9 Substitutes for Spicy Paprika You Might Not Know About

Paprika helps prevent your food from being bland with its fiery, smokey, and sweet flavor, depending on the variety you use. However, there are other kitchen ingredients you can use to make your dishes satisfying.

If I find no spicy paprika in my pantry or no time to shop, I use maras pepper flakes, black peppercorns, cayenne pepper, bell peppers, red pepper flakes, and more.

What is Spicy Paprika?

Paprika is a ground spice from the Capsicum annum plant. This famous Spanish spice originated in Central America. After being introduced to Europe, it became fundamental to Hungarian cooking.

This spice not only adds spice to any dish but also brings a delicious bright crimson color and several health benefits. It gives a distinctive aroma to cooked dishes for an improved food experience.

Top Handy Substitutes for Spicy Paprika 

Paprika never goes missing in every spicy food lover’s kitchen cabinet. This bright red ground powder is very versatile. I use it to season dishes, add color to recipes, garnish foods, and bring an extra depth of spiciness and flavor to your favorite food.

Do not panic if you forgot to buy paprika or your favorite nearby grocery got no stock; you can replace them with the following:

Maras Pepper Flakes

Most Middle Eastern countries use maras pepper because of its sweetness and spiciness. For every 1 teaspoon of paprika required in a dish, I use ½ teaspoon of maras pepper flakes. 

However, if the spiciness is not enough, feel free to add 1 teaspoon of these flakes into your recipe.

Cayenne Pepper 

Cayenne Pepper 

With cayenne pepper, I get the same level of spiciness as paprika. This makes it an excellent alternative to spicy paprika.

This red hot chili pepper is a bit stronger compared to paprika. Whenever I use it as a paprika alternative, I reduce the amount. For example, if I cook a dish that calls for a 1 teaspoon of paprika, I only use a ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

I mix the cayenne pepper with some sugar to achieve paprika’s flavor. Adding salt helps minimize the level of spiciness.

Cajun Spice 

Cajun spice is a blend of different spices that work with almost recipes. The common ingredients are dried thyme, dried oregano, cayenne powder, onion powder, ground black white and black peppers, garlic powder, and fine salt. You can purchase this spice blend ready-made or make your version at home.

As an excellent spicy paprika substitute, the cajun spice not only gives the same level of spiciness but also offers different layers of flavor. If the recipe requires 1 teaspoon of paprika, you can use 1 teaspoon of cajun spice.

Chipotle Powder 

Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is different from traditional chili powder as it is the dried chipotle chili powder and includes other spices, such as garlic powder, oregano, and cumin. 

This powder offers a smoky element and a medium spice level. It also provides a unique sweet and earthy flavor. It works wonderfully as a spicy paprika substitute. If the dish calls for 1 teaspoon of paprika, it is ideal to use 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder.

Bell Pepper Powder

Bell pepper powder is another excellent substitute for spicy paprika. And you can create your own at home. All you need to do is get fully ripened red bell peppers and follow the steps below:

  • Pull the stems off and place the red bell peppers in a dehydrator. Alternatively, you can preheat your oven to 120°F.
  • Once the peppers are brittle, slice them finely.
  • Break them up into small pieces using a mill grinder. You can also use a sieve for a finer result.
  • Place the bell peppers on a lined baking sheet in your oven to thoroughly dry them. Store the powder in an airtight container.

You can store this homemade red bell pepper powder for up to 1 year. The powder will give every dish a more interesting flavor than paprika. If a dish requires 1 teaspoon of paprika, you can replace it with 2 teaspoons of bell pepper powder.

Aleppo Chili Powder

Aleppo chili powder is made from Halaby peppers that originated in Syria. However, Turkey also produces this pepper nowadays. After harvesting, these peppers are semi-fried and seeded. Then ground to form the powder form.

Aleppo chili powder can get a medium spice level between paprika and cayenne pepper. The powder amount you can use spicy paprika substitute is based on your spice tolerance.

When cooking a dish that requires 1 teaspoon of paprika, you can use ½ – 1 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper powder as a substitute.

Black Peppercorns 

I also use black peppercorns as an alternative to spicy paprika, adding a little spice to my dishes. Peppercorns are available in grocery stores and local markets, and you can store them for a long time.

Since black peppercorns do not provide the bright red color that paprika does, I prefer using them in many tomato-based or Italian dishes to achieve that color still.

Gochugaru Powder


I always have gochugaru powder in my kitchen cabinet when cooking Korean dishes. This powder is a blend of spicy red peppers.

You can also use gochugaru powder as an alternative to paprika as it offers a mild spice profile. It also adds great color to different dishes, as paprika does. 

For every 1 teaspoon of paprika a recipe calls for, you can use 1 teaspoon of gochugaru powder as an alternative. Do not hesitate to add more if you wish to increase the spiciness.

Pimento de la Vera Powder

Pimento de la Vera Powder is smoked paprika from Caceres, Spain. Since the 16th century, this powder has been part of European cuisine.

You can find three powder varieties: picante (hot), agridulce (medium), and dulce (sweet). The hot variety is commonly used in chorizo and hearty meals.

Once harvested, peppers are hung out on strings to dry out. They undergo up to 2 weeks of oakwood smoking to bring out more assertive flavors and vibrant colors. This makes them an excellent alternative for spicy paprika. 

Whenever I cook a dish that needs 1 teaspoon of paprika, I use 1 teaspoon of Pimenton de la Vera powder as a substitute.

Paprika Vs. Chili Powder 

Although paprika and chili powder have the same vibrant red color, they differ in taste. Paprika has various varieties depending on the hotness level. 

Typically, chili powder is used as a seasoning spice and is made from chili pepper base, garlic powder, and cumin. On the other hand, paprika is made of chili blend with sweet undertones. Regarding the taste, chili powder tends to be hotter compared to paprika.

The good news is that you can substitute the two. When you add chili powder in place of paprika, you will get a spicier taste in your dishes.


Even if you are out of spicy paprika in your spice rack, many spices are available you can use as substitutes. These spices will give your dish similar or nearly similar color, flavor, and spiciness. So, you can still enjoy spicy and flavorful dishes even without paprika available.

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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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