Paprika is made from grinding various kinds of peppers. Many people think it’s bland, flavorless, and boring, but as the fourth most common spice in the world, paprika packs way more flavor than it’s given credit for! Depending on which type of pepper is used, how it is processed, and whether the seeds are discarded or included, Paprika can range from sweet to bitter, mild to hot, and bright red to deep brown.
There are two famous paprika- producing countries—Hungary and Spain. Hungarian paprika is generally strong and rich, while Spanish paprika tends to be milder. Typically paprika that is bright red is milder, while burnt orange paprika is hot.
Hungary is famous for its paprika; it’s their national spice after all! They grow over 40 different types with 8 different grades of pungency and heat. All have a peppery flavor, with varying degrees of spiciness—from mild and delicate to hot and spicy. Some Hungarian paprika contains cayenne powder to kick up the heat even more!
Spanish Paprika has 3 levels of heat: sweet (dolce), semi-sweet (agridulce), and hot (picante). Spain also produces a unique smoked paprika (Pimenton de la Vera). The peppers are smoked before they are ground leaving a pungent smoky aroma and flavor.
The paprika we typically encounter in our grocery stores is usually referred to as “regular paprika”. It is not known for being overtly flavorful or aromatic and is generally used to add color to a dish. Buying good-quality paprika is worth the added cost. It’s typically much more flavorful.
If a dish calls for paprika without specifying which kind, regular paprika or sweet Hungarian paprika are safe bets. But imagine the possibilities! Try changing it up until you find the perfect sweet and spicy flavor.
Paprika deteriorates quickly. To make sure it stays fresh, purchase paprika in small quantities and store in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 months. Some people recommend storing Paprika in zip-top bags in the freezer.
Paprika may be known for its presence in Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella, and good ol’ fashioned devil eggs, but it’s a great addition to other dishes too! Here are some of our favorite recipes: