A Spanish spice, pimenton — or smoked paprika — ranges in heat from mild to hot. Milder versions offer an almost sweet quality, while hotter versions tend to be more bittersweet. Add smoked paprika to flavor classic Spanish dishes, such as paella, or stews and chili. It also adds umami — the meaty taste you get from soy sauce and mushrooms — to vegetarian dishes.
Smoked paprika is widely available in specialty stores and certain mainstream grocery stores, but you may not have any readily on hand to add to a recipe. Other chili-based spices and spice combinations can stand in for the smoked paprika, but none will fully replicate smoked paprika’s unique flavor.
Chipotle powder can replace smoked paprika in stews, chili and grilled meat preparations. The powder comes from smoked jalapeno peppers, so it does offer the woodsy, smoky elements of smoked paprika. But jalapenos are considerably hotter than the peppers used to make smoked paprika. For every teaspoon of smoked paprika called for, use just a third as much chipotle powder. If you taste the dish and want more heat, then add more chipotle powder in small increments.
Cumin and Chili Powder
Ground cumin offers the same woodsy back taste that you find with smoked paprika, but none of the heat. Create a spice mix by combining 2 parts standard chili powder and 1 part ground cumin. Then, use the mixture as a measure-for-measure replacement for smoked paprika.
Paprika and Cayenne
Cayenne is naturally slightly smoky, but significantly hotter than regular smoked paprika. Use Hungarian paprika measured as a 1-for-1 replacement for smoked paprika, but add to it just a tiny pinch of cayenne. Taste your dish and if you want more heat, add additional cayenne in small increments.
Alternative Powdered Chilis
Guajillo and ancho chili pepper powders are other possible substitutes for smoked paprika. Guajillo is smokier than ancho, but neither is as woodsy or rich in umami as smoked paprika. Guajillo powder is made from ground dried guajillo peppers, while ancho comes from dried poblanos. Both provide a bit more heat than smoked paprika, but less heat than cayenne or chipotle. You can substitute these pepper powders measure for measure for the smoked paprika.
References and ResourcesGourmet Sleuth: Smoked Hot Paprika
Gourmet Sleuth: Paprika
The Kitchn: What's the Difference? Paprika