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Sep 28, 2011 11:16 AM

Paprika, "smoked" "sweet", "Hungarian"???WTH

So even though I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a new cook, paprika used to be just paprika. What are the different types, when are they used - for what different effect?

So many questions, but I know someone here will help me. I've been cleaning out my spice drawer and have been looking for new and improved flavors to my palette.

The only thing I've used it for was decoration on my potato salad or adding it to my chili for color.

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  1. Do try smoked paprika. You can use it in everything from a spice rub for grilling to french fries to home fries to batter coatings to deviled eggs.
    It's a must-have-staple. Really, all types are, which include sweet, spicy (or sharp) and smoked.
    "Hungarian" paprika is rather generic a term, but certainly paprika is used in Hungarian cooking, but also in Spanish cooking etc. etc.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      I bought some of the smoked paprika and it was a little too reminiscent of the "Liquid Smoke" from my childhood. The other two I like the flavor of.

      1. re: escondido123

        ATK made 'pulled pork' by using a brine that included liquid smoke, and dry rub that included smoked paprika. But the secret with both forms of smoke (and real bbq as well) is not to over do it.


      This post pretty much wraps it all up for you.

      I have used different types on deviled eggs just to get a taste of the difference(made two of each flavor for side by side comparison), and its actually very detectable once you try them side by side.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ROCKLES

        I can't comment on Hungarian paprika, but in Spain we usually use a generic style of paprika similar to what most people around the world will have in their cupboards as well as the more artisan kinds. I guess it starts getting complicated when one starts looking for quality.
        For instance, Extremadura in the west is Spain is famous for oak smoked paprikas and different peppers and blends of peppers are used to make the sweet and smoky or bittersweet and smoky or hot and smoky kinds of pimenton. Murcia also has a high grade on non smoked paprika with its own distinctive taste made with the ñora pepper or 'bola'.
        The ñora pepper is used in many of the rice dishes that Murcia and Alicante is famous for. I guess the smoky versions are our homegrown answer to liquid smoke.

        If you get your hands on any decent paprika you can make a potato and leek soup taste Spanish by heating some olive oil, add some chopped garlic and just as it's about to turn golden stir in a heaped teaspoon of paprika and quickly (so that the paprika doesn't have a chance to burn) add the oil to the hot soup. Just remember to stand back!

        You can even get paprika flavoured Pringles in Europe.

        1. re: ROCKLES

          My dear Rockles, that link answered my paprika questions nicely as did the ops!

          I just though of something else I normally use it on too, deviled eggs!

        2. The categories that I work with are:

          paprika - mild, mainly provides color

          Hungarian - a must for Hungarian style stews, goulash, chicken parprikish. For these I use the paprika by the tablespoon, so it is worth seeking the best. For starters a sweet Hungarian one is best, since you can get good flavor and body in a goulash without it getting to hot.

          Spanish smoked - 'pimenton'. This usually comes in 3 heat levels ('sweet','bitter','hot'); adds a very distinctive smoked quality, which is especially noticeable when first added to the pot. Sweet/dulce is a good starting point.

          There are Spanish recipes that call the non-smoked paprika.

          In addition there various ground chiles, with various heat levels and color. Ancho, New Mexico, Guajillo, etc.

          1. One thought to keep in mind: Paprika is fundamentally a single ingredient product. Thus, the quality of that single ingredient (peppers) is of great importance. High quality Hungarian paprikas and Spanish pimentons are significantly more flavorful then the red powders produced by the typical American supermarket spice brands. I use hot and sweet varieties of each type in a variety of ways. Hot Hungarian, for example, is a fundamental element in my barbecue rubs. Paella requires pimenton and I like to use both the hot and sweet. Shrimp, quickly sauteed in hot pimenton, garlic, and olive oil is a fantastic, easy dish - just make sure you have some good crusty bread around so that you don't wind up slurping the sauce with a spoon.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MGZ

              "Paella requires pimenton and I like to use both the hot and sweet"
              Actually, this isn't true. Although pimenton is a popular addition to an authentic paella it isn't required.*
              And even when pimenton is used it is never, ever the hot variety, not in any genuine paella (and I'm not aware of it being used in any of the other Valencian rice dishes either)

              *my claim is backed up here:

              1. re: MoGa

                I make no pretense of tradition or authenticity, I merely offer some examples of my own uses of different paprikas.

            2. I'm pretty much in your shoes. I have started to address it by acquiring several types. I have of the following:
              Smoked paprika
              Hungarian Sweet paprika
              Spanish sweet paprika

              I still have to get Hungarian and Spanish hot paprika

              With the ones I have, I started by just putting a little on my finger and tasting it. They are completely different flavors.

              I suspect the generic smoked would be very good in a bbq rub. You could even combine it with smoked salt. If you were gonna cheat and do oven bbq, you could combine mustard and liquid smoke so the rub sticks better.

              The other two are quite different from each other but I'm not sure I have the ability to verbally differentiate them for you. I would recommend you get a small tin of several varieties and become a bit of an expert.