Smoked Paprika Substitutes: 4 Excellent Options To Explore

Are there any smoked paprika substitutes that you could use if this spice suddenly went missing from your kitchen rack? To find out the answer to this pressing question, let’s start by examining this spice and joining the discussion.

If you have an excellent Spanish background, you are probably familiar with pimenton. This is the Spanish terminology for smoked paprika. They use it in a variety of delicacies, such as stews, soups, and their iconic paella, which contains lots of smoked paprika!

Although smoked paprika is not a primary kitchen ingredient, as your daily cooking adventures can generally do without it, there are particular recipes that require this powdered spice. If you want a dish with a smoky and spicy tang, then smoked paprika is the perfect choice.

But as you don’t use it frequently, this ingredient will not always be available in your spice rack. Don’t blame yourself for this, and instead focus on the fact that it can be replaced by a number of alternatives. Yes, smoked paprika can be substituted with some selected spices. Here are they: 

Smoked Paprika Substitutes

I just love the idea that there is no absolutely essential ingredient. Every foodstuff can be replaced, as long as the substitute you choose has similar properties to the ingredient you are replacing, including its taste and texture. There are two good examples of this: garam masala and chili powder. People used to think that both of them were irreplaceable, but after carrying out some rigorous research and numerous tests, we were able to come up with a number of possible alternatives.

This time, however, I am listing some ideal replacements for smoked paprika. Don’t worry, these alternatives are well researched, as they have been recommended by professionals and expert gourmets.

1. Chipotle Powder

A lot of chefs agree that chipotle powder is the best substitute that’s available. I am not saying that chipotle pepper is exactly the same as smoked paprika, but it is the best alternative you can get because of two main attributes that make these two ingredients interchangeable. Just like smoked paprika, chipotle powder is full-bodied and smoky.

Chipotle powder is derived from jalapeño peppers that have been dried and smoked before being processed into powder. There is a certain earthy tang to this ingredient. Furthermore, it is undeniable that chipotle pepper is spicier than smoked paprika. You can observe this if you look at their respective Scoville Heat Units.

Chipotle is famous for its use in Texan and Mexican delicacies, and is available in many markets. Chipotle powder is mainly used in stews, but you can also use it when making barbecue garnishes. Like smoked paprika, it can add a reddish coloration and smokiness to your food.

If you are not bothered by its spiciness, you can freely use chipotle powder in the same amounts as you would smoked paprika. But if you want to preserve the original tang of smoked paprika, reduce the amount of chipotle powder you use. Of course, this would also reduce the deep red color of the food, but you can solve this problem by adding sweet paprika into the mix. 

2. Sweet Paprik

It is not a coincidence that sweet paprika was included on this list. After all, it is a variant of paprika that is directly related to smoked paprika. As I stated before, sweet paprika provides the food with a deep reddish color, but that is the only similarity it has with smoked paprika.

Take note that sweet paprika can never replicate the heat and smoky tang of smoked paprika. This is a dilemma that confuses a lot of kitchen gourmets. Fortunately, it is a problem that you can solve quickly. By just adding cumin into the equation, you can quickly recreate these flavors.

Cumin is always a good alternative to any spices or ingredients that create a smoky flavor. But most of the time, it is used as a substitute for smoked paprika. If you don’t want things to get spicy, then you can use a cumin and sweet paprika combination.

However, if you can’t forego the heat, then sprinkle cayenne into the food. This is a safer choice compared to standard pepper. After all, it gives the dish the heat that it needs, without marring it with an undesired flavor.

In general, you can use the same amount of cumin and sweet paprika as you would smoked paprika. Therefore, if a recipe requires you to use two tablespoons of smoked paprika, substitute it with the two tablespoons of cumin and sweet paprika mixture. 

3. Guajillo Powder

Another unheard of alternative to smoked paprika is Guajillo powder. As the name suggests it is derived from guajillo chilies. In Mexico, this particular spice is extremely popular. Mexicans use it as a primary ingredient for salsas and moles. Sometimes, they also use it as a staple component in soups and chili.

The taste of guajillo powder is sweet, just like a fruit. Some people compare its tang to cranberries, which I agree with. The fruity flavor of guajillo makes it is a good substitute for smoked paprika. Powdered Guajillo is a flexible ingredient that you can also use to make harissa. You can also integrate it with different spices to create a brand new barbecue garnish.

Meanwhile, the spiciness of guajillo ranges from mild to hot. Your tolerance to heat will be tested if you include this spice in your dish. However, you can switch to moderate chilies if you don’t want the dish to get too hot. But if the heat doesn’t worry you, then use guajillo powder freely. You can apply a 1:1 ratio to guajillo powder and smoked paprika.

4. Hungarian Paprika

Hungarian paprika is another excellent substitute for smoked paprika. Many consider this to be the most premium variant of paprika in the market today because it is made in southern Hungary, where they use a special processing to create the powder.

Hungarian paprika can replace smoked paprika because of its innate smokiness and the fact it coats the food with a reddish color too. When it comes to heat, Hungarian paprika is not that “standard”. While some variants aren’t that hot, others can really torch your tongue!

If a particular recipe requires one tablespoon of smoked paprika, replace it with one tablespoon of Hungarian paprika. However, if the Hungarian paprika is too hot, lower the amount by around 20% to 30%. 

Other Possible Smoked Paprika Substitutes

Apart from the spices I have already mentioned, there are some other smoked paprika alternatives you can try. Many people nowadays use standard chili powder as a flavor enhancer to their food. This is an excellent substitute for smoked paprika as it contains cumin, pepper, and other spices and herbs.

Cumin provides a smoky flavor to the dish, while pepper (which is generally ancho pepper) can color the food red in the same way that smoked paprika does.

I also consider gochugaru to be an alternative. This does not have a smoky tang, but it does redden the food in a strikingly similar way to smoked paprika. So, you can use this ingredient if you don’t want your dish to taste smoky. If you do, then just try the other alternatives that I have already mentioned in the article. Ideally, you can combine gochugaru with liquid smoke or cumin to give it a hint of smokiness


As you can see, there are some pretty decent options for smoked paprika substitutes to consider, so you have a lot of choices that you can try. Some of these may require you to combine two or more spices, but this is still better than having no smoked paprika at all. A myriad of recipes out there will never be complete without smoked paprika. Therefore, if you ever run out of this spice, you should try out the alternatives I have listed here.

Of course, you have to balance things out. If the substitute is too hot or pungent for you, just lower the amount that you add to the recipe. Remember, you don’t have to use the same amount, you can always experiment and see what is best for you. Once you have practiced this approach, your cooking proficiency will increase considerably.

For now, just be glad of the fact that smoked paprika is not an indispensable ingredient. Otherwise, you would be sad every time this spice wasn’t available in your kitchen.

To learn more about condiments and spices, I have written a comprehensive guide that you can read here.

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