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Get Spicy: 5 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Pepper

Kicking up the heat in the kitchen and ran out of cayenne pepper? No sweat.

We’ve got you covered with the top five swaps that’ll keep your dishes blazing.

Sure, cayenne has its charm, with that perfect punch it packs, but these alternatives aren’t just stand-ins; they’re stars in their own right.

Ever tried paprika to add color and warmth, or maybe dialed up the heat with ground red pepper?

Each substitute brings its own zing to the table, making your recipe not just saved, but possibly even better.

Ready to keep things spicy without a hitch? Stick with us!

what is cayenne pepper

The 5 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne pepper is a spicy and versatile spice commonly used in various cuisines to add heat and flavor to dishes.

However, if you find yourself without cayenne pepper or prefer a milder or different flavor profile, there are several substitutes that can provide a similar spice level and enhance your recipes.

In this guide, we will compare the top 5 substitutes for cayenne pepper, discussing their key characteristics and suggesting proper ratios to ensure excellent results in your culinary creations.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
PaprikaMild and smoky with a sweet flavorUse an equal amount of paprika as a substitute for cayenne pepper
Red Chili FlakesModerately spicy with a slightly fruity and smoky tasteUse an equal amount of red chili flakes as a substitute for cayenne pepper
Chili PowderMedium heat with a blend of spices including cayenne pepperUse an equal amount of chili powder as a substitute for cayenne pepper
GochugaruMild to medium heat with a slightly sweet and smoky flavor, commonly used in Korean cuisineUse an equal amount of gochugaru as a substitute for cayenne pepper
Jalapeno PowderModerate spice level with a distinct jalapeno flavorUse an equal amount of jalapeno powder as a substitute for cayenne pepper

Now let’s dive into each substitute in more detail:

1 – Paprika

paprika

The next substitute for cayenne pepper is paprika.

Unlike cayenne, this version of chili powder is milder in taste and provides a more sweet flavor than spicy.

Also, paprika comes from the same plant as bell peppers, but it only has the seed of the pepper left after processing.

This produces an earthy red or brown powder.

Paprika is popular in Hungary, where it is used with goulash and other stews.

In addition, dishes such as deviled eggs and cheese balls will add a unique flavor when paprika is incorporated into them.

This ingredient can also be used when making pickled vegetables or meats for sandwiches.

  • Key Characteristics: Paprika is known for its mildness and smoky flavor. It adds a touch of sweetness to dishes, making it a suitable substitute for cayenne pepper if you prefer a milder heat level.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of paprika as a substitute for cayenne pepper. Adjust the quantity based on your desired level of spiciness.

2 – Red Chili Flakes

red chili flakes

Red chili flakes are a good substitute for cayenne pepper because they have a lot of heat and flavor.

In general, these spices can add spicy flavors to foods that have sweet overtones.

For example, you could use the red chili flakes when adding spice to fruit jams or jellies.

In addition, it works well with spicy chicken wings and pepperoni.

Red chili flakes typically range in color from bright red to dark maroon, and they come from dried and crushed chili peppers.

People often use the word ‘flakes’ when describing this ingredient because that’s how it appears once it’s been through processing.

Some people may also refer to these spices as crushed chili peppers.

In some spicy dishes, you may hear people refer to red chili flakes as ‘dried chili pepper’.

However, most of the time, the word ‘chili’ is dropped and what they are referring to is cayenne or red chili flakes.

  • Key Characteristics: Red chili flakes provide a moderate level of spiciness with a slightly fruity and smoky taste. They are commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines to add a kick of heat to dishes.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of red chili flakes as a substitute for cayenne pepper. Adjust the quantity based on your desired level of spiciness.

3 – Chili Powder

chili powder

Chili powder is a great substitute for cayenne pepper for people who enjoy medium spicy flavors.

Before being sold, this powder is generally mixed with other spices, including garlic salt or salt.

It can also be combined with cumin, oregano, and coriander.

Chili powder is ideal for adding flavor to chicken dishes and beef stews.

People are often surprised to discover that chili powder has milder flavors than cayenne pepper.

However, there is often more heat in chili powder because it includes a combination of spices, including cayenne peppers and red chilies.

Many recipes call specifically for chili powder as an ingredient.

Because of this, you may consider keeping a jar on hand to avoid having to make the trip to the store every time you want to cook something spicy.

  • Key Characteristics: Chili powder typically offers medium heat and consists of a blend of spices, including cayenne pepper. It provides a complex flavor profile and is widely used in Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of chili powder as a substitute for cayenne pepper. Adjust the quantity based on your desired level of spiciness.

4 – Gochugaru

gochugaru

Another good substitute for cayenne pepper is gochugaru.

Unlike cayenne, this spice will provide a sweet and spicy taste and a smoky flavor.

In general, this powder looks similar to paprika, but it has a lot more heat from chilies used during processing.

The red pepper flakes used to make gochugaru are dried and then crushed.

People often use these spices to season kimchi, dumplings, and grilled meats.

Gochugaru is the main ingredient in gochujang, a popular sauce used in Korean food.

Also, this powder is frequently sprinkled over french fries before being served.

  • Key Characteristics: Gochugaru is a Korean spice that offers a mild to medium level of heat. It has a slightly sweet and smoky flavor and is commonly used in dishes like kimchi and Korean barbecue.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of gochugaru as a substitute for cayenne pepper. Adjust the quantity based on your desired level of spiciness.

5 – Jalapeno Powder

jalapeno powder

Jalapeno powder is another spicy substitute for cayenne pepper.

The heat of this spice comes from the seeds and membranes that are leftover once the fruits have ripened.

The remaining ingredients are then dried using hot air or heat until they form a dark red powder that resembles cayenne pepper.

People enjoy jalapeno powder because it has a lot of flavor and heat, adding an interesting element to most dishes.

Some popular food items that use jalapeno pepper include chilies and mole sauces.

In addition, this powder is often used to replace cayenne in most recipes because the two spices have similar levels of spiciness.

However, you may want to keep in mind that jalapeno powder is hotter than cayenne pepper.

  • Key Characteristics: Jalapeno powder provides a moderate level of spiciness and carries the distinct flavor of jalapeno peppers. It adds a tangy and slightly earthy taste to dishes.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of jalapeno powder as a substitute for cayenne pepper. Adjust the quantity based on your desired level of spiciness.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Pepper

Looking to spice up your dishes without cayenne pepper? We've got you covered! Explore our curated list of the 5 best substitutes that will add the perfect kick to your recipes, ensuring a flavorful culinary experience without compromising on taste.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • Paprika
  • Red Chili Flakes
  • Chili Powder
  • Gochugaru
  • Jalapeno Powder

Instructions
 

  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for cayenne pepper
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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