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Cayenne pepper substitute – 8 incredible alternatives to cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper substitute – 8 incredible alternatives to cayenne pepper

If you’re looking for a proper cayenne pepper substitute that won’t compromise your recipe’s flavor completely, you’ve come to the right place!  

Cayenne pepper is an ingredient that gives a delicious spiciness to your favorite dishes, such as casseroles, stews, pasta dishes, curries, and more. I certainly can’t imagine having devilled eggs without a generous amount of cayenne sprinkled on top! 

It’s a spicy seasoning prepared from dried and ground cayenne peppers and packs a delightfully spicy punch! If you’re anything like me, then you surely love using cayenne pepper in your dishes.

However, there might come a point in your life when you run out of cayenne pepper! When that time comes, don’t panic as there are many spices that you can use instead of cayenne pepper in your dish.  

Let’s take a look at some spice substitutes for cayenne pepper! 

PaprikaMilder than cayenneDouble the amount of cayenne
Red Chili FlakesNot as hot as cayenne1 ½ times more than cayenne
Chili PowderBlend of chili peppersSame amount as cayenneCheck flavor before use
GochugaruCoarsely ground red pepperEqual measures as cayenneUsed in Korean cuisine
Hot SauceVariesFew dashes or same amount as cayenneAdjust to desired spiciness
Jalapeño PeppersMilder than cayenneStart with small amount, adjust to taste
Tabasco PepperSimilar to cayenneAdjust based on desired flavorSuitable for spicy condiments
Thai PeppersHotter than cayenneHalf the amount of cayenne
A pile of red chili peppers on a wooden table.

Spices that act as the best cayenne pepper substitute

Here are some excellent cayenne pepper substitutes than you can easily use in your recipe:

1. Paprika

Paprika is the most commonly available substitute for cayenne peppers. It’s essentially a chili powder prepared from ground paprika chili peppers. Its flavor profile is quite similar to that of cayenne peppers. 

However, it’s certainly milder than the spicy cayenne. So, if you want the same level of spiciness in your dish, then add double the amount the recipe calls for with cayenne pepper.

  • Milder than cayenne pepper. Double the amount of paprika compared to cayenne pepper in the recipe for a similar level of spiciness.

2. Red chili flakes

Red chili flakes are readily available in most grocery stores and act as a suitable replacement for cayenne pepper. Most chili flake varieties are prepared by mixing different types of dried and crushed red chili peppers. 

Since the peppers aren’t ground, this spice will give your dish a different texture than cayenne pepper, which can be easily overlooked in most recipes. 

However, since red chili flakes aren’t as hot as cayenne pepper, make sure to use about 1 ½ times more chili flakes than the amount of cayenne pepper required in the dish.

  • Not as hot as cayenne pepper. Use about 1 ½ times more chili flakes than the amount of cayenne pepper required in the dish.

3. Chili powder

Chili powder is essentially a blend of a wide array of chili peppers that have been dried and ground together. Even though it’s an acceptable substitute for cayenne pepper, it’s typically made from darker red peppers that are at times smoked for an added burst of flavor. This is why it’s best to smell and taste the chili powder you have at hand to make sure that it won’t alter your recipe’s flavor altogether. For this, use the same measurements mentioned in the recipe.

  • A blend of various chili peppers. Use the same measurements as cayenne pepper mentioned in the recipe.

4. Gochugaru

Gochugaru is an interesting cayenne pepper substitute. It’s a coarsely ground blend of red pepper flakes and is commonly used in Korean cuisine. It’s prepared from sun-dried chili peppers and has a somewhat smoky flavor profile, which might alter your dish’s overall taste a bit. However, it’s still a flavorful and vibrant substitute for cayenne pepper, and you can use it in equal measures as cayenne in your dish.

  • A coarsely ground blend of red pepper flakes used in Korean cuisine. Use it in equal measures as cayenne in your dish.

5. Hot sauce

Hot sauces come in varieties and can be used as an alternative to cayenne pepper when you’re in a pinch.

Crystal or Tabasco hot sauce is often a good substitute for cayenne, but if you can find one that doesn’t have vinegar in it, then it would taste even better. 

Use a few dashes of hot sauce to replace the cayenne and add the right amount of spicy goodness to your dish. If you want your dish to be extra spicy, use the exact amount of hot sauce as the cayenne amount mentioned in the recipe!

  • A few dashes of hot sauce can replace cayenne. If extra spiciness is desired, use the same amount of hot sauce as the cayenne amount in the recipe.

6. Jalapeño peppers

If you want a pepper with a milder heat level than cayenne, you can opt for jalapeños. You can find jalapeños that are even four times milder than cayenne. 

Even though the jalapeño peppers’ taste is slightly different from the flavor of cayenne peppers, this truly is the ultimate mildly hot pepper that you can use in your dishes.

  • Milder than cayenne. The substitution ratio depends on the desired heat level. Start with a small amount and adjust to taste.

7. Tabasco Pepper

Cayenne and Tabasco pepper share a similar heat profile, but fresh Tabasco peppers are certainly juicier. This juiciness separates Tabasco from other peppers and can alter the overall flavor of your recipe. 

As such, Tabasco pepper can work as a replacement for cayenne pepper in spicy condiments and salsas.

  • Similar heat profile to cayenne but juicier. Suitable for spicy condiments and salsas, adjust the amount based on the desired flavor profile.

8. Thai peppers

You can also use dried or fresh Thai peppers as a substitute for cayenne pepper. 

Just remember that Thai peppers usually pack twice the heat of cayenne peppers. If you don’t want your dish to be extra spicy, then only use half the amount of Thai pepper that the recipe calls for with cayenne pepper. 

You can find dried Thai peppers in the international foods section of most marts.

  • Usually twice as hot as cayenne peppers. Use half the amount of Thai pepper compared to cayenne pepper in the recipe.

The bottom line

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide on spices that can act as the best cayenne pepper substitute. The spices I’ve mentioned above are the closest in terms of flavor to cayenne and won’t alter your dish completely. 

Make sure to adjust the amount of the spices accordingly to equal the spiciness of cayenne. 

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try cooking with these cayenne pepper substitutes!  

A close-up photo of a pile of red cayenne peppers.