Three Reasons Paprika Should Be Your 'New' Favorite Spice
Talk to a few different people about paprika and you might hear the following responses…
- “It comes from peppers, right?”
- “I’ve seen it in potato salad or and on top of deviled eggs, but it doesn’t taste like anything.”
- “I don’t know what it is but I know I've had some sitting in my spice cabinet for years.”
Let's set the record straight on why paprika is great. Paprika—especially fresh paprika—possesses unmatched flavor and too many home cooks aren’t aware of this. Before we dive in, here are our responses to those, shall we say unenlightened comments above.
- “You're right! It does come from peppers”
- “Totally. It can be used to finish dishes but if it doesn't have a flavor, it's time for a refill!”
- “It seems like most people have an abandoned jar that they only use for *ahem* potato salad and deviled eggs. But if you're only using it for that, you're missing out!”
PART 1: Why Paprika Should Be Your 'New' Favorite Spice
Here are three reasons why paprika should be your ‘new’ favorite spice (if it’s not already).
1. Paprika offers huge flavor potential
Often overlooked and under-appreciated, few know the true flavor potential of fresh paprika. Paprika is made by grinding dried red (fully matured) peppers into a fine powder. The peppers can range from little to no heat (like a bell pepper) to quite hot (like cayenne). Depending on the varieties of the red peppers used and the region the pepper comes from, the flavor profile and color of paprika can vary. Regardless of the type or variety, quality paprika means bold, delicious flavor.
2. Paprika has versatility for so many dishes
Paprika is perhaps most notably used in Hungarian cuisine, where some families keep shakers of salt and paprika, instead of black pepper, on their dinner tables. For a traditional use of Hungarian paprika, try our classic Beef Paprikash (Hungarian Goulash) recipe.
Paprika in any tomato-based sauce or dish, will add great flavor and color. It can add sweet flavor and gorgeous color to Mediterranean-inspired dishes like Smoky Gazpacho or Mexican dishes like Tortilla Soup.
3. Paprika is an important base for many spice blends
For those who create their own rubs and seasonings, paprika is a building block for a well-rounded and flavorful spice blend. If you use prefer to buy seasonings, you may be surprised to learn that paprika is a star in many of them across almost all categories of cuisine.
Paprika plays a major role in American seasonings like Cajun Style Blackening Seasoning and in many BBQ blends, including customer favorites like Platte River Rib Rub and Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning. It is also a key ingredient in everything from Tan-Tan Moroccan Seasoning to Family Style Fajita Seasoning and Indian Tandoori Seasoning to Japanese Shichimi Togarashi. The possibilities for paprika in a spice blend are only limited by the imagination.
PART 2: So Many Varieties to Explore
Savory Spice carries a few different types of paprika. Trying each one is the best way to find your favorite flavor. Who knows, you might love them all!
We carry a Kulonleges paprika, which bears the name Csemege (meaning exquisite delicacy) and is one of the highest grades available. Our Hungarian paprika is rusty-reddish in color and has a fragrant sweet pepper odor. The flavor is sweet and slightly fruity with very mild heat, similar to fresh bell peppers. This is the flavor and variety that is most familiar to many Americans. It has a lingering warmth that makes it a great addition to many dishes and ideal for use in all-purpose seasonings. For heat lovers, we created our signature Hungarian Sweet & Spicy Paprika with a blend of sweet Hungarian paprika and spicy cayenne pepper.
Our California paprika comes from a hybrid pepper indigenous to California. It has a vibrant red color and a bold scent. The flavor is a bit sweet but packs a punch, with a more noticeable heat and a slight bitterness when compared with Hungarian paprika. There is a lingering, slightly peppery aftertaste as well. The bold color and flavor make California paprika perfect for use in Southwestern dishes and seasonings like chili powder. It’s also a great paprika for creating your own barbeque rub or sauce.
Sweet Smoked Spanish Paprika
Also known as Pimenton de la Vera dulce, the peppers used to make this paprika are slowly smoked over oak before being ground, imparting a rich smokiness. The color is a deep red and the fragrance is deliciously smoky. While you can still taste the sweet, mild flavor of the paprika, the smoky flavor is dominant. The smoke flavor lingers with a slightly bitter aftertaste. This paprika is perfect for adding a smoky flavor to a variety of dishes and can be used to impart that distinctive flavor when smoking isn’t an option. Try adding it to barbecue sauces, stir it into baked beans, or sprinkle it over roasted potatoes.
Hot Smoked Spanish Paprika
This paprika is a reddish-brown color with a smoky and slightly sharp scent. There’s a slight sweetness immediately but that quickly gives way to a burning heat. The smoky taste stays noticeable throughout, so that smoke and spice are continually melding into a unique, hot flavor. The flavors of this paprika are similar to chorizo and could easily be used to replicate that rich, spicy flavor in vegetarian dishes. It’s also the perfect spice for anyone who always wants a bit more heat with an interesting flavor and is willing to stray from staples like cayenne.
PART 3: A World of Recipes
You might already be sprinkling paprika on your potato salad or deviled eggs and there's absolutely no shame in that game. But, if you want to use it a little more often, here are a few places to start.
Vegan Bacon Sauce
This might sound a little crazy, but this is the condiment you've been missing (yes, even if you're a real bacon eater). The smoky flavor makes a tasty spread for sandwiches, sauce for vegetables, or even a dip for fries.
Queso Fundido with Homemade Chorizo
This cheesy, melty, spicy goodness is perfect for game day, movie night, or a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Plan ahead so your homemade chorizo has time to allow all of the flavors to bloom and meld (or, in a pinch, swap in store-bought).
Smoky Kale Salad
This simple salad has the perfect balance of flavors. Slightly bitter kale is offset by smoky paprika, tangy vinegar, and sweet peaches or apples. It's a great quick weekday dinner or serve as a side with anything you're grilling.
Black Onyx Chocolate Truffles
Ok, we know this might sound like a stretch but stick with us. Chiles and chocolate are a fantastic flavor combo, right? And paprika comes from chiles. So, it's actually a natural pairing for use in chocolate desserts. You might want to avoid the smoked paprika, unless you're in to that sort of thing, but Hungarian Sweet & Spicy will give you a subtle kick.