Paprika 101: Everything You Need to Know About This Versatile Spice

Paprika is a powder made from grinding the dried, red fruits of sweeter varieties of Capsicum annuum. It’s used as a spice and coloring agent in many cuisines, particularly in Hungarian, Spanish, and Moroccan dishes. But what does paprika taste like? And what’s the difference between hot paprika and smoked paprika? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this versatile spice.

Paprika Taste Profile

Paprika is made from sweet peppers, so it has a sweetness to it that other chili powders lack. This warmth is rounded out by hints of fruitiness and earthiness. Depending on the variety of pepper used to make the paprika, it can range in color from orange-red to deep crimson. And while most paprikas are relatively mild, with Scoville ratings between 100 and 500, some can be spicy.

Where Does Paprika Come From?

The origins of paprika are somewhat murky; however, it’s believed that the first plants were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers returning from Central America in the 16th century. Once introduced to Hungary—a country with ideal growing conditions for Capsicum annuum—paprika quickly became one of the country’s most beloved spices. In fact, according to The Spruce Eats , “Hungarians use more paprika than any other nation in the world.” In fact, the word “paprika” comes from the Hungarian word for pepper. Today, paprika is used in cuisines all over the world. It is an essential ingredient in many dishes, including goulash, chili con carne, and chorizo.

How Is Paprika Made?

Paprika is a powder made from grinding dried peppers. Paprika is made by harvesting sweet peppers at the end of their growing season. The peppers are then placed on racks and left to dry in the sun or in specially designed dehydrators . Once they’re sufficiently dried (a process which can take up to two weeks), they’re stemmed and seeded before being ground into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or electric grinder . The peppers used to make paprika can be sweet or hot, but the most common type of paprika is made from sweet peppers. Paprika is used as a spice and as a colorant, and it has a distinct, slightly fruity flavor.

Smoked Paprika vs. Hot Paprika

Smoked paprika is made from peppers that have been smoked over an open fire. This gives the paprika a deep red color and a smoky flavor. Hot paprika is made from peppers that have been dried and ground into a powder. The resulting powder is then blended with spices to give it heat.

The Difference between Smoked Paprika and Hot Paprika

Smoked paprika is made from peppers that have been smoked over an open fire before being ground into a powder. This gives the spice a deep, smoky flavor that works well in barbecue sauces, dry rubs, and stews. Hot paprika, on the other hand, is made from peppers that are simply dried and ground—no smoking required. As a result, it has a brighter flavor that’s perfect for adding a touch of heat to dips, soups, and potato salads.

Small Axe Peppers uses paprika in a few of its hot sauces. The earthiness pairs perfectly with some sweatness to provide a depth to our hot sauces, specifically the __ and the ___ uses paprika. We recommend buying to try and see if you can taste the paprika!

Paprika is a spice with a long history and many uses. Whether you’re looking to add a touch of sweetness or heat to your dish, paprika is sure to do the trick. So grab a jar of this versatile spice and get cooking!