Sweet & smoky paprika

This article was originally published in April 2016


Paprika peppers are the Old World descendants of New World chilies. After years of cultivation and climate adaptation, they can be as sweet and rounded as a bell pepper or oblong and oversized like a Poblano chile. Spain and Hungary have passionate attachments to this seasoning. These countries have developed flavor grading systems, and Spain evolved an oak wood smoking process that adds fragrant richness.



Grown primarily in Spain, Hungary and Israel, this is the most common type found sprinkled on dishes for color, but not flavor. However, good quality sweet paprika offers bright, fruity, mildly sweet bell pepper-like flavor that’s particularly useful when you want piquancy but no chile pepper heat added to savory soups, stews or Mexican dishes.

Pimenton de la vera

Both the sweet and hot varieties of these Spanish peppers have been smoked over oak fires for earthy, complex flavor and deep color, capable of adding excitement even to simple deviled eggs. The hot version has a delicate touch of subtle heat — not in the realm of New World powdered chiles.


Frontier and Simply Organic brands are Spanish and smoked over oak, while local Rub with Love is grown domestically and smoked over apple wood for a slightly sweeter, smokier flavor. Smoked paprika is a great addition to barbecue rubs, or sprinkled on steak right off the grill.


Recipes for all types of paprika

We’ve pulled together a collection of recipes that let paprika shine as the star of the show.

Related reading