How to counteract too much paprika in food? (7+ ways)

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “How to counteract too much paprika in food?”. We will discuss different ways that will help you counteract too much paprika in food. 

How to counteract too much paprika in food?

Paprika (Capsicum annuum L.) originally came from Central and the northern region of South America and is mainly used as a flavoring and for nutritional purposes. Paprika seeds are separated from the pods and discarded before eating or processing the flesh. Paprika seeds make up about 60% of the total weight of the dry fruit, and contain 12–26% oil. The oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid (68–78%) and oleic acid (7–15%), and contains the saturated fatty acids myristic acid (0–0.1%), palmitic acid (11–14%) and stearic acid (3–4%) (1).

If you have added too much paprika to your recipe and are desperately searching for ways to counteract it, do not worry, here we have prepared a long list of approaches to help you counteract too much paprika in your food, and to make it suitable to eat.

  • Add potatoes to absorb the excess spice
  • Add meat to reduce the heat
  • Try dairy products to mask the paprika flavor
  • Add acid to decrease the heat
  • Add cumin powder for a milder flavor
  • Add sugar to your sweet dish
  • Add vegetables to soak the excess spice
  • Dilute the recipe

Add potatoes to absorb the excess spice

This is one of the simple and easy ways to counteract the excess spice in your dish. 

Potato consists of starch with a mild flavor and is particularly great at absorbing excess flavors. A peeled and boiled half-cut potato can be added to the recipe to counteract too much paprika.

Potatoes contain mainly starch. Starch is composed of two different types of glucose polymer: the linear amylose, and the highly branched amylopectin backbone with linked side chains. The amylose to amylopectin ratio varies for waxy starches (mainly composed of amylopectin chains) and for high-amylose starches (where amylose exceeds 40% of the total starch). Linear amylose chains have been reported to possess greater capacity to interact with many plant compounds, such as phenolics, tannins, and alkaloids than highly branched amylopectin chains, thus forming non-inclusion complex at the external surface of the starch polymer, mainly through hydrogen bonds, hydrophobic interaction or electrostatic and ionic interactions. For this reason, potatoes are a good alternative to absorb the many compounds of paprika (2).

Put the half-boiled potato into the dish that will absorb the excess flavors of the paprika from the dish.

Remove the potato once tender and serve your meal as if nothing happened. 

Add meat to reduce the heat

Another easy approach to offset too much paprika flavor is to add more protein. Paprika enhances the flavor of a beef stew or chicken recipe. But, adding too much paprika can ruin the flavor you desired, making it extremely strong and smokey.

In this situation, add more slices of beef, chicken or fish, whatever your recipe calls for. This will help to offset the excess smokey flavor in your dish and will also reduce the heat.

Try dairy products to mask the paprika flavor

Dairy can really help to counteract the smoky and spicy flavor. Among the dairy products, you can use sour cream and whole milk, but do not cook after adding the dairy products over a high flame, as it may coagulate.

Capsaicin has a nonpolar phenol structure and cannot be dissolved in water. Nonpolar solvent is used to extract capsaicin and maintain its characteristics. Therefore, capsaicin in the mouth could be dissolved by fat-soluble substances to reduce the oral pungency. People often pair milk or soy milk with spicy food in daily life, because the casein and fat in dairy products can dissolve capsaicin in the mouth (3). In addition, cream could even work better. Pungency intensity increased with higher capsaicin concentrations, but this increase is affected by the matrix and the fat level. In general, higher fat levels result in lower pungency perception (4).

For instance, if you are cooking a chicken recipe and you have added over a quarter cup of paprika in your recipe. To neutralize the excess flavor, you can add less than half a cup of some dairy product. This will reduce the spiciness of the dish thus, making your dish good to serve.

Add acid to decrease the heat

To counteract the excess paprika in your dish add a slight bitterness to your dish.

Capsaicin is an extremely pungent vanillamide alkaloid, thus it can be neutralized by acids. People often add vinegar or other acid condiments to spicy food, or collocate with yogurt (containing lactic acid) and other sweet/sour beverages (containing citric acid). (3).

Among the acids, the best options that compliment paprika are lemon or lime juice or vinegar. Vinegar does not alter the flavor much but decreases the smokey flavor. 

Just one-half of a teaspoon of lemon juice is enough to add bitterness to the spice enhancing the dish flavor further.

Add cumin powder for a milder flavor

Another great option to counterbalance too much paprika in a recipe is to add cumin powder to the recipe. Cumin powder adds warm flavors to a dish. It not only decreases the intensity of paprika but enhances other spices in the recipe. 

Add sugar to your sweet dish

Adding sugary flavors to a dish can reduce the spice and smokey flavors to a great extent.

Add one teaspoon of sugar at a time to even out the spicy flavor in a dish. Then stir, allowing the flavors to mix well. Make sure to add gradually tasting after every addition or your dish will have a more sugary taste.

Among sweeteners, honey is also a great option. Adding honey to any of the recipes can offset the smokey flavor and add a little palatableness. You can also add agave nectar in place of honey.

Studies showed that sugar has a great potential by decreasing the pungency of capsaicin in food matrices and that the pungency intensity of fresh salsa decreased with higher levels of honey added. Moreover, oral rinses with isointense amounts of aqueous sucrose and sucralose solutions decreased mean intensity values for capsaicin by approximately 50% (4). 

Add vegetables to soak the excess spice

Some vegetables can be really effective in absorbing the spiciness and adding palatableness to your dish. This will help reduce the influence of too much paprika in your dish.

Among the vegetables, you can use corn and carrots. Just chop these vegetables and put them in the cooking pan. However, you should not forget the recipe and flavor profile of the meal.

Dilute the recipe 

If the suggestions above did not work for you, another thing you can do is to dilute the recipe. Just double the main ingredients but do not add any paprika this time. Re-season if required. 

We hope these tricks will benefit you. Still, if nothing works for you, don’t be sad. Learn from your mistakes and start all over again.

Other FAQs about Paprika that you may be interested in.

Can I use paprika instead of curry powder?

What is a substitution for sweet paprika?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “How to counteract too much paprika in food?”. We have also discussed different ways that will help you counteract too much paprika in food.

References

  1. Matthäus, Bertrand, and Mehmet Musa Özcan. Chemical evaluation of some paprika (Capsicum annuum L.) seed oils. Euro J Lipid Sci Technol, 2009, 111, 1249-1254. 
  2. Giuberti, Gianluca, Gabriele Rocchetti, and Luigi Lucini. Interactions between phenolic compounds, amylolytic enzymes and starch: An updated overview. Curr Opin Food Sci, 2020, 31, 102-113.
  3. Xiang, Qunran, et al. Capsaicin—the spicy ingredient of chili peppers: A review of the gastrointestinal effects and mechanisms. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2021, 116, 755-765.
  4. Schneider, Désirée J., Ingrid Seuß-Baum, and Elmar Schlich. Relationship between pungency and food components–A comparison of chemical and sensory evaluations. Food Qual  Prefer, 2014, 38, 98-106.