Six Delicious Smoked Paprika Uses

Smoked paprika is made with the same chili peppers as sweet paprika, but they are smoked first. To make smoked paprika, the chili peppers are smoked for between 10 and 15 days over an oak fire. The smokiness and moderate spiciness, combined with other flavor nuances, make smoked paprika a versatile, savory spice with many applications. Let’s take a look at six delicious ways to use this spice.


Spanish people refer to smoked paprika as pimenton, and one of its most popular uses is in paella, the classic Spanish rice dish. Paella owes its red color and complex savory flavor mostly to smoked paprika, which gets added to the sofrito early in the cooking process.

No other spice or combination of spices can replicate the distinctive character and depth that smoked paprika gives to paella. Use hot or sweet smoked paprika — or a blend of both — to make paella.

Deviled eggs

You can use smoked paprika in any dish that calls for regular sweet paprika. Deviled eggs are a classic paprika-focused dish where regular sweet paprika is used for a mild flavor and a splash of color. Use smoked paprika to add a novel, savory twist. The smokiness of the spice pairs well with the fatty richness of the egg.

Patatas bravas

Like the chili peppers used to make smoked paprika, potatoes are another food item that arrived in Spain from the New World. The famous fried potato dish known as patatas bravas is traditionally flavored with sweet paprika, but you can replace it with the smoky version for an additional touch of flavor; the dish’s color comes from it as well. The blandness of the potato allows it to act as a sponge for smoked paprika and other spices.

Dry rubs

Paprika is one of the most popular ingredients in dry rubs for meats that are to be grilled or roasted. Smoked paprika provides an additional flavor element that will elevate a dish more than plain sweet paprika. It can enhance the smokiness from the grill or give oven-roasted meat extra flavor that it might not otherwise have.

Barbecue sauces

Unless you plan to smoke your sauce on the grill for hours, there are very few options for giving it a smoky flavor. Of course, you can take the easy route by adding liquid smoke to it, but liquid smoke only adds smokiness with no other notes — it does nothing for the color of your dish. Because it is a thin liquid, you may find that too much liquid smoke can make your barbecue sauce runny.

With smoked paprika, you can get smokiness along with paprika’s other flavors. It can give your sauce a mild spicy kick or enhance its sweetness. Because it is a fine powder, smoked paprika will not thin your sauce.

Fabada asturiana

Usually shortened to just fabada, fabada asturiana is a Spanish bean dish from Asturias. Typical ingredients include white beans, bacon, and chorizo. Smoked paprika is one of the main seasonings. Fabada is a classic Spanish dish, and smoked paprika a key part of its flavor profile.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on November 12, 2022 to include new content.
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