What Is a Good Substitute for Sweet Paprika? (8 Best Alternatives)

image of Sweet Paprika Substitute

Discovering your empty sweet paprika spice bottle when preparing one of your meals is frustrating! As you ponder what a good substitute for sweet paprika could be, we are sure one of our alternatives will accommodate your dish perfectly.

Certainly, you may miss the flavor sweet paprika brings to your meal. However, these replacements complement anything from a favorite family bolognese and roasted potatoes to a spicy curry.  

So, we understand why you love sweet paprika. Yet, these alternatives can shift your meal into a taste sensation.

Keep reading to learn more!

What Is a Good Substitute for Sweet Paprika?

We know that sweet paprika is a popular spice used in cuisine worldwide, and for a good reason. This mild sweet spice from the pepper family accommodates several pallets, including fussy eaters. In addition, it offers exceptional health benefits.

Smoked Paprika

The name speaks for itself. Sweet paprika is air-dried, and smoked paprika is “smoked.” By doing so, this spice offers a smokey meets woodsy flavor.

When you prepare for a BBQ, it is ideal for adding to your meat, fish, or chicken rub mix. For vegetarians and vegans, add a generous sprinkle to your favorite veggie rub mix when you BBQ eggplant steaks.

Be aware when you seek out smoked paprika in supermarkets. Some are regular smoked paprika, while others are hot smoked paprika. Sure, the added heat is delicious. Yet, it may not complement the recipe or dish you are making or those who do not like a chili touch.  

  • Terrific Tip:  sprinkle a little smoked paprika over bacon on both sides before frying. Fry until super crispy. The added smokiness complements the bacon perfectly.

Cayenne Pepper

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Cayenne Pepper is an excellent alternative to sweet paprika.  Certainly, it is incredibly spicy. Yet, it offers a slightly fruity meets sweet flavor.

In particular, substitute sweet paprika with cayenne pepper in curry recipes. Keep in mind cayenne pepper is not shy with its spice kick. So, use approximately a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper for every teaspoon of sweet paprika.

If you want to avoid the heat altogether. Do not use cayenne pepper in your recipe at all. We suggest using smoked paprika. Then, use cayenne pepper as a sprinkler condiment. This way, those who don’t take kindly to heat can still enjoy their meal, while those that fancy heat gets their fix.  

Learn more: What’s A Good Substitute For Cayenne Pepper?

Black Pepper Powder

Black pepper powder is slightly hot. Yet, it does not burn your palette. We recommend using half the amount when substituting for sweet paprika.  

This immune-boosting spice boasts a combination of 16 vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Maganese, to name a few.

If you do not have black pepper powder and there is white pepper powder in your drawer. You can use it too. However, white pepper is considerably hotter than black pepper. So use sparingly!  

Either way, black or white pepper is bound to be on your table as a condiment. So reach out and grab it for a quick sweet paprika alternative fix.

Good to know:  freshly cracked black peppercorns offer the same results if you do not have the power form.

Chipotle Chili Powder

Chipotle chili powder is made from smoked, dried jalapeno peppers. So, yes, you will experience a little heat in your dish.  

With this said, Jalapeno peppers are on the mild Scoville scvale.  Even those with a sensitive palette to heat may enjoy the dish if you use it in smaller quantities.  

This spice is similar when using cayenne pepper as a sweet paprika replacement. However, several people prefer the taste of jalapeno to cayenne. We recommend using half the amount as you would to sweet paprika to keep the heat level in check.

If you can get your hands on fresh jalapeno peppers. Cut them and remove the pith, including the seeds. Then finely slice them to add to your dish.  

Go with medium-sized jalapeno pepper. The beauty of this method is it adds flavor and a slight touch of manageable heat. Also, you can take the peppers out as you eat if you find them too hot.

Mara’s Pepper Flakes

Mara’s pepper flakes hail from the Middle East and offer a similar sweetness with a subtle chili back taste. Certainly, you may not find this spice in your local supermarkets. If you do, add it to your cart for future use.

As with smoked paprika, using Mara’s pepper flakes for meat, fish, chicken, and veggie rubs is an excellent idea. Furthermore, these flakes make a super sprinkle or garnish. Also, they add a crunchy texture.  

Again, we recommend substituting one teaspoon of sweet paprika with half a teaspoon of Mara’s pepper flakes. This amount is more than adequate to maintain the sweetness while adding a touch of heat.

Terrific Tip:  if you are a hummus fan, add half a teaspoon to your mixture in the blender. Alternatively, sprinkle your hummus with Mara’s pepper flakes. It adds color and flavor simultaneously. 

Hot Sauce

If you are a hot sauce fan, you will be pleased to know you can use it as a good substitute for sweet paprika.  Hot sauces have a smokey, sweet flavor with a touch of heat. In particular, it is the smokey sweetness we are after here.  

Most hot sauces have a vinegar base. Yet, it will complement several dishes. We suggest using a hot sauce in:

  • Marinades
  • Rubs
  • Stews, and 
  • Soups

As each hot sauce varies in heat, you must use your discretion when using it as a substitute. Begin by adding a few shakes. Then sample and add if needed. If you are cooking a dish, the same principle applies. You can always taste test as your meal is cooking and add if necessary.

Terrific Tip: Add a sprinkle of smoked paprika for the smokey taste fans. Undoubtedly, a smokey taste explosion.  

Tomato Juice

Suppose your recipe requires a liquid ingredient, tomato juice is the way to go. You can buy delicious tomato juice from your local supermarket if you need to cook on the go.  

For best results, we recommend you use sun-ripened tomatoes and puree them in a blender or with a stick blender. A super-ripe tomato is sweet!  Therefore, it gives your dish the sweetness you seek. Sure, the color may be less vibrant. Yet, the sweet flavor is there.

Adding a healthy pinch of black pepper powder, smoked paprika, or chipotle chili powder is an excellent idea if you fancy a little heat. Alternatively, add salt to taste to keep the heat at bay, and consider some freshly chopped green herbs that may complement your dish.

Terrific Tip:  if the tomatoes are not quite ripe, and you fancy making tomato puree. Add a little sugar to soften the “tart” taste. You can opt for other sweeteners if you prefer. However, from a taste perspective, sugar is best.  

Bell Peppers

Speaking of fresh sweet paprika alternatives, give bell peppers a try. Bell peppers are so nutritious; they have made the superfood list.  They are particularly high in Vitamin C.  

They come in various colors, from pale green to bright green, yellow to purple, and red.  

For the purposes of substituting sweet paprika, we recommend you go with the red ones. Firstly, they are red, keeping the gorgeous red color in check. Secondly, they are so deliciously sweet.

Prepare the bell peppers by removing the pith and seeds. Then, dice them. It is an excellent idea to fry them with onions and garlic before you add the other ingredients. This method brings out their delicious flavor.

Terrific Tip: prepare a few red bell peppers, and drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast them in the oven or the air-fryer. By doing so, the flavor is enhanced considerably. Furthermore, you can add these roasted beauties to your tomato puree. Certainly, your meal will burst with flavor. 


Final Thoughts

There you have it! Have you found a good substitute for sweet paprika? We hope you have one or more of our alternatives in your spice draw to try something new. Lastly, remember to add sweet paprika to your shopping list!

What Is a Good Substitute for Sweet Paprika?

Looking for a good substitute for sweet paprika that won't change the flavor of your dish?
Look no further!
Here's all you need to know about what a good sweet paprika substitute is and how to use it!
Prep Time15 minutes
Active Time15 minutes


  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Black Pepper Powder
  • Chipotle Chili Powder
  • Mara's Pepper Flakes
  • Hot Sauce
  • Tomato Juice
  • Bell Peppers


  • Learn what the best substitutes for sweet paprika are and how to use them effectively. Get your answers here!

Up Next: Top Paprika Substitutes (#7 YOU MIGHT HAVE NOW)

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