Skip to Content

The 5 Best Substitutes for Paprika

Have you ever cooked with paprika? This versatile bright red powdery spice is used in many dishes all around the world.

Originating from Southeast Europe and the Middle East, it is commonly used to give flavor and color to garnishes, soups, and other dishes.

In this article, we’ll provide tips on how to cook with paprika as well as the five best substitutes if you find yourself out of this tasty seasoning.

So join us as we explore the wonderful possibilities of paprika.

What’s Paprika?

Paprika is a vibrant and flavorful spice typically made from ground bell peppers, though sometimes from other varieties of pepper such as cayenne, jalapeños, or even Hungarian wax peppers.

Paprika is one of the most popular seasonings used in many cuisines and offers a variety of subtle to robust flavors depending on the type and quality.

Generally, it has a sweet-hot taste which depends on the degree of spiciness – hot varieties contain more capsaicin which gives it that heat kick.

The texture can range from powdery to chunky.

It is an incredibly versatile seasoning and great for adding flavor to soups, stews, and vegetables or as a dry rub for meat; you can also use it as a finishing touch by sprinkling some over-deviled eggs or mashed potatoes.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Paprika

If you’re looking for a savory, smoky flavor to your dishes, look no further than these five paprika substitutes.

1 – Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika is a deep, earthy, and sweet flavoring agent made from peppers that have been dried over strands of oak wood.

It has a smoky and slightly spicy flavor that makes it popular with cooking enthusiasts.

Its texture is finely ground, making it just like regular paprika in the kitchen.

In contrast to its sweetness, the flavor retains a subtle level of heat that makes it ideal for complex dishes and can be used as a substitute for regular paprika if the extra depth is desired.

Smoked paprika lends food an amazing depth of flavor and rich color without burning your taste buds or overwhelming other flavors in the dish; instead, it serves to complement them.

2 – Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho chile powder is a staple in many Mexican and Southwestern kitchens, as well as those across the US.

It’s a dark reddish-brown powder, which is made from dried poblano peppers that have been ground up into a spicy but mellow flavored powder.

The flavor of Ancho Chile Powder is smoky and sweet with notes of raisins and chocolate and has a moderate heat level some would describe as mild.

To substitute it for paprika, simply use an equal amount of Ancho Chile Powder in recipes; however, keep in mind the taste will be different due to Ancho’s bolder flavor profile.

3 – Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cayenne pepper powder is a popular ingredient in many dishes, adding just the right amount of heat.

It’s made from mature cayenne peppers that are ground into a fine powder and have a deep red color.

With its unique level of spiciness, it adds an extra kick to any dish.

It has a complex flavor that is both tangy and hot with hints of smokiness in it.

The texture is slightly coarse, and it carries a medium-high level of heat on most scales, making it quite versatile when used in cooking.

Cayenne pepper powder can be substituted for paprika in quantities of 1:1, while good results may also be obtained by doing the opposite at lower amounts, i.e., replacing Cayenne Pepper Powder with Paprika as needed.

4 – Chili Powder

Chili powder is a spicy seasoning blend made of ground chiles and other spices like cumin, garlic powder, and paprika.

It has a flaky texture and packs a punch of flavor when added to dishes like soups, stews, sauces, and marinades.

Depending on the region where it’s produced, as well as the mix of ingredients inside each bottle, the chili powder flavor can range from mild to fiery hot.

If you’re looking for something similar in taste but slightly milder, paprika might be the right substitution option.

On its own, paprika offers a much subtler taste while still providing drops of heat.

When using paprika as an alternative to chili powder in recipes, measure carefully since chili powder tends to be spicier than paprika.

5 – Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is a popular ingredient nowadays, which packs plenty of spice and smokiness with its intense flavor.

It’s made from smoked jalapeños that are dried, then ground into a fine powder.

This powder has a deep red color that adds to its earthy taste, an undertone of sharpness, and an overall spiciness that is reminiscent of medium-hot chili peppers.

When used in food preparations such as chilly or BBQ sauces, it provides an amazing depth of heat and balance.

If you’re looking for a healthy substitute for paprika or chili flakes, the chipotle powder might be the answer.

Sprinkle it on eggs, vegetables, salads, pizzas, or sandwiches for extra flavor and kick.


In conclusion, paprika is an excellent ingredient to have in the kitchen, but sometimes it isn’t always available.

The five substitutes mentioned above are all great alternatives that can be used when needed.

Ancho chile powder, cayenne pepper powder, chili powder, and chipotle powder are all very flavorful and provide a nice kick to recipes, while smoked paprika offers a smoky taste that can be used to enhance dishes.

Experiment with each one, and you’ll soon find the perfect substitute for paprika in your kitchen.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Paprika

The 5 Best Substitutes for Paprika
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Smoked Paprika
  • Ancho Chile Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Chipotle Powder


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
    Skip to Recipe