What is hot paprika and how to use it?

Hot paprika
Hot paprika is a bright red fine powder with a peppery, tangy flavor. It is a staple in Hungarian and Spanish cuisines in savory dishes like chicken paprikash, goulash, and Spanish paella.

What is hot paprika?

Hot paprika spice
Hot paprika spice

Hot paprika is a dry, bright red spice made from dried, hot red peppers ground into a fine powder.

These Capsicum annuum hot peppers make the hot paprika spice:

  • Aleppo peppers: 10,000-23,000 SHUs
  • Cayenne peppers: 30,000-50,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs)
  • Jalapeno peppers: 2,500-8,000 SHUs
  • Poblano peppers: 2,500-3,000 SHUs
  • Thai chili peppers: Range from mild to very hot – up to 100, 000 SHUs

Also called Hungarian paprika, hot Hungarian paprika, or Hungarian hot paprika, the spice is regarded as the most superior of all the varieties of paprika, such as the Spanish paprika (smoked paprika) and sweet paprika (Hungarian sweet paprika).

For comparison, Spanish paprika or smoked pimenton has a smoky flavor when smoked over an oak fire. Sweet Hungarian paprika has a mild, sweet, fruity flavor with faint notes of bitterness and tartness.

OriginOriginates from Central Mexico and found its way to Spain, Hungary, and other countries
AppearanceA fine-textured powder with a bright red color
Flavor profileHas a peppery, tangy flavor, heat level varies


Paprika originates from Central Mexico and found its way to Spain, Hungary, and other parts of the world.

See Also:  9 spicy Mulato chile recipes & chile comparison table

Hot paprika, as we know it originates from Hungary, where paprika is the national spice for staple dishes like Hungarian goulash and chicken paprikash.

Besides Hungarian cuisine, hot paprika is a common ingredient in Spanish cuisine and is gaining ground in the US.


Hot paprika is a fine-textured powder with a bright red color.

Flavor profile

Hot paprika has a peppery, tangy flavor. Its heat level varies depending on the spiciness of its constituent hot peppers.

Nutritional Benefits of hot paprika

Like other capsicum-based spices, hot paprika contains capsaicin. This compound has antioxidant effects that can improve immunity and possibly lower the risk of developing cancer or heart disease.

Hot paprika is also an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C, and E.

Vitamin A helps protect your vision, enhances your immunity, promotes thyroid function, and improves skin health. The vitamin also helps develop healthy organs in fetuses.

The vitamin B6 in hot paprika can help maintain the natural color of your hair. Vitamin B6 helps the body produce melanin, which colors your hair.

Hot paprika could help with digestion. It helps increase stomach acids and saliva that help break down food into energy.

Hot paprika has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the swelling related to acne, arthritis, and joint pain.

The phosphorus in hot paprika helps strengthen your bones in rigidity and shape. It helps prevent bone complications like arthritis and osteoporosis.

Phosphorus also helps reinforce jawbones and gums since it controls calcium absorption.

What is the most common use for hot paprika?

Hot paprika is the national spice of Hungary, where it is traditionally used to flavor Hungarian dishes like chicken paprikash and goulash.

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The spice adds flavor to BBQ sauces, stews, soups, hot currieschili powders, and seafood. It works well as a garnish on deviled eggs and fish dishes.

How to cook with hot paprika?

Cooking with hot paprika can be tricky. The spice burns easily, which makes it bitter.

Add hot paprika close to the end of cooking to cook over low heat for only two minutes at most as its color and flavor diminish with cooking.

Is hot paprika the same as Cayenne?

Hot paprikaOriginates from Central Mexico, bright red powder, has a tangy pepper flavor, and lower heat levels
CayenneComes from dried and ground peppers from the French Guiana in South America, bright red but isn’t as fine textured as hot paprika, used to add heat and texture

Hot paprika differs from Cayenne, even though the latter is usually a constituent of hot paprika. 

Cayenne powder comes from dried and ground peppers from the French Guiana in South America. You can also grind chile peppers into coarse red pepper flakes.

Cayenne powder is also bright red but isn’t as fine textured as hot paprika. It’s used to add heat and texture to spicy dishes.

Unlike hot paprika with its tangy pepper flavor, Cayenne pepper powder has a neutral peppery flavor that works well in dishes requiring heat without changing the taste.

Cayenne powder is spicier than hot paprika. Cayenne peppers score 30,000-50,000 SHUs on the Scoville Scale. On the other hand, hot paprika usually has lower heat levels because the less spicy peppers cancel out the spicier ones.

See Also:  hot spices: comparison & dishes (with table)

Where to buy hot paprika?

You can buy hot paprika powder from local grocery stores or online sources like Amazon, Instacart, and other web-based spice sellers. 

The key to buying the best is to ensure it is labeled as hot paprika and not just paprika, the generic version used as a culinary color enhancer.

You will also want to buy hot paprika made with hot peppers only if you want maximum heat.

Can you make hot paprika at home?

You can make hot paprika at home. Here’s how:

  • Buy various hot peppers like Cayenne, Aleppo, Thai chilis, and jalapenos. (These should be fully ripened to a bright red color.)
  • Wash the peppers, then dry them in the sun for at least one month. Alternatively, dry them in a food dehydrator at 125°F for 6-8 hours or in an oven at 150°F for 1-3 hours.
  • Remove the caps and stems. Leave the seeds in for maximum heat.
  • Grind the peppers into a fine powder using a coffee grinder, bullet blender, or spice grinder.
  • Sift the powder through a fine mesh strainer to separate the large bits. Reprocess these bits in the blender or grinder.
  • Store the fine powder in airtight glass containers. Add 2-3 beans inside the container to keep the powder from clamping.
  • Use your homemade hot paprika within a year for the best flavor and nutrients.

Alex Maina

Since discovering how well spices transform a dish from bland to enjoyable in seconds, Alex became sold on using spices to better three of his major passions—gardening, cooking, and writing. When he is not tending to his spice crops, you'll find him trying a new recipe, writing for the Spice Gourmand, or serving a second helping of his spicy food!

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