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Sep 25, 2012 06:01 PM

Generic paprika - what is it?

When you buy generic "paprika" in the grocery store (e.g. McCormick) what kind of paprika is it generally? If I were to use a more specific higher quality product for TexMex style dishes? Thanks in advance.

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  1. What do you mean what kind of paprika is it ... Do you mean what kind of pepper (s) it's made from?

    13 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      From random browsing I have realized that there are several types of paprika - Hungarian, Spanish, etc. I guess my question is there a particular variety that is used in generic paprika and what are the different uses of each.

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        "Paprika" is not a variety in US terminology, but only a name for powdered, generally sweet or half-sweet, chile. In Europe, particular pepper varieties are used for paprika, so the product is more distinctive and consistent. I always use Hungarian paprika, which comes in mild and hot. "Hot" paprika is not particularly hot by the standards of chile generally. Paprika is more about flavor than hotness. If you have both Hungarian types, you can make any recipe calling for paprika, adjusting the pungency by blending. If you are specifically interested in Spanish dishes, you might want Spanish paprika for authenticity.

        1. re: GH1618

          If I am generally used to generic "paprika" (ie the label reads only "paprika") what is the best way to substitute the other varieties. Is it 1:1? For example, my taco seasoning includes 2 tsp paprika, could I just substitute 2 tsp of Spanish paprika? Also do you think it would make much difference?

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            American paprika tends to be bland, so if you have been making a recipe from that, converting to Hungarian sweet (the most common imported type) would require some adjustment, perhaps. But the whole point of switching would be to get better flavor, wouldn't it?

            I think ground New Mexico red chile is the right thing to use for tacos, not paprika.

            1. re: GH1618

              Yea, I would like to switch to try to enhance the flavor so maybe I will give Hungarian sweet paprika a try

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                If you want a little more pungency, add cayenne to taste.

                1. re: GH1618

                  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. re: heshok123

                    That's what I meant. If you only have the "sweet" paprika, you can add cayenne to it. Cayenne is not a substutute for hot Hungarian paprika.

              2. re: GH1618

                Most chili recipes have chile powder and paprika (a lot more chile powder)

                1. re: TroyTempest

                  In chili, paprika probably just brightens the color, so it is more red, and less brown or mahogany.

              3. re: fldhkybnva

                I just looked up some recipes for American taco seasoning. For example:

                "Ingredients: garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper."

                Assuming that is generic American paprika, the cayenne is used to punch it up to get a pungency closer to European paprika. The chili powder is some unspecified blend of some sort of powdered chile and cumin, and possibly garlic powder as well. This seems rather confused to me. I would just use ground New Mexico chile, cumin, garlic powder and fresh onion, and experiment to get a suitable blend.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Sweet (not hot) Spanish paprika (not smoked either) would be perfect substitute for 'generic paprika'. If you want to go fancy, look for 'Pimenton de Murcia'.

                  Here is a food service Spanish paprika
                  " The color of this product is deep red and it redder than Hungarian Paprika. It will also lend a sweet flavor, but its sweet flavor will not be as distinctive as that of Hungarian Paprika. Serving Suggestions Used often in Cajun and Mexican dishes. .... Use dry or in foods to add a red to orange color and a mild, sweet flavor. Commonly called the "garnishing spice"."

                  For something with a more distinctive Mexican quality, look for mild Mexican ground chiles, such as Ancho, Negro or Pasilla.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Thanks for the suggestion. Should I start with 1/2 smoked amount to the usual amount? The spice mix also includes ancho chili powder so that's covered.

          2. McCormick's website says that it is Capsicum annuum, but that's no help. Everything from bell peppers to cayenne is C. annuum.

            1. In The Whole Chile Pepper Book, there is no mention of paprika in the Tex-Mex section. Their recipe for chili con carne calls for dried red New Mexican chile, which is a type of Aneheim. New Mexican chile powder can probably be found in your local Super Mercado. In California, regular supermarkets carry it.

              1. Grocery store paprika doesn't taste like anything to me. It does, however, look festive sprinkled on deviled eggs.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Samalicious

                  Great point, now that I think about it when I sprinkle it on deviled eggs I don't particularly notice that it adds any additional flavor.

                  1. If I do stick to my old recipe (as it's become a favorite at taco night) and switch in less generic paprika, would you suggest regular or smoked? Thanks.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Paulj suggested non-smoked, and I agree.

                      1. re: GH1618

                        Thanks a bunch, I clearly overlooked the NOT smoked. Will try it out this Friday and see how it goes. Thanks for the tips.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          Mexican Chipotles are smoke dried jalapenos. They add a smoked flavor, but also a lot of heat. Spanish smoked paprika is good, but takes the flavor in different direction.

                          Beware, though, that 'taco seasoning' is an American interpretation of a Mexican some-thing-or-other. Even chili (the beef stew, without or with beans) is more Texan than Mexican.

                          In another thread the OP was complaining that the 'taco seasoning' from Trader Joes called for 2 lbs of ground meat, not the 1 she expected, and was way too hot. It turns out that the mix was from South Africa, and was fairly heavy in paprika and cayenne, with no starch thickener/filler.

                          1. re: paulj

                            Just a clarification - not sure that was my in that thread as I've never purchased Trader Joes taco seasoning. And, yes I am making typical "American" tacos