Best Paprika Substitute: 5 Different Spices You Can Use


Best Paprika SubstituteAs we all know, all good things must come to an end. There might come a day where you’ll need some paprika to spice up your dish. You’ll reach for the Salt and Pepper Grinder Set you have and what do you find? You’re out of paprika. How are you supposed to spice up your dish then? What’s the point of getting an Indian Cookbook if you don’t have paprika?

Fear not as we will go over how you can overcome this minor inconvenience. Creativity is a fundamental trait to have in the kitchen as it’ll generally help you come up with solutions to problems like these. If you can use a Cheese Knife instead of an Apple Peeler or an Avocado Slicer, why on earth can’t you find an alternative to using paprika?

This list will go over 5 alternative spices you can use instead of paprika.

Paprika Substitute Review Center:

While some people might dismiss this article saying that paprika is not that important after all, this is a huge understatement. Paprika is not just some red dust you sprinkle over your dish. It has a rich flavor and is one of the most common spices to use due to its inherent benefits.

With that said, seeing an entire article written about what to do in case you don’t have paprika available in your spice cabinet really goes to show how crucial it could be to make an exquisite dish. It’s not just something you put over potato salad or deviled eggs. No need to grab your Salad Dressing Shaker and Salad Spinner, paprika is for hardcore dishes.

Having said that, let’s move on from praising paprika and dive straight into the list of alternative spices to use instead of it.

#1 – Ancho Chili Powder:

San Antonio Ground Ancho Chile Pepper Chili PowderAncho chili powder is probably as close as you can get to a paprika substitute. Offering a similar flavor and spice to that of paprika, you just can’t go wrong with using it when you need paprika but don’t have it.

Further down this list, we’ll also be talking about another very similar substitute which is Ancho powder. However, make no mistake as the two are different from each other. The main difference here being that Ancho powder is a single-ingredient paprika substitute which is made from dried sweet chilies only.

With that said, some people might not consider ancho powder as the main kitchen spice. Which makes it perfect for the role we’ve given it as a paprika substitute as you’ll not as likely to run out of both Ancho powder and paprika at the same time.

We recommend you always buy some Ancho powder to keep on the side in your spice cabinet in the case that you run out of paprika, but you need it for the recipe. You’ll always be able to go to your trusty Ancho powder as a way to fix that shortage of paprika.

One thing to note as well is that using Ancho powder will give you dish a unique smoky flavor which counts in favor of this substitute.

We like San Antonio Ground Ancho Chile Pepper Chili Powder.

#2 – Cayenne Pepper:

Mccormick Ground Cayenne Red PepperBefore we dive into more detail about this spice, keep in mind that if you can’t handle spicy foods, then it’s best to just avoid this one altogether. In other words, if you’re preparing a dish from a Mexican Cookbook, this is a solid option, but if it’s a French Cookbook you’re trying, then avoid this paprika substitute.

With that out of the way, if you like your dishes burning hot, your best bet would be Cayenne pepper as it offers even more heat than paprika.

To put things into perspective, on the SHU scale, which is how heat is measured, paprika scores about 1,500. Cayenne pepper, on the other hand, ranges from 30,000 to 50,000. Now that’s one hot pepper, which is why we put a disclaimer.

If you’re not quite sensitive but still don’t want to overdo it with the heat, there are still other ways you can incorporate Cayenne pepper into your recipes without making them taste like they came from the depths of hell itself.

In this case, we recommend you use half the amount you would use if you had paprika and then add it some sugar and Ancho/chili powder to make up for the other cut half.

We like McCormick Ground Cayenne Red Pepper.

#3 – Aleppo Pepper Powder:

Aleppo Turkish Chili Pepper By Zamouri SpicesWhile they can be a bit harder to acquire than the other spices on this list. If you’re a spice enthusiast, you might already have it in your spice cabinet.

This Middle Eastern spice perfectly passes for a paprika substitute. Not only that, but it also adds its own unique flavor in the process. If you’re looking for a more exotic flavor, maybe for a recipe from a Filipino Cookbook or a Chinese Cookbook, we definitely recommend you use Aleppo pepper powder if you already have it.

When it comes to heat levels, this lands in the middle ground between paprika and Cayenne pepper. However, it offers a flavor that resembles none of the two. It’s a mix between a tomato-like tang, along with some smokiness and an earthy vibe. Truly a complex flavor.

Couple all the aforementioned qualities with the fact that it can also pass for a paprika substitute, and you’ve got yourself an excellent spice. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it has a coarse texture.

We like Aleppo Turkish Chili Pepper by Zamouri Spices.

#4 – Chili Powder:

Mccormick Chili PowderEverybody is familiar with this mix of ingredients and probably has it in their spice cabinet. This makes it an excellent substitute for paprika.

It’s made from red hot chili peppers which looks very much like paprika. (They also make very good music)

The main difference between paprika and chili powder though, and it is a rather significant one, is the fact that paprika is a single-ingredient spice. On the other hand, chili powder is mixed with different ingredients like garlic and cumin which make it a multi-ingredient spice.

With that said, it’s important to pay close attention to what the recipe says. If the recipe state that only a pinch of paprika is required, which is the case for most recipes from a Mediterranean Cookbook, then it’s definitely okay to use chili powder instead of paprika, you won’t be able to tell the difference between them in that case. However, if the recipe relies on the flavor of paprika, then you should probably avoid using chili powder to spice up your dish if you want to stay faithful to the recipe. The fact that chili powder is mixed with other strong spices like cumin and garlic powder means that you dish might have an earthy flavor to it.

We like McCormick Chili Powder.

#5 – Bell Peppers:

If your spice cabinet is looking empty, and you don’t have access to any of the spices mentioned above, then don’t worry as this one only requires bell peppers. If you don’t have them either, you’ll probably have to go buy yourself some spices because you won’t be able to do anything at that point.

With that said, in order to prepare the substitute, here’s what to do:

  • First, get ahold of some bell peppers, remove the stems then dry them by either using a Food Dehydrator or putting them in an oven at 120°F (49°C). If you plan on using the oven, don’t forget to use a baking sheet along with an Oven Mitt and Oven Thermometer.
  • Once dried, just grind them to dust and there you go, you’ve got yourself a DIY paprika substitute.

Choosing the Best Paprika Substitute:

If the premise of this list hasn’t made it clear yet, the things that factor in choosing the best spice to replace paprika are quite varied and different. However, it all comes down to how many spices you have in your spice cabinet.

With that said, it would be wrong to choose one of these as the superior one because, in the end, beggars can’t be choosers.

You can think of this as a list of spices to use depending on how dire your spice situation is. However, if you have all of the 5 options available, we recommend you go with either of the first 3 ones mentioned as their good substitutes that are unique and can sometimes even be a viable option even if you already have paprika.

While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!



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