Skip to Content

Different Types of Paprika

Let’s talk about the different types of paprika you need level up your kitchen game. The difference between sweet, hot, and smoked paprika depends on the variety of red chili used to make the spice blend – let’s get into it.

A cover image for different types of paprika.

What is Paprika?

Paprika is a powdered spice made from dried and ground red chili peppers. It’s a popular ground spice used to flavor eggs, meat, poultry, stew, fish, soup, vegetables, rice, and creamy sauces. While you can reach for a shaker of paprika at the grocery store, you should know about the different types of paprika and how to use them.

Different Types of Paprika

While paprika is a widely used spice, many don’t realize there are several distinct types, each with a unique flavor profile and culinary use. Maybe you are following a recipe that requires a specific kind of paprika and want to know the difference. Similar to these recipes using garam masala, check out the different types of paprika and recipe ideas for how to use them:

1. Sweet Paprika

Sweet paprika in a bowl.

If the type of paprika is unspecified when shopping or making a new recipe, it’s likely referring to sweet paprika. Recipes often use the mild version of the ground spice to garnish dishes like deviled eggs, butter bean hummus, and potato salad. Home cooks also use it to add color to grilled tandoori chicken without altering the flavor.

Moroccan shakshuka with fresh mint.

Moroccan Shakshuka

Flavorful Moroccan shakshuka combines poached eggs with hearty, spiced tomato sauce. Serve the meal any time of day, though I prefer eating it for breakfast with warm bread. 

2. Hot Paprika

Hot paprika in a bowl.

Hot paprika, or piquant paprika, is made from spicy peppers such as cayenne or jalapeño peppers. The ground spice adds a fiery kick to meals, depending on where producers source them.

Rindsgulasch over egg noodles.


Thick cuts of tender beef simmer to perfection in a rich and flavorful gravy made with hot and sweet paprika.

3. Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika in a bowl.

Dry and smoke red peppers to make smoked paprika. Smoked paprika producers use sweet and spicy red peppers, but if your container is not labeled hot or spicy, you can assume it is smoked sweet peppers. Add the smoky flavor to roasted jerk chicken or baked tandoori chicken without smoking or cooking them over an open flame or grill

Peruvian roasted chicken on a plate.

Peruvian Chicken

Pollo a la brasa, or Peruvian chicken, marinates in vinegar and traditional spices before roasting them in the oven until golden brown. Serve the spatchcocked chicken with spicy serrano crema.

Sausage patties on a plate.

Air Fryer Sausage Patties

Evenly browned and cooked to perfection, hand-mixed sausage patties feature ground turkey, fresh garlic, olive oil, and warm spices like smoked paprika. 

4. Hungarian Paprika

Hungary is a primary source of paprika all over the world. Hungarian paprika, in particular, is one of the main ingredients for some of the country’s most popular meals, including paprikash and Hungarian goulash. The ground spice has eight grades, each with a signature flavor and heat level.

Austrian goulash on a plate with noodles.

Austrian Goulash

Austrian goulash features boneless short ribs simmered Viennese-style in a paprika-spiced gravy until the beef is fork-tender. 

5. Spanish Paprika (Pimentón)

Pimentón is paprika from Spain. The smoked ground spice comes in three varieties: dulce (sweet), agrodolce (bittersweet or mild), and Picante (hot). Pimentón de la vera is the chile used to make paprika in Spain. The peppers are dried and smoked over burning oak wood, as is tradition. It’s the primary ingredient in popular Spanish meals like paella and chorizo.

Spanish chicken bake in a baking dish.

Spanish Chicken Bake

Hearty Spanish chicken bake is easy to prepare and boasts comforting, earthy flavors in this healthy one-pot meal.

Photo Credit: My Pocket Kitchen

A skillet with paella.

Vegetable Paella with Halloumi

Vegetable paella with halloumi features vibrant vegetables cooked with Spanish rice and flavorful spices like paprika or pimentón.

Photo Credit: J Cooking Odyssey

Paprika Substitutes

If you don’t have paprika, here are a few suggestions for what to use when you’re in a pinch. When a recipe calls for hot paprika, use cayenne pepper, red chili powder, gochugaru, or Aleppo powder. If you need a smokier option, reach for chipotle powder, or ancho chili powder. Kashmiri chili powder is a popular Indian spice to try instead of sweet paprika.

How Can I Use Paprika


Store paprika in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. Spices lose their freshness over time, so it’s best to use paprika within six months for best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is paprika spicy?

Paprika comes in three main types: sweet, mild, and hot. It’s safe to assume that the paprika in grocery stores will be sweet rather than spicy unless the packaging says otherwise. 

Recipes Using Different Types of Paprika:

Your Feedback is Valuable

Did you try this recipe? Consider leaving a ⭐️ rating and comment below. And for more healthy international recipes for everyday cooking, sign up to have recipes emailed right to you.