The Smoky Ingredient That Instantly Elevates Any Bbq Sauce

brushing on bbq sauce
brushing on bbq sauce - Mphillips007/Getty Images

Warm summer evenings are perfect for cooking on the patio, and adding that smoke flavor from the grill makes your steaks, chicken, or veggies so much better. But as we've all experienced, the weather doesn't always cooperate. It could be extra hot, pouring rain, or just too cold and windy to stand by the grill, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on getting that smoky essence. Adding smoked paprika to your bbq sauce brings that grilled, smoky flavor to your food no matter where you've cooked it -- under the broiler, on a hot grill pan, or even on the grill for extra smokiness.

Paprika is a spice made from dried and powdered chili peppers, and comes in several varieties. Smoked paprika is made in a similar way  except the drying happens over low heat and wood smoke, concentrating smoky flavor in the oils that are naturally found in the peppers. Spanish smoked paprika is the most popular variety, smoked with oak and made with pimiento peppers. The process gives smoked paprika a bold and rich smoke flavor, the perfect addition to bbq sauce.

Read more: Your Guide To The Different Cuts Of Steak

Creating Your Own Smoky Sauce With Paprika

smoked paprika
smoked paprika - Creativegan/Getty Images

If you have a favorite bbq sauce recipe that calls for regular paprika, you can substitute an equal measure of smoked paprika with ease, or you could choose to go half and half. Or if your recipe already calls for the smoked variety, like our sweet and tangy bbq sauce, you might decide to bump up the amount to emphasize the smokiness. As you add the spice, just give it a taste, and remember that smoky aromatics can build up over time, so use a light hand to start.

You could also stir some smoked paprika into the bottled sauce of your choice for an elevated, outdoorsy flavor. There are a lot of choices in the sauce aisle, and many of them would be delicious with the addition of smoked paprika. If you want to double down on smoke but also add fiery heat to your bbq sauce, experiment with using canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

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