13 Topping Swaps For Deviled Eggs That Aren't Paprika

A staple of holiday celebrations, tailgates, and summer picnics, deviled eggs are a tried-and-true, crowd-pleasing appetizer that can be found on tables all across the country and even the world. From Easter brunch spreads to Super Bowl parties, these simple hors d'oeuvres are so popular that many kitchens even have their own special serving tray designed for the delectable dish.

Although the term deviled wasn't used in the culinary sense until the late 18th century, the origins of the deviled egg can be traced back to ancient Rome when boiled eggs were served with spicy sauces to begin a feast. Over time, to "devil" a food meant to infuse it with an excess of rich condiments like mayonnaise and spices. Now known by additional names such as stuffed eggs or dressed eggs, the most ubiquitous version of the deviled egg is a classic mixture of egg yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, and seasonings finished with a sprinkle of bright red paprika. 

Across the decades, creative cooks have found thousands of ways to spice up this traditional dish. With an inspiring array of colorful and unexpected additions offering elevated flavors, textures, and spice, here are 13 innovative topping swaps for deviled eggs that aren't paprika.


Renowned Food Network host and chef Alton Brown is well known for transforming nostalgic dishes into extraordinary modern delights. With a few simple spices, Brown enhances the classic deviled egg with a unique peppery kick that makes the appetizer stand out from the crowd. In his recipe, Brown uses peppercorns in deviled eggs instead of the usual paprika, including green peppercorns, brined green peppercorns, white peppercorns, black peppercorns, and pink peppercorns. The richness of the egg yolk holds up well to the bold heat from the spices.

The different types of peppercorns bring a unique flavor profile to the spice blend, enriching the experience of the final product. Pink peppercorns, for example, have a fruitier and sweeter flavor than the more aggressive black peppercorns. The brined green peppercorns offer a tart, salty note similar to capers. Together, the peppercorn blend offers an intriguing complexity and intensity to the standard deviled egg.

Chiles and spices

Just like the ancient Romans, Food Network judge, host, and celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli adores a kick of spice in her deviled eggs. Instead of the usual paprika, Guarnaschelli finishes deviled eggs with a dusting of fiery cayenne. The chef also infuses the filling with a dash of hot sauce for a bolder kick. A little bit of dried ginger rounds out Guarnaschelli's spicy trio for a dry heat and slight tingle that creates depth rather than just pure heat. The bold spice helps to balance the richness of the filling, giving the deviled eggs a more well-rounded flavor.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that the addition of spice might benefit even more than taste, as research has found that spicy meals help cut levels of triglycerides in the blood, even when the meal is high in fat. Triglycerides are fats that, when elevated, are risk factors for heart disease. Although the data is still being explored, it's possible that adding a dash of hot sauce (like with Vivian Howard's deviled eggs recipe) might help counteract the fattiness of the delectable deviled egg. Go ahead and get creative with fiery concoctions, from bold curries to bright jalapeños.


Sweet additions like a drizzle of honey are a simple way to bring your deviled eggs to the next level by balancing the savoriness of the appetizer with a subtle sweetness. Honey also plays notoriously well with classic deviled egg ingredients like mustard, balancing the sharp tang of the bold, yellow condiment. Experiment with different types of honey to bring unique floral notes to the dish, adding intriguing layers of flavor with this unexpected ingredient.

Elevate your deviled eggs even further by leaning into the time-honored tradition of balancing sweetness and richness with a kick of spice. Top your deviled eggs with bold homemade hot honey or incorporate other spicy elements into your filling or garnish, such as wasabi, sriracha, jalapeños, or hot sauce. Creating balance in cooking is both an art and a science. 

As explained by Le Cordon Bleu, one tried-and-true method of taming the heat of a spicy dish is to counteract the capsaicin with a sweet element like honey or sugar. This centuries-old pairing might seem counterintuitive, but this complementary fusing of flavors continues to prove itself to be a winning combination.

Regional seasoning inspiration

The hard-boiled egg base provides a perfect canvas for combining an exciting array of seasonings and toppings. Simply browsing through your spice rack, you'll quickly find that there are many more options than a sprinkling of paprika to step up the average deviled egg. Marylanders might skip the paprika in favor of a generous dusting of Old Bay seasoning — perhaps over a filling blended with chunks of blue crab meat. Down in Texas, locals might opt to sprinkle their deviled eggs with a barbeque seasoning blend to bring some sweet smokiness to the rich appetizer.

Guided by traditional global spice blends, innovative cooks have come up with dozens of twists and variations on the traditional deviled egg. You can create your own signature spice blend like Alton Brown with your favorite seasonings. Take your guests on a culinary journey by showcasing aromatic spice trends with a drizzle of lime juice and crumbled Thai chilies for a vibrant take inspired by Southeast Asia. Add some Caribbean flair with a dash of jerk seasoning and an infusion of tropical flavors. Classic dishes like deviled eggs are an excellent canvas for expressing your culinary creativity from tried and true flavor combinations and regional favorites to international fusions and bold, personalized creations. 

Black sesame seeds

Black sesame seeds are a fun and sophisticated way to add flavor and crunch to the traditional deviled egg. Native to Southeast Asia and commonly utilized in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cooking, black sesame seeds have a layered, slightly bitter, and nutty flavor with a crisp texture. Their signature dark color lends itself well to giving a dish a bold, modern finish. Colorful garnishes like black sesame seeds are also a fun way to create themed dishes for Halloween or other festive occasions.

While often used on their own, black sesame seeds are also a common ingredient found in popular spice mixes, such as Japanese furikake and the iconic everything bagel seasoning. This beloved seasoning blend has expanded far beyond the bagel, gaining a nearly cult-like following, especially in the United States. The savory blend has been added to just about everything from avocado toast and fresh fruit to everything bagel ice cream and even an everything bagel martini. Whether on their own or as part of a seasoning blend, black sesame seeds enhance the flavor, texture, and presentation in dishes such as sushi, ramen, avocado toast, deviled eggs, and more.

Pomegranate seeds

Pomegranate seeds are vibrant, jewel-toned garnishes that bring a pop of color, exciting textures, and a tart fruitiness to your typical deviled eggs. Their balance of sweet and tart makes them a well-rounded addition to savory dishes from cheese boards to hearty stews. The pomegranate originated in ancient Persia and may have been the first cultivated fruit. It continues to be an important ingredient in cuisines across the Middle East where pomegranate seeds can be found in rice, chicken, and meat dishes, as well as appetizers, salads, and desserts.

With a short harvest season in most of the United States, pomegranates are considered a winter fruit in the region and frequently bejewel festive holiday dishes. Preparing pomegranates can be messy, tedious, and time-consuming, adding to the luxury of enjoying the crimson arils. Try pairing these vibrant sweet-tart fruit seeds with bold, aromatic ingredients from fresh herbs to funky cheese for an intriguing balance of flavors. With their eye-catching color and bitter-sweet taste, pomegranate seeds are an ideal garnish for elevating your average deviled eggs whether for a Christmas party, an elegant celebration, or other festive occasions.


Lend some sophistication to the classic dish with a garnish of caviar. This fancy ingredient on deviled eggs is a simple way to add a touch of decadence to an otherwise basic appetizer. The highest quality caviar (unfertilized fish eggs) comes from the areas surrounding the Caspian Sea, harvested from female sturgeon that spawn once every several years (via Masterclass). Each package is the result of an intensive harvesting process that requires catching the fish at the right time and carefully extracting, then washing, and preparing the eggs by hand. 

Despite its hefty price tag, the demand for caviar and unregulated harvesting practices pushed beluga sturgeon near extinction with new laws regarding its trade raising the price even further (via Science Daily). While true caviar origins are from wild sturgeon, farm-produced caviar, also known as fish roe, still carries a similar aura of decadence. From coloring to flavor, each type of caviar offers unique qualities of aroma, taste, and texture. Most types of caviar offer a salty, sea-like note while true caviar is known for its richness and signature textural pop.

Due to its rarity, short shelf life, and the time-consuming task of manual harvesting, caviar is certainly a luxury ingredient that may be inaccessible or seem overindulgent. Thankfully, there are a number of caviar alternatives that are easier on both the wallet and the environment. Salmon or trout roe delivers the much sought-after pop while sustainable seaweed caviar offers a briny, vegetarian alternative.

Smoked fish

Conjuring sophisticated flavor profiles signature of elegant dishes like eggs benedict and classic French canapés, tender smoked salmon enhances the average deviled egg with its buttery texture and rich, smoky taste. Including pieces of smoked fish such as salmon or trout make a classy garnish to elevate everyday appetizers, especially when thoughtfully paired with complementary ingredients like briny olives or bright pickled shallots.

For deviled eggs worthy of a fine dining table, focus on classic flavor pairings and a clean, modern presentation. Simple smoked trout deviled eggs finished with pickled shallots and dill are a stylish addition to a refined brunch spread or gourmet starter for a special gathering. For an upscale presentation and other ways to elevate your deviled eggs, try swirling the smoked fish into an attractive rosette or adding a dollop of salmon roe with a delicate sprig of herbs to complete each savory bite.


The secret to creating a memorable deviled egg is striking a balance of flavors and textures. The filling and toppings don't have to be complex or extravagant. In fact, simplicity can be part of the charm when it comes to deviled eggs. Next time you prepare a batch of deviled eggs, try topping the dish with some chopped pickles or a scoop of relish. In addition to a pleasing crunch, the pickles bring another layer of flavor while the acid helps to cut the creamy richness of the yolk and mayonnaise.

Exploring the key elements of cooking in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat explains the role of acid is crucial for how it reacts to the other three elements, especially fat. Acidic foods such as vinegar, as in pickles, help brighten and balance a heavy dish that is rich in fat. This contrast between the sharp acidity and rich fattiness improves our overall experience while eating the dish. Try adding a bright, acidic element to the classic appetizer with tangy ingredients such as pickles, capers, relish, or even a splash of lemon juice in deviled eggs.


Much like pickles, fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut are an excellent way to balance and brighten rich, fatty dishes. However, unlike pickled foods, the acid in kimchi and other fermented dishes does not come from vinegar. These foods get their sour taste from natural bacteria, known as probiotics, that convert the sugars and carbohydrates into acid which helps to preserve the food (via Asia Society). Thanks to their acid content, pickled and fermented foods are a welcome addition to deviled eggs.

In addition to the brightness from the acidity, garnishing your deviled eggs with kimchi gives them color, spice, texture, and a signature flavorful funk. The Korean staple is a versatile dish. The numerous varieties of kimchi including cabbage, radish, and cucumber each with its own distinct flavors and textures. Next time you need to add some pizzazz to your deviled eggs, go ahead and reach for the leftover kimchi for a spicy Korean twist on the traditional appetizer.

Potato chips

Step up the traditional soft and creamy deviled eggs with some much-needed crunch. Texture plays an important role in both presentation and enjoyment of food. Research in the Journal of Texture Studies highlights the contribution of texture to both food acceptance and aversion, making it a critical component in creating a desirable dish. Sought after for their saltiness and crunch, potato chips are a simple, game-changing ingredient to bring the crunch to your next batch of deviled eggs.

Skip the paprika in favor of crushed potato chips either plain or seasoned with your favorite flavors from classic sour cream and onion or barbecue to bold and modern flaming hot or dill pickle varieties. With numerous types of chips on the market, you can achieve an array of flavors and textures with just one ingredient. Potato chips are a great hack for more than just deviled eggs. Utilize salty, crunchy chips to level up mashed potatoes, casseroles, and even breaded chicken.


Bacon and eggs are a timeless duo. Crispy bacon elevates deviled eggs by providing a smoky, savory layer of flavor along with the crunchy addition of texture in an otherwise soft, creamy bite. Simply sprinkle chopped bacon as a garnish for an easily upgraded presentation and irresistible flavor. Amp up the flavor even further by finishing your deviled eggs with candied or glazed bacon, or, perhaps, some crisp, salty prosciutto. You can even use bacon bits (many versions of bacon bits are vegan, surprisingly) to achieve that savory crunch and take your deviled eggs to the next level.

With its signature salty, sweet, smoky, and savory character, there's a reason most of us can't help but love the taste of bacon. Sensory expert Linda Papadopoulos explained to CNN that this complex combination of ingredients sends a signal to the brain to keep us going back in for bite after bite. From breakfast to baked goods, bacon is a savory, aromatic addition to practically any dish that offers a powerful depth of flavor and enticing textural contrast. 


Cheese is one of those ingredients that most of us can't seem to get enough of. Much like bacon, Forbes notes that cheese triggers chemicals in our brains that leave us craving more. From salty and crumbly to buttery and soft, different types of cheese offer a wide array of flavors, textures, and funk. Crumbly feta or cotija and queso fresco are mild options that bring saltiness and texture to your garnish. For a Southern twist on the classic deviled egg, add a dollop of pimento cheese for a decadent finish. Try mixing milder cheeses with spices or textural ingredients like pickles or bacon to pack a tour de force of flavor into your deviled egg.

Those in search of a bolder cheese garnish might try sprinkling some crumbled blue cheese over their deviled eggs. While it might be a controversial addition, it is definitely worth exploring this unique, colorful ingredient. Contrary to popular belief, not all blue cheeses taste the same. Some are quite pungent and distinct while others can be delicate and less potent. For those hesitant about overpowering the flavor of your deviled eggs, try a milder gorgonzola garnish. If you are looking for the signature blue cheese fragrance and funk, go for Roquefort, a notorious traditional French variety that some have hailed as the king of cheeses. With numerous varieties to sample and pair with spices and additions, the possibilities are seemingly endless for cheesy and creative deviled eggs.