One of the most versatile spices is powdered peppers. Some of these include cayenne powder, smoked chipotle powder, ancho chili powder, and chili powder (*See Cooks Notes), among others, at which all add a distinct essence to the recipe they are used in.
Of all the crushed dried peppers available for cooking, few are more all-inclusive than paprika.
The seasoning is used to add flavor and color to many types of dishes in diverse cuisines.
There are many types of peppers that can be used to make paprika. The type of pepper that is used will determine the flavor and the heat of paprika.
Paprika and chili powder look nearly identical, but they are not.
Chili powder is a mix of ground spices that includes ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder and salt.
Paprika is its own unique spice.
Though peppers are native to South and Central America, the chilis used to produce paprika are mostly grown in Hungry, Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands.
The two main types of the spice, which are Hungarian, with a bright or rust red color and pronounced fruitiness. And the other is Spanish, known as pimento. It is darker in color and sweeter.
The Difference Between Regular And Smoked Paprika
Paprika is one of Spain’s most prominent spices, as well as is in Mexico, Hungary, North Africa, the Middle East and including the Balkans.
As already noted above, Spanish and Hungarian paprika are two of the most common varieties of the spice, with the latter better known in the U.S.
The preparation techniques differ greatly between Hungary and Spain.
The two preparations may seeming look the same, but because of the climate of each country and its production, results in two distinct versions of the same seasoning.
Paprika can range from sweet to mild to hot and fiery.
Therefore, to make the most of their flavor when using Hungarian or Spanish paprika in cooking, it would be worth knowing how they differ.
Hungarian paprika is known for being sweet, which is a result of Hungary’s cool climate.
A cool climate allows the peppers to retain their natural sugars, and therefore resulting in a sweeter-tasting paprika. Hungarian-style paprika is not typically smoked, though it can be found smoked.
When buying Hungarian paprika in stores, the two labels you’ll likely see are “sweet” and “hot.”
Though there are several subvarieties that differ in flavor and spiciness:
- Special or Különleges: bright red and no heat
- Félédes: half sweet half spicy
- Csípősmentes csemege: mild and delicate
- Rózsa: or rose paprika, is mild, with a more orange hue to its redness.
- Edesnemes: the most commonly exported Hungarian paprika, it’s a bit spicy.
- Erős: the most pungent or hottest of the Hungarian paprikas. Has a more brown tone.
On the other hand, paprika produced in Spain is smoked and adds a spicy kick when added to a recipe.
The peppers are slowly smoke in a specially designed wood-and-brick smokehouse for 10 to 15 days.
A small oak-wood fire constantly simmers below the floorboards, gently drying the peppers and giving them their famous smoky flavor.
In the 15th century Christopher Columbus brought peppers to Spain from his travels to the Caribbean. Spanish monks started drying and grinding the fruits.
La Vera valley in Extremadura at the feet of the Sierra de Gredos, Spain
One of the worlds best smoked paprika is still produced in La Vera valley in Extremadura.
Spain produces smoked paprika ranging from sweet, to bitter, to spicy.
When To Use Regular And Smoked Paprika In Cooking
Smoked paprika adds a smoky flavor to dishes without actually smoking them. Such as with these dishes:
Most Barbecue sauces contain smoked paprika. Like this Homemade Honey Barbecue Sauce.
Mexican chorizo, uses both sweet and smoked paprika, among other chili spices. Read more here: Cooking With Mexican-Style Chorizo.
You can even make a smoky flavored chocolate dessert, with this Gluten-Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.
If your making a dish that doesn’t require a smoky flavor, than use regular Hungarian paprika. Just remember that with regular paprika there are different levels of spiciness.
This Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup uses a spice called ‘Ras El Hanout,’ which employees hot Hungarian paprika.
Chicken and sweet to mild paprika are considered an especially winning combination in many culinary dishes around the world.
Paprika, smoked or not is also used in meat rubs, like the rub used in this Oven Roasted St. Louis Style Pork Ribs.
Read More Here About Cooking With Spices
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