Skip to Content

Spice It Up: 5 Best Substitutes for Red Pepper Flakes

Ever find yourself in the middle of cooking and realize you’re out of red pepper flakes? It happens to the best of us. Luckily, we’ve got a list of the top five swaps that will save your dish and add an exciting twist.

These aren’t just any alternatives; they’re game-changers in the kitchen. We’ve personally tested each one to ensure they bring the heat and flavor you’re craving. From smoky to earthy, each substitute offers a unique vibe that can elevate your cooking.

And hey, we’re all about sharing secrets. One of these swaps might just become your new go-to spice, not just a last-minute save. Get ready to amp up your dishes with options you might have overlooked before.

The 5 Best Substitutes For Red Pepper Flake

You can use various types of crushed and ground peppers when you don’t have the required spice.

Here’s a detailed comparison of the 5 best substitutes for red pepper flakes, along with their key characteristics and proper ratios:

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
Cayenne Pepper PowderCayenne pepper powder is made from dried and ground cayenne peppers. It has a fiery heat and a pungent flavor similar to red pepper flakes.Use an equal amount of cayenne pepper powder as you would with red pepper flakes in recipes.
Chipotle PowderChipotle powder is made from smoked and dried jalapeño peppers. It has a smoky and spicy flavor that can add depth to dishes.Use an equal amount of chipotle powder as you would with red pepper flakes in recipes.
Chili PowderChili powder is a blend of various spices, including chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder, and more. It provides a balanced heat and flavor.Use an equal amount of chili powder as you would with red pepper flakes in recipes.
PaprikaPaprika is made from ground dried sweet or hot peppers. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and adds vibrant color to dishes.Use an equal amount of paprika as you would with red pepper flakes in recipes.
Homemade Red Pepper FlakesHomemade red pepper flakes can be made by drying and crushing red chili peppers. They have a similar heat and flavor to store-bought red pepper flakes.Use an equal amount of homemade red pepper flakes as you would with store-bought red pepper flakes in recipes.

Now, let’s discuss each substitute in more detail:

1 – Cayenne Pepper Powder

cayenne pepper powder

Cayenne pepper powder is one of the common ingredients in red pepper flakes.

So, it can be an ideal replacement in many dishes.

It’s hotter than regular pepper flakes, so use a little less when used as an alternative.

Cayenne pepper is popular in Mexican as well as Asian cuisine.

You can use it in sauces, dips, chutneys, marinades and dry rubs.

You can also put it in salads, roasts, stir-fries, soups and stews.

Baked products also taste great with it.

Besides being delicious and spicy, cayenne pepper is also good for health.

Its primary component, capsaicin, has medicinal properties which can alleviate many health issues.

Suitable ratio.

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake = 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder.

2 – Chipotle Powder

chipotle powder

It’s another common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, made from red jalapeños, dried and ground.

Chipotle powder gives a smoky and hot flavor but is not hotter than red pepper flakes.

You can therefore put a little more when using as a replacement.

You can use chipotle powder in most dishes that demand red pepper flakes.

Sprinkle it on pizzaz, sandwiches, salads, soups and stews.

You can also put it in marinades, sauces, and dips.

It will taste delicious in baked products, stir-fries, and roasts too.

Chipotle powder gives both flavor and color to a dish.

So, you can have radiant-looking food that also tastes amazing.

Suitable ratio.

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake = 2 teaspoons chipotle powder.

3 – Chili Powder

chili powder

If you would like an even more flavorful option, chili powder can also stand-in for red pepper flakes.

Made from a blend of different chili peppers and spices, it can enhance any dish.

You will find a mild or hot variety of chili powders depending on the type of pepper used.

It can be perfect in stews and soups, salads and stir-fries, roasts, marinades, pizzaz, sandwiches and sauces.

You can also add it to baked goods, dry-rubs, and put in chutneys and dressings.

When consumed in moderate quantities, chili powder boosts your metabolism, improves immunity and the digestive system.

Suitable ratio.

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes = 2 teaspoons chili powder.

4 – Paprika


Since you can find several varieties, paprika can also be a good substitute for red pepper flake.

The flavor ranges from sweet to hot in intensity and color from orange to dark red.

It’s a suitable option for any dish that asks for red pepper flakes.

Paprika is a common spice in Hungarian, Mexican and Spanish cuisines, but people in other regions also use it.

You can add it to various foods like salads, stews, soups and stir-fries.

You can also put it in dressings, sauces, dry rubs and much more.

Besides being delicious, paprika also offers health benefits and can lower the risk of heart ailments and cancer and boost immunity.

Suitable ratio.

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake = 1 tablespoon paprika (add the same amount if it’s a hot variety).

5 – Homemade Red Pepper Flakes

diy red pepper flakes

If you have dry peppers like jalapenos, cayenne, Anaheim, serrano and habanero, you can also create a homemade version.

All you have to do is dry the peppers using an oven or a dehydrator and crush them in a mortar and pestle.

You will have some delicious-looking red pepper flakes.

The DIY pepper flakes will be hot or mild, depending on the peppers you use.

So, put less when using a spicier variety and more when using a milder one.

The homemade item will suit any dish that recommends red pepper flakes.

You can use it in marinades, dressings, sauces and dry rubs.

It will also taste delicious in soups, stews, stir-fries, pizzas and sandwiches.

What’s more, when you add homemade pepper flakes to your diet, you also improve your health.

Since peppers are high in beta carotene, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they prevent diseases, alleviate problems and improve bodily functions.

Suitable ratio.

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes = 1/2 teaspoon DIY pepper flakes (for hotter chilies. Add the same amount for mild).

The 5 Best Substitutes for Red Pepper Flakes

Searching for alternatives to red pepper flakes? Your quest ends here! Explore our carefully selected list of the 5 best substitutes that seamlessly replace red pepper flakes, adding a burst of flavor to your dishes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings


  • Cayenne Pepper Powder
  • Chipotle Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Homemade Red Pepper Flakes


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for red pepper flakes
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating