All the tastiest meat dishes utilize smoked paprika. The spice is practically made for hearty meat dishes, and it’s the secret behind that incredible smoky flavor of your favorite BBQ. However, since it isn’t a staple in most pantries, you won’t always have access to it. Therefore, you might wonder how you can substitute smoked paprika.
Though the flavor of this red powder is very specific, it’s surprisingly easy to find equally delicious alternatives. So, if you want to maintain the godlike flavor of your BBQ, keep reading to find out how you can substitute for smoked paprika.
7 Substitutes for Smoked Paprika
1. Chipotle Powder
The best substitute for smoked paprika is one that actually contains smoked paprika. Chipotle powder is made from smoked dried jalapeño peppers, so it contains the perfect blend of rich earthiness to make your dish pop. It’s possibly the best substitute on this list because it so closely resembles the real deal. But it also has a hint of spice to it, which makes the flavor profile even better.
1 Tbsp of smoked paprika = 1 Tbsp of Chipotle powder.
However, when substituting, take care to consider the spice factor. Smoked paprika is a very mild spice, much weaker than even a medium jalapeno. Chipotle jalapenos pack a much stronger punch, so they might not suit you if you aren’t a fan of extra heat. So if you’re not versed in hot peppers, start with 1 Tbsp of Chipotle powder for 1 Tbsp of smoked paprika.
2. Chili Powder or Paprika with a Dash of Cumin
A dash of cumin in your chili or paprika powder. It honestly can’t get simpler than that. This substitute for smoked paprika is for all the folks out there who don’t want to waste time looking for fancy alternatives. Cumin powder adds that characteristic earthiness to your paprika which makes for the perfect substitute. And the best part is, you can whip it up at home, in just a few minutes!
Just break out a bowl, and add two parts of either chili or sweet paprika and one part cumin. Mix them together and voilà! Your homemade smoked paprika is done and you can get to substituting. It doesn’t get easier than that!
1 Tbsp of smoked paprika = 1 Tbsp of chili/sweet paprika-cumin mix.
3. Liquid Smoke
If you want a smoky flavor in your dishes, then why not go straight to the source — liquid smoke. Ernest H. Wright came up with this miracle concentrate after he discovered how to condense and bottle smoke from wood fires. Ever since then, it’s been a convenient way for cooks to add strong, hickory smokiness to their dishes without having to wait for ages for them to smoke naturally.
1 Tbsp of smoked paprika = 1 Tbsp of liquid smoke.
However since the concentrate is much stronger than smoked paprika, save liquid smoke for heavier dishes like grill marinades or stews.
4. Cayenne Pepper Powder
If heat is your jam, then cayenne pepper is the ultimate substitute for smoked paprika. This chili powder is much spicier than any other spice we’ve covered so far, so it’s perfect for dishes that traditionally need heat, like Indian or Mexican ones. However, what makes cayenne stand out against other hot spices like chili and fennel is the slight, smoky aftertaste it leaves in the mouth.
This makes it a solid substitute for smoked paprika. But keep in mind that cayenne pepper packs 30,000 to 50,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. So substituting may be a bit tricky.
1 Tbsp of smoked paprika = ⅓ of a Tbsp of cayenne pepper powder.
But if you’ve never cooked with cayenne before, you can reduce the amount to ¼ of Tbsp if you think it’s necessary.
5. Powdered Guajillo Pepper
When in doubt about substitutes for smoked paprika, it’s always a good idea to turn to traditional Mexican cuisine. Capsicum annum, known by its less fancy name, Guajillo powder, is the dried version of the Mirasol Chili. It’s one of the most popular chili powders in Mexican cooking, surpassed only by ancho pepper powder.
It’s a much milder chili than the regular variety, and it has a delightfully sweet flavor with just a hint of smokiness. This makes it the perfect substitute for smoked paprika, especially if you’re making a dish where you don’t want the chili to overpower the other flavors. It also goes surprisingly well with desserts, especially if you like a kick of heat in your candy or cakes.
1 Tbsp of smoked paprika = 1 Tbsp of guajillo powder.
Therefore substituting is easy. But remember that guajillo powder is slightly spicier than smoked paprika, so scale the amount down if you’re not a fan of heat.
6. Ancho Pepper Powder
Another Mexican staple, this dried chili is a worthy substitute for smoked paprika. Ancho peppers are dried poblano peppers that have dominated Mexican cuisine since ancient times. However, because they have a mild, smoky flavor, they’ve grown incredibly popular in the US as well.
This unique flavor combination is exactly what makes them the ideal substitute for smoked paprika. They also have an additional fruity aftertaste, so they work especially well in sweet dishes too.
1 Tbsp of smoked paprika = 1 Tbsp of ancho pepper powder.
But be careful when swapping. Ancho may be milder than jalapeños in terms of spice, but they still pack a punch. So if you don’t enjoy the heat, scale the amount back. Also, if you happen to have a less than well-stocked supermarket in your area, then it’s smart to go with another substitute on this list. Ancho may be more common nowadays, but it still isn’t widely available everywhere.
7. Spanish Pimentón Powder
The Spanish are the largest producers of paprika in the world. It should not come as a surprise that they would have their very own paprika variety. Though pimetón is very similar to regular ol’ Spanish paprika, it’s not the same as the standard sweet paprika you would find in your pantry.
For one, pimentón de la vera, as it’s called, is a full-bodied, flavorful spice that comes in three varieties — sweet, moderate, and hot. It’s the perfect spice to put in traditional Spanish dishes like ensaladas or patatas bravas. Because it has a much deeper and richer flavor than regular paprika, it’s an excellent substitute for smoked paprika.
1 Tbsp of smoked paprika = 1 Tbsp of Spanish pimetón powder.
However, if you’re using the hot variety, then be sure to scale things back. Start with ¼ of a Tbsp for every Tbsp of smoked paprika. You can adjust it further depending on the amount of heat you like in your dish.