15 Best Smoked Paprika Substitutes

Smoked Paprika

Smoked paprika is a very popular ingredient in many different types of dishes. It doesn’t only give your food an impeccable and unique flavor, but it also gives it a beautiful red color. So it is a must ingredient in your kitchen if you like to play with flavors and colors.

Smoked paprika is originally from Spain, but now it is used all over the world. It is made of capsicum peppers through a long process of smoking, drying, and grinding. As a final result, you get a smoky red powder ready to turn your casual food into something unique.

If you live in Spain no need to worry about it, but in other countries, you might not be able to buy it in the stores. In this case, just find something from the smoked paprika substitutes listed below. For best results, you can also combine these alternatives.

Smoked paprika substitutes

Luckily, to replace smoked paprika you have many options to choose from. The following list will help you choose the most suitable replacement for your recipe.

1. Regular paprika powder


Many people confuse regular paprika with smoked paprika. Yes, they look almost the same. But they taste different. Regular paprika has a mild and even a little bit sweet flavor. Smoked paprika has a more intense and strong taste.

Despite this difference, you can use regular paprika powder instead of smoked paprika in almost every recipe. But because it is less intense you have to add more of it to your food.

2. Sweet paprika powder

Many people don’t like that intense flavor smoked paprika gives to our dishes. If you are looking for a smoked paprika substitute for that reason try to replace it with sweet paprika.

Your food will look the same but it will have a milder taste. It is also a good choice if you are new to cooking. Unlike smoked paprika, you can’t add too much sweet paprika. It can also be an ideal replacement if you are making something for children.

3. Hungarian paprika powder

If you are the kind of person who adores intense flavors Hungarian paprika powder might be the best choice for you to replace smoked paprika. It is another type of paprika powder but much stronger than regular paprika or sweet paprika.

Unlike sweet paprika, if you use Hungarian paprika you have to be very careful how much you add. Taste your food many times during cooking because if you add too much it can easily ruin your meal.

4. Cayenne pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Another spice people confuse smoked paprika with is cayenne pepper.

It isn’t a surprise because cayenne pepper has a little bit of smoke in it that makes it taste very similar to smoked paprika although they aren’t the same. So, you can easily substitute smoked paprika with cayenne pepper.

You can use cayenne pepper in soups, omelets, and sauces. Since cayenne pepper is very strong, use only a third as much as you would use from smoked paprika.

5. Red pepper flakes

Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes are made of the same pepper as cayenne pepper so if you have it at home you can easily use it instead of smoked paprika.

It goes very well with pasta and you can even put it on top of your pizza to spice it up a little bit. You can buy mild or spicy flakes, but if you go with the spicy one, reduce the amount in half.

6. Cajun spice

Cajun spice is made of cayenne, black and white pepper. Meaning, just like cayenne pepper, it can also be used as a smoked paprika substitute.

The result will be better because the taste of the mixture of peppers tastes similar to smoked paprika to cayenne pepper alone. You can use cajun spice for the same dishes mentioned above at cayenne pepper.

7. Chili powder

Red Chili

Chili powder is originally from Mexico and is made from dried chiles. If you don’t have smoked paprika on hand, chili powder can save you in many recipes.

Chili powder is mostly used in chili con carne and other bean-based dishes. You can add it into your pot when the other ingredients are mixed and set to cook. You can also add a little bit of sugar that highlights the taste of chili.

8. Tomato powder

The next alternative to smoked paprika is tomato powder. It is a good replacement if you want your food to look red but you don’t mind if it doesn’t have that smoky flavor.

It can be used in soups and oven-baked dishes. It will give a nice color and some sweetness to your food. Besides tomato powder, you can also use tomato paste and even fresh tomato.

9. Chipotle powder

Chipotle powder 

Chipotle powder might be the best replacement for smoked paprika if you want your dish to taste like the original. It is made from smoked dried japaleño pepper.

You can substitute smoked paprika with chipotle powder in any recipe. It has a darker color and an even stronger taste than smoked paprika so I recommend using a little bit less from it.

10. Guajillo pepper powder

Guajillo pepper

Another Mexican spice, the guajillo pepper powder works just as good as chili powder to substitute smoked paprika. It has a smoky and slightly sweet flavor that makes every dish taste unique and delicious.

Guajillo pepper powder enhances the taste of any type of meat. But it also makes a great combination with veggies. It is very popular in Mexican dishes like tacos. As a smoked paprika substitute use the same amount written in your original recipe.

11. Ancho pepper powder

Ancho pepper is also a good alternative for smoked paprika in a powdered form. It is similar to guajillo pepper but a bit milder and less smoky.

Just like guajillo, ancho pepper powder is a great choice in Mexican-style dishes but works well in any warm dish as a smoked paprika substitute.

Use one and a half times as much ancho pepper powder as you would use smoked paprika.

12. Pimenton de la Vera

Just like smoked paprika, Pimenton de la Vera is also a must-have ingredient in Spanish cuisine. It is similar to smoked paprika regarding the taste and color so you can exchange them in many recipes.

Pimenton de la Vera works best with lamb stews, potatoes, and toasted nuts. In supermarkets, you can find three types of it: sweet, bitter-sweet and hot. As a smoked paprika substitute, the best choice is the hot one.

13. Smoked sea salt

Rock salt

The alternatives above had a similar color to smoked paprika so they will make your dish look like the original one. However, many of them won’t have that smoky flavor smoked paprika is popular for.

If you want your dish to taste smoky without smoked paprika, smoked sea salt can be a good option for you. When substituting with smoked sea salt don’t add additional salt to your food otherwise it will become too salty.

14. Liquid smoke

Liquid smoke just like smoked sea salt gives your food a smoky taste. It is a natural byproduct of burning wood and you can find it in small bottles in many stores.

However, it won’t give your food a red color. It is not necessarily a problem. But if you want your food to look like the original one, you can combine liquid smoke with a red spice from the list.

And careful with the liquid smoke. It has a very strong taste. To substitute 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika I recommend using only ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke.

15. Chili sauce

If you don’t have chili powder or any other red-colored powder to replace smoked paprika with, you can even use chili sauce.

Besides chili powder, chili sauce includes some oil, vinegar, and water so it will make your food extra savory. It is a great choice in one-bowl meals and tortillas.

Related Questions

Is pimenton the same as smoked paprika?

Yes, pimenton is the Spanish name of smoked paprika. Meaning, they are the same.

Can I make smoked paprika from regular paprika?

Yes, you can. You have to smoke and then dry the peppers. However, it is a very long process so you will need a lot of patience.

Can I substitute smoked paprika with ground cumin?

If you use ground cumin together with regular paprika powder the taste will be very similar to smoked paprika.

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