Smoked Paprika 101, Make it at Home

Smoked Paprika 101: Easy spice to make at home

If you are lucky enough to reap the rewards of a vegetable garden at your home, consider adding red peppers and make your own smoked paprika at home.

Combining smoked paprika with other ingredients for rubs will take your grilling game to a whole new level.

Smoked Paprika 101, The Peppers
Smoked Paprika 101, The Peppers

How To Smoke Red Peppers

As you prep to create your first batch of smoked paprika, let it be known you can use this method to create all kinds of dried pepper spices, including chipotle (smoked jalapeño), poblano and Carolina Reaper. First, wash and dry your red peppers. Make sure they are free from dirt, and use only the freshest peppers free of blemishes and damage.

Prepare your smoker and bring the heat up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the peppers on a sheet pan and add them to your smoker. Be sure to maintain the temperature throughout the smoking process.

When choosing your smoking wood, don’t get too crazy with the wood choice. A milder smoke works best for paprika and doesn’t overpower the peppers with smoke.

Cherry wood is ideal for smoked peppers, but apple or peach wood works well, too. Use enough wood to smoke the red peppers for two to three hours.

After three hours, the peppers will be smoked but not completely dried.

Now you’ll need to determine how you want to finish your drying process. Methods of drying include air drying, sun drying, oven drying or the use of a food dehydrator.

Smoked Paprika 101
Smoked Paprika 101

Drying Process

So what do we do with all of the peppers we’ve grown and smoked them? You have several options when it comes to drying your red peppers for creating smoked paprika.

Air Drying

Select only firm, fresh peppers free of any blemishes or damage. Wash them thoroughly. Then use a knife to cut a slit in the stems. Thread light string or a heavy thread through the stems of the peppers. Hang the string of peppers in a well-ventilated room since high humidity can cause the peppers to rot and mold. The peppers should dry within about four weeks.

Sun Drying

Peppers can also be sun dried. Drying peppers in the sun requires a minimum temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit for several days, with a humidity level below 60 percent. To sun dry peppers, first rinse them to remove any dirt. Then lay them on screen trays made of stainless steel, plastic, or Teflon coated fiberglass. Do not use galvanized metal, copper or aluminum screens. Place the trays on blocks to increase airflow and cover the peppers with cheesecloth to protect them from birds and insects.

NOTE: Once the peppers are dried, pasteurize them to kill any insect or insect eggs that may have gotten on the peppers. To pasteurize them, either seal them in a freezer bag and place the bag in the freezer (set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below) for 48 hours, or lay the peppers out single layer on a tray and place them in the oven pre-heated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Food Dehydrator

If you have an electric food dehydrator, first thoroughly rinse the peppers and remove the stems and cores. Cut the peppers into 3/8-inch discs and place in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. The peppers generally take 8 to 12 hours to dry in a dehydrator.

Oven Drying

You can also dry peppers in your oven, although you may not want to heat up your house using this method in the summer. To dry peppers in your oven, first make sure your oven can be set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. (Any higher temperature will cook, not dehydrate the peppers.) Place washed peppers single layer on an oven drying tray (note: cake/cookie cooling racks placed on a sheet pan work well). Make sure the drying tray clears all sides of the oven three to four inches.

If you are placing more than one drying tray in your oven, make sure they’re spaced two to three inches apart for air circulation. The oven door needs to be propped open two to six inches during the entire drying process.

Since oven drying takes about twice as long as an electric food dehydrator, it will take approximately 16 to 24 hours to dry peppers using this method.

Storing Dried Peppers

If you opt not to make paprika from the dried peppers, you’ll want to store them to use later in the year. Store your dried peppers can be for several months in a cool dark place in moisture-proof packaging such as a glass jar, freezer container or plastic freezer bags. Rehydrate dried peppers by soaking them in water.

Some content courtesy

Homemade Smoked Paprika

How to Make Smoked Paprika at Home

Cuisine Style American, Caribbean, Mexican
Keywords: flavor, mild, paprika, peppers, rubs, spice rack, spices, spicy, sweet
Prep Time 7 days
Calories 6 kcal
The Chef Guru

What’s In It?

  • 24 Dried Red Peppers

How to Make It

  1. Dry your peppers. (See recipe notes)

  2. Break dried peppers into pieces small enough to fit into grinder.

  3. Sift the ground pepper through a fine-mesh strainer until you get a consistent, clean powder.

  4. Place in air tight container for up to nine (9) months.

Grillmaster Notes

If you grow your own peppers, you will need to hang them outside when temperatures are steady at 90 degrees or more for a minimum seven (7) days. Once the peppers are dry and brittle, you are ready to make your paprika.

If using a food dehydrator, it could take up to 8 hours to fully dry the peppers.

If using an oven, set temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and place peppers on sheet pan for 18-24 hours. The door of the oven will need to be propped open two to six inches to allow the moisture to evaporate.

Tip: Use thin-skinned peppers as the thick-skinned peppers will be prone to rot.

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Born in Mississippi, raised in Southeast Louisiana, I've been around good food my whole life. I’m enjoy sharing my love for the grill and the Grillax Lifestyle with my two boys.

Beef up the flavor! Brine, Inject, Soak!
Z Grills


Born in Mississippi, raised in Southeast Louisiana, I've been around good food my whole life. I’m enjoy sharing my love for the grill and the Grillax Lifestyle with my two boys.

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