Can paprika go bad?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “can paprika go bad?” and the correct storage methods of paprika.

Can paprika go bad?

Yes, paprika can go bad.The quality of paprika deteriorates over storage, as it does with many foods. 

Its oxidation by free oxygen causes loss in color, which is initiated by the degradation of vitamins such as vitamin C and E and later continues with the destruction of red and yellow carotenoids.

At the same time, extrinsic elements, including physical characteristics such as temperature, light, humidity, etc., or chemical characteristics such as enzymes, peroxides, presence of metal ions, etc., could influence this oxidation.(1)

Spoilage caused by fungi also decreases the quality of the products and can imply a risk for health due to potential contamination with different mycotoxins. (2)

What is the shelf life of paprika?

Ground paprika has a shelf life of 2 to 3 years. The quality of ground paprika is mainly determined by its seasoning power, its natural color, its particle size and water content.

Pigment degradation in paprika coincides with the destruction of vitamins C and E and continues with degradation of the yellow and red carotenoids, due to their oxidation in air. 

At the same time, oxidation is influenced by external factors which may be, temperature, humidity, light, etc., or chemical factors like the presence of metallic ions, enzymes, peroxides etc. (3, 4)

How to store paprika?

Minimizing their exposure to air, heat, light, and moisture is key to maximizing the shelf life of paprika. Store it in  a cool, dry, and dark environment like a pantry, drawer, or cupboard positioned away from the stove or oven.

Paprika should be  stored in tightly sealed, non-porous containers. Glass or ceramic containers are among the best options, as they’re easy to clean and do a great job of keeping air and moisture out.

Although refrigeration isn’t required, red spices like paprika will retain their pigment longer if kept refrigerated.

Moisture can quickly degrade the flavor and texture of paprika, potentially causing it to cake or mold. If you notice mold in any of your spice containers, discard the product in question. (3)

What are the signs of paprika spoilage?

Loss of color and flavor are the main indicators of paprika spoilage. Loss of red color is caused by autoxidation of the carotenoids.

The stability of the quality of paprika, during storage is also dependent on drying conditions and the degradation rate of quality increases as the drying temperature increases.(4)

The presence of fungi is also a sign of spoilage and also implies a risk for health due to potential contamination with different mycotoxins.(1)

What are the risks of consuming spoiled paprika?

Expired paprika likely won’t make you sick, but it will lose most of its aroma and flavor over time. Spoilage caused by fungi imply a risk for health due to potential contamination with different mycotoxins leading to food poisoning. (1, 3)

What to look for when determining if your spices have gone bad?

Dried herbs and spices do not expire and do not “go bad” in the traditional meaning of the term.

When a spice is said to have gone bad, it indicates that the bulk of its flavor, potency, and color has been lost to the spice. Fortunately, it is unlikely that consuming expired spices would cause you to get ill.

When it comes to spices, many of them come with “best-by” dates that indicate the time during which they will be at their most delicious and high-quality state. 

No matter how long your spices have been in storage, you may smell and taste them to decide whether or not they need replacement. Crush or massage a little amount of the powder in the palm of your hand. 

If the scent or flavor is no longer present, it is time to replace the items in question.(1, 3)

Other FAQs about Paprika that you may be interested in.

Can I use paprika instead of curry powder?

What can I substitute for paprika?


In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “can paprika go bad?” and the correct storage methods of paprika.


  1. Febin Pappachan, Amaya Suku, Sreejith Mohanan, Chapter 10 – Rosmarinus officinalis, Herbs, Spices and Their Roles in Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods, Academic Press, 149-170,2023,
  2. Melo González, M. G., Romero, S. M., Arjona, M., Larumbe, A. G., & Vaamonde, G.  Microbiological quality of Argentinian paprika. Revista Argentina de Microbiología, 49(4), 339–346. 2017.
  3. Natalie Olsen, Ansley Hill, Do Spices Expire? Shelf Life and When to Toss Them. Healthline Media LLC. 2021
  4. Ramesh, M. ., Wolf, W., Tevini, D., & Jung, G.  Influence of processing parameters on the drying of spice paprika. Journal of Food Engineering, 49(1), 63–72. 2001.

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