What Does Paprika Taste Like?

If you’ve got some paprika in the back of your spice cabinet there are lots of ways to use it. Paprika is a versatile spice that’s as at home as a garnish as it is a rub. It has many other uses than a sprinkle on top of a deviled egg.

Like other spices, the taste of paprika depends on the type used. Overall, paprika tends to taste sweet and peppery with some earthiness to it. Paprika also has the benefit of adding a nice dash of color to dishes it’s used in.

Paprika is made for a mixture of multiple kinds of peppers. Depending on the types of peppers used, the paprika can be sweet, hot, or something in between.

Common Types of Paprika

Unlike most spices, paprika comes in three forms, sweet, hot, and smoked. Each is a little different and should be used at different times. Let’s see when it’s best to use each one.

Sweet Paprika

As you may have guessed, sweet paprika doesn’t have much spiciness to it. It’s generally made from bell peppers and is slightly sweet with a hint of bitness as well as fruit. 

Sweet paprika is ordinarily used as a topping for deviled eggs as well as in salads, among other things.

Hot Paprika

Hot paprika is typically made from chilis and cayenne peppers. It has a much more spicy and fiery flavor than sweet paprika.

Smoked Paprika

Getting its name from peppers being smoked and dried over an oak fire, smoked paprika has a somewhat bitter undertone. Often the paprika will have a bit of a charcoal flavor along with its distinctive smoky taste.

This is great for soups and stews.

Other Types of Paprika

In addition to the common types of paprika, there are some others. While not as common, these types of paprika have a fairly distinctive flavor palate.

California Paprika

This paprika is somewhat sweet, but also has a nice powerful spice to it. It’s also a little bitter against some of the other types of paprika. Finally, it has a nice peppery aftertaste.

Sweet Smoked Spanish Paprika

Everything about this paprika is mild except for the smokiness. It has only a hint of spice, sweetness, and bitterness. Most of what you taste from this paprika is the smoke.

Hot Smoked Spanish Paprika

This is the spiciest paprika we’ve talked about. It does have a bit of sweetness, however, it has a lingering, powerful spicy aftertaste. Mixed with that is the permeating taste of smoke.

It makes a very unique, very palatable flavor.

Hungarian Paprika

Hungarian paprika is sweet and slightly fruity with only very mild spice. 

The Takeaway

Paprika is a spice that varies in flavor based on the peppers used to make it. However, it’s generally peppery, somewhat sweet, and earthy.

If you’re looking for a powerful kick to your paprika, try to seek out Hot Smoked Spanish Paprika. However, if you’re more interested in a mild flavor, grab sweet paprika or Hungarian Paprika.