What is Paprika Made Of?A member of the Capsicum annuum pepper species (along with cousins cayenne, bell, jalapeño, and more), paprika is made from grinding the pods of various kinds of dried peppers. The variety of pepper used and how it is processed affects its color and flavor, ranging from bright red to deep brown, and spanning sweet, hot, and smoked – and just about everywhere in between. [caption id="attachment_14590" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] (left to right) Culinary versatility: use paprika before and after food preparation[/caption] Originally cultivated in Central Mexico in the sixteenth century, paprika was brought to Spain and eventually around the world. Today, a paprika's identity is often defined by one of two countries at the forefront of paprika production, Spain and Hungary, where it is an iconic staple of both countries' culture and cuisine. In Hungary, paprika is considered the national spice and stars in its most beloved dishes, including goulash (beef and vegetable stew) and chicken paprikash (chicken slow-cooked in a paprika cream sauce). There are eight types of Hungarian paprika, all of which have some degree of rich, sweet red pepper flavor, but range in potency and heat. [caption id="attachment_14591" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] (left to right) Iconic Hungarian Paprika dishes: goulash and chicken paprikash[/caption] In Spain, paprika is known as pimentón. Spanish paprika is usually considered less intense than its Hungarian counterpart and is also sold in several varieties, including sweet, hot, and smoked. Smoked paprika is made from drying peppers over an open fire, which imparts a deeper, smoky flavor, and is famously used in making Spanish chorizo (sausage) and paella (rice cooked with saffron and regional ingredients). [caption id="attachment_14592" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] (left to right) Iconic Spanish Paprika dishes: paella and chorizo[/caption]
Paprika BenefitsPaprika is packed with nutrients and natural pepper compounds including vitamins A, B6, potassium, and beta-carotene.
Picking the Perfect Paprika TypeUse this information as a foundation, along with a few helpful tips.
- We believe the best learning is by trying and tasting. Try out different varieties to discover which paprika types work best for a particular dish or use... it likely won't be the same one every time!
- Adverse to spicy foods? Give Hot Paprika a chance! Even the hottest paprika is considerably more mild than an average chili pepper.
- When cooking with paprika, gently heating it in fat (oil, butter, lard, ghee) will most effectively bring out its flavor.