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Does Paprika add anything more than color?

I've tried Paprika in different dishes so many times, but have never been able to discern a difference in the same dishes when I left it out besides color...Could you please school me on what I'm missing?

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    1. re: todao

      Interesting. I've always wondered about the different shades/colors.

      1. re: todao

        Regarding the explanation on wisegeek, I'm looking for some expert comment here.

        In my readings Hungarian, or any other paprika for that matter, comes from a pepper that is anything but a Bell pepper. It resemble a Shepherd in shape and carries a lot of heat unless the ribs are removed. Raw they are very hot, but when diced and cooked add an intense pepper taste with no heat.

        If a paprika derives from Bells then for sure it can have little flavour. I've not found that to be the case with any available product,

        The spice came to us from the Turks and now I'm curious about what I'd find in a middle eastern shop.

      2. Spanish smoked paprika is (as one would expect from the name) smoked, and adds a delicious smokey flavor to dishes.

        Normal paprika is very mild in flavor though.

        8 Replies
        1. re: aravenel

          Jose Andres insists on calling the smoked paprika 'pimenton', so we don't confuse it for the bland coloring type.

          1. re: paulj

            That is SPANISH smoked paprika only.

              1. re: paulj

                Hungarian and mexican smoked paprika....;-)

                1. re: bigfellow

                  Agreed - the pimenton is simply the Spanish pronunciation of the item. They can and are the same thing.

                  And while paulj is joking somewhat, there are other paprikas from other area int he world.

                  1. re: bigfellow

                    Which chiles do they use for the Mexican version? I'm aware that jalapenos are smoke dried, but can't think of any other dried ones which have a significant smokiness.

                    1. re: paulj

                      Smoke dried jalapeƱos are chipotles. not paprika.

                      1. re: BobB

                        That's why I was wondering about the reference to Mexican smoke paprika. Mexican growers could grow and smoke dry a mild chile like they do in Spain, but as far as I know, they have not traditionally done so.

                        I've bought jarred piquillo peppers and white asparagus from Peru. Evidently someone there has gotten the idea that they could make some money by producing Spanish style products at a lower cost. The same could be done with smoked paprika.

                        Using the right wood for the smoke could be a problem. The most highly prized Spanish pimenton uses oak.

          2. I'm in the same camp with you on Paprika.....for me it's nothing more than food coloring. I know there are some excellent Spanish and Hungarian Seasonings, the former being more mild than the latter, however I do not cook enough dishes that warrant purchasing the more expensive versions. I know that does not sound like a very good Chowish attitude to have. If I were making a true Goulash recipe, I would definitely seek it out...but I think I made Goulash twice in the last 20 years. I use it mostly for baked chicken or an occasional rub for meat at most. Sometimes when making a dip for a holiday platter, I sprinkle some on top of the sour cream dips...

            Another reason why I have a less that stellar appreciation for the spice.....all the Greek diners in Northern New Jersey use it on everything they make .....always on top of the fish and in the home fries. Very unappetizing the way they do it...but especially when they make gravy......have you ever seen orange gravy? No? go to a Greek Diner.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fourunder

              If you can spare $3 or $4 you can see what all the fuss is about. Point is, it's not that expensive - certainly no more expensive than any other grocery store spice. There are always exceptions, and you can pay for the expensive mail order versions if you want, but my guess is that there is some smoked paprika in your regular grocery store. Look over by the gourmet salts.

              1. re: fourunder

                I remember ordering eggs and potatoes in a NJ coffee shop in Princeton for me and my young daughter, and the whole dish was covered in paprika in much the same way that you would sprinkle powdered sugar on a cake. My kid howled and wouldn't touch her food. I couldn't understand the point, as the paprika in use was nearly flavorless.

                Hungarian paprika comes in sweet and hot varieties, and in sufficient quantity can be tasted. I often use the sweet, or sometimes Spanish smoked, when I make oven fries. I toss potato wedges in EVOO, onion powder, paprika, and salt -- and I do think that either paprika adds flavor, the smoked more so.

              2. Hungarian Paprika is a LOT more than just color...it is sweet and complex (there is a hot version as well). I would never be without a can of real noble rose Hungarian paprika in my cabinet.

                And as far as gravy goes, there is nothing more delicious than Paprika Gravy in the Hungarian style.
                Awsome stuff.

                1 Reply
                1. re: The Professor

                  Is there a particular purveyor you can recommend other than the standard Szeged?

                2. Try hungarian paprika. There are different types and grades. I use smoked paprika often. It gives off a stronger flavour. But remember sometimes you just want to be subtle.

                  1. Here in Europe paprika is one of the most common flavors for potato chips. It's usually the mild/sweet kind and not hot or smoked, but the taste is quite pronounced.

                    Along the same lines (fried potatoes with paprika) get patatas bravas next time you go for tapas.

                    1. Real Hungarian paprika (and it's accented on the first syllable) is a truly wonderful thing -- bright, fruity, complex, with a sweet note even when it's hot. It loses its essence more quickly than most spices, however, so store it in the fridge and buy a new one at least twice a year.

                      1. I just threw out my paprika yesterday. I must have bought an old batch or maybe cheap, because it didn't taste like anything!

                        1. I make a terrific chicken paprikash... just two heaping tablespoons of good Hungarian paprika adds plenty of sweet smokiness.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: GSM

                            Note that even a good (mild)Hungarian paprika is used by the tablespoon to provide flavor. If just sprinkled it is mostly decoration.

                            1. re: paulj

                              Actually I have observed this many times... i.e.,...If Brad Pitt serves it, It surely adds more than color, so in my opinion.It depends on who serves it. Just a thought

                              1. re: paulj

                                To me it provides a more deep, rounded heat than some of the other peppers, so it is good in a mix of spices for that reason, perhaps it is the sweetness. As paulj noted because it is a mild spice, you do have to use larger quantities of it than you might expect - which is why real hungarian goulash is that wonderful reddish brown color (a color too many Americans think must be from tomato).

                                I keep my tin double bagged in the freezer, the flavor stays fresher longer that way.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  Good cholent is also made with 'tons' of paprika so that it is nice ruby red color. Most people forget this.

                            2. well, I absolutely have to have paprika on hand for my stroganoff, barbecue rub, my chili seasoning, some of my soups...and I couldn't put out my broccoli rice casserole without some paprika on top -- It doesn't look right, and doesn't taste right. I have some Spanish smoked and Hungarian hot.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: podunkboy

                                Care to share the broccoli casserole recipe please?

                              2. I use hungarian paprika (both mild and hot), as well as smoked paprika ( I love smoked paprika) and, yes, it absolutely adds flavor - lots of flavor. It's the main flavoring component of one of my favorite dishes I make, Chicken Paprika with dumplings. Awesome.

                                1. I use paprika all the time. It has a very distinct flavor. It also has a very short shelf life and loses its flavor very quickly in my experience.

                                  1. You are obviously not Hungarian!!!!

                                    1. I know where you're coming from. For years, any time a recipe called for paprika I added cayenne. More flavor and same color. A couple years ago at the behest of a Hungarian fend, I started experimenting with various paprikas. The flavors are subtle, but definitely there.

                                      1. Beware, I find that a dish with hot paprika in it will get hotter with standing.

                                        What is an acceptable level of hot Hungarian goodness on Monday night, can develop into Paprika Pompeii by Tuesday night!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. I put smoked paprika, sometimes with some hot pepper, in malt vinegar and let it age for a few weeks. Good on...almost everything.

                                          Jimmy Nardello sweet Italian frying peppers are my favorite pepper to grow for paprika. More complex and sweeter than the cultivars used for commercial production of paprika (which are used because they are thick walled and yield more solids per plant not so much because of the flavor).

                                          1. I use Paprika always when I BBQ Chicken and Steak and Pork it is the best flavor, mostly chicken in oven or BBq'd

                                            1. If you can't taste your paprika, it's probably too old (don't forget that spices age quickly), or it's the mild kind and is being overpowered by other flavours. But yes, it has a definite flavour! My Czech relatives are rolling in their graves at this question. :)

                                              1. As a table seasoning I couldn't be without it on cottage cheese or marinated cucumber salad. Any paprika is definitely there in taste.

                                                The best part of Hungarian cooking is the smell of paprika hitting onions going in lard. Any doubts of flavour-presence are removed.

                                                1. You have to buy spices like you'd buy fresh baguettes or produce. It's not something you buy in bulk to keep for a long time.

                                                  1. I use Spanish smoked paprika in SO many things. Potatoes, egg dishes, anything made from white beans, black bean soup, mushrooms, dips, cheese fondue, roasted chickpeas....love that stuff.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                      Same here. I think smoked paprika is the spice used up the quickest since I put it on virtually everything.

                                                    2. Paprika lovers or those who want to be, should check out Aleppo Pepper. It's a coarsely ground red pepper that's packed with a smokey flavor, a tad hot and has spicy undertones. It's better than paprika, IMO, and is absolutely indispensible as far as i'm concerned.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: arktos

                                                        I am so with you. Aleppo pepper is one of my favourite things. It is unlike anything else. Have you tried it on watermelon? Mmmmm.

                                                        1. re: arktos

                                                          Aleppo pepper has an altogether different flavor that is more assertive than the mild pungency one gets from paprika. It's better equivalent would be crushed red pepper or gochugaru than paprika.

                                                          1. re: JungMann

                                                            Agreed. Nothing at all like paprika.

                                                        2. I've never cared for the flavor of basic, sweet Hungarian paprika and always substitute the hot/sharp stuff when cooking with paprika.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            I think it depends on the dish. I would never use the hot variety in something like chicken paprikas...but that's just a personal preference.

                                                            I love using the Hungarian hot variety when making home made kolbasz, however.
                                                            Not bad in traditional gulyas soup either.

                                                          2. I am a spice nut so always have smoked pimenton and sweet Hungarian on hand (and use them frequently).

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                              Same here- I use both smoked and sweet. I keep them in the fridge so the flavor lasts.
                                                              For those who cannot taste it, here's a simple recipe I grew up with. My mother just called it Paprika Potatoes.. saute sliced onions and sliced potatoes in some butter or bacon fat ..After they start to brown, add a couple tablespoons of sweet paprika - Not smoked. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring and flipping the potatoes to spread the paprika evenly. It should be very red. That's it. If you still don't taste the paprika, throw out that old tin and get some new stuff. And get a good one. Not a jar from the dollar store.

                                                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                Potatoes are awesome that way but I do use the smoked.

                                                                The good stuff is so vastly superior to the insipid cheap stuff it's not even funny.

                                                            2. Penzeys to the rescue----


                                                              Paprika 3 types-Hungarian Paprika has the best flavor, California has the best color-use for meats and goulash

                                                              Paprika-Spanish - Naturally smoked over oak fires-A spice that's good on everything


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: FishTales

                                                                Good info...except for the Goulash...Hungarian Noble Rose is hands down and by far the best for that!

                                                              2. I keep both sweet and hot Hungarian paprika in my spice cabinet and make frequent use of both. In addition to color, the sweet version definitely imparts, well, a sweetness that is not obtrusive or cloying and complements many types of dishes. Hot paprika, on the other hand, adds a spiciness several orders lower than cayenne but with a similar flavor profile, which is perfect for many dishes I cook, those I generally cook for enjoying spice but not the burn that can come from a heavy hand with the cayenne. I think that the flavor of both types of paprika is more pronounced if the pepper is cooked in a little hot oil.

                                                                I use paprika in (obviously) Chicken Paprikash, but it also works well with most eggs, potatoes, pork chops and noodle-based dishes (usually egg noodles). Paprika is a key ingredient in many of the spice rubs I use for BBQ and blackening (and it is not generally overpowered by the other ingredients). I like paprika on hummus and in a variety of soups. Paprika generally also goes in any type of deviled eggs I make, and I almost always mix some in with egg salad, tuna salad and chicken salad. And, of course, we would not have that Hungarian delicacy, Goulash, without paprika, where the flavor of good paprika is really allowed to shine. I often use sweet and hot paprika in the same dish and find the flavors very complimentary to each other.

                                                                I have never bought or used Spanish paprika, but my friend who makes his own sausage, uses a good amount of Spanish paprika in his chorizo.

                                                                1. I am more than surprised that so many chowhounds, no doubt self-professed "foodies" cannot taste paprika.

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                                                                  1. Not much of a fan of bittersweet paprika (agridulce). Kind of tastes like burnt rubber. Anyone else get this impression?

                                                                    1. I think it's funny that I'm the OP of this thread since smoked paprika is now one of my favorite spices. I sprinkle a little of it in almost everything I make. I do have to say though, that I think it's the smokiness that I love, not the paprika flavor. I've still yet to discern a distinct flavor from plain paprika.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: soypower

                                                                        If you enjoy the smokiness of smoked paprika it would be worth it to search out the brands from Extemadura, Spain. They come in small tins and come in sweet, bittersweet, and hot. They are wonderful.

                                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                          second vote for Extemadura ,Spain PENZY'S has one on the sweet side

                                                                      2. You are referring to American paprika, which is essentially food coloring But...Hungarian paprika has taste, esp if used correctly. Here is my post from another entry:

                                                                        Technically, you should not use cayenne to replace paprika. Instead, you should use Hungarian HOT paprika. However, if you use "sweet Hungarian paprika," you can make the stew hot by adding cayenne. However, it may change the taste and it may make the stew sweet if the paprika is too old. Hungarian sweet paprika is not sweet, it is just used to designate it as not hot.

                                                                        Hungarian paprika is generally regarded as the best paprika in the world b/c of Hungary's climate and dark soil. It has much more taste than American paprika, which is basically food coloring. However, when using an American recipe for Hungarian food,, you need to to add two to three times more than the recipe calls for. Hungarians pour it in.

                                                                        1. I'm guessing there are millions of tins/jars of paprika sitting on kitchen counters AND millions of jars/tins of all types of herbs that haven't been opened in years. They all long ago lost any of the oils etc that would have made them useful in cooking. Throw the herbs in the garbage. Clean out the containers and refill them with fresh herbs.........then USE THEM! LOL

                                                                          1. I absolutely love paprika, particularly smoked paprika and find it definitely adds dimension to whatever dishes I use it in. I have also been able to buy fresh paprika peppers from my favourite greengrocer. I've not actually tried cooking with one yet as I'm not exactly sure what I'd do with it, but I'm often tempted. As others have said if you can't taste the paprika it's probably too old. Buy some fresh and start over. One of my favourite things to do with it is mix up a little smoked paprika with maldon salt and sprinkle over scrambled eggs. Delicious.

                                                                            1. there is also french paprika-
                                                                              paprika piment d'espelette
                                                                              california sweet paprika
                                                                              and hot paprikas


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