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The 5 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Pepper

The extraordinary success of the capsaicin pepper in recent years has led to a growing interest in cooking with hot chilies.

The cayenne chili is native to South America and comes from a plant species called “Capsicum annuum”.

They have been used for centuries as a seasoning and were introduced into Europe through trade routes with Central America.

Cayenne pepper is today one of the most popular spices in the world.

It has a very strong and spicy taste, and it is used as a seasoning for both Asian and European dishes.

Cooking with cayenne chili can be overwhelming to those not experienced with it – many people experience problems such as coughing or choking when they prepare it.

It’s no surprise that many don’t enjoy the taste of cayenne pepper.

Luckily, several alternatives can be used in place of cayenne pepper.

Keep on reading for the five best alternatives for cayenne pepper.

What is Cayenne Pepper?

what is cayenne pepper

First, cayenne pepper is a chili pepper that belongs to the Capsicum genus.

It has many health benefits and is used in many spicy foods, such as Mexican salsas.

Cayenne peppers are typically long and skinny; they grow about 2-5 inches long on average.

They come in red, yellow, and orange colors on the outside, while the inside consists of small seeds surrounded by membrane tissues.

When the cayenne pepper is dried, it will turn a brownish-red color.

Many people describe cayenne pepper as having flavors that are both sweet and spicy at the same time, with a hint of smokiness.

The taste is not typically very strong for cayenne pepper, so you can eat a lot of it without feeling overwhelmed in spicy flavor.

One can either purchase it dried or as a powder to use cayenne.

For those who do not enjoy handling hot peppers, buying dry cayenne may be ideal since the seeds are removed during this process.

Also, some people may choose to purchase powder cayenne instead because, in this form, it can be added to several dishes without changing the flavor.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Peppers

If you are looking for an alternative to cayenne pepper, here are five substitutes you can use instead.

1 – 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.

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.

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.

4 – 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.

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.


Cayenne pepper is a popular ingredient that adds spicy flavor and heat to many dishes.

However, it is also known for its health benefits and certain medicinal purposes.

If you want to avoid cayenne pepper or if you can’t find the spice in your local grocery store, there are several other options available that will produce excellent results.

Depending on the spiciness of the dish you are preparing, you can choose from chili powder, red pepper flakes, gochugaru, or jalapeno powder.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Pepper

The 5 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Pepper
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


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


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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