Don’t have paprika, or realized you’re all out while you’re cooking? Here’s the best paprika substitute to use in recipes.

Substitutes for Paprika

Making a recipe that calls for paprika and don’t have it? Here’s a few options that are suitable as a substitution. Paprika is a spice made with dried and ground peppers, with a beautiful bright red color. It’s used in lots of seasoning blends, and for sprinkling on those classic deviled eggs. There’s really nothing like it!

Types of paprika

Before we get to paprika substitutes, let’s talk about the types of paprika! Your substitution will depend on the type that the recipe calls for.

  • Sweet paprika: Sometimes labeled as Hungarian paprika, it’s very mild and the most common variety.
  • Hot paprika: This type is made with hot peppers and is very spicy.
  • Smoked paprika: This Spanish version of paprika is mild with a smoky flavor. It’s also labeled as pimentón, Spanish smoked paprika or sweet smoked paprika.

Best paprika substitutes (by type)

1. Sweet paprika substitute

The best substitute for sweet paprika? Here are two options:

  • Smoked paprika. It’s also mild with no heat. As a side bonus, smoked paprika will bring in a delightful smoky flavor to your recipe. We can’t think of a time where that would be a bad thing!
  • Leave it out. If you can’t access smoked paprika, it’s best wait until you have sweet paprika to make the recipe. Or you can leave it out of the recipe, if the recipe has lots of other spices and flavors (you be the judge).

2. Smoked paprika substitute

The best substitute for smoked paprika? Here are two options:

  • Liquid smoke: This is the best substitute for the smoky flavor. The conversion: 1 teaspoon smoked paprika = ½ teaspoon liquid smoke.
  • Sweet paprika plus cumin: This substitute approximates color and nuance, but not smoky flavor. The conversion: 1 teaspoon smoked paprika = 2/3 teaspoon regular paprika + ⅓ teaspoon cumin

2. Hot paprika substitute

The best substitute for hot paprika? Here are two options:

  • Sweet paprika plus cayenne: This is the best substitute for overall flavor. The conversion: 1 teaspoon hot paprika = 2/3 teaspoon regular paprika + ⅓ teaspoon cayenne
  • Cayenne: Cayenne is spicier than hot paprika! But if the recipe calls for garnishing with hot paprika as a sprinkle, this is your best bet. Just use a little less than the recipe calls for.

Related recipes

Here are some recipes that use paprika:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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