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The 5 Best Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper

Have you ever wanted to spice up your culinary creations with the fiery kick of ground red pepper?

But found yourself without it in your pantry? Not to worry.

While ground red pepper can be used as a seasoning for everyday dishes and as a key ingredient in more complex dishes, there are several substitutes that will give your cooking the heat it needs.

Knowing how to use and substitute ground red pepper properly can elevate your dishes and transform them into mouth-watering masterpieces.

Let us explore ways to successfully incorporate this sought-after spice into our repertoire.

What’s Ground Red Pepper?

Ground red pepper is a spicy ingredient commonly used to add heat and flavor to Latin, Asian, and African dishes.

It is made by grinding dried cayenne peppers until they reach the texture of fine flakes or powder.

In terms of taste, this peppery seasoning has an unmistakable sharpness that can range from mild to quite hot depending on how it’s processed.

The bright color adds visual appeal to dishes as well.

If you cannot find ground red pepper, regular cayenne pepper can be used in its place.

Simply grind it up with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder to get the same result.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper

If you’re looking for an alternative to ground red pepper in your dishes, you have plenty of options.

From cayenne to smoked paprika, these five substitutes are sure to bring some zing and flavor to your cooking.

1 – Chili Powder

Chili powder is a must-have in any kitchen pantry.

It’s an aromatic, slightly pungent mix of ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic, and oregano with a hint of onion or sugar.

You can find it as simply a mixture of these spices or with added salt.

As the name implies, it has a spicy kick to it that adds interest to dishes such as chili con carne, tacos, and burritos.

Its texture is finer than that of regular powdered spices, making it suitable for rubs and marinades; its flavor intensifies when cooked.

If you don’t have chili powder on hand but do have ground red pepper at home, you can just increase the amount called for in your recipe to obtain similar heat levels.

2 – Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a popular chili pepper that packs a punch of heat in your dishes.

It’s an ingredient commonly found in many global cuisines and is produced by grinding dried red chili peppers into a fine powder.

It has a deep red color and adds flavor as well as spice to your favorite dishes.

It’s on the hotter side, with about 30-50k on the Scoville scale, so it can be quite potent.

When cooked, its taste ranges from mild to kick-in-the-tongue hot, depending on how much of it you use.

If you don’t have Cayenne pepper, ground red pepper can be used as a substitute due to the similar level of heat it offers.

Just adjust the amount accordingly; usually, the ratio will be one teaspoon of ground red pepper for every ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper used.

3 – Paprika

Paprika is a bright and sweet red pepper used to add flavor and color to all manner of dishes.

Though it originated in South America, paprika has become one of the most popular spices in Europe, particularly in Hungary.

In its original form, paprika is semi-dry and quite crumbly in texture; however, wide varieties are made for easy sprinkling and a smoother texture.

The flavor of paprika ranges from sweet to spicy depending on the variety and may also include notes of smokiness.

While it’s commonly used as an alternative to ground red pepper, it can be substituted for chili powder if you desire a sweeter flavor without as much heat.

For a milder taste, use sweet paprika; for more zest and spice, try hot paprika instead.

4 – Crushed Red Pepper

Crushed Red Pepper is an essential spice that adds a kick to both savory and sweet dishes.

It has the perfect balance of heat, flavor, and texture to enhance recipes, whether sprinkled on pizzas, added to sauces, sprinkled on fried rice, or even used as a garnish for desserts.

The flakes are made from hot peppers that have been dried and then crushed finely.

Its texture adds crunch and visual appeal, while its bright red hue perks up dishes.

Crushed red pepper can be used interchangeably with ground red pepper because it’s very similar in taste without being quite as potent in terms of heat.

Just remember – if you’re using ground red pepper as a substitute, use half the amount called for in the recipe.

5 – Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is an incredibly versatile condiment that adds flavor and spice to a variety of dishes.

It’s made primarily from chilis and other spices, but the exact ingredients vary depending on the brand or recipe used.

Hot sauce ranges in texture from watery to paste-like, while its taste can range from mild to super spicy.

Hot sauce can be used as a condiment, marinade, or even as a part of a single-ingredient dip.

For recipes that call for ground red pepper, you can substitute roughly equal parts of hot sauce for it while adding a unique kick of flavor to your meal.


In conclusion, there are many great substitutes for ground red pepper that you can use to add a bit of heat, flavor, and texture to your recipes.

Whether you’re looking for something milder, like sweet paprika or hot sauce, or something more potent, like cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper, each of these options will be sure to bring a unique flavor to your favorite dishes.

Feel free to experiment with different ingredients and blends to find the perfect combination of spices for your personal taste.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper

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


  • Chili Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Hot Sauce


  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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