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
➡ CLICK HERE IF YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DRY YOUR 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.
You are one fascinating lady Karen Bertelsen. Great tips on drying the peppers. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely give this one a try. I DO try to grind my spices fresh, did so just a week or so ago whilst making some home-made linked breakfast sausage and before that a nice Biltong rub. Turned out WAY better than store-bought jerky.
Homemade breakfast sausage is something I've always wanted to try to make! ~ karen
I went nutz and bought a bunch of 'stuffing' hardware and supplies, but your Kitchenaid grinder and a mixing bowl are really all you need to make the meat and it's ready for patties. I wait for pork shoulder to go on sale and pick ones that weigh 'about' 3-1/2lbs. Since I live alone 3-1/2 pounds of sausage once portioned, vac sealed and frozen lasts for many breakfasts. Loads of recipes online or pre-made mixes at Amazon.
We lived all over Europe for a while and Ex had an office in Hungary. I was fascinated to find paprika in the markets rated by heat. I had one small spice rack with assorted paprikas. At that time I wasn’t mature enough in my cooking to appreciate it. But it’s a good memory!
Yes! That's how it's done. Hungary has so many varieties of paprika. ~ karen!
How do you “sprinkle” paprika? It always comes out in bursts unlike other spices that politely separate themselves when you shake their container?
Hahaha! Yes, good description. Paprika isn't very polite. For sprinkling I use the side holes of my spice jar OR if I'm feeling very fancy I put it in a small mesh tea ball or strainer the same way you'd sprinkle icing sugar. ~ karen!
Were you hanging out in my kitchen last week? I started doing this with my bumper crop of hot Hungarian peppers last year and made this year's batch last week. I also grow Padron peppers and made chili oil last year. That stuff is AMAZING!
And now we need a post on how to make chili oil. :D
I was not! However I was just thinking LAST NIGHT that I want to make chili oil! ~ karen
I used this recipe from Woks of Life. Because I had let my peppers get to a fully ripe rich red, the oil came out a gorgeous bright red that makes any dish you add it to look like you used food colouring. I made sure to hit my local Asian market for the real deal for the other spices used. My friend is allergic to alliums so I left out the garlic and shallots. I suspect that made my batch more shelf stable than the writer suggested. I do keep it in the fridge and give it a quick stir before using it. It will stain so choose your container wisely. I have a bunch of plastic mason jar lids I got from Amazon that have silicone gaskets. I use them all over the house.
I need a tutorial on chili oil, making and using and storing. Please. I am swimming in peppers over here thank you
I have at least four packs of dried Arbol chiles that I bought for making Posole, which only takes about two. Always have to thank the husband who buys in bulk but doesn't care for hot/spicy food. Buhhrotherrrr! Great idea to process and use more often in everyday foods. Thanks for all your great ideas, and style. Cheers!
Thanks Kelly! My father was the same with buying bulk vegetables, lol. And the bigger the individual vegetable the better to him. Like an onion the size of your head was ideal to him. ~ karen!
My husband thought he could make deviled eggs - back in the day when I was young and stupid. I came home to find a few 'left' for me. The paprika was black. I asked what did you use instead of paprika - he said paprika. So I checked the OLD, OLD, little can and it was so full of beetles, the only thing coming out was dung. That is when my husband and two kids raced each other to the bathroom to spit and brush their teeth. Funny memory but ALWAYS fresh is better. I grew some hungarian red peppers last year. My sweet cat rearranged all the labels and most of them died. I tried this year and too hot, wet, buggy. Maybe next year but I sure didn't know I could just use sweet red peppers. Will make some this week, thanks!
I may never be able to use paprika again thanks to that story, lol. Also, if you like heat you can use sweet red peppers and 1 chili pepper so you get a paprika with a bit of spice. ~ karen!
Wow! I had no idea what paprika was - thanks for sharing all this info! I may just try this, given that paprika is so freakin' expensive, and seems to be the first spice to get buggy. Karen, you are a treasure trove of knowledge!
I used to get weevils in everything, especially spices like paprika. Now, I stick bay leaves into the jars, whole, and no bugs! Works for flour, rice, cereals, etc. I buy the bay leaves online bulk so they aren't too expensive.
I'm successfully growing paprika peppers this year to make ground paprika. I also have other "unnamed" peppers as well that I may grind for hot spice. That will be very clearly labelled. I'll be referring back to this post when the time comes for grinding fun. And great tip for sealing in a jar for a week after dehydrating.
When I finally realized I could make my own hot pepper flakes it was a revelation. ~ karen!
I had no idea paprika was made from peppers. Paprika is a staple at our table.
I've shared this post with all family members. They love it.
As always exceptional how to and detail.
I have been drying several varieties of pepper to see what each one tastes like, it’s kind of fun!
I use a dehydrator and then motor and pestle as I grind as needed. I also add silica packets in the jars to soak up any latent moisture. You can “reset” the silica by putting them in the dehydrator with the peppers. Pretty efficient.
Also great on sourdough toast with butter!
My Grammie was 100% Hungarian, so I grew up with paprika in EVERYTHING. Chicken paprikas- mmm, and I love it on fried potatoes, eggs, or on sauteed spinach or swisschard. Ads that somethin somethin. Don't go too overboard with true Hungarian paprika folks, because it can be bitter if you add too much. Go a bit at a time.
I read almost all your articles and I really liked this one. I am drowning in peppers this year so I needed something to do with them. I got some bell peppers and a couple of other kinds from the neighbors and the first run is in the dehydrator as I type this. Yep, I'm so hard core even the dogs are hard core.
Major the pit bull likes to climb the peach trees and eat peaches while they are still attached to the trees. He eats them fruit, leaves pit and all. I've tried to stop him since the pits are bad for him. I don't think he understands that it's not that kind of pit. He's been doing it for a couple of years. So he's hard core too.