Drink & Food Guides

The Best Paprika Substitute You Should Check Out

Tim Parry


When it comes to flavor, paprika is a hard act to follow. This spice lends a delicious smokiness and depth of flavor to dishes, but what can you do if you’re out or just don’t have any on hand? There are plenty of paprika substitutes that will give your food the same punch. Here are some of our favorites.

What Is A Paprika?

Paprika substitute

Paprika is a spice made from the dried pods of various types of capsicum, including bell peppers and pimientos. The word “paprika” comes from the Hungarian word for pepper, “paprika”. It has a sweet and slightly spicy flavor and is used in many dishes.

Paprika has been used in many cuisines around the world since at least the seventeenth century. It is principally employed to add color and flavor to dishes. As well it also has some benefits like helping relieve body pain by applying on skin, home remedy for sore throat (with honey bee), relieve any cough associated with colds, etc…

What Can You Substitute for Paprika?

What Can You Substitute for Paprika
Paprika substitute

There are many substitutes for paprika, depending on what you are cooking.

  • If you’re looking for a spice that has a similar flavor to paprika, try using cayenne pepper. It has a slightly spicy flavor and will add a little heat to your dish.
  • Another option is smoked paprika. This spice has a smoky flavor that is perfect for adding depth to dishes like chili or barbecue sauce.
  • If you’re looking for a milder substitute, try using sweet paprika instead. It has a slightly sweet flavor and will add a touch of color to your dish.

No matter which substitute you choose, just be sure to adjust the amount you use depending on the strength of the spice.


1. Is paprika and cayenne pepper the same?

No. Although they have some similarities, paprika, as well as cayenne, are distinct spices. Both are both derived in dried chilies that are ground into the dark red powders that we’ve become familiar with and enjoy.

2. Can I use cumin instead of paprika?

Yes, you can indeed make use of cumin in place of paprika in your recipes, but be aware that it can bring more heat to dishes than it could. Cumin is slightly more yellow-brown hue than paprika which means that if you’re trying to get that brick red color that paprika imparts to recipes, you won’t be able to achieve that with cumin.

3. What spice can I use instead of smoked paprika?

No, because red curry powder isn’t like paprika’s red. It’s made of red chili peppers that are the cause of its reddish hue. Paprika, as well as red curry powder, are both extremely diverse flavor profiles. Additionally, some curry powders from the red family can be spicy.

4. Can you use smoked paprika in place of paprika?

Yes, they’re two paprikas. However, it’s not an ideal substitute in any way. The smoky, smoky taste of smoked paprika can be too much for recipes calling normal sweet paprika.

5. Difference between paprika and chili powder?

The main difference between paprika vs chili powder is that chili powder is made from ground dried chilies, while paprika is a powdered spice made from dried bell peppers, sweet red peppers, or a combination of the two. Both spices are used to add flavor and color to dishes, but chili powder has a slightly hotter flavor.


If you are looking for a paprika substitute, there are several options to choose from. Chili powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika are all good substitutes that will add a bit of heat and smokiness to your dish. If you don’t have any of those on hand, you can also use a mix of ground cumin and turmeric. Whichever option you choose, just be sure to adjust the amount you use depending on how hot or smoky you want your dish to be. Happy cooking!

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Tim Parry

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