Before we find out about the paprika substitute, it is important to learn what paprika is and how it is made. With its bright red color, paprika is a ground spice prepared from a mixture of dried peppers and various capsicum family members, such as chili peppers, poblano peppers, sweet peppers, cayenne peppers, Aleppo peppers, and many more.

Paprika has various colors, flavors, and heat levels depending on the pepper used to make the spice. In contrast, the color of paprika may vary from bright orange to dark blood red, and the flavor can range from sweet and sour to hot and bitter. Nevertheless, this ground spice is commonly used in numerous savory recipes.

Types of Paprika Used in Cuisines

Firstly you need to know the most common paprika types available in order to choose the most accurate paprika substitute without changing the flavor, appearance, or taste of your dish. The three most common paprika are sweet, hot, and smoked paprika.

The Ultimate Paprika Substitute List

Do not panic if you have guests over and you run out of paprika at the last minute. This paprika substitute list has got you covered for any such disaster.

Smoked Paprika Sustitute

Add some tangy, and smoky flavor to your recipes with these spices;
Spice Name DescriptionWays to Substitute
Cajun Spice Cajun is a blend of white and black pepper, garlic powder, thyme, onion powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and some combination of smoked paprika. You can differentiate Cajun from Paprika, thanks to its orange shade. It will not change the color of your dish to deep red. For one teaspoon of paprika, add one teaspoon of Cajun spice.
Cumin Powder mixed with Cayenne Chili Powder and Paprika If your marinade or taco seasoning demands smoked paprika, you can add a mix that is similar to paprika. Combine some cumin, sweet paprika, and cayenne chili powder to create your spice mix and a similar taste. To increase the heat levels in your food, combine cumin, cayenne chili powder, and regular paprika.
Chipotle Powder If your recipe calls for an even hotter spice level, then try the Tex-Mex Chipotle for a perfect paprika substitute.
Made from dried jalapenos, Chipotle powder has a smoky flavor, but it also has an earthier heat level than smoked paprika. Its smoky and higher-than-usual heat makes it the perfect substitute for barbecue sauces, grilling rubs, and beef chilis.
The difference here is that chipotle powder is much darker than paprika powder, the brightness that even the Hungarian paprika can’t offer.
Due to the intense heat level, start by adding ¼ teaspoon of chipotle powder for every teaspoon of paprika. You can later adjust it to your taste. But if you’re confident enough and love the extra kick, then replace 1 teaspoon of paprika with an equal teaspoon of chipotle.

Hot Paprika Substitute

Here are two well-known hot paprika substitutes that I trust.
Spice Name DescriptionWays to Substitute
Hot SauceIf you prioritize taste over the color of your dish, hot sauce can be considered an ultimate paprika substitute. Sauces like chili sauce, pepper sauce, hot sauce, or any other sauce prepared with chili, vinegar, water, and olive oil is an ideal replacement in a recipe where taste is a preference over color. Replace one teaspoon of paprika with one teaspoon of hot sauce.
Cayenne Pepper Powder Cayenne pepper is an ideal substitute for paprika pepper due to its similarity in both appearance and color. Sometimes, however, both Cayenne and paprika are confused with each other.
It is important to note that Cayenne is much spicier and paprika, on the other hand, is on the milder side. The best way to use it is to start with a minimum amount of Cayenne and adjust to a higher level as per your taste buds. 
Due to its increased spiciness level, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper equals 2 teaspoons of paprika. So be careful when using cayenne pepper as a paprika substitute.

Concluding Words

Luckily, many spices can be treated as a substitute for paprika without meddling with the taste or color too much. But, if you’re cooking a traditional meal that calls for paprika, I strongly suggest using a paprika spice that enhances the taste, flavor, and color. It can get a bit difficult with so many substitutes available, but the right guide will only take your dish to the next spice level.