How to make paprika at home with grocery store peppers - or homegrown depending on how hardcore you are. You just dry them, grind them and store them. How to make cayenne pepper and chili flakes too.
Paprika is a bit of a curiosity. True paprika powder is made with a paprika pepper - an 8" or so red pepper bred specifically for making paprika out of. Ask a Hungarian, they'll tell you all about it.
But you can also make it with a regular red bell pepper if you aren't too neurotic about genuine Hungarian authenticity. Even spice companies are a little loosey goosey with the term Paprika.
It sometimes refers to the actual Paprika plant and sometimes to any ground red pepper.
If you've ever bought a pepper plant labelled as Paprika pepper (which I have) you're probably going to get a pepper that looks like the one below. A true paprika pepper.
But paprika's also made out of Alma peppers, hot chili peppers, poblano peppers, sweet red peppers and tomato peppers.
In fact technically any red pepper can be used to make paprika. Sweet peppers create the most common grocery store sweet paprika, paprika peppers the most authentic.
Table of Contents
How to make paprika from scratch
Dried red peppers - sweet and/or hot
Spice or Coffee grinder
Mask and gloves if working with hot peppers
For grinding hot peppers wear gloves and a face mask so you don't accidentally burn your fingers or throat.
You can grind your spices just before using them if you want them super-fresh, or grind a moderate amount that you know you'll use up in a couple of months.
STEP 1 - If you're using whole dried peppers cut or break them into smaller pieces.
STEP 2 - Put the dried hot or sweet pepper pieces into a spice grinder. This $24 wood grain grinder is much nicer than mine plus it gets good reviews.
STEP 3 - Grind the peppers until you have the consistency you want. For hot pepper flakes pulse grind until you have flakes. For Paprika powder or cayenne pepper grind until you have a powder.
Same pepper, different grinds. For this grinding I used dried hot peppers and made a jar of hot pepper flakes and then a jar of cayenne pepper.
STEP 4 - Put your newly ground spices in a spice jar or other airtight container.
That's it. That's all there is to making paprika powder. Dry some peppers then grind them up. Pimentón de la Vera
How to Dry Peppers
After harvesting I hang my hot peppers in my kitchen to dry but this takes months.
The fastest way to dry hot or sweet bell peppers is to dehydrate them in an oven or dehydrator.
QUICK REFERENCE ➡
IN A DEHYDRATOR - Dehydrate at 125F/51C for 6-8 hours
IN THE OVEN - Dry at 150-200F/65C - 90C or 1-3 hours
STEP 1 - WASH & DICE
Because of their size and wall thickness bell peppers need to be diced for dehydrating. Thinner walled hot peppers can just be cut in half lengthwise.
Wash the peppers. For SWEET BELL PEPPERS remove the seeds and membrane then dice. For HOT PEPPERS slice them in half, remove the seeds and membrane.
STEP 2 - DRY
Place the pepper pieces on dehydrator trays at 125F (51C) for 6-8 hours. The length of time will depend on the moisture content of the pepper and the size of the pieces. It may take more than 8 hours so keep checking them.
STEP 3 - CHECK FOR MOISTURE
When the time is up and the pepper pieces are crispy let them rest on the counter. After 1 hour the pieces should still be crispy and snap crispy when you break them. If they don't, put them back in the dehydrator.
STEP 4 - CONDITION DRIED PIECES
Conditioning is the step most people don't know about when it comes to dehydrating. Or they omit it because it takes 1 week.
After drying and checking for moisture put all your pieces of pepper into a canning jar and close the lid.
Shake the jar once or twice a day. Check the jar daily for signs of moisture or water droplets on the food or inside the jar. If you see water put the food BACK into the dehydrator for another couple of hours.
If after 1 week there are no signs of water you're good to go. (either to store the pieces long term or grind them into spices)
Now that this is done you can move onto Step 1 of making paprika
You can consider smoking your peppers to make Pimentón de la Vera. That's fancy talk for smoked paprika powder.
Instead of drying the peppers in a dehydrator or oven you dry them in a smoker over several hours. This is a bit of a thing and takes a couple of weeks of constant smoke.
There is a cheater way where you only smoke them for a day or two and then dry them in a dehydrator to finish them.
Why Make Your Own Spices?
Because you are HARDCORE. And you know if you're going to spend 4 hours making homemade chili con carne you want it to taste like you spent 4 hours making it. Because then people will praise you so after eating the chili and you won't only feel full you'll feel fulfilled. Because even though you're hardcore you're weak and need constant praise thanks to social media.
Or maybe that's just me.
Making your own powdered spices might seem a bit overboard BUT homemade spices are distinctly better and stronger than store bought. WAY better. Ergo, everything you cook will also taste WAY better.
Tasting homemade spices is like putting on a pair of eyeglasses for the first time & realizing all that you've been missing.
Also grinding your own spices in small amounts means they'll always be fresh, full of their aromatic oils and packed with flavour.
If you're into this sort of thing you should read my post on 5 fun spices that you can grow.
Sweet paprika - dried and ground paprika (or red bell) peppers
Hot paprika - dried and ground paprika (or red bell) peppers + dried and ground hot peppers
Smoked paprika - Instead of letting the peppers air dry or putting them in a dehydrator, smoke the paprikas in a BBQ or smoker to dry them out. The wood/charcoal smoke will give them a dark colour and smokey flavour. This type of paprika is important in Spanish cooking.
How to turn ground sweet paprika into smoked paprika
- Combine ¼ cup paprika powder with a ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
- Dump paprika powder into a shallow can or foil packet. Smoke on your BBQ with a smoker box and wood chips.
- Cold smoke gun
Having said that, trying to smoke paprika after it's been ground is kind of a losing game. You'll get the effect but it won't be the same as a true smoked paprika.
How to use paprika (other than put it on devilled eggs)
PAPRIKA BUTTER - Combine ½ cup soft butter with 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
PAPRIKA DIP - Combine 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt with 1 tablespoon honey, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, squeeze of lime juice to taste
PAPRIKA HUMMUS - Mix 1-2 tsps paprika to 1 cup hummus
PAPRIKA MAYO - Just add 1 teaspoon of paprika (smoked is best) to ½ cup of regular or homemade mayo because you're hardcore.
I almost forgot potato salad. I always sprinkle paprika on my potato salad and it's one of the important ingredients in my Kansas City Rub recipe.
And yes, I grew the potatoes as well. Please praise me. ;) Just kidding. Instead please read this post on how Instagram is tricking you into thinking you're a loser.