5 Surprising Paprika Substitutes You Need to Try Today

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with paprika, how to use it in cooking, and what the best substitute for it is, then you’re like a lot of people out there scratching their heads.

Many of us know how to use the bright and vibrant red capsules of flavor, but not everybody does.

Paprika is relatively easy to cook with and can be used as a great substitute for many flavors.

It’s also one of the top five substitutes for other spices — so if it isn’t in your kitchen, then it should be.

So read on to learn all about this intricate member of the spice family: how it can add a unique flavor to any dish and which ones are its perfect substitutes.

What is Paprika?

Have you ever wondered what paprika is? Well, paprika is a ground red pepper that originated in Southern Mexico and Central America.

It has a bit of sweet spice and smoky flavor that can vary in intensity depending on its variety and how it was prepared.

Typically, more sour Spanish varieties are used to season dishes like goulash, while the sweet Hungarian type pairs nicely as a color accent on slices of hard salami.

Paprika also makes a nice garnish for potato salads and deviled eggs.

To really bring out the rich flavor of paprika, try lightly sautéing it in olive oil before incorporating it into your favorite recipes.

Though you may be tempted to add additional salt when adding paprika to your dish, resist the temptation because it already contains salt.

With its pleasing hue and addition of complex flavor profiles, including sweetness and smokiness, paprika is sure to take any recipe up a notch.

5 BEST Paprika Substitutes in Recipes

If you’re in a pinch and need to find a substitute ingredient for paprika, it can be tough.

But don’t worry – there are other ingredients you can use that will still get the job done.

Here’s our list of the five best substitutes for paprika in recipes:

1 – Chili Powder

Chili powder is an indispensable ingredient in a variety of global cuisines and creates a delectable burst of flavor.

This flavorful, intense spice blend is typically comprised of ground chili peppers, garlic, oregano, salt, and cumin – each providing its own distinct taste and texture.

Many have compared the taste to that of paprika but with an extra dose of smokiness and heat.

If you run short on chili powder, paprika can be an excellent substitution while still bringing an incredible level of complexity to your next meal.

2 – Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper adds a unique spiciness to recipes that paprika can’t match.

Many people are perplexed as to what cayenne pepper is and how it differs from the more familiar paprika.

In its purest form, cayenne pepper is a red powder made from powdered chili peppers of the species Capsicum annuum.

It has the same color as paprika, but it tends to be thicker in consistency with a stronger flavor.

It has a slight smokiness along with its trademark heat and burstiness.

You can use it for seasoning dishes like chili or jambalaya, or you can substitute it for paprika when wanting to add a little bit of heat and complexity to your food.

3 – Smoked Paprika

Smoking paprika is a unique and interesting way of adding depth and complexity to any dish.

It is specially prepared by smoking the peppers over burning oak for some time, which gives it its signature smoky flavor.

Smoked paprika has a fuller, richer taste compared to its regular counterpart, with hints of earthiness and deep red color.

Its texture is also quite different, somewhat powdery while still having a bit of bulk that adds a pleasant crunch.

You can substitute smoked paprika for regular paprika in some recipes if you’re looking for a more intense flavor – however, bear in mind you may need to adjust amounts depending on how smoky your paprika is.

4 – Chipotle Powder

Bursting with flavor and warmth, Chipotle powder is a spice like no other.

It has an intense smokiness that sets it apart from ordinary paprika – something you won’t forget in a hurry.

The texture of this particular chili is slightly coarse due to its ground nature but manages to retain much of the delicious spiciness without overwhelming the palette.

So how does this fantastic spice measure up to its paprika-based sibling? We’d say pretty darn well.

While paprika can definitely bring some undeniable depth to your dishes, it doesn’t quite reach the same level as Chipotle powder.

It’s an easy way to elevate your meals and substitute one for the other really couldn’t be simpler; simply use equal parts of Chipotle powder for every tablespoon of paprika recommendation given in recipes.

5 – Aleppo Chili Powder

Aleppo chili powder is the perfect spice for any bursting, bold flavor in your recipes.

Its unique flavor will perplex you as it is a unique combination of sweet and smoky, with just the right amount of heat to bring everything together.

The chili flakes are coarsely ground with a fruity yet earthy aroma that adds depth and complexity.

Taste-wise, the sweet, smoky, pungent, and mild heat blend together perfectly.

Differentiating from other chili powders, Aleppo chili is coarser and has less heat but more umami.

A great substitute for paprika would be adding Aleppo chili flakes to roasted vegetables or sprinkling them on hummus or salad.

That little kick of flavor will definitely put a spin on your dishes.


In conclusion, there are many great substitutes for paprika that will still bring an incredible level of complexity to your next meal.

You can use chili powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, Chipotle powder, and Aleppo chili flakes to add a unique flavor and spiciness to your dishes.

So if you’re looking for an alternative to paprika that will still add complexity and heat – these five are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

5 BEST Paprika Substitutes in Recipes

5 BEST Paprika Substitutes in Recipes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 – Chili Powder
  • 2 – Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 – Smoked Paprika
  • 4 – Chipotle Powder
  • 5 – Aleppo Chili Powder


  1. Choose a preferred substitute from the provided list.
  2. Follow the cooking instructions for the selected substitute.
  3. Use the correct proportion of ingredients when preparing the substitute.

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