Paprika is made from bonnet peppers, which are some of the hottest peppers around. They are irregularly shaped and grow to be yellow, orange or red. The seeds and white ribs in the center of the peppers are the hottest parts and are removed before the peppers are dried and ground into a powder to make paprika. If a spicier paprika is desired, some ribs and/or seeds may be added.

Smoked paprika has a deeper, more complex flavor. All paprikas are sensitive to heat and should be added to recipes near the end of preparation. Both regular and smoked paprika are available in grocery stores and spice providers, but, like most foods, the most flavorful paprika is the kind you make yourself. And in fact, smoked paprika is not difficult to make as long as you have a smoker.

Put on gloves and cut the peppers open. Remove the ribs and seeds.

Lay the peppers on the chicken wire or rack above the flames of an oak fire in a smoker.

Using the tongs, turn the peppers over once a day until they are dry. This will take several days--more than a week depending on the heat of the smoker and the size of the peppers. The smoker may be turned off (if electric) or the fire allowed to burn down at night.

Remove the dried peppers from the smoker and allow them to cool.

Store in an airtight container and grind when ready to use.


  • To shorten the process, smoke the peppers for one day only and complete the drying process in a dehydrator.