When it comes to spices, many new cooks get confused about the difference between cayenne and paprika. These two spices are indeed somewhat similar, and yet, they have very distinctive qualities.

There is a difference in taste and color, and they often influence the texture and aroma of the final dish. And yet, any dish is almost incomplete without at least one of them. Here are some of the best ways to use paprika and cayenne so that you get the most out of the dish. 

Understanding the Difference between Paprika and Cayenne 

To know how to use paprika and cayenne in your dishes, you first need to understand their taste profiles. 

Paprika is sweeter and is made from red peppers. Hence, it is not very hot at all. Since it belongs to the plant family of Capsicum Annum, the spice is made from red bell peppers rather than chilies. However, there are various kinds of paprika spices out there. The most popular of the sweeter variants is the Hungarian Paprika. The flavor is sweet and slightly smoky, and the color is a deep and earthy red. Of the hotter variants, you have the Spanish paprika. 

On the other hand, cayenne is much hotter, and if put in your food in larger quantities, it could leave your tongue burning. It is a type of spice made from cayenne chili pepper and can be quite fiery. It does have a savory flavor, but it can easily get lost in the heat if you use too much of it. The color is deep, and it is a staple ingredient in many kinds of hot sauces. 

Best Ways of Using Cayenne and Paprika

The best way of using both these spices is to use them as part of dry rubs while making barbeque, adding them when you are crushing ingredients for hot sauces, or using them in marinades. Both of them work well when you allow some time for the main element of the dish, like the meat, fish, or vegetables, to soak in the flavor of the spices, rather than introducing them to the cooking pot directly. 

Smoked paprika is a favorite among barbeque chefs. Smoking the paprika intensifies the earthiness of the spices and enhances the rich pepper taste. It seems like the entire dish has been smoked and roasted over an open fire, just as they used to do it in earlier times. 

They are made by smoking the paprika first over flames before grounding it into a fine powder. When you mix it with water, you get the consistency of rich clay, and it adds a bright hue to the dish without excessive heat. 

You can use paprika in soups, stews, and broths and also with eggs and beef. Cayenne is better for making hot sauces, chili, spicy dips, and hot gravy. They are the perfect accompaniment for fried chicken if you like them hot. You can add paprika in the dry rub while making barbeque steaks or ribs, and add the cayenne in the barbeque sauce that you serve as a side and which you can dip into if you want some extra heat. 

Nature of Cayenne and Paprika 

Cayenne is coarse and gritty, so it doesn’t just become a paste when you mix it with water. It can appear as tiny flakes on the dish, but if you want a rugged appeal to your presentation, then this is the best spice for bringing heat, texture, and color to the plate. 

To know how to use the spices in your dishes in the best possible way, you need to find out how hot each variety of paprika and cayenne is. If you want both heat and color, smoky sweetness as well as a tantalizing burn, then you can add a bit of both. However, paprika is seldom made from a single type of pepper, so you need to know exactly how much to use. Similarly, cayenne pepper can be about three to five times hotter than jalapeno peppers. 

If the degree of heat is paramount to your dish, you never use paprika and cayenne interchangeably unless you find a hotter variant of the paprika. However, if you do not intend to make your dish spicy, do not use cayenne. Nor should you use the same amount of cayenne as you would while using paprika. With cayenne, a little pinch goes a long way in generating heat. 

It all depends on your perspective and how you want your food to look and taste. Now that you know the difference between cayenne and paprika, you will be able to use them to the best advantage.