Classic Spices: Paprika

Classic Spices: Paprika
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Classic Spices: PaprikaMany people ignore paprika because they have either bought it when it's WAY past its prime and tasteless or are using it as a garnish instead of as a spice. Paprika is made up of one or more peppers, usually sweet, that have been dried and ground. It comes from many countries, though Hungarian is the most famous, and the growers there know how to grow, harvest and grind their paprika unlike anyone else.

If you want to try your hand at growing your own paprika peppers to grind, look for seeds or plants that are labeled as paprika peppers. Grow them by themselves to make sure they don't cross-pollinate with other peppers.

Allow them to turn red before picking and hang them to dry in a warm location out of the sun or use a dehydrator. They will turn brittle, and can be stored whole in the freezer and ground as you need them for the freshest paprika.

When using and buying paprika it's important to get hold of fresh, quality spice. After about 6 months it starts to lose color and flavor. It also should be stored in dark jars so it's not exposed to light and kept away from heat. Paprika's flavor is not released until it's heated. This gets a little tricky when seasoning a dish by taste. If you use the hot Hungarian paprika and add it, taste quickly, and add more, chances are you've over done it.

Follow the recipe as is and if it's not spicy enough add a touch more next time or at the very end of the cooking time. Paprika is also high in sugar content, which means it can burn easily, and will become bitter. We've all seen and perhaps even made, deviled eggs with a sprinkling of paprika on top. This is actually only a garnish for color. It does not add flavor.

How can we tell the differences in paprika? Color will tell you a little bit. The more red the spice the milder it is. The paprika with a yellow tone is actually the hot variety and is very spicy. Hungarian paprika is known for it's rich, strong flavor. Spanish paprika is sometimes more mild, and may be a bit "smokey". Paprika is also made in the US and other countries. The general descriptions are usually:

Semisweet: Fairly hot and spicy

Sweet: somewhat mild

Mild: fragrant and can be somewhat hot

Rose paprika: Slightly hot- a Hungarian specialty

Hot: Very hot

The color is usually red and the hot may be more of a sandy reddish color or yellowish, but brown is a sign of age and should be avoided. I carry paprika through Watkins here

Paprika Chicken Breasts


4 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless

4 teaspoons butter

4 teaspoons oil

2-3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons all purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup sour cream

Add the oil to a large heated skillet, once it is heated add the chopped onion and paprika and sauté until the onion softens. Careful not to scorch. Move the onion off to the side of the pan brown the chicken on both sides for about 3-4 minutes on each Add the chicken broth and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir the flour into the sour cream until it is well blended. Then add the mixture to the pan and stir until the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat and serve.

Baked Chicken Nuggets


Chicken thighs or breasts, boneless, skinless 1-1/2 pounds

1 cup crushed cornflakes

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Add the remaining ingredients to crushed cornflakes in a resealable plastic bag. Shake to mix. Add a few chicken pieces at a time to the bag and shake to coat. Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly grease a cooking sheet. Place chicken on the cooking sheet so they are not touching. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Serves 4.

Spicy Baked Fish Recipe


1 pound cod fillets, fresh or frozen

1/4 tbsp. Paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. black ground pepper

1/8 tsp. each oregano and thyme

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1-1/2 tbsp. melted butter

Thaw frozen fish according to package directions if frozen. Preheat oven to 350° F. Separate fish into four pieces. Place the fish in ungreased 13x9 inch baking pan. Combine paprika, garlic powder, pepper, oregano, and thyme in a small bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture and lemon juice evenly over fish. Drizzle the butter evenly over fish. Bake until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes with Paprika


6 red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch round slices, skin on

3/4 cup butter

1 small onion, chopped

3 tbsp. paprika

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice potatoes and place in cold bowl of water-set aside. Melt the butter in a skillet, add onion and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add paprika and salt, sautéing for about two minutes. Drain the potatoes well, and toss with paprika mixture in a baking pan or casserole, stirring to coat potatoes. Bake 25 minutes, uncovered, and serve.

Paprika Dumplings


1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons melted shortening

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon paprika

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add shortening and milk; blend lightly-don't overmix. Drop by spoonfuls into stew or soup. Sprinkle with paprika, cover and cook until done.

Paprika Pork Chops


4 pork chops

3 tbsp. oil

2 onions, peeled and sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp. paprika

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. caraway seeds

2 green or red peppers, seeded and sliced

1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped

Sour cream

Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the chops and brown quickly on both sides. Transfer to casserole dish. Add onions, garlic and paprika to the same skillet and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, caraway seeds. Season to taste. Bring to a boil. Add peppers and mushrooms, then pour over the pork in the casserole dish. Cover and bake for about 1 hour until the pork is tender. Serve with sour cream.


Image: courtesy of

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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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