Pimento powder, also known as paprika, is a mildly spicy and vibrantly colored seasoning made from ground pimento peppers.
Its sweet, smoky flavor and bright red hue make it a versatile ingredient in many dishes.
20 Flavorful Pimento Powder Substitutes
If you can't find pimento powder for a recipe, don't stress! Here are 20 flavorful options that make excellent pimento powder substitutes:
1. Ancho Chili Powder
Ancho chili powder has a mild, sweet flavor with just a hint of heat. Its flavor profile is quite similar to pimento powder. Use a 1:1 ratio for substituting.
2. Smoked Paprika
Smoked paprika provides a very close match to pimento powder's sweet smokiness. Replace pimento powder with an equal amount of smoked Spanish paprika.
3. Chili Powder
4. Cayenne Pepper
5. Pepper Blend
Make your own pepper blend! Combine mild peppers like ancho, New Mexico, and Aleppo with a touch of cayenne pepper. Adjust amounts to suit your tastes.
6. Sweet Paprika
Sweet paprika has a flavor similar to pimento powder without the smokiness. Replace measure for measure in recipes.
Ground allspice isn't too spicy on its own but has hints of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Use 3/4 teaspoon for every 1 teaspoon pimento powder.
8. Pumpkin Pie Spice
The blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice in pumpkin pie spice makes it a solid stand-in for pimento powder in both sweet and savory dishes.
Cinnamon packs warmth and sweetness without much heat. Combine with a pinch of cayenne or black pepper for more "bite." Use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon per 1 teaspoon pimento powder.
10. Ground Aleppo Pepper
Aleppo pepper has mild, fruity notes. For 1 teaspoon pimento powder, use 3/4 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper.
11. Ground New Mexico Chili
New Mexico chilies offer mild heat and nice color. Replace pimento powder 1:1.
12. Ground Guajillo Pepper
Guajillo chile pepper has a sweet and tangy flavor profile similar to pimento powder. Use a 1:1 ratio.
13. Harissa Powder
Harissa powder contains chilies, garlic, coriander and caraway. It's not an exact match, but can provide medium heat and complexity. Use about 1/2 teaspoon per 1 teaspoon pimento powder.
14. Garam Masala
This aromatic Indian blend contains spices like cinnamon, cumin, and black pepper. Use 3/4 teaspoon garam masala for every 1 teaspoon pimento powder.
15. Jerk Seasoning
Jerk seasoning mixes contain warm allspice flavors that work nicely instead of pimento powder. Use a bit less jerk seasoning than the pimento powder amount.
16. Taco Seasoning
17. Vietnamese Cinnamon
Compared to standard cinnamon, Vietnamese cinnamon offers a more "spicy" flavor. Use 1/2 teaspoon for every 1 teaspoon pimento powder.
18. Chinese Five Spice Powder
Chinese five spice powder contains cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. The blend of spices can work nicely instead of mild pimento powder.
19. Cardamom Powder
Though different than pimento powder, ground cardamom has a warm, citrusy flavor that can work nicely in some applications. Use a ratio of 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder per 1 teaspoon pimento powder.
20. Ground Sumac
Sumac is a tangy, lemon-flavored spice. It won't mimic the exact taste of pimento powder, but can lend nice brightness. Use 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon for every 1 teaspoon of pimento powder.
When using any of these substitutes, start with less than the measured amount of pimento powder at first. You can always add more if needed. Combining a couple substitutes together can also help approximate the exact flavor profile of pimento powder.
Key Takeaway: Vibrant ancho chili powder, smoky sweet paprika, warming cinnamon, and other flavorful spices like garam masala make great substitutes for mild, sweet pimento powder.
What is Pimento Powder Used For?
Before we get into even more substitutes, let's look at some of the most common uses of pimento powder. This can help determine the best substitute choices for specific applications.
Here are some of the most popular uses for pimento powder:
- Seasoning for meats like chicken, pork, fish, and beef
- Flavoring for stews and chilies
- Spice rubs and marinades for grilled or roasted meats
- Mixed into burger patties for flavor and color
- Sprinkled on deviled eggs
- Coating for fried foods like chicken wings
- In compound butters and pan sauces
- Garnish for soups like gazpacho
- Part of spice mixes for tacos, fajitas, etc.
- Color and flavor for rice dishes like jambalaya
- Ingredients in dips and spreads
Knowing how pimento powder is typically used in cooking can help you decide which substitute makes the most sense for your particular dish.
For even more options, you can also use these additional flavorful spices in place of pimento powder:
- Ground chipotle pepper
- Cajun seasoning
- Curry powder
- Red pepper flakes
- Dried oregano
- Spanish smoked paprika
- Ground pasilla pepper
- Shawarma spice mix
- Harissa paste
- Ground Kashmiri chilies
- Homemade red pepper blend
- Hungarian sweet paprika
Experiment with different blends and ratios of these pepper-based spices to mimic the sweet, smoky heat of pimento powder.
For example, chicken stew might be fine with plain paprika instead of pimento powder. But something like deviled eggs could use a custom blend of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and black pepper to better match the exact flavor profile.
Key Takeaway: When substituting for pimento powder, consider what dish you're making and whether it would benefit most from a straight 1:1 substitute or a blend of spices.
Is pimento powder the same as paprika?
Pimento powder is sometimes called paprika, but not all paprika is made from pimento peppers. Paprika can also be made from other mild red chili peppers. Pimento powder is a specific type of paprika.
What's the difference between pimento and pimiento?
Pimento and pimiento are simply different spellings of the same pepper. Pimiento is the Spanish word for pepper. Pimento is the English variant.
Can you use bell pepper instead of pimento powder?
Ground red bell pepper can work as a substitute for pimento powder, though it lacks the smoky flavor. For 1 teaspoon pimento powder, use 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons ground bell pepper.
Is pimento powder spicy?
Compared to spices like cayenne and chili powder, pimento powder is not spicy. However, it does have a mild heat and a sweet, peppery taste. The spiciness level is generally between 100 to 500 Scoville Heat Units.
What are some substitutes for pimento stuffed olives?
If you don't have pimento-stuffed olives, you can stuff olives with roasted red peppers, pickled banana peppers, dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, diced piquillo peppers, or pecan pieces instead.
Mild pimento powder (or paprika) may be hard to source, but don't let that stop you from following recipes that call for it. With all the excellent spice substitutes above, you can easily mimic its sweet and slightly spicy flavor.
Some of the best options to use instead of pimento powder are ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, Aleppo pepper, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. For the best flavor match, make your own custom blend using a few different spices.