Paprika is a versatile and flavorful spice that can transform your cooking. Made from grinding dried peppers into a fine powder, paprika comes in sweet, smoked, and hot varieties.
Learn how to make your own paprika powder at home, from choosing the right peppers to drying, grinding, and storing this vibrant spice.
You'll discover just how easy it is to create customized paprika with an incredible depth of flavor to liven up all your favorite recipes.
Homemade Paprika Powder Recipe
- 2 cups sweet peppers (e.g. red bell peppers, paprika peppers)
- 1 cup hot peppers (e.g. jalapeño, Hungarian hot paprika peppers)
- 1⁄2 cup smoked peppers (e.g. smoked paprika peppers)
- Wash all peppers and pat dry. Remove stems, seeds, and membranes. Slice peppers into long thin strips or dice into small pieces.
- Arrange pepper slices/pieces in a single layer on dehydrator trays or baking sheets. Make sure there is space between pieces for air circulation.
- Dehydrate peppers using a food dehydrator at 130°F for 12-16 hours, or in the oven at the lowest temperature (170°F) with the door ajar for 6-12 hours. Rotate trays occasionally.
- Peppers are fully dried when brittle and cracked. There should be no moisture inside when sliced open.
- Transfer dried peppers to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind into a fine powder in small batches.
- Sift powder through a mesh strainer to remove any remaining chunks or pieces. Repeat grinding if needed to achieve a fine texture.
- Transfer the finished paprika powder to an airtight container like a glass jar. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
- Use homemade paprika powder to season eggs, potatoes, meats, stews, and more! Adjust the pepper ratios to customize the flavor profile.
Choosing Peppers for Paprika Powder
The first step in making paprika powder is selecting which peppers you'll use. This choice determines the flavor profile of your homemade paprika.
Sweet peppers like bell peppers make mild, subtly sweet paprika perfect for eggs, potatoes, chicken, and more. Go for bold red bell peppers or sweet paprika pepper varieties like Alma or Karlo.
Hot peppers add moderate heat for spicing up chili, marinades, stews, and rubs. Options include hot paprika cultivars or peppers like jalapeños.
Smoked peppers provide an extra dimension of deep, smoky flavor. Smoke peppers before dehydrating and grinding. Any variety works, or blend smoked and sweet peppers.
Grow your own peppers or source locally for the freshest flavor. For the most versatile paprika, use a mix of sweet and smoked peppers.
Drying Peppers for Paprika
Next, properly dry your peppers. Thoroughly drying concentrates flavors and prevents spoilage.
Use a dehydrator set to 130°F for 12-16 hours. Arrange slices in a single layer so air circulates freely. Rotate trays occasionally.
Oven-dry at the lowest temperature, 170°F, for 6-12 hours with the door ajar. Rotate pepper slices on the baking sheet every 30 minutes.
Sun-dry peppers outside in a single layer. This takes weeks but works in arid climates. Bring trays inside at night.
Check peppers are fully brittle and dry all the way through before grinding. Dried peppers keep for months stored in airtight containers.
Grinding Dried Peppers Into Paprika Powder
Once peppers are cracker-dry, you're ready to grind them into paprika. Be sure to grind in a well-ventilated area.
Use a dedicated coffee/spice grinder for the best fine, uniform texture. Grind peppers in small batches on the highest setting.
A mortar and pestle also work with elbow grease. Grind peppers in batches for 5-10 minutes each.
Sift powder through a fine mesh strainer to remove any chunks. Re-grind as needed for a smooth powder.
Store in an airtight glass jar in a cool, dark place. Label with the date. Use within 6 months for the best flavor.
Tips for the Best Homemade Paprika
Follow these tips for flavorful, vibrant homemade paprika powder:
- Use a mix of pepper varieties for a balanced flavor
- Dry thoroughly to avoid mold and musty flavors
- Grind peppers soon after drying for optimal freshness
- Work in small batches for consistent texture
- Store in an airtight container away from light and heat
With these simple steps, you'll be ready to add scratch-made artisanal paprika to all your homemade recipes!
Making Smoked Paprika
For an extra flavor dimension, try making smoked paprika. It adds deep, smoky notes perfect for seasoning grilled meats, roasted veggies, and more.
Use any paprika pepper variety. Smoke whole peppers for 3 hours at 150°F before dehydrating and grinding. Oak wood chips impart excellent flavor.
You can also smoke-dry peppers in a smoker for days or weeks to fully permeate them with smoke. Mix with some unsmoked peppers to balance the flavor.
What are the health benefits of paprika powder?
Paprika powder contains beneficial antioxidants like vitamin A and natural salicylic acid that can help boost your immune system and metabolism. Capsaicin in hot paprika varieties also has anti-inflammatory effects. Paprika may help lower cholesterol levels as well.
Can you use homemade paprika on meats?
Yes, homemade paprika is perfect for seasoning all kinds of meats. Try it on pork, beef, lamb, chicken, or fish. Use it in rubs, marinades, and stews, or sprinkle it on before cooking. Sweet paprika compliments meat well, or add some smoky paprika for robust flavor.
What is the best way to grind peppers into powder?
For the finest, most consistent paprika powder texture, use an electric coffee/spice grinder. Run the dried peppers in small batches on the highest setting until powdered. You can also grind them manually in a mortar and pestle or molcajete, but this takes more time and effort.
Can you freeze homemade paprika powder?
Yes, freezing is a great way to preserve your homemade paprika for longer storage. The cold environment prevents moisture buildup and oxidation over time. Simply transfer the powder to an airtight freezer container or freezer bag. It will keep for 1-2 years frozen.
Making your own paprika powder allows you to customize the flavor to your exact taste and needs. With the right peppers, drying method, and grinding technique, you can easily create this versatile spice at home.
Experiment with different pepper varieties and smoky flavors. Your homemade paprika will liven up eggs, chicken, stews, roasted veggies, and more with its vibrant color and concentrated flavor.