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Different Types of Paprika

Different Types of Paprika – Let’s talk about a popular kitchen staple and the different types of paprika you need to take your cooking to the next level. All paprika comes from dried and ground red chili peppers from the capsicum annuum family; the difference between sweet, hot, and smoked paprika depends on the variety of red chili used to make the spice- let’s get into it.

Paprika on a spoon with it spilled on the surface.
Image by Karolina Grabowska

WHAT IS PAPRIKA?

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

DIFFERENT TYPES OF PAPRIKA

There are several types of paprika and while they seem interchangeable, they are not. Here is a little bit about each one

1. Sweet Paprika

When recipes call for paprika, they’re likely referring to sweet paprika, which is often labeled ‘paprika’ in grocery stores. People use the mild version of the spice to garnish dishes, including our Classic Deviled Eggs Recipe, hummus, and Healthy Potato Salad. Home cooks also use the spice blend to add vibrant color to meals like Grilled Tandoori Chicken without completely altering the flavor.

Get a Recipe for Sweet Paprika:
Shakshuka
Flavorful shakshuka combines poached eggs with hearty, spiced tomato sauce; this is a simple meal served at any time of the day, though I prefer it for breakfast or brunch. 
Shakshuka
Shakshuka garnished with fresh mint.

2. Hot Paprika

Hot paprika is made from spicy red chili peppers to bring the heat. While it’s spicier than other variations, hot paprika is not as spicy as other chilies. I love using hot paprika alongside sweet paprika to make rindsgulasch. Other recipes that use hot paprika include:

Get a Recipe for Hot Paprika:
Rindsgulasch
Thick cuts of boneless short rib cook Viennese-style in a dark and flavorful gravy until the beef is fork-tender. Flavored traditionally with hot and sweet paprika and peppery caraway.
Rindsgulasch
A scoop of Rindsgulasch shown over the Dutch oven filled to the brim with the same.

3. Smoked Paprika

Dry and smoke red peppers and you end up with smoked paprika. Smoked paprika uses sweet and spicy red peppers, but if it’s not labeled hot or spicy, you can safely assume it contains smoked sweet peppers. Add smoky flavors to recipes like Roasted Jerk Chicken without smoking or cooking them over an open flame.

Get a Recipe for Smoked Paprika:
Peruvian Chicken
Golden-skin Pollo a la Brasa or Peruvian chicken marinates in vinegar and traditional spices like smoked paprika.
Peruvian Chicken
A single serving of our Peruvian roasted chicken served with serrano crema.

4. Hungarian Paprika

Hungary is a 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; they use it like salt and pepper. The spice comes in eight grades, each with its flavor profile and heat level.

Get a Recipe for Hungarian Paprika:
Instant Pot Austrian Goulash – Rindsgulasch
Thick cuts of boneless short rib cook in a dark and flavorful gravy until the meat is fork-tender; it's everything you expect from Austrian goulash.
Instant Pot Austrian Goulash
A single serving of Austrian beef stew over buttery egg noodles.

5. Spanish Paprika – Pimentón

Pimentón is a type of smoked paprika in Spain; it comes in three varieties: dulce (sweet), agrodolce (bittersweet or mild), and Picante (hot). Pimentón de la vera is a chili used to make paprika in Spain; they are dried and smoked over burning oak wood, as is tradition. Spanish paprika flavors meals like paella and chorizo.

Two kinds of paprika on two spoons.
Image by Karolina Grabowska

PAPRIKA SUBSTITUTES

If you don’t have paprika on hand, here are some suggestions for what to use when you’re in a pinch; when a recipe calls for hot paprika, cayenne, red pepper flakes, or Aleppo powder will do the trick. If you’re looking for a smokier replacement, try red chili powder, chipotle powder, or ancho chili powder. Kashmiri chili powder is a spice commonly used in Indian cuisine and can be used in place of sweet paprika unless otherwise noted.

HOW CAN I USE PAPRIKA?

STORAGE

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

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is paprika spicy?

Paprika comes in three main types sweet, mild, and spicy. It’s safe to assume that, unless otherwise stated, the paprika you find in the store will be sweet and not spicy.

Where does paprika come from?

Capsicum annuum is native to Central and Southern Mexico, where locals would prepare food and use it to make healing remedies. On one of his journeys, historians speculate that Christopher Columbus loaded his ship with spice and introduced it to Europe.

RECIPES USING PAPRIKA: