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 salty 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 a taste and coloring agent.

There are also different varieties of paprika depending on the brightness of the 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, and meat–a wide variety of recipes! I would suggest heating paprika with some oil first to bring out its natural flavor before adding liquid ingredients.

And even though it can last 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 a 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 PepperCayenne Pepper alternative for Paprika

Cayenne pepper is a Capsicum cousin of paprika peppers, though they are hotter and stronger than the latter. Half or a 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 a substitute for paprika in paprika recipes that use cream or heavy broth. This would help lessen the powerful spicy flavor of cayenne.

  1. Chili Powder

Chili Powder as substitute for PaprikaWhen 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 SpiceCajun Spice alternative for Paprika

Cajun spice blend is a mixture of cayenne and 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

Hot Sauce as substitute for PaprikaMixing together peppers or chilis and other ingredients (vinegar, oil, water, and even alcohol) to make 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 for replacing one teaspoon of paprika in your dishes.

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

  1. Aleppo Peppers

Aleppo Peppers alternative for PaprikaYou can never go as to the Mediterranean as you can with Aleppo peppers. It’s a great paprika option because Aleppo peppers have 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 alternative for paprikaPimenton 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, a meat dish, or a 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 is put into making the best Spanish paprika in the world.

  1. Chipotle Powder or Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho Chile Powder as Substitute for PaprikaThe chipotle or ancho chile powder is as paprika as it gets. Why? Because they went through the same process of drying and grounding, only 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

Red Pepper Flakes alternative for PaprikaGrinding pepper creates a fiery powder, and crushing these dried red rockets is 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 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

Capsicum as alternative for paprikaBell peppers are the biggest, the sweetest, and the most colorful of the Capsicum annuum family. With bell peppers, you may create 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

Black and White Pepper Powder as alternative for PaprikaTo 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 between black and white peppers is 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.

And to have that spicy kick of paprika, blend a pinch of chili powder or chili flakes (of any chili of your choice) into 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.

Substitute Chart:

Paprika substitutes: Matched flavor and taste 1 tsp Paprika is equivalent to
Cayenne Pepper 95% 1/2 tsp
Chili Powder 96% 1/2 tsp
Cajun Spice 93% 1 tsp
Hot Sauce 92% 3/2 tsp
Aleppo Peppers 90% 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp
Pimenton de La Vera 94% 1 tsp
Chipotle or Ancho Chile Powder 95% 1 tsp
Pepper Flakes 97% 1/2-1/3 tsp
Capsicum 85% 2-3 tsp
White or Black Pepper Powder 93% 3/2 tsp
Chili Powder and Tomato Juice 90% 1/2 tsp tomato juice+ 1/2 chili powder


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

Having a substitute for paprika is like saving your dish from being boring. So 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!


Frequently Asked Questions

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

Answer: Common substitutes for paprika include chili powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or a mix of oregano and cumin for a less spicy option.

FAQ: Is smoked paprika and regular paprika interchangeable?

Answer: Smoked paprika has a distinct smoky flavor, unlike regular paprika. They can be interchanged depending on the recipe, but expect a flavor difference.

FAQ: Can I use turmeric instead of paprika?

Answer: Turmeric can be used for color, but it has a different flavor profile. Use it cautiously, especially in dishes where paprika’s flavor is prominent.

FAQ: Is there a difference between sweet paprika and regular paprika?

Answer: Yes, sweet paprika is milder and has a sweeter taste compared to regular paprika, which has a more neutral flavor.

FAQ: Can I use cayenne pepper as a substitute for paprika?

Answer: Cayenne pepper is much spicier than paprika. If using it as a substitute, use it sparingly to avoid overpowering the dish with heat.

FAQ: What’s a good non-spicy substitute for paprika?

Answer: For a non-spicy option, try using tomato powder or a mix of bell pepper powder and a pinch of cumin.

FAQ: Can I omit paprika from a recipe?

Answer: Paprika can be omitted in some recipes without a significant impact on the overall taste, especially if it’s used in small quantities for color.

FAQ: Is there a difference between Hungarian and Spanish paprika?

Answer: Yes, Hungarian paprika tends to be sweeter and milder, while Spanish paprika can range from sweet to hot, with some varieties being smoked.

FAQ: Can I use bell pepper powder as a substitute for paprika?

Answer: Bell pepper powder is a great substitute for paprika, offering a similar color and a mild, sweet flavor.

FAQ: Are there any other unusual substitutes for paprika?

Answer: Other less common substitutes include ancho powder, Aleppo pepper, or a blend of dried herbs like oregano and thyme for a different flavor profile.

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