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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.
Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska


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.


While paprika is a widely-used spice, many don’t realize there are several distinct types, each with a unique flavor profile and culinary uses. Maybe you’re trying a recipe that calls for a particular kind of paprika, and you’re wondering, what are the differences in paprika? Like our round-up of recipes using garam masala, here’s a brief overview of some of the different types of paprika and how to use them:

1. Sweet Paprika

When recipes call for paprika, they’re likely referring to sweet paprika, which is often labeled as just ‘paprika’ in grocery stores. Recipes often use the mild version of the spice to garnish dishes like our deviled eggs without vinegar, butter bean 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.

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Shakshuka garnished with fresh mint.

Flavorful Moroccan 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. 

2. Hot Paprika

Hot paprika also called spicy or piquant paprika, is made from hot chili peppers, such as cayenne or jalapeño. It adds a fiery kick to dishes and is often used to bring the heat.

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A scoop of Rindsgulasch shown over the Dutch oven filled to the brim with the same.

Thick cuts of boneless short rib simmer in a dark and flavorful gravy until the beef is fork-tender to make Rindsgulasch.


If you enjoy spices, try one of these homemade spice blends!  

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.

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Peruvian Chicken

A single serving of our Peruvian roasted chicken served with serrano crema and salad.

Golden-skin pollo a la brasa or Peruvian chicken marinates in vinegar and traditional spices like smoked paprika.

Air Fryer Sausage Patties

Sausage patties on a plate.

Evenly browned and cooked to perfection, these air fryer sausage patties are tasty without all the mess and splatter of stovetop cooking. 

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.

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Austrian Goulash in the Instant Pot

A single serving of Austrian beef stew over buttery egg noodles.

Austrian goulash features boneless short ribs simmered in a dark gravy in the Instant Pot until the beef is fork-tender; it’s the ultimate comfort meal.

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.

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Spanish Chicken Bake

A skillet brimming with paella with a spoon in it.
Photo Credit: My Pocket Kitchen

Hearty Spanish chicken bake is easy to prepare and versatile; the comforting, earthy flavors of Spain come together in this healthy one-pot meal.

Vegetable Paella with Halloumi

A skillet brimming with paella with a spoon in it.
Photo Credit: J Cooking Oddyssey

Prepare to indulge in the ultimate vegetable paella with halloumi! This recipe features a medley of vibrant vegetables cooked together with traditional Spanish rice and a blend of flavorful spices.

Two kinds of paprika on two spoons.
Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska


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 need a smokier replacement, try red chili powder, chipotle powder, or ancho chili powder. Kashmiri chili powder is a popular Indian spice you can use rather than sweet paprika.



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.


How many types of paprika are there?

There are several types of paprika, each with its own distinct flavor and heat level: sweet, smoked, and hot.

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 rather than spicy.

Where does paprika come from?

Made from drying peppers and grinding them into a powder, many global cuisines use paprika to flavor their dishes. The most frequently used pepper variety to make paprika is Capsicum Annuum, a pepper cultivated in Central and Southern Mexico. Thanks to trade routes, paprika is a beloved ingredient in kitchens worldwide.