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Substitute for Sweet Paprika: 7 Interesting Options

Need a substitute for sweet paprika? Well, you’re here, so I’ll assume yes. Either you’ve run out of sweet paprika, your grocery store has run out, or you want to mix up some old recipes by swapping out the spices.

Good news: The seven sweet paprika substitutes introduced below can come to the rescue in any of those situations. For a quick answer, those substitutes are:

  • Smoked paprika — obvious, but still worthy of mentioning
  • Cayenne pepper — proceed with caution
  • Chili powder — paprika’s spicy cousin
  • Ancho chili powder — more smokey than sweet
  • Ground coriander — fresh and citrusy
  • Turmeric — golden delicious
  • Gochugaru — Korean inspired

Read on for tips on how to use these substitutions successfully.

What is sweet paprika?

Sweet paprika is a versatile and flavorful spice made from dried and ground sweet red peppers. Thanks to its vibrant red color and slightly sweet, earthy flavor, sweet paprika is popular in many dishes, from Hungarian goulash and Spanish tortilla to roasted vegetables and dips like hummus.

Sweet paprika also has health benefits, since it contains high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. So whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out in the kitchen, sweet paprika is a must-have spice that adds depth and flavor to your favorite recipes.

Substitute for sweet paprika 7 ways

1. Smoked paprika

Simply Organic Smoked Paprika, 2.72 Ounce, Oak Wood Smoked & Ground Spanish Paprika, Deep Smokey Flavor, Kosher
  • SMOKED PAPRIKA – Nothing but pure, organic, ground Spanish paprika (Capsicum annuum) that’s oak-wood…
  • A VERSATILE INGREDIENT – This smoked paprika is dried over oak wood to give it an earthy flavor that…
  • ORGANIC FROM SPAIN – Simply Organic Smoked Paprika is grown and processed in Spain. There are no…

If you love the smoky flavor of barbecue, then you’ll enjoy smoked paprika. Made by smoking and drying red peppers, this spice has a deep, smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with grilled meats and vegetables.

Substitute smoked paprika for sweet paprika in equal measurements.

2. Cayenne pepper

Simply Organic Cayenne Pepper, 2.89 Ounce, Pure, Organic Cayenne Peppers, No GMO’s, Kosher Certified
  • CHILI PEPPER – Simply Organic Cayenne Pepper contains nothing but pure, organic, ground cayenne…
  • A VERSATILE INGREDIENT – Organic Cayenne Chili Pepper Powder is a sure way to heat up your kitchen…
  • ORGANIC FROM INDIA – Simply Organic Cayenne Chili Pepper Powder comes from red cayenne peppers,…

Only try cayenne pepper if you like things spicey. It has a similar red color to paprika and shares some of the taste — but it’s way hotter than sweet paprika.

Too much cayenne can easily overpower a dish. Start with a dash and then add more, one pinch at a time, as needed.  

3. Chili powder

Simply Organic Chili Powder, Certified Organic | 2.89 oz
  • We get serious about flavor; We start with medium-roasted, authentic U;S;-grown New Mexico cultivar…
  • We develop genuine relationships at the source with growers wherever possible, ensuring production…
  • Certified Organic by QAI

Made from a blend of spices, including cumin, oregano, and garlic, chili powder is a great substitute for sweet paprika. It has a slightly sweet and smoky flavor, but with a bit of added heat.

Since chili powder is spicier than sweet paprika, you’ll use a smaller measurement when substituting. A good rule of thumb is to use half as much chili powder as the recipe calls for paprika. So if a recipe advises 1 tablespoon of paprika, use 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder.

If you don’t like spice, start with less than half and add more to taste.

4. Ancho chili powder

McCormick Gourmet Ancho Chile Pepper, 1.62 Oz
  • McCormick Gourmet Ancho Chile Pepper delivers mild heat & sweet fruit flavor
  • Our carefully sourced ancho chile peppers are non GMO
  • Most popular of the dried chiles in authentic Mexican cooking

Ancho chili powder is made from dried poblano peppers and has a slightly sweet and smoky flavor. It’s not as spicy as cayenne pepper, but it still adds a nice kick to your dishes.

When swapping in ancho chili powder, start with half the recommended amount and add more to taste.

5. Ground coriander

Morton & Bassett Ground Coriander, 1.5-Ounce jar
  • Ground Coriander has a mild, sweet taste with citrus undertones.
  • Kosher Certified
  • Single Jar

If you’re looking for a more subtle flavor, ground coriander is an interesting choice. It has a slightly sweet and citrusy flavor that pairs well with roasted vegetables and meats.

Know that because sweet paprika and ground coriander are quite different, the flavor profile of your dish will change with this substitution. Start with half the recommended measurement of paprika, then taste and adjust.

6. Turmeric

Simply Organic Ground Turmeric Root, Certified Organic | 2.38 oz | Curcuma longa L.
  • ORGANIC TURMERIC ROOT – We get serious with potency. Our ground turmeric (Curcuma longa) root…
  • VERSATILE INGREDIENT – This turmeric root is ground into a powder to both enhance the flavor and…
  • CERTIFIED ORGANIC – Simply Organic Ground Turmeric Root is sourced from India, Guatemala, and…

Turmeric, like sweet paprika, adds color and flavor. Turmeric can be bitter, though, so take care not to use too much. A good guideline is to start with a bit less than half of the amount of paprika you’d use. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away!

In the right amount, turmeric adds a nice depth of flavor and beautiful golden hue to your food.  

7. Gochugaru

The Spice Lab Korean Red Pepper Flakes – Mild And Flavorful Premium Crushed Red Pepper – Elevate Your Asian Dishes, Such As Kimchi, Stir-Fries, And Soups – Kosher And Gluten-Free – Gochugaru Flakes
  • Gochugaru Korean Red Pepper Flakes are truly exceptional, making them a standout ingredient for…
  • Korean Chili Flakes Gochugaru are a must-have in your pantry as they are perfect for adding a…
  • Kimchi Seasoning offer a warm and fruity flavor with a mild heat that won’t overpower your palate….

Gochugaru is a Korean chili pepper that has a slightly sweet and smoky flavor. It is much spicier than sweet paprika, but not as spicy as cayenne. Look to use gochugaru as a sweet paprika substitute in Korean dishes like kimchi and bulgogi.

Since you’re swapping in a spicier ingredient, start with ¼ to ½ of the recommended paprika measurement. So if your recipe requires 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika, start with ½ or 1 teaspoon of gochugaru at the most.  

Recipes that use sweet paprika

Sweet paprika poured out on black surface.
Source: Envato

When you’re new to experimenting with sweet paprika substitutes, start with dishes that aren’t known for their sweet paprika component. If sweet paprika is the headlining ingredient, the end result with a substitution may not be that great. You’re better off waiting to make the dish until you can procure the recommended spices.

Recipes like these are examples of dishes that may not translate well with a different spice:

  • Chicken paprikash: A classic Hungarian dish made with chicken, onions, and sweet paprika. It’s usually served with dumplings or noodles.
  • Shakshuka: A Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, flavored with sweet paprika and other spices.
  • Chorizo and potato soup: A hearty soup made with Spanish chorizo sausage, potatoes, and sweet paprika. It’s perfect for a cozy night in.
  • Spanish tortilla: A classic Spanish dish made with eggs, potatoes, onions, and sweet paprika.
  • Roasted red pepper hummus: A popular dip made with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and roasted red peppers, flavored with sweet paprika.
  • Moroccan chicken tagine: A flavorful Moroccan dish made with chicken, onions, garlic, ginger, and sweet paprika, served over couscous.
  • Beef stroganoff: A classic Russian dish made with beef, mushrooms, onions, and sour cream, flavored with sweet paprika and other spices.
  • Paprika chicken thighs: A simple and flavorful chicken dish made with chicken thighs, sweet paprika, garlic, and olive oil, baked to perfection.
  • Hungarian goulash: A hearty stew made with beef, onions, carrots, potatoes, and sweet paprika, served over egg noodles.

It’s easier to substitute for sweet paprika successfully in meat rubs and certain ethnic dishes. For example:

  • Indian dishes: Ground coriander instead of sweet paprika can add depth and flavor to Indian food.
  • Mexican dishes: Chili powder, ancho chili powder, or a touch of cayenne can stand in nicely for sweet paprika in Mexican cuisine.
  • Meat rubs: If you’re making a rub for meat, any of these substitutions will work — if you’re open to experimenting with new flavors. To keep things more traditional, though, smoked paprika is an obvious choice.

Of course, the specific sweet paprika substitute that tastes best will depend on your personal taste preferences and the recipe you’re making. Be open to experimenting and enjoy the process (then it won’t matter as much if your dish doesn’t turn out quite right).

Last update on 2023-06-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API