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Sweet, Hot, or Smoked Paprika - What is the difference ?

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What’s the difference between regular, Hungarian, sweet, hot, Spanish, and smoked paprika?
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A small bowl of smoked Spanish pimenton

A small bowl of smoked Spanish pimenton

Paprika is one of the most widely used spices around the world. A dried powder made from capsicums (bell peppers) or chilli peppers, it is commonly used in Hungarian, African, and Spanish cuisines for its colour and flavour and has made its way around the world as an everyday ingredient.

  • “Regular” paprika is the most commonly found and is a blend of sweet and hot varieties and has a relatively neutral flavour. It’s great for adding colour to your dishes or as a garnish.
  • Sweet paprika (commonly labeled as Hungarian sweet paprika) has a rich, fruity flavour like a red capsicum with no heat. It’s great as an all-around paprika and more interesting than the regular stuff.
  • Hot paprika is made from dried chilli peppers and will be more similar to cayenne, but less spicy.
  • Spanish smoked paprika (sometimes labeled as Pimenton de la Vera) is made from dried chillies that are smoked over oak giving the spice a woodsy, smokey flavour that is great for stews and roast meats. It can be sweet or hot.

The most important thing when choosing paprika is to think about how you’re going to use it in a recipe and the flavour you want to create. Just need a punch of colour? Use regular or sweet. Want a little spice? Grab the hot stuff. Going for an earthy flavour? Try smoked paprika. If you have several on hand, blend them together to achieve just the right mix.

You can also read more about Paprika in the Glossary

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