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Savory Tweaks: 5 BEST Paprika Substitutes

Do you find yourself in a pinch, needing something flavorful and delicious to add to your meals?

Then you might want to consider the best substitutes for paprika.

You deserve to enjoy all the colorful, savory flavor paprika can bring without having to buy this special spice.

Read on and discover what’s out there.

What’s Paprika?

Paprika is a spice made from dried, ground chilli peppers.

It is typically made from one or more varieties of different Capsicum annuum peppers such as bell peppers, cayenne, jalapeño and others.

Paprika is used to add colour and flavour to dishes like deviled eggs, goulash and Horseradish-roasted potatoes.

It has many health benefits as it contains a range of antioxidants that fight inflammation and disease.

If you’re wondering how to cook with paprika, it can be added in its powder form to just about any savoury dish for a boost of colour, mild heat and flavour.

Depending on what type of dish you are making, the paprika can be used either for taste or for colour.

Here are some tips on using this spice:

  • Paprika can enhance the natural flavour of your dish without giving it too much spice.
  • Paprika does not dissolve in water so it’s best used by sprinkling over food after it has been prepared rather than adding it during cooking.
  • If you are using paprika for colour rather than flavour then look for smoked or sweet varieties which would give a deep red hue without adding any noticeable heat levels or spicy notes to your food.
  • Paprika pairs well with other spices in marinades and rubs so feel free to experiment with combinations that will add interesting flavours to your dishes.

5 Best Paprika Substitutes to Consider

When you’re in a pinch and need a substitute for paprika, there are several alternatives that will still give you great flavor.

Paprika is a type of ground red pepper that’s popular around the world, but it can be difficult to find in some areas.

Fortunately, you can use these five substitutes to get similar results:

1 – Smoked Paprika

When discussing paprika varieties, it’s important to start with smoked paprika.

This is a variation of sweet paprika that adds a taste of smokey flavor to food.

Smoked paprika is made by slowly smoking the peppers over an extended period of time and then grinding them into a fine powder.

This type of paprika is commonly used in Spanish recipes like paella and romesco sauce, as well as many Middle Eastern dishes.

However, because this type of paprika can have a more intense flavor, it may not be suitable for all dishes unless you adjust the amount you use.

2 – Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho chile powder is made from dried ancho chiles, which are a type of dried ripe poblano pepper.

Ancho chile powder is sometimes called pasilla, which actually refers to another type of pepper.

It’s mild in flavor and is slightly sweet with a moderate amount of heat that has been compared to cayenne pepper.

It has the same smoky quality as paprika, but more heat because it’s made from chilies rather than paprika peppers.

To substitute ancho chile powder for paprika in recipes such as chili or tacos, start by using half the amount of ancho chile powder to achieve the same level of smokiness.

You can also increase or decrease the amount based on preferred spiciness as desired.

3 – Cayenne Pepper Powder

Typically made from the dried and ground pods of chili peppers, cayenne pepper powder is significantly hotter than paprika.

If you’re looking for a spice that will add extra heat to your dish while still providing a red/orange hue like paprika, then cayenne pepper powder is an excellent option.

When it comes to cooking with cayenne pepper powder, it’s best to start small.

You can always add more heat, but you can’t take it away once it’s added.

The heat of the pepper can vary depending on the type of peppers used and where the peppers were grown, so you’ll want to pay close attention as you cook; a pinch too much could create an overly spicy dish.

It’s also important to note that 1 tsp of cayenne pepper power is equivalent to about 3 tsp of Paprika in terms of flavor potency or spiciness, so use sparingly.

4 – Chili Powder

Chili powder is not an exact substitute for paprika, since it contains more cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and other spices.

This blend of spices typically includes some type of pepper (usually chili peppers), cumin, oregano, garlic powder and other spices.

While this may result in a darker color than paprika would provide, the flavor will be much different.

Chili powder has a strong spiciness that paprika does not provide.

It can be used sparingly to provide heat to certain dishes such as chili or burritos or sprinkled on tacos or nachos to add a delicious spicy kick.

Chili powder is commonly used in Mexican cuisine but can also make an excellent addition to your collection of pantry staples due the number of dishes you can spice up with its unique flavor profile.

5 – Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is a great substitute for paprika because it has a similar smoky flavor, but with more heat.

It is made from dried and ground chipotle peppers which are a type of jalapeños peppers that have been smoked and dried.

It can range from mild to extremely hot, so be sure to read the label for an indication of heat level before using.

Chipotle powder is widely available in supermarkets and online, and can be used as a substitute for paprika in dishes like chili con carne, tacos, soups and sauces where you want extra heat.

As chipotle powder has extra kick, use half the amount called for in your recipe if you’re substituting it for paprika.


Although allspice and chili powder are popular alternatives to paprika, there are many other ingredients which are just as suitable.

When substituting in recipes, consider individual preferences and the dish itself.

Depending on the desired flavor and heat intensity, ground cayenne pepper, sumac or even a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg can be used successfully to replace paprika.

Paprika is a versatile spice that adds flavor, color and complexity to many dishes.

While allspice, chili powder and other substitutes can often be adequate replacements for paprika in some recipes, nothing quite compares to the vibrant flavor of this delicious spice.

Ultimately, the only true substitute for paprika is more paprika.

5 Best Paprika Substitutes to Consider

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes


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


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
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