Life can get a little boring, and sometimes you want to spice things up a bit. Sprinkle on some paprika! Seriously, paprika is just the right spice to add to your food and enjoy its unique taste. Paprika is a spice made by grinding up different varieties of Capsicum annuum peppers, such as hot red chili peppers, sweet bell peppers, and other kinds in between.
Paprika finds a place of honor in a variety of cuisines, from Spain and Turkey to Morocco and India. Hungarians are believed to be the first people to use paprika for cooking, but now, it is available and consumed over the world. And why not? It takes the taste of your food up several notches with just a pinch.
Traditional paprika is not as spicy as crushed cayenne and jalapeño peppers, as using bell peppers makes the spice taste a bit more sweet and mellow. However, if you want your seasoning to be a little spicier, all you have to do is add some chili peppers to the mix and sit back and enjoy the fun!
Types of Paprika
There are numerous types of paprika available on the market. Some of them are:
This type combines hot and sweet varieties of pepper, and has a relatively neutral flavor that makes it perfect for adding that finishing touch to your dishes or a much-needed pop of color.
Also known as Hungarian sweet paprika, this spice tastes like a red bell pepper but without the heat. It has a hearty, fruity flavor with a stronger taste than conventional paprika, which makes it ideal to use for all kinds of dishes.
The spice is very similar to cayenne, though it is generally milder in terms of warmth. Hot paprika is made from dried chili peppers.
Spanish Smoked Paprika
In Spain, it’s called “pimentón de la Vera,” and is made from dried chilis that have been smoked over oak. The resulting flavor pairs well with slow-roasted meats and stews.
Paprika Nutrition Facts
Serving size 1 tablespoon (7 g)
|Calories||19.5 (81.6 kJ) (1% DV)|
|Protein||1.0 g (2% DV)|
|Total Carbohydrates||3.8 g (1% DV)|
|Dietary Fiber||2.5 g (10% DV)|
|Total Fat||0.9 g (1% DV)|
|Saturated Fat||0.1 g (1% DV)|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.1 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.6 g|
|Vitamin A||3560 IU (71% DV)|
|Vitamin C||4.8 mg (8% DV)|
|Vitamin E||2.0 mg (10% DV)|
|Vitamin K||5.4 mcg (7% DV)|
|Vitamin B6||0.3 mg (14% DV)|
|Riboflavin||0.1 mg (7% DV)|
|Niacin||1.0 mg (5% DV)|
|Folate||7.2 mcg (2% DV)|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.1 mg (1% DV)|
|Calcium||11.9 mg (1% DV)|
|Iron||1.6 mg (9% DV)|
|Magnesium||12.5 mg (3% DV)|
|Phosphorus||23.3 mg (2% DV)|
|Potassium||158 mg (5% DV)|
|Sodium||2.3 mg (0% DV)|
|Zinc||0.3 mg (2% DV)|
|Manganese||0.1 mg (3% DV)|
|Selenium||0.3 mcg (0% DV)|
Paprika contains numerous vitamins and minerals, and is especially high in vitamin A and iron. It has little fat, including saturated and unsaturated types, and also has low amounts of protein and carbohydrates.
Health benefits of Paprika
Good for Eye Health
The carotenoids zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin work as antioxidants that may help in preventing cellular damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin are thought to be important for preventing damage related to sunlight exposure, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
The body converts beta-cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene into retinol (vitamin A) once they’re ingested. This nutrient converts light into vision and also stimulates cell production in the deep layers of the skin.
Aids in Digestion
Paprika can trigger acid production in your stomach, and this helps your system break down and absorb the nutrients in food. It can also be used to treat indigestion. The only sore point is that consuming paprika in excess might interact with other medicines, so it would be a good idea to consult your doctor before eating paprika.
Good for Patients with Diabetes
Diabetic patients may benefit from paprika due to its capsaicin content, which has been shown to help individuals better metabolize sugar. Consequently, paprika has the potential to help balance blood sugar levels and treat diabetes.
The capsaicin in paprika may also positively affect women with gestational diabetes, reducing the chances of blood sugar spikes after eating, excess levels of blood insulin, and larger-than-normal babies at birth.
Promotes Healthy Blood Circulation
The potassium in paprika can widen the blood vessels, improving blood flow and circulation. This in turn can reduce the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis.
The vitamin B6 in paprika aids in the production of melatonin, the “sleep hormone,” which helps you in maintaining a regular sleep cycle. It also fights stress and keeps you in a happy mood by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in your body.
In addition to the heart healthy potassium, the vitamin B6 in paprika can shape up your cardiovascular system by helping to lower high blood pressure and heal damaged blood vessels. The iron content can also fight anemia by supporting the production of hemoglobin in your blood, which transports oxygen through your bloodstream.
According to a 2009 study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the capsanthin in paprika causes an increase in HDL or “good” cholesterol, which is essential for the smooth functioning of your cardiovascular system.
Is Paprika Spicy?
The variety and flavor of paprika depend mainly on the country or region the spice is produced in. Spain and Hungary are the two most well-known countries that produce paprika, and they produce several varieties of it.
The common varieties of paprika found in Spain are dulce (sweet), picante (spicy), agridulce (a combination of sweet and spicy to create a medium taste), and the much coveted smoked pimentón.
Hungarian paprika tends to be sweet and mild in taste and is tough to grow outside Hungary. Hungarian paprika comes in eight different varieties or grades:
Kulonleges – A brilliant red paprika with virtually no heat
Feledes – A perfect balance of sweet and spicy
Csiposmentes csemege – A pleasantly subtle-tasting paprika
Csemege – Mild but slightly more pungent than csiposmentes csemege
Csipos csemege – Subtle but hotter than Csemege
Rozsa – Leans more toward orange in color and has a mild taste
Edesnemes – A slightly spicy paprika that’s the most popular of all the Hungarian varieties
Eros – Has a brownish tone to its bright-red color and is the hottest of all Hungarian paprikas
Whether paprika will be sweet or hot depends on the amount of capsaicin it contains. There is no capsaicin in the sweet or mild paprika, while the spicy ones have a lot of it. How much capsaicin should be present in the paprika is usually decided at the time of their production.
How to Use Paprika
The Better Batter
Make sure that you add some paprika along with the salt and black pepper when making your batter for deep-fried chicken. The dark red flakes of the paprika will make the batter colorful and exciting.
Riot of Color
The visual appeal of your dish can be improved by using paprika, as it gives it an eye-catching color and really enhances the presentation. You can use it to garnish macaroni and cheese, creamy soups, or roasted chicken. Try adding a bit of paprika to your eggs and potato salads and see how it dazzles your company. The flavor of your dish won’t be diminished, but it looks great to everyone.
Enjoy the Flavor
You can go right ahead and add paprika to any savory dish you want to prepare, whether it’s poultry, meat, fish, stews and soups, or vegetables.Take care to add the paprika toward the end of the cooking. Otherwise, the heat will reduce the flavor and color of your dish.
Food Recipes with Paprika
Hungarian Chicken with Pimentón de la Vera
1 sliced yellow bell pepper (core and seeds removed)
1 sliced red bell pepper (core and seeds removed)
1 sliced onion
28 ounces whole plum tomatoes (drained and coarsely chopped, with 1/2 cup juice reserved)
1 cup chicken broth
1 minced clove garlic
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika or 1 1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 (3 lb.) chicken (quartered and skinned)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound tagliatelle pasta
1/3 cup sour cream
- Put the peppers, onion, tomatoes, juice, half cup of chicken broth, garlic, and paprika in a slow cooker.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a large pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Add to the pan and brown all sides, for about eight minutes. Transfer contents to the slow cooker. Pour the remaining half cup of broth in the pan.
- Pour the liquid, including any browned bits, into the slow cooker and cook on the high setting for about six hours.
- Remove the chicken and let it cool. Pull the meat from the bones and place in the slow cooker. Throw out the bones. Stir in sour cream.
- Cook pasta as usual. Toss with the remaining two teaspoons of oil. Serve the chicken over pasta.
Roasted Potatoes with Paprika
3 lb. starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into halves or quarters
100 ml olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika
- Heat the oven to 360 to 390 degrees F. Add the potatoes to a pot of salted cold water and boil. Then let it simmer for five minutes until it becomes tender.
- Drain the water and steam dry the potatoes for a few minutes in a colander.
- Transfer the potatoes to a saucepan. Add the oil, paprika, and lots of salt and pepper. Shake the pan to rough up the potatoes’ edges and fully coat them in the oil and paprika.
- Put the potatoes in a large roasting tin and keep them evenly spaced apart. Scrape in all the fluffy potato bits and pieces.
- Roast the potatoes for about 75 minutes and keep turning them until they become fluffy and crisp.
The Final Word on Paprika
Paprika is a spice that’s made by grounding different varieties of Capsicum annuum peppers into a powder. It was initially produced in Hungary, but today you can find the red spice in cuisines from around the world. Although the bell peppers and chilis used for paprika come in different colors, most people use red-colored paprika for cooking.
These days, you’ll find multiple kinds of paprika on grocery store shelves, including conventional paprika, sweet paprika, hot paprika, and Spanish smoked paprika. How sweet or hot the paprika is will depend on the amount of capsaicin in it, and this is the active ingredient that is also responsible for many of its therapeutic effects.
Paprika has many potential health benefits, such as helping in digestion, being good for eye health, helping patients with diabetes control, promoting healthy blood circulation, improving circulation, and boosting heart health.
You can make your family and friends’ mouths water by using paprika in dishes such as Hungarian chicken with pimentón de la Vera and roasted potatoes with paprika. The right paprika will enhance the taste of your dish and offer an array of benefits for your health!
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