Does Paprika Go Bad? – Full Analysis

by Charlie

Does paprika go bad? Yes, it can go bad but not in the same way milk might go bad. Paprika, as it gets older, will lose its aroma and become less pungent. Ground or dried paprika will last from 2-4 years and whole paprika will last 4-5 years as long as it is kept in a tightly-closed container away from light and moisture.

Paprika will generally have a use-by date but it is safe to use after that date. Even if paprika will last several years, you should replace it every six months to get the aroma and flavor you get from fresh paprika.

What is Paprika?

This is a spice produced by grinding pods of different types of capsicum and will help to enhance the color and flavor of any dish. Generally is comes from sweet red peppers, which are also known as the paprika pepper. They remove the seeds and then it is dried before they are ground into paprika. 

It is a spice that does not spoil but the taste will become less tense and milder as it gets older. Depending on how hot you want it, it can be ground up with chili peppers instead of just regular peppers. It has an earthy, woody, aroma. In Indian cuisine, it is the main spice.

Smokiness:One type of paprika that people seem to like today is Spanish smoked paprika. This type is slowly smoked over a fire to give it a rich, smoky flavor. This type also comes with varying degrees of heat but most focus more on the flavor.

Degrees of heat:

  • Dulce is mild—this is also marked as sweet paprika and has no heat at all; it has the heat of bell peppers.
  • Agridulce is semi-hot—this can also be called semi-sweet and is still mild but can have a kick. It is like a cross between cayenne and red bell peppers.
  • Picante is hot—this type will have a kick and is more flavorful than cayenne or red pepper flakes.

Types of Paprika

When buying paprika, it is important to know that the different types vary in color, aroma, and taste but the basic difference is their spiciness.

Hungarian: this type of paprika is prized for its flavor and there are six varieties of this type of paprika, falling into the following categories:

  • Regular—this will be a shade of yellow or red and have a mild flavor
  • Sweet—a low amount of bitterness and a sweet, pleasant taste.
  • Hot—although this type is hot, it is still bearable to consume

In Hungary, paprika is the national spice and is used in many of their dishes. The one that is most commonly exported ad used is the Noble Sweet, which is slightly pungent, bright red paprika.

Spanish:With this type of paprika, there are only three grades as mentioned below. It is also known as pimento.

  • Regular — this type comes in sweet, bittersweet, and hot flavors
  • Smoked — this also comes in the same three flavors above.

Although a lot of Spanish paprika is smoked, some are dried in kilns or dried in the sun and do not have a smoky flavor.

How to Use Paprika when Cooking

Many use paprika in their cooking to add a bit of color because when there is a bit of color to food, it can make it more appealing. It also makes a great garnish. You can use it to top chicken, soup, or macaroni. The color adds to a dish will not overwhelm the flavor.

For most recipes, when using paprika, it is added at the end of the cooking time. The reasons are that the heat will diminish the flavor and color of the paprika. If you are fixing batter for deep frying fish or chicken, use paprika in addition to pepper and salt.

Best Methods for Storing Paprika

Keep it away from moisture: If the paprika gets moisture in it, this can cause bacteria to grow. Make sure that the lid is tight on the jar when you put it away or it can be exposed to moisture. One drop of moisture can make it clumpy. 

Store in a cool place: Do not store it near your stove as this can allow any boiling liquid to get into your spice. Store it on a shelf away from the heat. You can also store it in the fridge but make sure the lid is on tight or is in a tightly sealed container. 

Do not store in sunlight: Although the sunlight will keep the paprika dry, it will also cause it to lose its aroma and flavor quickly. It can also cause the color to fade. Make sure you store it in a dark place, like a cabinet or spice drawer but not on a spice rack.

Do not store in plastic jars or translucent glass: Make sure that paprika is stored in tin boxes or dark-colored containers. 

When storing paprika, make sure that it is not exposed to oxygen as this will slowly dilute them until they are just not like fresh spices in regards to flavor and aroma.

Paprika Shelf Life [Full Chart]

Type of PaprikaPantry Shelf Life
Ground2-3 Years
Dried2-3 Years
Whole4-5 Years

Although paprika has a shelf life of several years, you should replace ground and dried paprika every three months and whole paprika every eight to ten months.

How to Tell if Paprika Should be Thrown Away

  • Put some paprika on a white or light-colored plate to see if there are any bugs. They are about the size of a sesame seed so you will have to look closely to notice them.
  • If there are no bugs, check the texture to see if there are any clumps because clumps mean it has been exposed to moisture.

Out-of-Date Paprika: Keep or Throw Away?

Out-of-date paprika, or any spice for that matter, should be thrown away after this date. It will not kill you or make you ill if you use it. It will just not have the flavor or aroma that you want paprika to have. You want the paprika to be full of flavor and at its maximum potential so it will liven up any food it comes in contact with.

Conclusion

  • The shelf life of paprika will depend on the best-by-date and how it is stored but it can still be used after that date.
  • If you want it to be potent, you should get new paprika every six months.
  • If you decide to freeze paprika, make sure to wrap the container with food wrap and freeze it in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
  • If stored in the refrigerator, it needs to be store in an airtight container.
  • It is best of paprika is stored in the pantry.
  • Keeping paprika in the fridge or freezer does not extend the shelf life. 
  • It does not come with any health risks if the paprika has expired and it is used.
  • Although this has nothing to do with whether paprika can go bad or not, a fun fact is that in zoos, the diet of flamingos’ are supplemented with paprika so they will be brilliantly pink.
  • It is best to buy paprika whole instead of ground as they go bad quicker.
  • To help you know when to replace paprika, you should make sure that you mark the date you bought it on the bottle with a sharpie and masking tape.

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