaspoons of the bell pepper recipe to replace a teaspoon of paprika.

  1. Black or White Pepper Powder

To continue matching paprika’s flavor, black or white pepper is a good substitute for paprika. You can use a teaspoon of black or white pepper to replace a teaspoon of paprika in your dish.

You should opt to use black or white pepper in cases the color of paprika is not a priority. Knowing the difference of black and white peppers is a handy knowledge to adjust the amount. White ground pepper is hotter than black, and black peppers are best to be freshly ground to have a more flavorful dish.

  1. Tomato Juice and Chili Powder or Flakes

And our last substitute for paprika is a combination of two ingredients: tomato juice for color and chili powder for taste. If you think you would not need the flavor of paprika, tomato juice is a top choice for a paprika color alternative.

nd to have that spicy kick of paprika, blend a pinch of chili powder or chili flakes (of any chili of your choice) to your tomato sauce. So in this case, one teaspoon of tomato juice with sprinkles of chili powder is as good as one teaspoon of paprika.

Whether you buy a can of tomato juice or make your own, tomato juice can make any paprika dishes as ruby as it can be. You may even give tomato paste and chili powder/flakes mixture a thought to try. Note that using tomato paste will need some liquid (water or broth) in cooking so your chili powder/flakes should be adjusted accordingly to your taste preference.


You may worry of the health risk of eating too much  peppers when used as substitutes for paprika, but let me calm your nerves with a proof that eating peppers at a regular basis prevents cardiovascular diseases that triggers death. This study by Larner College of Medicine, University of Vermont showed super power effect of capsaicin in peppers.

Having a substitute for paprika is like saving your dish from being boring. You just have to make sure you have control over taste because most of the substitutes are really hot or spicy.

You should only use alternatives in case of emergencies because there are recipes that require the flavor, aroma and color of real paprika. You may create your new recipes with our list of substitutes for paprika instead.

If you’re up to the challenge, why not watch this video and start enjoying the hard work labor brought in making the sweet and smokey paprika from planting to grinding to cooking.

Were you able to use one or all of these spice substitutes for paprika? Please share them in the comments sections below.

I hope this article helps you with your cooking. “See” you again!


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