The 8 Best Paprika Substitutes for Your Dish

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Paprika is one of the most well-known spices in the world and is widely used because of its exotic color and flavor. Paprika is produced from grounded chilli peppers, bell peppers, and other dried peppers. This spice came originally from the Southern part of America and from the West Indies. Today, the major manufacturers of Paprika are located mostly in California, Southern America, Hungary, and Spain. This spice also comes with a variation of colors, from orange-red to deep red. The orange-red are the hottest varieties while the deep red are the sweetest.

This spice is often used in dishes like pizzas, stir-fried dishes, goulash, and so on. Fun fact: paprika is actually the national spice of Hungary. Yep, that's a real thing - you learn something new every day! Other than being sprinkled into those dishes, paprika is primarily used for seasoning and coloring for soups, rice, and sausages!

Paprika’s Amazing Health Benefits

Paprika can also work as a stimulant and energizer according to studies. There are a number of surprising health benefits to be gained from paprika. It can help treat depression, tiredness, lethargy, and these following benefits:

  • Wound Healing – Paprika is a good source of Vitamin E which helps you in the production of RBC which are also known as Red Blood Cells. It can help quicken the wound healing process. People use paprika and sprinkle the powder to the wound, then pressing it gently with a cloth for a couple of seconds.
  • Another interesting fact with Paprika is that it helps you to prevent hair loss. The amazing power of paprika through its iron contents will boost the oxygen transfer to the follicles of your hair. Hence, it improves your hair growth through a boosted circulation to your scalp. It also contains Vitamin B6; a nutrient that is essential for the production of melanin which is also known as the pigment that provides the color to our hair.
  • This one’s for the sleep-deprived people out there. Good news for you: paprika contains Vitamin B, which helps in the making of a hormone called Melatonin. The said hormone aids people in maintaining a normal sleep habit. It triggers your body’s serotonin and norepinephrine level to help you stay happy, relax and avoid stress.
  • Paprika’s benefits just get better and better! Because of its vitamin C content, paprika can also reduce the risk of having heart attacks. Vitamin C serves as an important protection against any type of cardiovascular diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, and many more. Paprika also purifies your blood through the help of its magnesium, potassium, iron, and phosphorus content which makes your heart even healthier.

There are still other benefits of paprika that was not mentioned above, but if you want to know them all, don’t hesitate to chhealtheck them out. They’re everywhere!

Say “Cheese!”

Just like many other kinds of cheese mixed with herbs and spices, paprika cheese is a versatile cheese that can take on new flavors when you add different herbs and spices into it. Paprika is a type of spice that fits well when mixed into cheese. Paprika is usually pretty easy to get hold of; you can usually find it from a deli counters, or you could make your own homemade paprika cheese. Paprika is often used as a filling for crepes, pizza toppings, and sandwich spreads. There are 6 forms of paprika cheese that are being used depending on the dish that you're trying to make, namely:

Chopped Paprika Cheese : It can be chopped finely or chopped into big chunks.

Grated Paprika Cheese : This is fine in texture, mostly used for baked goods like casseroles.

Paprika Cheese Cubes : Made through crosswise and lengthwise cuts with an inch or half-inch measurement.

Paprika Cheese Strips : This could be chopped in to thin or thick strips, depending on the dish.

Shredded Paprika Cheese : Can be made manually using a cheese shredder or purchased as pre-shredded cheese.

Sliced Paprika Cheese : This can be done using a cheese slicer or using a sharp knife to adjust the thickness of the slice.

People love paprika because of the delicious spicy pepper flavor it adds to their dishes. Many people prefer this spicy kick to the neutral taste of plain cheese.

For people who don't know paprika cheese well, you should take note of the following guidelines and recommendations that you should consider when shopping for paprika cheese:

  • There are a few types as to how some stores sell paprika cheese. In some cases, stores sell blocked shape paprika. While others sell it in spray cans, but more often than not, it is packaged in individual slices. There are also cases wherein it is wrapped by plastic or wax paper to separate them.
  • You should keep in mind that the paprika cheese that you will buy is not too crumbly, nor it is dry while the color is uniform.
  • Do not forget to check the expiration date—double check if you must—and look out if you can find any signs of discoloration or mould spots. This one’s probably the most basic one, but it's better to be sure you're getting a good quality product.
  • For the storage of cheese, you must always remember that every single kind of cheese needs to be wrapped properly and kept in the warmest possible spot of the refrigerator. As a guideline, the refrigerator door is usually your best bet.
  • Lastly, be aware that the storage life of cheese for it to be fresh varies with its moisture content. This means that the softer your cheese is, the less time it will stay fresh.

Finding the Best Paprika Substitute

Spices are are one of the most fundamental aspects of cooking. It is essential to add an attractive flavor and aroma to your dish. Nailing the different combinations of these spices can really make your food mouth-watering in an instant. While paprika is one of the must-have spices, below is a list of possible paprika substitutes in case you ever run out of paprika or want to change it up, while still having a great-tasting dish.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper comes from hot red chili pepper and is a great choice for flavoring dishes. In terms of strength, Cayenne pepper beats paprika in both hotness and strength. Having said that, you need only use a minimal amount of Cayenne pepper when substituting it for paprika. If you ever think that Cayenne’s strength is just too much, you could always add some sweetener such as sugar or honey to tame the heat. It could be very helpful when using Cayenne as a replacement because adding sweeteners will retain the sweet taste of paprika. You could also add a touch of salt, heavy broth, and cream if you cannot handle Cayenne pepper’s spiciness.

Cayenne pepper’s origin can be gleaned from its name, the Cayenne Region of French Guiana. Its popularity started to grow in Eastern Africa, India, the United States and Mexico, and other tropical and sub-tropical regions. Some examples of the best dishes that also use this flavoring are Honey Sesame Fish Tacos, Cayenne Hot Chili Pepper Truffles, Cajun Pretzels, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Chili Lime and Cashew Brittle, Dirty Rice, Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo, and many more!

The next thing you need to know about Cayenne pepper is the health benefits that it has to offer:

  • It can lower your blood pressure
  • Metabolism booster
  • Body pain reliever
  • Reduce cancer risks
  • Help in aiding Psoriasis
  • Improve your body’s digestion
  • Help in reducing hunger

Hot Sauce

There are quite a number of sauces that are produced using chili pepper along with other ingredients such as oil, water, vinegar, and alcohol. Each of these types of sauces can be a great substitute for paprika, and Hot sauce is a perfect example of this. 

Believe it or not, hot sauce is a lot older than you'd think. Its origin can be traced back to when civilization first began, all the way back to 7000 BC, when the Aztecs—who lived where Southern Mexico is today—started using chili; not just for dishes, but also for medications. On the other hand, the first commercialized hot sauce was introduced in 1807. Tabasco is a very old brand of hot sauce that started way back in 1868 and still exists today. It is the oldest hot sauce brand in history. There are many other fun facts to learn about the history of hot sauce, and we have just scratched the surface here.

Just in case you didn’t know, hot sauce is more than just for flavoring, it also provides you with health benefits. Don't believe us? Just take a look at this list:

  • Hot sauce contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and some antioxidants.
  • Hot sauce improves your eye vision to decrease the risk of eye complications or night blindness with the help of some phytonutrients.
  • It could help you aid the pain from strains or sprains through the anti-inflammatory properties that the capsaicin contains
  • Hot sauce has the ability to fight off congestion because of its natural decongestant remedies from its ingredients whether it’s homemade or not.
  • It also plays a role in weight loss, reducing cancer risks, and many more.

Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder's production is already hinted by its name. It is made by powdering hot chili peppers, which can be either cayenne peppers or red peppers. It is considered as one of the best paprika substitutes by some people because of its great flavor and its spiciness, which is not different from cayenne pepper. If you’re going to have chili powder as a paprika substitute, you could just also add it to the dish with the same amount as paprika.

People didn’t discover chili powder until 1492, when the famous Christopher Columbus reached the New World and brought chili peppers to the world. Today, it’s being consumed by a quarter of the world’s population according to the data. Examples of dishes with chili powder are Vegetable Chilli with Tortilla Chips, Chilli Con Carne, Red Lentil Soup, Nachos, Beef Biriyani, and so much more.

Another important thing to know about chili powder is the things that make them healthy. Since hot sauce and chili powder both come from chili peppers, you can expect their benefits to be pretty similar, but here are the specifics:

  • Helps in aiding inflammation
  • Reduces the insulin level of the body
  • Great for decongestion
  • Rich in vitamins and nutrients for immunity
  • Cardiovascular health protection

Pimenton de La Vera

Pimenton de La Vera is a spice that is also known as Spanish Smoked Paprika, which, you guessed it, means that it originated from Spain and that it's another form of paprika. It is a smoky powder with a brick-red color, and it has 3 different levels of spiciness. It ranges from slightly sweet to bitter hot. People also consider this a great spice to use in certain dishes like lamb stews, potatoes, briskets, yogurt, a bowl of nuts, and meat. It was first used in Spanish cuisine way back in the 17th Century, a few centuries after Columbus reached the New World and brought chili peppers to fame.

Since then, Pimenton de La Vera became an essential part of Spanish cuisine. It is mostly used for a variety of Spanish Sausages, such as lomo pork loin or chorizo. Another great dish when using this spice is for Paella, because it gives a whole new taste to the said dish. Other than Spanish dishes, it is also used in American cuisine. It is used for seasoning rich beef, kebabs, deviled eggs, lamb stews, and barbecue pork. You could associate this spice with the Hungarian paprika, but Pimenton de La Vera is still a unique spice.

Cajun Spice

Cajun seasoning is a spice that is produced from the blending of black and white peppers along with cayenne. It is quite like chili powder in terms of hotness; neither are as hot as cayenne pepper. That is why some people prefer it and see it as a good paprika substitute. Cajun is very popular in America, which is why it already has its own name there, called Cajun cuisine.

Some people are often puzzled between the difference in Cajun and Creole. They’re two cuisine style with lots of similar dishes, which is why people are a bit confused. The major difference between these 2 styles is their origin. Basically, Creole recipes are dishes from the city and Cajun are dishes from the country. As mentioned earlier, the major reason for the confusion why people can't really distinguish which is which is because of their similarities in spices, herbs, ingredients, flavors, and so on. Examples of these are rice, beans, crawfish, shrimp, chicken, okra, and many more.

Here’s a list of dishes that you could try out when using Cajun spice seasoning:

  • Crispy Grilled Okra with Cajun Seasoning
  • Creamy Spicy Chicken Pasta
  • Baked Tilapia with Cajun seasoning and Dill Sauce
  • Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya with Cajun Seasoning
  • Louisiana Red Beans and Rice with Tabasco Sauce

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

If you are looking for a homemade version of paprika, then this one’s the perfect choice for you. First, remove the stems of well-ripened bell peppers and then store it in a dehydrator, then wait for it to become brittle. You could also dehydrate bell peppers using ovens at 120 degree Fahrenheit and placing it in a baking sheet. After drying the bell peppers, place them in a cotton bag. Rub the peppers against its sides to grind it. Then, grind them in a small mill grinder, which you will later sieve out. Bell peppers make a great substitute for paprika because they are more fragrant, flavorful and distinct compared to store-bought paprika.

Bell peppers are actually related to tomatoes, chili peppers, and breadfruit. Check out these nutrition facts if you're thinking of giving them a try.

  • Fresh and raw bell peppers are composed of water which is about 92% of its composition, and then the rest would be protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
  • Aside from water, it is mostly made from carbs. It is also a good source of fiber.
  • It contains essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K1, vitamin E, vitamin A, Folate, and Potassium. Basically, it is loaded with nutrients.
  • Bell peppers are a great source of antioxidants
  • Reduces the risk of Anemia because of its iron content.
  • Improves eye health.

Aleppo Peppers

Next on the list is a spice that originated from Middle-East. Aleppo pepper is a red-colored spice with a flavor that ranges between cayenne pepper and paprika. If you're going to use Aleppo pepper as a substitute for your paprika, you must know that the amount of Aleppo to be used depends on how many levels of hotness and flavor that you want your dish to have. The usual amount of Aleppo pepper when being substituted for 1 teaspoon of paprika is around half to a full teaspoon of Aleppo pepper, but just like we've said above, it depends on how you want the flavor and hotness of the dish to play out.

Aleppo pepper is a good substitute because of the nutrients it provides. Aleppo peppers are believed to be a good source of Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Potassium Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Sodium, Dietary Fiber, and Folic Acid. It also has a great number of health benefits such as:

  • Eye Health Improvement
  • Boosted Immune System
  • Improved Cardiovascular Health
  • Stimulated Metabolism
  • Improves Digestion
  • Aids Inflammation
  • Weight Reduction
  • Body Detox
  • Normalizes Insulin Level
  • Cancer Risk Reduction
  • Cold and Cough Treatment
  • Painkiller
  • Mental Health Improvement
  • Stress Reliever

After seeing the great number of health benefits that Aleppo pepper provides, you might have decided to use it already as a substitute; you might want to try out Aleppo pepper dishes like Turkish Eggs, Vine-baked Feta, Beef and Aubergine Fatteh, and so on.

Black Peppers

Black Peppers

Last, but not the least in our list is Southwest India's, Black Pepper. It is definitely not the least because it is believed to be one of the healthiest spices out there. Black Pepper is also a very famous spice globally! Wherever you go, you will most likely find black pepper beside salt on the table. It is probably the most frequently used spice along this list, which is why we just stopped realizing how great and popular this spice is. Black pepper originated in the Southwest of India, but the biggest producer so far is Vietnam. In addition, they are also the biggest manufacturer and exporter of peppers globally.

Black pepper fit well into many dishes, especially if you want a touch of spice. Both the black or white pepper can both be a replacement for paprika. It also provides a number of health benefits for the people who love black pepper, such as the following:

  • Cough and Cold Relief
  • Decongestion
  • Reduces Risk of Anemia
  • Relieves Impotency
  • Aids Diarrhea
  • Reduces Heart Disease Risk
  • Reduces Risk of Dental Disease
  • Relieves Pyorrhea
  • Reduces Risk of Muscular Strains

It has already become so common in every style of cuisine that we are neglecting how much beneficial and useful black pepper is. There’s no need to provide a list of sample dishes for black pepper, as it's very common and goes well with almost every dish!


In finding the best paprika substitute for your favorite dish, you must never forget to consider what type of dish are you going to make and what level of spiciness and flavor you want. 

Finally, if you're a real superfan of paprika and love the specific taste and texture it adds to your dishes, don't be too disappointed if these substitutes are a little too different for you. While they are similar to paprika and taste great, the flavour will never be exactly the same. But if you're up for some experimentation and new flavors, these substitutes won't let you down!

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Chris P. Brown

Chris has a degree is in community nutrition and he currently works with a not-for profit organizati...

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