Your Guide to Shopping for Spanish Paprika
Smoked or unsmoked? Mild or spicy? Here’s how to navigate the multiple varieties of pimentón.
Pimentón, or Spanish paprika, is essential to the country's cuisine. It contributes brick-red color and fruity chile flavor (and sometimes smokiness) to dishes from paella and migas to patatas bravas and espinacas con garbanzos. It is available smoked or unsmoked and in a range of heat levels from mild to spicy, which can make shopping for it a bit confusing. The first step is to decide whether you want a smoked or an unsmoked product. Smoked pimentón comes from La Vera in Spain's Extremadura region. There, the peppers used for pimentón are dried slowly over smoldering oak fires for up to two weeks, giving them a distinct smoky taste and aroma. Unsmoked pimentón hails from a region in southeastern Spain called Murcia. Both areas have earned Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) status and adhere to processing standards distinctive to each region. When shopping, look for the region name, and then choose the heat level that works for your recipe.
Choose Smoked or Unsmoked
Want smoked? Look for Pimentón de la Vera (DOP)
Want unsmoked? Look for Pimentón de Murcia (DOP)
Choose Your Heat Level
Dulce (sweet): Mild
Agridulce (bittersweet): Moderately spicy
Picante (spicy): Spicy