Paprika Substitutes: 12 Spicy Stand-Ins for Paprika Powder

Spicy paprika packs a flavorful punch. Its sweet heat and vibrant hue jazz up stews, rubs, chilies, and more. But what if you’re all out of this tasty red powder?

Don’t ditch your dishes! With the right substitutions, you can mimic paprika’s color, spice, and smoky aroma.

This article explores 12 ingredients to use when your paprika runs dry. You’ll discover:

  • Peppery spices that match paprika’s heat
  • Powders that provide rich red color
  • Blends that recreate smoky, sweet notes
  • How to tweak amounts when substituting

With these flavorful fixes, you can save your cooking from bland disaster. Read on to master paprika substitutions! Then turn up the flavor on your dishes, with or without paprika in the mix.

What is Paprika?


Paprika is a ground spice made from dried peppers. It originated in Central America before becoming essential to Spanish and Hungarian cuisine.

Paprika comes in sweet, smoky, and spicy varieties. It adds vibrant color and robust flavor to dishes. Paprika also boasts antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.

12 Handy Substitutes for Spicy Paprika

When you run out of paprika, don’t lose heart. Try these easy-to-find stand-ins:

1. Maras Pepper Flakes

With sweet and spicy notes, maras pepper from the Middle East mimics paprika’s flavor. Use 1⁄2 teaspoon flakes per 1 teaspoon paprika. Add more for extra heat.

2. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne packs more heat than paprika. Use just 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne for every 1 teaspoon paprika. Blend with sugar for sweetness and salt to cut spice.

3. Cajun Seasoning

This blend contains cayenne, garlic, thyme, oregano, and more. Use 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning for 1 teaspoon paprika. It adds layered flavor.

4. Chipotle Powder

Smoky chipotle chilies make a moderately spicy powder. Substitute 1 teaspoon chipotle powder for 1 teaspoon paprika.

5. Bell Pepper Powder

Dehydrate and grind red bell peppers into a sweet, mild powder. Use 2 teaspoons for every 1 teaspoon paprika.

6. Aleppo Pepper

Aleppo Pepper

This Turkish pepper has medium spice, like paprika. Use 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon Aleppo powder per 1 teaspoon paprika.

7. Black Peppercorns

Peppercorns add mild heat without color. Grind them for tomato sauces and Italian dishes.

8. Gochugaru


This Korean pepper blend offers mild spice and color. Replace paprika 1:1 with gochugaru.

9. Pimentón de la Vera

Smoked Spanish paprika makes an excellent substitute. Swap 1:1 for regular paprika.

10. Chili Powder

Chili powder tastes hotter than paprika. Use less and add slowly until desired heat level.

11. Smoked Sweet Paprika

Short on spicy paprika? Use smoked sweet paprika and add other spices like cayenne for heat.

12. Hungarian Paprika

Another mild, sweet paprika variety. Add cayenne or hot sauce for spice.

Paprika vs. Chili Powder

Paprika and chili powder look similar but taste quite different:

  • Paprika has sweet notes while chili powder is spicy.
  • Chili powder also contains garlic, cumin, and other seasonings.
  • Replace paprika with less chili powder, adjusting until the heat is right.

Choose the Best Substitute for Your Dish

With so many paprika substitutes, which should you use? Consider:

  • Spice level – Match heat to the paprika variety called for.
  • Flavor – Pick substitutes with sweetness and smokiness where needed.
  • Color – Cayenne or chili powder add hue for stews and chilies.
  • Preparation – Opt for pre-ground spices instead of whole spices when in a hurry.

With the right stand-in, you can still enjoy paprika’s vibrancy in your cooking. Now turn up the heat on your meals with these flavorful fixes!

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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