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Four favorite ways to use smoked paprika

Four of my favorite recipes that use Spanish smoked paprika (The Perfect Pantry).

How does an ingredient earn its way onto The Perfect Pantry's permanent shelf space? One of two ways: It must be something I use in many recipes, or something indispensable to one treasured recipe I make over and over again. The premise of this blog always has been to encourage you to buy an ingredient called for in one recipe by promising to share more ways to use that ingredient. Have you tried smoked paprika yet?

Like cumin but a bit sweeter, smoked paprika (pimentón de la Vera) imparts a slightly husky flavor to any dish. Grown only in a small area of Southwest Spain along the La Vera River, and dried over hand-tended fires, it comes in three varieties: sweet (dulce), bittersweet (agridulce), and hot (picante). If you're going to buy only one, buy the sweet, as it's the most all-purpose. Once an "exotic" ingredient, it's now easy to find in most grocery stores. My original post about smoked paprika explains more about the history and how it's made.

Often I use smoked paprika to replace ham or sausage in vegetarian soups, and to make quick yogurt sauces for roasted vegetables, both simple ways to jazz up everyday dishes. Here are four favorite recipes that wouldn't be the same without a pinch of pimentón:

Vegetarian mushroom and asparagus paella.

Mushroom and asparagus paella, with olives and strips of roasted red pepper, makes an impressive vegetarian centerpiece to any dinner party. Build a Spanish-inspired meal around it, with tapas to start and a flan for dessert.

Roasted eggplant spread with garlic, pepper and onions (The Perfect Pantry).

A bit of smoked paprika plays up the slightly charred flavor of roasted vegetables in this roasted eggplant spread with garlic, pepper and onions. I serve it with pita crackers, or use it as a filling for sandwiches.

Blazing hot shrimp, or not quite that hot, to your taste! On The Perfect Pantry.

It's not the smoked paprika that makes this blazing hot shrimp blaze; it's the jalapeño pepper, and you can tame the inferno by using less jalapeño, without the seeds. Pimentón adds depth to the heat, and though the recipe doesn't call for more than a pinch, this cocktail-worthy appetizer wouldn't be the same without it.

Turkey mole chili gets its flavor from more smoke than heat. On The Perfect Pantry.

One of my all-time favorite chili recipes, turkey mole chili brings together the warm spice sisters, cumin and smoked paprika, with just a bit of chocolate in the mole sauce. Turkey chili can be bland, but you'll never say that about this great make-ahead-and-freeze dish.

Special thanks to my friend Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and Slow Cooker from Scratch (two blogs that inspire my cooking in so many ways), who suggested revisiting some pantry ingredients that might be languishing at the back of the spice rack, cupboard, or refrigerator door, and highlighting some of my favorite recipes here that use those ingredients. I loved the idea, and I hope you do, too.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Nice ideas! I like to use it in chili. But it's great in place of regular paprika in recipes like deviled eggs and Hungarian paprikash too. The one thing I've discovered is that it loses it's "oomph" quickly and turns very bland.

Although I've had sharp smoked paprika in my spice lineup for a few years, I've recently fallen in love with it. I've used it in the braising liquid for pot roast and as a seasoning for a pork loin roast. It adds just the right amount of warmth and enhances any spice rub. Can't wait to try it in chili!

Amy, I discovered that once I had smoked paprika on the pantry shelf, I was substituting it quite often for the Hungarian sweet paprika, too. I usually buy a few ounces at a time, and keep some in the freezer to length the shelf life.

Patricia, if you already love smoked paprika, I'm sure you will love the chili!

Smoked paprika is one of my favorite spices and it manages to make its way into many of my recipes. I want to try all of these!

Great post, and I love smoked paprika, so all these ideas appeal to me but especially the spicy turkey chili!

Cookin Canuck, same here. I love adding it to yogurt sauces to serve with roasted vegetables (or tossing the vegetables in it before I roast them).

Kalyn, thanks for the inspiration. That chili would make a great party dish to serve in your new house!

Pimenton and Aleppo pepper are probably my two favorite spices - alone or together!

I've tried smoked paprika on shrimp and on roasted mushrooms recently. I will try your Roasted Eggplant spread recipe and I'm sure it will be delicious.

Jean, I have Aleppo in my pantry at all times, too. Love it.

Can-Can, you'll love the eggplant spread. It's great as a sandwich filler on its own or with additional roasted or grilled vegetables, too.

YUM cumin is my total favorite spice , but this is not far behind!! I use it in my humble "american chop suey" dish ( a weird but yummy dish with a funny name that has nothing to do with chop suey - probably we all had it for school lunch at one point!)

Carol, not only do I remember American chop suey, but I recently made a "Rhode Island" version of it! Stay tuned for that recipe.

I only have Hungarian at the moment, but a "spend $3 get a free jar of Cinnamon" coupon just arrived with the new Penzey's catalog, so I think I'll pick up a jar and try it.
Anything else I should try? I picked up Sumac last time I had that coupon--no idea why--but I'm pretty sure if I search Alanna's Veggie Venture/Kitchen Parade the inspiration will appear.
I enjoyed this post!

Really like this post as I have been playing around with smoked paprika for the past year. Really enjoy the sweet smoked paprika but was curious if you had any recipes that use the hot or bittersweet smoked paprika. Could it be used in these recipes? Is it very different in flavor or just spicier?

Kirsten, I've shared recipes here for close to 100 spices, so you're sure to find recipes here for almost anything you can imagine!

Matt, you might start with the blazing hot shrimp (above). Or, use the search box in the right column to find even more recipes here that use smoked paprika. You can substitute bittersweet or hot paprika for sweet paprika in almost any recipe if you like your food hot. I often do that when I cook for myself, but on the blog I usually recommend people start with the sweet smoked paprika if they're not sure they'll like spicy food.

Fascinated that you use this as a "meat replacement" in vegetarian dishes!

TW, it's amazing how effectively smoked paprika can take the place of ham or sausage in many dishes (and without adding extra fat, either).

Yes! I adore it in sauteed greens (mustard, chard, kale, etc.)

Great description with the "slightly husky flavor," Lydia! So true and I just love it. I'm a cumin lover as well, but smoked paprika is a close contender for adding that depth of flavor and something that makes you go, "hmmm, this is nice!" :-) Kalyn gave you great advice, Lydia, because you're getting new readers all the time and your old readers need reminders. ;-)


Lynn, me too!

Shirley, I so often use smoked paprika in dishes that would otherwise have ham or bacon. And it's nice for me to revisit some recipes published ages ago, so I'm glad you enjoy it too.

Where to buy smoked paprika?

Karen, many supermarket spice sections carry smoked paprika, and you can also buy it at ethnic markets or online. Here's one source: http://www.amazon.com/Chiquilin-Smoked-Paprika-Tin-2-64oz/dp/B000NO943C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388114660&sr=8-1&keywords=smoked+paprika

I used smoky paprika in my tuna salad this evening and my husband commented on how much tastier the tuna salad tasted. Connie

Smoked paprika is great on roasted cauliflower, you kids may even eat it....

My husband and I make popcorn using organic popcorn, coconut oil and season it with Himalayan salt and smoked paprika. We love it.

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