Paprika Vs Smoked Paprika

Paprika is a flavorful spice that is known for its punch when added to food and elevates the taste of savory dishes. It is typically made from a variety of different red peppers dried and ground up to a fine powder. Not only for its famous, mouthwatering flavor, paprika is also well known for its color profile as it adds an elegant and vibrant color to your cooking. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at paprika vs. smoked paprika and the difference between the two.

About Paprika


Types of paprika vary according to the types of peppers used and their processing. The production of paprika dates to the early 19th century. Peppers used in the production of paprika originated from North America and then grew in the wild in New Mexico, which then was greatly distributed and grown all around the world.

Increasingly, as food lovers develop a wide and open palate for food, more intense and distinct flavors are hunted by many. Smoked paprika is one such creation. Its broad and unique taste brings a decadent smoky flavor.

Regular Paprika

regular paprika

Paprika in its classic form is a ground spice made from a range of dried peppers that belongs to the Capsicum annuum family, such as bell peppers, tomato peppers, and sweet peppers. The level of spiciness, its flavor, and even the color depends on the types of peppers used, and the process of preparation.

Paprika is mostly used for its color. Its colors, ranging from orange to bright and deep red are derived from carotenoids, which is a natural, organic pigment produced by the peppers. So, you need not worry about the intense color that paprika adds to your food, it is a natural source of pigmentation and is not harmful to your body. There is no need for artificial coloring.

Paprika has a broad flavor profile that ranges from hot to fiery to mild and sweet. This makes paprika an ideal ingredient. Although paprika by itself can be classified into various types, based on its color, flavor, and levels of heat, classic or regular paprika is the most commonly used spice around the world. Regular paprika is used to season rice dishes, meat dishes, sauces, or even as a garnish.

Smoked Paprika

smoked paprika

Pimentón de la Vera, or the Spanish paprika, is a bold, versatile ingredient that adds an extra punch to food and brings it up a notch. The earthy and smoky flavor that smoked paprika adds to dishes makes this spice unique and a must-have spice in your kitchen spice cabinet.

Originating in Spain, and most used in Spanish cuisine, smoked paprika is now widely used in countries all around the world for its intense flavor. It’s one of the best spices you can have in your kitchen if you are a foodie who loves to cook modern dishes.

Smoked food is now an upcoming trend in the culinary world where a small smoke gun or a torch is used to burn wood or coal to create a smoky environment to allow the food to reveal a smoky taste afterward. Smoky paprika is prepared by a slow roasting process of peppers over an oak fire and grinding them into a fine powder. The amount of smoking and drying of the peppers determines how smokey the final product is.

Smoked paprika itself can be divided into three varieties based on the level of heat.

  • The sweetest of all smoked paprika types is Pimentón Dulce which has only a mild spiciness but has more of a sweet taste to it.
  • Pimentón Agridulce has a bittersweet taste with a mild to moderate spiciness.
  • Pimentón Picante is known to be the spiciest of all types of smoked paprika which adds direct heat to the food you use it for.

If you are looking for a smokey but mildly spicy or a fiery hot spice, smoked paprika is the right choice as you can select the type you want according to your spice tolerance.

Paprika vs Smoked Paprika

types of paprika

Even though both paprikas look alike, there are several factors that make these two types differ from one another. Let’s look at what makes them different and how you can identify them apart. 

1.   Flavor

The flavors of regular paprika and smoked paprika are quite different. As the name goes, smoked paprika has a unique flavor profile that of regular paprika. Smoked paprika adds an intense, smokey, and earthy flavor to your dishes. Regular paprika on the other hand has a hot or sweet taste.

Sweet paprika is ideal for light dishes such as devilled eggs, hummus, stews, and curries while smoked paprika works best for hearty dishes such as dry rubs for meat marinades and even seasoning for sauces.

2.   Method of Preparation

The main difference between the two types is that smoked paprika is made from peppers that are slowly roasted, dried, and powdered whereas regular paprika is just dried and ground to a powder. This is the reason why smoked paprika has a strong smokey flavor and regular paprika doesn’t.

3.   Color

Despite all the other differences, you can easily identify the two spices apart, just from their color. Regular paprika has a darker shade of red whereas smoked paprika is much brighter in color.  If you’re looking to add some color to your home-cooked meal, a little bit of smoked paprika would do the trick for you.

The Take-Away

Regular paprika and smoked paprika are both delicious and flavorsome spices that are widely used in cuisines around the world. Having a range of flavors from sweet to mildly spicy to fiery, paprika makes a versatile ingredient for cooking. Paprika is now becoming essential to enhance the flavor of your dishes.

Smoked paprika and regular paprika can look similar. This guide on regular paprika vs smoked paprika should clear any confusion about the two types for you and help you manage these two popular spices as you use them to complement your gourmet dishes.