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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Ground Red Peppers

Alright, so you’ve run out of ground red peppers. No sweat.

This spice racks up big flavor points in tons of dishes, right?

Here’s the thing – there are plenty of other ingredients that can step up to the plate and keep your meals zinging with that much-needed kick.

We’ve dug around and found the five best substitutes that will save your dish without skipping a beat. Trust us, your kitchen is probably already a gold mine of alternatives.

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.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper

If you're out of ground red pepper, explore these five outstanding substitutes that offer varying levels of heat and flavor, ensuring your dishes remain spicy and vibrant.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


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


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper
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