Paladin spells in 5e are primarily focused on blessing, protecting, and healing allies, self-buffing for more damage, and shutting down fiends, demons, and undead. The best Paladin spells 5e has to offer are those that make the best and most efficient use of a Paladin’s limited spell slots.

That means that longer-term buffs and spells that come with utility as well as damage rank among 5e Paladin spells’ best options. But DnD Paladins are also known for their strong burst damage, which partially comes from their smite spells (as well their Divine Smite class feature).

Here are my picks for the best DnD 5e Paladin spells by level, going through the entire 5e Paladin spells list.

dnd paladin spells being cast at orcs

Best 1st-level Paladin Spells 5e

DnD 5e Paladins get 1st-level spells at 2nd level. Here are my picks for 1st-level’s best Paladin spells 5e:

  1. Bless. Easily the best 1st-level buff in the game (and possibly the best SPELL in DnD 5e, period: read up on bounded accuracy to learn why), Bless gives a +1d4 (2.5 average) bonus to the attack rolls and saving throws of up to 3 allies (or more when upcast).

    This is incredibly strong both offensively and defensively, as fewer spells (-12.5 percentage points) and negative effects will land on most of your party, while most of your party will land more attacks (+12.5 percentage points). And even though it’s a concentration spell, if you Bless yourself, you’ll have +1d4 on concentration checks (which are just Constitution saving throws), so you’ll have an easier time keeping it up than most other concentration spells.

  2. Thunderous Smite. A bonus action self-buff to your next melee weapon attack that lands within the next minute, Thunderous Smite deals 2d6 (7 average) extra thunder damage on hit. If the creature fails a Strength saving throw, it’s also pushed 10 feet away from you and knocked prone.

    That’s decent damage, as well as a strong rider effect. With teamwork, that 10-foot push could result in an enemy taking extra damage (push into Spike Growth, Moonbeam, Spirit Guardians, etc.) or environmental hazards (Web, falling off a cliff, into lava, etc.). Plus, the target is prone, which your melee allies can take advantage of with advantaged attack rolls. And to stand from prone takes half its movement speed, so you can also help ranged allies make space and kite enemies.

    The only downside to Thunderous Smite is that it’s audible 300 feed away, so it’s not really useable when you’re trying to be sneaky.

  3. Protection from Evil and Good. A classic among DnD Paladin spells, Protection from Evil and Good buffs an ally or yourself, giving aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead disadvantage on attack rolls against the target. They also can’t be charmed, frightened, or possessed by them.

    Disavantage on all incoming attack rolls is a huge defensive buff, akin to +4 or +5 AC, and seriously reduces the chances of being critically hit. If you’re fighting these types of foes and you can reliably tank most of the incoming attacks, this might beat out Bless as a superior short-term buff. It also lasts for up to 10 minutes (concentration permitting), so if you can use it in multiple fights, it’s more efficient than Bless as well.

  4. Command. You utter a one-word command, and if the target fails a Wisdom saving throw, they follow it that command on their next turn. You can make an enemy move, drop their weapon, fall prone, do nothing, or something else entirely from your imagination (as long as it’s one word and completable in 6 seconds or less – the duration of a turn).

    The important point here is that it’s a ranged, verbal spell that fills a gap in the Paladin’s melee-heavy kit. Stopping an enemy from doing anything useful with their turn and putting them out of range to do anything on their next turn (except Dash to get in range) means that you can essentially get 2 rounds of denial for the cost of one spell. The best way to not get hit is to not get attacked in the first place, making Command a solid in-combat option.

    Plus, it has some niche out-of-combat uses, and you can upcast it to affect multiple creatures at once.

  5. Shield of Faith. A straight-up +2 bonus AC to a target within 60 feet. It only costs a bonus action to cast, so you can still attack on the turn you cast Shield of Faith. And it lasts up to 10 minutes, concentration permitting. But if you cast it on yourself, you’ll get hit less, and therefore make fewer concentration checks.

    Mechanically speaking, Bless is stronger than Shield of Faith; killing stuff faster is the best way to reduce incoming damage, after all. But Shield of Faith is more practical to use in combat, since it doesn’t eat your whole turn to cast it. And it has 10x the duration, so if you can use it for multiple fights, it’s a more efficient use of your spell slot as well.

Here are the other 1st-level Paladin spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Cure Wounds – 4 (prepare this if your party lacks healing otherwise)

  • Wrathful Smite – 4 (without party effects to take advantage of forced movement, this is better than Thunderous Smite)

  • Detect Magic – 3

  • Heroism – 3

  • Searing Smite – 3

  • Ceremony – 2

  • Compelled Duel – 2

  • Divine Favor – 2

  • Detect Poison and Disease – 1

  • Purify Food and Drink – 1

Best 2nd-level Paladin Spells 5e

DnD 5e Paladins get 2nd-level spells at 5th level. Here are my picks for 2nd-level’s best Paladin spells 5e:

  1. Aid. +5 maximum and current hit points for up to three allies, lasting up to 8 hours, no concentration required. This is an incredibly efficient buff, and can be upcast for an additional +5 hit points. At lower levels, this can work out to a 15-20% increase in a player’s HP for a full adventuring day. Additionally, you can “rest cast” Aid during a long rest (if you have a 2nd-level spell slot available), and then get your spell slot back immediately when the rest finishes for even greater efficiency.

    Aid can also be used as an in-combat group heal, since it also affects current hit points. It can even bring back an unconscious ally.

  2. Warding Bond. +1 AC and saving throws, and resistance to all damage for an ally of your choice. However, when that target takes damage, you suffer the same amount of damage. Overall, this is a fantastic 1-hour, no-concentration buff for your party’s secondary tank. Even though you’ll take more damage, you’re forcing the enemy to split their damage rather than focus fire, which is always suboptimal in DnD 5e.

  3. Find Steed. A combat-ready mount that makes you twice as fast and can help out with some damage as well. Plus, it gets any self-buffs you cast, so it’s hardier than a normal horse if you cast Shield of Faith on yourself. And, of course, it just fits so well with the Paladin class fantasy.

  4. Prayer of Healing. A 10-minute casting time, but heals up to six creatures for 2d8 (9 average) + your spellcasting modifier. A solid option for when taking a short rest is too risky, but your group is in bad shape.

  5. Lesser Restoration. Ends the blinded, deafened, paralyzed, or poisoned condition on an ally. This is a tad redundant on Paladins, since you can already remove poisons with Lay on Hands. But ending the paralyzed condition on an ally mid-combat can certainly be impactful.

Here are the other 2nd-level Paladin spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Magic Weapon – 4 (good when fighting something immune/resistant to nonmagical damage; otherwise, Bless is better)

  • Branding Smite – 2

  • Protection from Poison – 2

  • Gentle Repose – 1

  • Locate Object – 1

  • Zone of Truth – 1

Best 3rd-level Paladin Spells 5e

DnD 5e Paladins get 3rd-level spells at 9th level. Here are my picks for 3rd-level’s best Paladin spells 5e:

  1. Aura of Vitality. A 1-minute concentration spell that allows you to heal a creature within 30 feet of you for 2d6 (7 average) hit points for a bonus action. This works out to 70 average healing over the duration of the spell (10 rounds), making Aura of Vitality one of the best out-of-combat group healing spells in the game. In combat, it’s not worth your concentration and bonus actions, however.

  2. Revivify. Bring back a creature that died within the last minute for the cost of 300 gp worth of diamonds. You should always have this prepared, just in case. Even if another party member has resurrection spells, they might be the one to die.

  3. Blinding Smite. A bonus action self-buff to your next melee weapon attack that lands within the next minute, Blinding Smite deals 3d8 (13.5 average) extra radiant damage on hit. If the creature fails a Constitution saving throw, it’s also blinded for up to 1 minute. It can repeat this saving throw at the end of each of its turns.

    Blinding Smite deals solid damage, and blinding a target allows you (and your allies) to attack it with advantage, while it attacks with disadvantage. Very strong if it lasts even 1-2 rounds, although Constitution is the highest average ability score among DnD 5e’s creatures.

  4. Dispel Magic. Dispelling an enemy spell or magical effect is almost always a good use of your spell slot. Long-term buffs or debuffs, or powerful damage-over-time area-of-effect spells can be deadly to your party, and dispelling these effects is the next best thing to Counterspelling them before they’re active. Plus, lots of magical traps, puzzles, and locks exist in DnD campaigns, and Dispel Magic is your ticket around them.

  5. Spirit Shroud. A 1-minute concentration spell that causes spirits to flit around you. Whenever you land an attack, it deals an extra 1d8 (4.5 average) radiant, necrotic, or cold damage (your choice) and the target can’t regain hit points for one round. All enemies within 10 feet of you also have -10 movement speed.

    Overall, good, consistent damage, and the ability to prevent health regeneration, healing potions, and healing spells from working on your targets means that the effective “damage” it deals can be much higher than just a measly 1d8 each round.

Here are the other 3rd-level Paladin spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Daylight – 3

  • Remove Curse – 3

  • Crusader’s Mantle – 2

  • Elemental Weapon – 2

  • Create Food and Water – 1

Best 4th-level Paladin Spells 5e

DnD 5e Paladins get 4th-level spells at 13th level. Here are my picks for 4th-level’s best Paladin spells 5e:

  1. Find Greater Steed. With the ability to summon flying mounts like the nimble pegasus or the harder-hitting griffon, your combat capabilities skyrocket. Not only do you have a beefy (59 hit point) conduit for nearly permanent Fly, but also an ally that adds consistent (albeit random) damage if you allow it to act independently rather than controlling it. I highly recommend Tabletop Build’s article on Find (Greater) Steed to understand exactly how it works.

  2. Aura of Purity. A 30-foot aura that prevents disease, gives resistance to poison damage, and gives advantage on saving throws against blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned, and stunned. Very useful in fights with poison-wielding foes or creatures that constantly frighten, paralyze, or stun, since these conditions are particularly nasty.

  3. Aura of Life. A 30-foot aura that gives allies resistance to necrotic damage and prevents their hit point maximum from being reduced. It also brings an ally with 0 hit points to 1 hit point when it starts its turn in the aura.

    Great for yo-yo’ing low-health allies who don’t mind straddling death. And fighting creatures who can chunk out your maximum hit point pool for a long time or have devastating necrotic attacks, like Demiliches, Night Hags, Mummies, Specters, Vampires, Wights, Wraiths, etc.

  4. Death Ward. An 8-hour, no-concentration effect that prevents the target from falling to 0 hit points one time before ending (they fall to 1 hit point instead). Also protects against instant kill effects, like Power Word Kill.

    If you have a 4th-level spell slot left at the end of the adventuring day, there’s no reason not to rest cast this on someone.

  5. Banishment. Very powerful for completely eliminating one monster creature from the fight for a minute — or entirely, if they’re from a different plane of existence than you’re currently on. It requires a failed Charisma saving throw, and your spell save DC probably isn’t very high, but plenty of monsters have low Charisma scores, and the average monster Cha modifier is +0.

Here are the other 4th-level Paladin spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Staggering Smite – 3

  • Locate Creature – 1

Best 5th-level Paladin Spells 5e

DnD 5e Paladins get 5th-level spells at 17th level. Here are my picks for 5th-level’s best Paladin spells 5e:

  1. Banishing Smite. A bonus action self-buff to your next melee weapon attack that lands within the next minute, Blinding Smite deals 5d10 (27.5 average) extra force damage on hit. If the creature is reduced to 50 or fewer hit points, it is banished for one minute — no follow-up saving throws or anything.

    This is unequivocally better than Banishment, especially since you can use your attack modifier for it to hit, rather than your spellcasting modifier. Even if you don’t banish the creature, it’s a hefty bit of additional single-target damage on top of your normal attacks.

  2. Holy Weapon. Cause a weapon to deal an extra 2d8 (9 average) radiant damage on hit and shed light for 60 feet. You can also use a bonus action to dismiss the spell, which causes a flash of radiant energy that forces enemies within 30 feet to make a Consitution saving throw or take 4d8 (18 average) radiant damage on hit and be blinded for 1 minute. It deals half as much damage and doesn’t blind if a creature passes its save, and a creature who fails its save can repeat it at the end of each of its turns.

    Blinding a group of baddies (especially radiant-vulnerable ones) with this spell is fantastic, as is the long-term duration that can add up to tons of extra damage over the course of the spell.

  3. Circle of Power. A 30-foot aura that gives all friendly creatures in range advantage on all saving throws against spells and other magical effects. And when a creature normally takes half damage from a successful saving throw, they take no damage instead.

    Together with Aura of Protection (Paladin feature that gives +2 to +5 on saving throws for allies within 10 feet), you’re an absolute buff machine for avoiding negative effects. Technically, Circle of Power only works on magic, but at this level, enemy spellcasters and magical effects are fairly common.

  4. Destructive Wave. Each enemy creature in 30 feet must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 5d6 (17.5 average) thunder and 5d6 radiant or necrotic damage and be knocked prone. Creatures who succeed take half as much damage and aren’t knocked prone.

    This is pretty big damage, even at this tier of play, and even the creatures pass their saving throws. For those that fail, melee enemies can take advantage of their prone position with advantaged attack rolls. Plus, this is just a massive area of effect for a Paladin who completely lacks offensive area of effect spells up until this point.

  5. Summon Celestial. A nice little one-hour ally that deals decent damage, provides heals, and absorbs damage — very useful to have around. However, by the time you get access to 5th-level spells, it’s a bit weak, and there’s probably a better spell for to be concentrating on instead.

Here are the other 5th-level Paladin spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Raise Dead – 3 (great spell and essential, but a full caster in your group should already have this, and Revivify should suffice for you)

  • Dispel Evil and Good – 3

  • Geas – 2

DnD 5e Paladin Spells FAQ

  1. How many spells does a paladin know? A paladin knows all the spells available at their level, as well as all the level-appropriate spells from their subclass (Oath). In DnD 5e, paladins get access to 1st-level spells at 2nd level, 2nd-level spells at 5th-level, 3rd-level spells at 9th level, 4th-level spells at 13th level, and 5th-level spells at 17th level (Player’s Handbook, pg. 83).

  2. How many spells can a paladin prepare? A paladin can prepare a number of spells up to their charisma modifier plus half their paladin level, rounded down (Player’s Handbook, pg. 84). For example, a 5th-level paladin with a +2 Charisma modifier can prepare four spells. These spells can include 1st- or 2nd-level paladin spells in any combination. Paladins can change their prepared spell list at the end of a long rest.

  3. What spells do paladins start with? A paladin starts with 0 spells at 1st level; paladins gain spellcasting at 2nd level. At this point, they have two 1st-level spell slots per long rest, and can prepare a number of paladin spells equal to half their level (1) + their charisma modifier.

  4. Can paladins use healing spells? Yes, paladins can use some healing spells. They have access to the 1st-level spell Cure Wounds, which heals 1d8 + their Charisma modifier hit points, the 2nd-level Prayer of Healing and the 3rd-level Aura of Vitality, both of which can heal an entire party during downtime. Additionally, their Summon Celestial spell can heal for 2d8 + 5 hit points.

    On top of healing, paladins have access to spells that remove negative effects (Lesser Restoration and Remove Curse), as well as resurrection spells (Revivify and Raise Dead).

  5. Why don’t paladins get cantrips? Paladins don’t get cantrips because of their formidable physical capabilities and as a matter of choice by DnD 5e’s game designers. Half-casters with Extra Attack built-in to their class features, like Paladins and Rangers, don’t get cantrips because they would largely be redundant/distract from the class’ main utility: making physical attacks to deal big damage.

  6. Are paladin oath spells always prepared? Yes, oath spells are always prepared once you gain access to them at their specified levels. However, oath spells don’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day, and oath spells are always treated as paladin spells for you, even if they don’t appear on the paladin spell list (Player’s Handbook, pg. 85).

  7. Can paladins cast spells without a holy symbol? Yes, a paladin can cast many spells without a holy symbol; however, if a spell has a material component, the paladin must use their holy symbol as their spellcasting focus in lieu of actually having the listed material component. And if the required material component has a cost requirement, the holy symbol cannot be used as the spellcasting focus; the material itself must be used.

    However, many paladin spells do not have a material component, and these spells can be cast without a holy symbol.

    It’s important to note that paladins and clerics can affix their holy symbol to their shields, so they don’t need a free hand to use it (Player’s Handbook, pgs. 85, 151, 203).