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The 7 Best Substitutes For Hot Paprika

Hot paprika is a popular spice used in many dishes, especially in Hungarian and Spanish cuisines.

It adds a unique, smoky flavor and a vibrant red hue to any dish it’s added to.

The spice’s heat level varies greatly depending on the type of pepper used, ranging from mild to extra spicy.

Sometimes, however, you may find yourself without any hot paprika in your cupboard or simply prefer a milder or different flavor profile.

In these cases, it’s helpful to have a list of the best substitutes for hot paprika to save your dish.

In this article, we will explore the seven best hot paprika substitutes and how to choose the best option for your recipe.

What Is Hot Paprika?

Hot Paprika

Hot paprika is a ground spice made from dried and ground chili peppers, specifically the Capsicum annuum species. The heat and flavor of hot paprika depend on the variety of chili pepper used, with some being much spicier than others.

Hot paprika typically has a rich, smoky taste and a vivid red color that adds both flavor and visual appeal to dishes like goulash, paella, and various meat rubs.

The 7 Best Substitutes for Hot Paprika

Hot paprika is a great spice to have on hand, but it can be hard to find in some places.

If you’re looking for an alternative, here are seven substitutes that will give your meals the same flavor and heat:

1. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is a great substitute for hot paprika as it provides a similar level of heat and a slightly smoky flavor. However, cayenne is often spicier than hot paprika, so use it sparingly and adjust the amount to your taste.

Start with half the amount of hot paprika called for in your recipe and add more if necessary.

2. Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika

Smoked paprika is made from smoked, dried chili peppers and has a similar smoky flavor to hot paprika. It’s typically milder in heat, so to replicate the spiciness of hot paprika, you can mix smoked paprika with a small amount of cayenne pepper.

This will give you a close approximation of hot paprika’s taste and heat level.

3. Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder is a spice blend that typically includes ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. It can be a suitable substitute for hot paprika, but the additional spices will alter the flavor profile of your dish.

To use chili powder as a hot paprika substitute, start with half the amount called for and adjust to taste.

4. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed red pepper flakes can be used as a substitute for hot paprika if you don’t mind the texture difference.

They provide a similar heat level but lack the smoky flavor of hot paprika. To use crushed red pepper flakes as a substitute, start with half the amount of hot paprika called for and adjust to taste.

5. Ancho Chili Powder

Ancho Chili Powder

Ancho chili powder is made from ground, dried poblano peppers and has a mild, smoky flavor.

While not as spicy as hot paprika, ancho chili powder can work as a substitute if you don’t want the heat. Mix it with a small amount of cayenne pepper to achieve a similar heat level as hot paprika.

6. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Pepper Powder

Chipotle powder is another good substitute for hot paprika, as it is made from smoked, dried jalapeno peppers. It has a smoky flavor similar to hot paprika, but with a slightly different taste due to the type of pepper used.

Chipotle powder is moderately spicy, so it can be used to replace hot paprika in a 1:1 ratio, or adjust the amount based on your personal heat preference.

7. Sweet Paprika + Cayenne Pepper

Sweet Paprika

Combining sweet paprika with a small amount of cayenne pepper can serve as an effective substitute for hot paprika. Sweet paprika has a similar flavor profile and color but lacks the heat.

By adding cayenne pepper, you can introduce the desired spiciness while maintaining the overall taste and appearance of the dish. Start with a 3:1 ratio of sweet paprika to cayenne pepper and adjust according to your desired heat level.

What To Look For In A Hot Paprika Substitute

When searching for a hot paprika substitute, consider the following factors:

  • Heat level: The ideal substitute should have a similar heat level to hot paprika or be easily adjustable to match the desired spiciness.
  • Flavor profile: While it may be difficult to find an exact match, the substitute should have a similar smoky flavor characteristic of hot paprika.
  • Color: Hot paprika adds a vibrant red hue to dishes. The substitute should ideally provide a similar color when used in a recipe.
  • Availability: The substitute should be easily accessible and commonly found in most grocery stores or online.

How To Choose Hot Paprika Substitutes (Tips)

  1. Consider the dish: Different dishes may require different substitutes depending on the other ingredients and desired flavor profile. For example, smoked paprika might be a better option for paella, while chili powder might work better for a Mexican-inspired dish.
  2. Adjust the heat level: Start with a small amount of the substitute and taste as you go. Gradually increase the amount until you reach the desired heat level.
  3. Experiment with combinations: Sometimes, combining two or more substitutes can provide a closer approximation of hot paprika’s flavor and heat. For example, mixing smoked paprika and cayenne pepper can give you both the smokiness and spiciness of hot paprika.
  4. Be prepared to make adjustments: Using a substitute might also require adjusting other spices in the dish to achieve the desired flavor balance.


Hot paprika is a versatile spice that adds heat, flavor, and color to a variety of dishes. If you find yourself without hot paprika or want to explore other options, consider using one of the seven substitutes discussed in this article: cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, or ancho chili powder.

Remember to consider the specific dish, heat level, and desired flavor profile when choosing a substitute, and don’t be afraid to experiment with combinations and adjustments to achieve the perfect taste.

Hot Paprika

The 7 Best Substitutes for Hot Paprika

In this article, we will explore the world of hot paprika and its importance in various cuisines. We will then delve into the seven best substitutes for hot paprika, and provide tips on how to choose the right one for your next culinary creation.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitutes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 40 kcal


  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Ancho Chili Powder
  • Chipotle Powder
  • Sweet Paprika + Cayenne Pepper


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
jenny happy muncher
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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.