Once you’ve acquired a taste for it, smoked paprika is one of those magical ingredients that can transform dishes both simple and complex.
It works just as well as a rub for a roast chicken or a secret ingredient in your special chili as it does sprinkled over fried potatoes and scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Not all paprikas are created equal, and smoked paprika is especially delicate. It’s a premium spice, so it can be hard to come by and costly. You’ll want to double-check that you have all the necessary components.
Which smoked paprika do you recommend the most? The best smoked paprika will be deep red in color, have a robust flavor, and have a strong smokey aroma when you first open the jar.
We’ve done the legwork and found 7 of the highest-quality smoked paprika brands on the market to help you out.
We’ve laid out the pros and cons of each brand so you can pick the perfect spice for your needs, whether you’re shopping on a tight budget, prefer your spices organic, prefer your food mild or spicy, or are simply interested in the new twist that a modern company can put on an old favorite.
Continue reading, and let’s get to the stove!
What is Smoked Paprika?
Pimiento peppers, originally from Spain, are used to make smoked paprika. Once the peppers have been smoked and dried, they are ground into a powder.
After the peppers have dried, the seeds and stems are typically removed by the producer. However, some producers choose to keep the seeds and stems for a more authentic appearance and spicier taste.
Unless otherwise stated, smoked paprika is not a hot spice despite being derived from peppers. It’s mellow and, on occasion, slightly sweet.
Great smoked paprika is easily recognizable by its intoxicating smokey aroma and robust flavor.
Smoked paprika is a popular seasoning in Spanish cooking because it is produced from peppers that are primarily grown in Spain.
Smoky spice is a must for chorizo sausage and paella, but it also works well in other dishes like stews, dry rubs, and even eggs.
8 Best Smoked Paprika
The Spice Lab Smoked Spanish Paprika
The Spice Lab is a family-run business run by women that uses only the highest quality spices, salts, teas, and other gourmet gifts.
We can’t deny that they live up to their reputation as a high-quality premium brand, but this comes at a high price. The Spice Lab is prepared to meet the needs of those who seek the perfect blend of mellow and smoky flavor but are willing to pay a little more for the highest quality ingredients.
- 1.80 fluid ounces, bottled in a beautiful French glass jar
- Produced and packaged in the United States using high-quality Spanish paprika imported from Spain and certified by the American Spice Trade Association (ASTA).
- Contributes a mildly spicy note and the rich smokey flavor typical of smoked paprika.
The Spice Lab sells both sweet and smoked paprika, but because their packaging is so similar, customers often end up with the wrong kind when they place an order. Be sure that this is the smoked paprika you’re looking for before adding it to your shopping cart.
McCormick Gourmet Smoked Paprika
When it comes to spices, McCormick is your go-to, and their smoked paprika is no different.
Even though this spice is already considered a high-end item, McCormick offers a superior organic variety with a bold flavor. If you’re looking for a premium spice level, they’ve managed to keep the price reasonable.
They also sell a larger container of their regular, non-smoked McCormick Paprika if you’d rather save money than go the organic route.
- Jar with 1.62 fluid ounces of capacity
- Produced from organic whole sweet peppers that have been smoked, dried, deseeded, and de-stemmed, then ground into a fine, uniform powder.
- Incorporates silicon dioxide for a long shelf life and easy sifting of the powder.
The most significant disadvantage is that McCormick is competitively priced, even though it is an organic, premium quality spice. You might think the price tag is high for such a small bottle of spice when you compare it to the typical items in your spice rack. Still, you won’t find a better taste anywhere.
Chiquilin Smoked Paprika
Chiquilin is a spice brand, and their primary product is paprika.
In addition to the standard smoked paprika, they carefully select five additional varieties: sweet, hot, bittersweet, sweet smoked, and hot smoked. This is the best option if you’d like to buy paprika from a company that is completely dedicated to the spice.
- Pack of two 2.64 oz. tins, perfect for safe, long-term archiving
- Produced by smoking Spanish peppers over oak logs to bring out their full, distinctive flavor and aroma.
- All the flavor and freshness of your paprika will be preserved thanks to the airtight lid.
The most significant disadvantage is that this paprika is imported directly from Spain without an accompanying ingredients list, which is always a delicate issue. Due to the fact that smoked paprika is the only ingredient listed in the marketing materials, it is safe to assume that there are no other fillers or preservatives present.
Hungarian Paprika Premium Quality Sweet/Hot/Smoked
Spanish paprika is used for most smoked uses. If you like a touch of sweetness with your savory, this Hungarian paprika will be a welcome addition to any dish.
You can choose from a variety of flavors, including hot, sweet, hot and smoked, and sweet and smoked, or you can get a sample pack and try them all.
- Beautiful 100-gram fabric bags are used for packaging.
- There are no artificial flavors or preservatives.
- These peppers originate in Kalocsa, the paprika mecca of Hungary.
The most glaring flaw is that, whether you opt for the sweet and smoked or regular variety, this Hungarian smoked paprika will still taste unusually sweet to those accustomed to the more widely used Spanish smoked paprika. Some people prefer a spicier flavor, but Hungarian peppers are noticeably sweeter than Spanish peppers.
Badia Smoked Paprika
Due to the additional time and effort required to smoke the peppers before grinding them, smoked paprika is typically sold at a higher price.
Since it’s such a popular seasoning, it’s wise to stock up on a sizable container to help mitigate the higher per-unit cost. In this respect, Badia succeeds thanks to the company’s baking of a reputable brand history.
- Value-packed 16-ounce container
- There are no additives or fillers.
- Constructed using the entire pepper plant, then dried and ground.
The major drawback to this choice is that you may end up with an abundance of smoked paprika that you will either have to throw away or give away to friends and family if you are not an instant fan of the flavor.
Trader Joe’s Smoked Paprika-SET OF 3
Our second-place smoked paprika is a brand that serious eaters may already know. Trader Joe’s is well-known for selling a wide variety of health foods and unusual food items. It should come as no surprise that Trader Joe’s Smoked Paprika blend lives up to all of these claims.
The pimiento peppers used in Trader Joe’s Smoked Paprika blend are imported directly from Valencia, Spain, where the supplier company has almost 80 years of experience in paprika production.
The sweetness of the blend is subtle and won’t overpower any dish. Instead, it will lend just a hint of smoky sweetness to all of your usual go-to dishes.
While this makes this brand of paprika great for those who don’t like things too spicy, it may not be the best choice for those who prefer a more robust flavor from their smoked paprika.
Customers can rest easy knowing that the cultivation and processing of this smoked paprika have adhered to strict Kosher standards because it has been certified as such.
Due to the high cost of the main ingredient and the extensive time required to prepare it, smoked paprika is generally more expensive than other spice blends. However, for how delicious it is, this smoked paprika mixture is surprisingly cheap.
- Recognizable name – Obtained from a dependable source
- Sweetness on the low end; Adaptable in many settings
- Prepared according to strict Kosher guidelines and certified as such
- Easily within one’s financial means; cheap
- Flavor is on the mild side; fans of spicy foods may find it lacking.
La Chinata Sweet Spanish Smoked Paprika by Latienda
Last but not least, if none of the previously discussed products have piqued your interest, perhaps our top recommendation will do the trick!
Stunning harmony between the rich smokiness and subtle sweetness characterizes the La Chinata Sweet Spanish Smoked Paprika.
Although the 2.5 ounce containers of this smoked paprika aren’t exactly humongous, they’re larger than the typical 2.1 ounce jars of spices found in grocery stores.
From the time the pimiento peppers are picked, you can be sure that this smoked paprika has been made by hand with care.
The peppers are hand-selected, smoked for 15 days, and stone-ground to ensure a genuine product.
We must emphasize, however, that this paprika mixture is not the cheapest option available. It’s one of the more pricey labels we carry.
But if you’re looking to treat yourself on special occasions, gourmet spice is definitely worth the splurge.
- Concentrated taste and scent; replete with flavor
- Picked by a human hand – Naturally grown
- 2.5 ounce bottles – Above-average size
- Not a good option for those on a tight budget
Frontier Smoked Ground Bottle, Paprika, 1.87 Ounce
While we’ve covered a couple of non-GMO smoked paprika brands in today’s article, we recommend Frontier Smoked Ground Paprika if you’re especially concerned about avoiding GMOs and other unnatural ingredients in your food.
Naturally, no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were used in the production of this smoked paprika.
In addition, Frontier is dedicated to ensuring that its products never contain any harmful additives or processing methods.
To that end, the Frontier Smoked Paprika has not been subjected to irradiation during production to increase its shelf life or ETO gas for sterilization. Frontier’s smoked paprika has been approved for use in Kosher kitchens as well.
This smoked paprika product is extremely adaptable because it can be used lightly for a subtle flavor or heavily for a robust one. However, those who prefer their flavors intense may not be satisfied with this brand.
Frontier is a co-op brand that uses sustainable and ethical farming practices in its cultivation, harvesting, and manufacturing.
- Labeling as a co-op means that the company produces in a socially responsible manner.
- Anti-Genetically Modified Organisms – Organic Components
- The product has not been subjected to ionizing radiation in order to prolong its shelf life.
- The absence of ethylene oxide (ETO) and subsequent gas sterilization
- Light but persistent flavor
- Those with a high tolerance for heat may find this dish too tame.
Spanish Paprika Vs Smoked Paprika?
Smoked paprika can also be referred to as Spanish paprika. It’s sometimes referred to as pimiento, after the Spanish pepper used in its production.
While Spanish paprika and smoked paprika are essentially the same thing, you can find this spice in varying degrees of spiciness (typically mild, medium, and hot).
Most smoked paprika is not particularly spicy; rather, the smokiness is the standout quality. Assume it won’t be hot unless the brand you’re buying says so on the label.
Paprika comes in a wide variety, and not all of it is smoked. For instance, Hungarian paprika is typically thought of as sweet, but there are also varieties that are quite spicy.
Hungarian paprika can be used in place of either hot or sweet paprika, just as Spanish paprika can be used in place of smoked paprika, though each package should be clearly labeled to indicate which variety it contains.
Sweet paprika, typically made from sweet red bell peppers, is what you’re looking for if you see “paprika” listed without any further clarification.
Can You Substitute Smoked Paprika For Regular Paprika?
Smoked paprika can be used in place of regular paprika, but the dish will take on a different flavor profile as a result.
Superior smoked paprika is intensely smoky in aroma and taste, while regular paprika is more subdued and slightly sweet. They’re both made with various peppers and cooked in different ways.
Chili powder works better as a substitute for paprika.
How Spicy Is Smoked Paprika?
Unless otherwise noted on the label, smoked paprika is not spicy.
Made with pimiento peppers, which are more closely related to bell peppers than hot peppers. The smokey flavor is the most noticeable difference when using smoked paprika.
Of course, there are some blends out there that add heat to their paprika by using the seeds or a different type of pepper, but this will always be clearly stated on the package because it is not the norm.
Can You Make Smoked Paprika?
To make authentic smoked paprika, Spanish pimiento peppers are smoked over an oak wood fire, allowed to dry, and then ground and milled into a fine powder.
Finding a consistent supply of pimiento peppers is even more challenging than smoked paprika, unless you happen to live in Spain. Naturally, you can make your own if you have access to the peppers and a smoker.
It is possible to create a reasonably close substitute for smoked paprika by combining several common and less expensive spices.
Chipotle pepper powder, which is made from smoked chipotle chilies, is the most similar single-ingredient substitute you can use. Smoke flavor is similar to that of pimiento peppers, but the heat from chipotles makes up for it.
Mixing chili powder with regular paprika, along with some cumin or liquid smoke, will get you close if you’d rather avoid or tone down the heat.
To make the most of this creation, you should play around with it and expect some trial and error because of how dependent it will be on your individual tastes.
What Are the Most Popular Smoked Paprika Recipes?
Paella, roasted meat, extremely rich and saucy stews, and anything you can spread luscious Romanesco sauce on all call for smoked paprika, a staple in Spanish cooking.
Smoked paprika is a common ingredient in many traditional Mexican dishes, such as tacos, chili, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, and more.
Scrambled eggs, creamy pasta sauces, and a wide variety of soups or simmer sauces all benefit from the addition of smoked paprika because the rest of the world has embraced this unique and memorable spice. It’s great for use as a marinade on meat and vegetables alike.