What's the purpose of paprika?

I’ve used paprika in all kinds of dishes, usually egg, potato, and chicken dishes, but for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out what flavour it’s supposed to add. I have never been able to identify a particular flavour as “paprika.” Help me out. What is paprika for?

Very mild sweet pepper flavor.

To really taste it, use about 4 or 5 tablespoons while making goulash.

Also, it’s worth knowing that it loses flavor after months in storage, so since the paprika in your cupboard probably dates from the Eisenhower Administration (if it’s anything like mine), you’re probably not getting the full “paprika” flavor. :smiley:

Adds color & flavor to chicken, but can easily be drowned-out by any other stronger spices. A common ingredient in batter or breading for fried chicken & poultry bastings.

I agree that you have to use much more than what feels right. You are used to using spices sparingly, but paprika often does need to go on in teaspoonsfull rather than pinches.

Everyone I know agrees…
Paprika is less a spice and more a food coloring.

Aroma, too.

It’s mild, though.

It’s also a browning agent, for such things as fried potatoes.


“Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.” ~ Erwin Schrodinger ~

Only thing I use it on is deviled eggs. And I just do it for looks. The mustard drowns out any flavor.

Real fresh paprika has a flavor…but the little shakers of paprika from the spice section do not have much flavor.

Also, who pronounces it Pa PREEK ah vs who prnounces it PAP rihk uh. I have heard both.

I’ve never “tasted” paprika. I’ve never eaten it by the spoonful either. I’ve just used it sparingly as a coloring on such things as chicken, potatoes, and cottage cheese. What am I missing?

I was curious, so I ran to my kitchen and dumped a bunch in my hand.

The stuff in my kitchen is not top quality and when I tasted it, it kind of reminded me of chewing on straw and smelled the same.

Hey hey!

Here’s my educated take on paprika from the original Paprikaland (Hungary.)

  1. Paprika on eggs and the such is used simply to add color to the food. Not taste. Hungarians often have paprika on the table along with salt and pepper, but they don’t use it in this case as a flavoring agent. It makes things look prettier.

  2. Paprika does have a VERY distinct flavor. However, to release paprika’s flavor you must dissolve it in oil. In Hungary, this is usually done at the stage after you fry your onions up in oil or lard. Take the pan off the heat. You do not want to scorch paprika unless you want a terrible bitter flavor.

  3. Four or five tablespoons for goulash is WAAAAYYYY over the top. Unless you’re serving an army. For a standard gulyasleves (goulash soup) or porkolt (what we call goulash) you need at most 1 tablespoon. Usually just one-two teaspoons for 4-6 servings. Goulash should not taste like paprika. It should taste like meat flavored with paprika.

  4. Quality of paprika varies tremendously. Get yourself either authentic Spanish or Hungarian paprika (I’ve seen “Pride of Szeged” being sold in American stores.) The paprika used in Hungary is generally of the sweet (read: not spicy) variety. Most paprikas here have a brilliant red color, like a ruby. It’s beautiful. If your paprika is brownish-orange, then chances are it’s rubbish.

  5. Continuation of point 2. If additional paprika flavor is decided to be added to the dish, do not simply add more paprika to the dish. It won’t really make much of a difference. It’ll make it redded, but that’s it. Dissolve some paprika in butter/lard/oil and add this to the dish.

  6. Paprika is sometimes dusted on chicken or whatnot before roasting to give it a nice brown color.

So, it all depends how you use it. My sources for this information are Culinaria Hungary cookbook, The New Gundel Cookbook, plus personal experience and the testimony of various Hungarian cooks.

Incidentally, many dried herbs and spices have very little flavor until you dissolve them in oil.

Incidentally, This is the brand I was thinking of.

I’d say the 1-year shelf life this site advertises is a bit generous. Paprika loses its flavor rather quickly, and bugs like to nest in it as well, so keep it tightly closed, possibly in the fridge.

And one more thing, if you really want to taste paprika (and other spices and dried herbs) do what the Joy of Cooking suggests: Get yourself some butter and make little dabs of butter, each mixed with a different spice or dried herb. Spread it over a cracker or toast, and you’ll soon learn their various characteristics.

  1. It gives Hungary an export.
  2. It gives Germany an import. (It is often seen on those fast-food wursts, more for decoration that anything else, so it seems.)
  3. It gives Americans something to buy and then throw away several years later, wondering why they bought it in the first place. (Perhaps they saw it on a wurst in Germany and thought that since the Germans do it, they should too.)

Mr. Moto is right, you have to use enough of it. Most American recipes just want a dash on top, which is for color only. A true “ethnic” recipe will use a tablespoon or more. I also have a Turkish recipe that uses this in a yogurt sauce.

IIAC The taste of hot dogs is mostly garlic, but the other flavor is paprika. You can taste this same flavor in fried chicken that has been dusted with paprika. Personally I don’t really like it. I prefer sausages that use red pepper for coloring instead.

Note: ANY spice in the powdered form will lose its effectiveness almost immediately. Keep whole spices available to stave off this problem.

Unfortunately, paprika by definition is in its powdered form.

No one ever said the world was kind to effectiveness connoisseurs.