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Mild paprika is the sweeter, gentler cousin of the hot chili pepper family. With fruity, slightly sweet notes and vivid red color, it brightens almost any dish without ever taking over the show. Use it in rubs and marinades, as a garnish for egg and fish dishes, or as a showstopper in chicken paprikash. When fresh, paprika should be a brilliant, toasty red with an aroma of ripe, red bell peppers. This sweet version carries only a hint of heat, though you can also try it in hot and smoked varieties. Regardless of which type is your favorite, you’ll find that no kitchen should be without it!
Q: If I don’t have paprika on hand, what makes a good substitute?
A: Most of the spices that would lend lively red color—chili powder, chipotle chili pepper or cayenne red pepper—are much hotter than paprika and will greatly alter the character of the dish. If you’d like the extra heat, use a light hand and go for it! If you’d simply like to add a bit of color, smoked paprika makes a mild yet flavorful substitute, with a sweet and smoky edge.