October 7, 2017

Looking for a Paprika Substitute? The 7 Best Spices You Need to Try

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What I'm in love with when cooking is that it's got a TON of opportunities and ingredients to make use of. You aren't only inclined to use just a few ingredients around your home, but the markets and groceries are filled with tons of dishes and types of food you can use to create something both magnificent and delicious.

Like spices! One of my favorites has got to be paprika. But there will be times I don't have any in the kitchen. Luckily, that's where the vast spice collection I have comes to the rescue. You can find the excellent paprika substitute in a lot of places, so if you're in a pickle like me and sometimes find yourself without this spice, then read on as I show you the seven best ones to use!

The Best Paprika Substitute List​

Paprika is a spice from the similar pepper family, made out of dried ground chiles. While it doesn't taste like much raw (sprinkled over dishes), its flavors explode when heated, which exude a sweet flavor that has the earthy undertones. It also has a bit of spice that ranges between gentle to spicy. The spiciness would depend on what type of paprika you are getting. They are usually produced from Spain or Hungary.

So you will want to make sure that you have a substitute that has a beautiful orange-red tint, tastes a bit earthy, and with a kick to it.

If you've got no paprika at the moment or you can't find it in the groceries, then here are the seven best ones you can try out for yourself:

Cayenne Pepper

If you're looking for a substitute that's spicy, then you should opt for half a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper for every teaspoon of paprika. But do take note that this is hotter and smokier than the original spice, so you may want to lessen the quantity first.

If you want to sweeten it up, add a tiny bit of sugar or honey to keep the sweet flavors of paprika and to reduce the spiciness.

Ancho Chili Powder or Red Pepper Flakes

Ancho Chili Powder is the best alternative to use when you've got no paprika at home. This type of powder is made out of sweet dried chilies, which offer a rich and milady fruity flavor with the earthy notes similar to paprika. It has the same paprika flavor.

If you are replacing the Spanish smoked paprika, then I advise you to get the smoked ancho chili pepper. It is not as smoky as paprika, so you may need to add a bit more if you are using it as a rub for meats.

If you've got no Ancho chili powder, then you can go for one teaspoon of chili powder or a teaspoon of mild red pepper flakes, which are also a bit smoky but spicier than paprika.

Cajun Spice

Cajun spices are made from blending cayenne, black, and white peppers. It's one of the optimal alternatives to paprika, as it isn't as hot or strong as the Cayenne powder. Like what the name suggests, they are used in Cajun recipes.

They are a great substitute for paprika as it isn't as hot as the Cayenne pepper powder, but with the kick and smoky flavors, you need. It's similar to chili powder, so you can use one teaspoon of the spice to substitute one teaspoon of paprika.

Hot Sauce

One teaspoon of hot sauce can be used for every one teaspoon of paprika needed. The usual hot sauce is made with chill peppers and vinegar, water, oil, and sometimes alcohol. Because of its mildly smoky flavors with a hot spice content, these are great to use in substitution for paprika.

But do take note that it's in a pasty form, which may alter the appearance or consistency of your dish. It's best used on dishes where taste is more important than the color or appearance.

Tomato Juice and Chili Powder

Tomato is another ideal substitute for paprika as it enhances the color and flavor to the dish. BUT, while it looks great on dishes, it isn't as spicy as paprika. That's why you can add a dash of chili powder or hot sauce, which will help achieve the paprika's smoky-sweet flavor. You should use one teaspoon of tomato juice with a bit of pepper for every teaspoon of paprika needed in your recipes.

Aleppo Peppers

Aleppo peppers are from Syria, a popular spice for its bright acidity and earthy flavors. They offer a mild heat which isn't very spicy but would tend to linger. It also has the bright red appearance and can either be sold as flakes or powder (usually the former). I would recommend Aleppo chili powder for most dishes, though it may be difficult to find.

Chipotle Powder

I LOVE Chipotle powder, which has the hot and smoky flavor like paprika. It's an awesome substitute as it's both spicy but still a bit sweet to balance the taste. Use one teaspoon of this powder in exchange for paprika. If you're looking for the ultimate smoky flavor as a rub for your meats, along with the spice, then this is it.

Always remember that these substitutes aren't the perfect clone to paprika, but will have the similar taste and texture. Just add a little bit of them at a time until it reaches the desired taste!

Chipotle Powder

I LOVE Chipotle powder, which has the hot and smoky flavor like paprika. It's an awesome substitute as it's both spicy but still a bit sweet to balance the taste. Use one teaspoon of this powder in exchange for paprika. If you're looking for the ultimate smoky flavor as a rub for your meats, along with the spice, then this is it.

Always remember that these substitutes aren't the perfect clone to paprika, but will have the similar taste and texture. Just add a little bit of them at a time until it reaches the desired taste!

​Five Ideas on Using Paprika Substitutes

Now that you know what paprika substitute you can use, what are ways on how you can utilize any of these ingredients on your recipes? Here are five of my favorite ideas where you can use paprika and its alternatives:

  • Did you know that paprika and other chili powders would go great on popcorn? Instead of the usual butter on this movie snack, you should opt for a kick to popcorn and add a teaspoon of it per serving. It's tastier than the microwave type, and the fiber plus spice will kickstart your digestion and metabolism. It's also ideal for corn-on-the-cob or mixed nuts.
  • If you made deviled eggs, you could sprinkle a bit of spice on top of it, making the eggs look restaurant-worthy while adding a bit of a kick to the creamy filling.
  • Instead of the standard pita and hummus, add a bit of paprika or its alternatives on top of this dip. Make sure that you mix the dip well together so that every bite will have just the right amount of hot flavor.
  • Paprika (or any spicy powder) will go great as a marinade or meat rub. Mix in with olive oil, the paprika substitute, and salt, then rub it on your chosen meat, leaving it overnight. It will have the juicy flavors once cooked!
  • An easy way to add spice to any dish is to sprinkle the paprika alternatives on top of it, making it look as fancy as it is delicious.

​In Conclusion

I know the struggles of not having all your ingredients laid out in the kitchen when you're about to start cooking. But not to worry! There are a ton of ingredients you can use that will still match what you're missing, still completing your recipe. With paprika, there isn't only one paprika substitute, but seven excellent ones that will still have your dishes taste delicious.

I hope that this article on the best paprika substitute helped you become more knowledgeable on what you need when you need to replace this spice in the kitchen. So what are you waiting for? If you need paprika but have none at the moment, then try any of these alternatives today!

If you have any questions or would like to share your tips and experiences with substituting paprika, then comment down below. I would love to hear what you have to think.​

    Claire J. Ruiz

    I'm Claire, and my passion is cooking. I believe that food is what actually unites people and the dining table is where we set aside our differences. When we eat we become vulnerable because enjoying food requires a different level of trust and surrender to the person preparing your food. Sharing and enjoying food is one of the most intimate experiences in life.​

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