How do you like your food, bland? No, we don’t think so. Every one of us loves spiced food — some adding just a little spice, while others prefer a lot of it. Wherever you may be on the spice scale, we are all riding the same boat.
When we talk about spices, paprika comes to mind naturally. It’s the best of the best. But what if you realize that you don’t have any spice in your rack while in the middle of making your favorite meal? Well, there are various substitutes for paprika. They are so many that you will have a hard time choosing one. Luckily, we did the heavy lifting for you. Being an avid chiliheads, we have used almost every spice out there. So when we tell you about the best substitutes for paprika, we know that you will like them.
Anyway, our word is not a command. Take a ride with us as we explore some of the best paprika substitutes. Try them and be the judge.
Top Paprika Substitutes You Can Try
Ancho Chili Powder
In the absence of paprika, nothing comes closer than ancho chili powder. And no, we are not talking about everyday chili powder with an assortment of spices. Ancho chili powder contains only sweet dried chilies. Its flavor is fruity and leaves the tongue with sweet, earthy notes.
In some cases, ancho chili is smoked to enrich its flavor. The smoked variety is the perfect substitute for smoked Spanish paprika. Notably, the smoking is done to subtle levels. Therefore, you can adjust your quantities to get the flavor you prefer.
One of the lows of ancho powder is that its heat levels are low. If you are hooked to hotter paprika, then you should look for another alternative. Also, ancho powder is dark red as opposed to paprika’s bright hue.
Cayenne powder is a popular spice around the world. It is made from Guianese pepper, which is moderately hot. Thanks to its versatility, the cayenne powder can be a stand-in substitute not only for paprika but a dozen other spices. Latin American and Asian cuisines are notorious for using cayenne powder to add mild heat and unique flavor.
Additionally, the powder is brightly colored, just like paprika. If a vibrant, bright color is something you want on your dishes, the cayenne powder will give you that. However, you should be careful with the powder heat. While the highest heat score for paprika is 15,000 Scoville heat units, it goes up to 50,000 in some cayenne versions. Therefore, it is advisable to use a pinch of the powder for a start.
Syria may be in the news for all the wrong reasons, but it is they who gave us Aleppo pepper and its journey. It is a common spice across the Middle East and now breaking into the international cuisine scene. The pepper is bright red with its heat varying from mild to hot. Take it easy with the powder when using it for the first time. At the back of your mind, you should know the level of heat and flavor you want in your dish. Typically, a half tablespoon will be adequate to give you the same heat and flavor you would get from a spoonful of paprika.
Besides, Aleppo powder is not only a practical substitute for paprika but also packs an incredible amount of vitamins and dietary minerals. You are getting a generous serve of vitamins A and C, manganese, folic acid, iron, potassium, sodium, and calcium. You should also know that Aleppo pepper comes with a range of health benefits, including enhancing digestion, improving metabolism, and weight loss.
How about making your paprika substitute from the comfort of your kitchen? Nothing should excite you more than seeing your creation turning your foods into tasteful and finger-licking delicacies. Bell peppers are the option for the hands-on spice-head like you.
Pick red bell peppers and remove their stems. Place them in a dehydrator until they become brittle. Alternatively, wrap the peppers in a baking sheet and place them in an oven at 120℉. Drying them can take about 4 to 6 hours. Afterward, put them in a cotton bag and grind by rubbing them to the sides. Use a small mill grinder to get finer grains before sieving. And now you have your spice ready to use.
Homemade bell pepper powder is a befitting paprika substitute. It has more flavor and fragrance than store spices. Use it to spice food to your desired taste and heat.
Pimenton de la Vera
Did the spice name remind you of something Spanish? You’re correct as this spice has its roots in Spain. It is also known as smoked Spanish Paprika. This brick-red powder leaves your food colorful and with considerable heat. The heat levels vary from mildly sweet to bitter hot.
Pimenton de la vera is an excellent spice on a variety of food items ranging from nuts, stew, potatoes, and meat. By being a Spanish spice, pimenton de la vera is a mainstay addition to the Spanish cuisine. You will find it served with lomo pork loin, Spanish sausage, and chorizo.
Also, American cuisine is heavily using this spice. It is used with kebabs, barbecue pork, lamb stew, and beef. With whatever dish you use this spice, be ready to have your taste buds wanting more of it.
Cajun spice is a blend of cayenne, white and black peppers. It is a hot seasoning, but not as stinging as pure cayenne pepper. The spice has made a significant breakthrough in the American kitchens and has cuisine to its name: Cajun cuisine.
A close alternative for the Cajun seasoning is Creole spice, and a lot of people don’t know the difference. Creole, as a cuisine, has its origin from the city, while Cajun comes from the country. You can use Cajun spice on rice shrimp, chicken, or beans.
Almost a quarter of the global population consumes chili powder. You would say its reputation precedes its name. It is the most readily available substitute for paprika. Besides, it equally matches the hotness of paprika.
Chili powder is made either from red pepper or cayenne pepper. Thanks to its universal popularity and availability, chili powder goes with any food that would use a little to a lot of spice.
Chili spices are beneficial to your heart and overall health. Therefore, when you find yourself in the middle of preparing a meal and notice that your paprika spice container is empty, do not freak. You could be having other alternatives on your spice shelf. Of course, they may not be as good as paprika, but you get something to spice up your dishes. Who knows, you may even find the alternatives better and become your household favorite. Do you think we left out a spice that you feel would be an excellent sit-in for paprika? Please let us know in the comments. We are here to share and turn you into a cooking ninja.