It is, frankly, the worst when you’re gearing up to cook and suddenly realize you’ve *almost* got what you need. We break down the difference between Paprikas below, with some tips on how to substitute when you’re in a bind.
Simply put, Paprika is a blend of dried, ground red chile peppers. The chile peppers used to make Paprika are most frequently from Capsicum annuum, a plant species that includes cayenne chiles and bell peppers. Paprika is most commonly known to have a mild flavor that adds a peppery zing with little heat. But there are many different varietals of Paprika, each with their own unique flavor profile. In this way, Paprika is similar to wine in that the flavor profile of the same kind of wine (Chardonnay) will taste different depending on where it's grown and how it's processed.
Paprika is super dynamic, and depending on the varietal, can add just a touch of sweetness or a bold dose of spicy flavor. Smoky, hot Paprika can often be found in stews, chilis, and spice rubs (it’s a BBQ delight). The milder, sweeter Paprika can be used to add subtle depth, and of course vibrantly garnish savory dishes - think dusting a dish of hummus or sprinkling a pinch to mac and cheese. In essence, it's a mild chili powder that, depending on type, can bring in various degrees of hot and smokey flavor.
Sweet Paprika is default paprika. When you see a product simply labeled “Paprika,” it’s usually sweet paprika. Sweet paprika isn’t necessarily sweet sweet, it’s more a floral, peppery taste. While it’s definitely not spicy hot, it does add a little zingy flourish that’s delicate and mild. It’s bold color makes dishes pop and the mellow, sweet-pepper flavor plays well with other tastes. If a recipe doesn't specify the type of paprika, sweet paprika is usually a good bet. Our sweet paprika adds a fragrant and lush flavor that’s sweet without heat.
Hungarians love Paprika, to put it mildly (forgive the pun). It’s Hungary’s national spice! Though “Hungarian Paprika” is most often sold as a monolithic product in the United States, there are eight varietals of Hungarian Paprika, each with its own unique flavor profile that can range from temperate and sweet to robust and pungent. And the colors! Hungarian Paprikas come in a wide swatch of colors, from deep maroon to pale orange. Edesnemes, the varietal found most frequently in the U.S., is bright red and very mild, with a flavor that’s similar to sweet paprika, but a tad more pungent. Our sweet paprika hits the notes of Hungarian Paprika, and adds a fragrant taste that’s mild but still flavorful
Smoked paprika is a smoked varietal of paprika (SHOCKING!). Before grinding, the chile are smoked over a wood burning fire that imparts a woody, smokey flavor to the dried chiles. The smoking process ups the savory depth, and depending on the kinds of chiles used, can make for hot smoky paprika or sweet smoky paprika. If a paprika is simply labeled “Smoked Paprika,” it’s likely Sweet Smoked Paprika. Our Smoked Paprika has a ripe, almost tomato-like flavor, infused with subtle notes of oak that add to the smokey, savory depth.
Hot smoked paprika is a smoked varietal of paprika that’s made with very hot chiles (EVEN MORE SHOCKING!). Fresh red chiles are selected for their heat and smoked over a wood burning fire to infuse the final dried chiles with a flavor that’s uniquely smokey and hot. Additionally, sometimes the smoked chile ribs and seeds are added in with the smoked flesh for grinding, which adds an especially hot zing. Our Hot Smoked Paprika is uniquely hot, with a smoldering flavor that comes not just from superior chiles, but the artisanal drying and grinding process hot paprika is made with another type of long pepper.
Spanish Paprika is most commonly used as shorthand for Pimentón de la Vera Paprika, a special varietal of paprika from Spain. Much like the Champagne region of France, Pimentón de la Vera Paprika can only come from the La Vera region of Spain and production is highly regulated to ensure quality and authenticity. Though not always, Spanish paprika is usually smoked-dried and there are three kinds - hot, sweet, and bittersweet. If a recipe simply calls for “Spanish Paprika” its most likely looking for Hot Smoked Pimenton de la Vera paprika. Our Hot Smoked Pimenton Paprika is uniquely hot, with a smoldering flavor that comes not just from superior chiles, but the artisanal drying and grinding process hot paprika is made with another type of long pepper.