12 Sweet Hungarian Paprika Substitutes that You Can Use 

Paprika is a common staple in many spice cabinets, but there are so many different varieties. Your recipe calls for a sweet paprika, but you have Hungarian… are they the same? What if you realize you don’t actually have any paprika in your cabinet and you need something to replace it with now!

If you find yourself in a bind and need a replacement for sweet Hungarian paprika, there are lots of things you can use – most of which you probably already have. Using other variations of paprika (smoky, Spanish, or sweet), cayenne pepper, cajun seasoning, roasted garlic powder, or even a combination could work just fine in your recipe.

What is Sweet Hungarian Paprika?

Sweet Hungarian paprika does have a very distinct taste. To start though, paprika is a spice that is made from ground peppers. While most versions of paprika are not spicy, some can be. Sweet Hungarian paprika, however, is not spicy. As its name suggests, it has a sweet flavor profile with a slight smokiness to it. 

What is the Difference Between Sweet Hungarian Paprika and Regular Paprika?

There are several variations to this loved red seasoning, knowing the flavor difference is important. Normal paprika will be the most common in most spice cabinets, and has the mildest flavor of all paprikas. While still good and a tasty component to several dishes, it is pretty tame. 

Sweet Hungarian paprika is bold and complex in flavor, offering both sweet and smoky undertones to your dish. Hungarian paprika runs prominent in well known Hungarian dishes, including the beloved Goulash. While there are even variations to Hungarian paprikas, the Sweet Hungarian Paprika is what most people know. 

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What Can I Substitute for Sweet Hungarian Paprika?

If you are needing a substitute for sweet Hungarian paprika, don’t fret… There are several different options to use, ranging from other paprikas, to other spices altogether. Depending on what you are cooking, you probably have a spice in your pantry you can use as a quick replacement. 

1. Regular Paprika

Regular paprika provides a good, solid replacement to sweet Hungarian paprika. While not as flavorful, it will provide the red hued quality you get from using paprika and also has a nice, mellow flavor. Because it is so mild in flavor, you may find yourself using a little more than what your recipe calls for.

2. Sweet Paprika

Using a generic sweet paprika will be your best replacement for sweet Hungarian paprika. While paprika is made from a blend of peppers, if the label reads ‘sweet’ then chances are it will have a similar flavor profile to the Hungarian version.  

3. Spanish Paprika

Spanish paprika is made from roasted peppers, creating a much more in depth and smoky flavor for the spice. Because of its smokiness, it does have a distinct taste to it, but even some Spanish paprikas have a sweeter version. 

If you are unsure what kind of Spanish paprika you have, taste it before adding it in your recipe to know how much you want to use. Spanish paprikas are also generally a darker red color than other paprikas. 

4. Spicy Paprika

Spicy paprika could work to replace sweet Hungarian paprika, but it would also alter the flavor profile of the dish. If you are not wanting something too spicy, try not adding so much of the spicy paprika, or balancing with some brown sugar or honey if the recipe allows. Be careful though, as some spicy paprikas are very spicy!

5. Roasted Garlic Powder

While garlic powder is not red and does not offer the same flavor as Hungarian paprika, it could work in your recipe if you are needing a substitution. 

Using a roasted garlic powder will provide a nice, smoky, and very subtle sweetness to your dish. Roasted garlic powder is a bold and flavorful seasoning and if you don’t have any, you should add it to your spice cabinet because of its versatility.

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6. Cayenne Powder

Cayenne pepper is much more spicy than sweet paprika, but does offer the same redness. You won’t need nearly as much of this hot spice as you would paprika, however, it does make a good replacement. 

7. Cajun Seasoning 

Most Cajun seasonings have a healthy amount of paprika in them, along with these other spices: cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and white pepper. As you can imagine, this spice blend is bold, spicy, and flavorful and would make a great alternative to sweet Hungarian paprika.

If your recipe calls for any of the other spices found in Cajun seasoning, simply omit them and just use the Cajun seasoning. You may also not need as much of this compared to sweet Hungarian paprika, as it is quite spicy. 

8. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is made from dried and smoked jalapeño peppers. It offers a somewhat spicy flavor, but also is very smoky. Chipotle powder is also a deep red color and would be a good substitute for sweet paprika, if you don’t mind a little extra heat and smokiness to your dish. 

9. Hot Sauce

If you are in a pinch, you could grab a hot sauce from your spice cabinet to use instead of sweet Hungarian paprika. Try and use a hot sauce that isn’t too spicy and one that provides a nice flavor. Depending on what you have on hand, will determine how much you should use. It’s always a good idea to use less at first and add more later, if needed.

10. Red Chili Flakes

Red chili flakes are a dried pepper that hasn’t been ground up. Some brands are quite spicy, while others are not. Red chili flakes would work well to replace sweet Hungarian paprika, but you may not need to add as much. Simply add to your liking. 

11. Ancho Chile Pepper Powder

Ancho chile pepper is a deep hued, red powder with a robust and earthy flavor profile. Ancho chile powder is made from dried and ground up poblano peppers, which are not very spicy.  

Because the ancho chile powder has a milder heat level and provides a subtly sweet and smoky flavor, it makes for a great substitution to sweet Hungarian paprika. You could use the same amount of ancho chile powder as paprika in your recipe. 

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12. Taco Seasoning

Taco seasoning may seem unconventional to use, but you could absolutely use it as a replacement to sweet Hungarian paprika. You’ll want to check the ingredients, but most taco seasonings have a good amount of paprika in the mix, along with several other spices, including cumin and usually cayenne pepper.

The combination of paprika, cumin and cayenne found in most taco seasonings will be similar to a smoky paprika. You could offset some of the flavor with a little brown sugar if needed. 

Related Questions

With all of the different variations of paprika, there is a lot to wonder about this red spice. All are definitely not the same and it’s a good idea to know about them. Let’s explore some more specifically about Hungarian paprika.

Is there another name for Hungarian paprika?

Hungarian paprika can be known by many names. There are varying levels of sweetness, smokiness, and heat to Hungarian paprika, all with their own name. 

The most commonly known in America is the Sweet Hungarian Paprika. Other Hungarian paprika varieties are: Noble Sweet, hot Hungarian paprika, king’s paprika, and even a rose paprika – all with different flavor profiles.

Is McCormick paprika A Hungarian paprika?

While McCormick does offer a Hungarian paprika, not all of them are. The regular container, simply labeled “Paprika”, is not Hungarian.

What is good Hungarian paprika?

The rose paprika of Hungary is one of the most popular in the country, with a very complex flavor profile. It has a good balance of smoky, sweet, and a little heat, while offering a rich red hue. When searching for which Hungarian paprika is for you, consider the dishes you will be cooking and what kind of flavor you are wanting. 


Sweet Hungarian paprika is an earthy, sweet, and slightly smoky ground spice made of ground red chiles. It offers a great red hue to your dish and a depth of flavor that is hard to beat. 

If you do find yourself not having any sweet Hungarian paprika in your spice cabinet, or not wanting to use it, there are many spices that are good substitutes. Depending on what you are cooking, you could use: any variety of paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, or even a Cajun seasoning.