Why Every Kitchen Needs Smoked Paprika

April 23, 2015

smoked paprika

If you’ve ever tasted regular paprika, you know it doesn’t have much flavor. It’s used for coloring and mildly flavoring food, but even as a dried ground pepper, it doesn’t pack a punch.

Smoked paprika, aka Pimenton, is a different story. It comes from the same capsicum plant, however, it is dried by smoking with oak wood.  Except it’s more delicious and every pantry needs a jar.

Smoked paprika is an mysterious, fragrant, smoky and delightful spice that adds a depth to dishes ranging from meatballs, to spice rubs, to tomato sauces.  It comes in mild and hot flavors and I like using a mixture of both in my recipes.

It’s a simple way to elevate the flavor of a dish without a lot of effort.

If you live in a small town or city, you may not be able to find it at the grocery store.  Trader Joe’s sells it, but the quality is questionable.  You can buy it online – it will last a while.  Here’s the link to my favorite brand of smoked paprika. 

Here are few of my favorite smoked paprika recipes of all time:

Mark’s Bittman’s shrimp with smoked paprika (the recipe says hot, but that means hot smoked paprika).  This is a great example of a simple spice that can make an ingredient sing. http://markbittman.com/recipe/simplest-and-best-shrimp-dish/

These smoked paprika meatballs are *insanely good.*  I add an extra teaspoon of mild smoked paprika each in meatballs and in the tomato sauce.

For a vegetarian option, white beans + smoked paprika are a match made in heaven.

And finally, here’s my recipe for Smoked Paprika Rubbed Chicken.  The rub is 3 ingredients so it’s very easy to assemble, and the depth of flavor is incredible.

Easy Smoked Paprika Rub for Chicken


  • Rub:
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • Chicken:
  • 1 whole chicken, cut up (2 boneless skinless breasts, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Turn oven on to 400.
  2. Place a cookie sheet to heat up in oven.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, garlic powder and thyme.
  4. Rub 1 to 1.5 spice mixture on each piece, along with salt, and 1 tbsp. olive oil each. You can let this sit a few hours or overnight, or you can bake it right away.
  5. Place in oven and bake 12-15 minutes for the breasts, and 45 minutes for the thighs or drumsticks.
  6. When finished, remove the chicken to a plate and let the meat rests for a few minutes. (meat should always rest after it's cooked - it allows for the juices to be redistributed and the protein to relax and become more tender.
  7. This recipe serves about 4 people. You can scale it down to less chicken if you are cooking for one.

Do you have smoked paprika in your pantry?  What do you use it for?

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