Cayenne Pepper Substitute

Cayenne Pepper is one of those spices that everyone loves and uses. It is used in so many different ways, from cooking to seasoning food. But did you know that other spices also make an excellent substitute? Here is a list of cayenne pepper alternatives that you can use in case you run out of cayenne pepper. 

See our food substitution methodology resource page, and Pimento Pepper Alternatives

What Are the Best Cayenne Pepper Substitutes

We listed the 6 best cayenne pepper alternatives that you can choose from. 

1. Paprika

Paprika was originally from India and then spread throughout Europe. The name “paprika” comes from “Pappriekia,” which means pepper in Sanskrit. Paprika is a spice made from dried peppers. The main version of Paprika includes sweet red pepper, hot chili pepper, smoked Paprika, and Spanish Paprika. Paprika has a rich history dating back thousands of years.

Why is Paprika a good substitute for Cayenne Pepper?

Hot paprika powder is one of the most accessible alternative options since it can be found in nearly every Asian grocery market. It’s also a chili powder made from ground chili peppers, including paprika pepper. While the flavor profile is comparable, note that Paprika is considerably milder than cayenne pepper. If you’re using it, double the amount of Paprika in the recipe to actually get the heat levels and smoky flavor of cayenne pepper.

What to Use when You Have Run out Of Cayenne Pepper
What to Use When You Have Run out Of Cayenne Pepper

2. Red Chili Flakes

Red chili pepper flakes are spicy peppers that are used for seasoning food. They come from the Capsicum annuum species, which includes bell peppers, jalapeños, poblanos, Serranos, and Cayennes. The capsaicinoids found in these peppers cause them to be hot.

Why is Red Chili a good substitute for Cayenne Pepper?

Red chili flakes are can be a cayenne pepper alternative for people who want to replace their cayenne pepper with something else. They have a similar flavor profile as ground cayenne pepper but they are much hotter. This makes them perfect for adding heat to dishes like tacos or burgers. 

3. Gochugaru

Gochugaru is a red pepper powder made from ground red pepper flakes. It has a sweet and spicy flavor. It is used in Korean cuisine for seasoning dishes such as kimchi and bulgogi.

Why is Gochugaru a good substitute for Cayenne Pepper?

Gochugaru has a very similar flavor to cayenne pepper. However, it is not as hot. Therefore, if you don’t like spicy foods, this could be a great alternative. Also, gochugaru is available in some supermarkets. So, if you do happen to run out of cayenne pepper, you can always buy some gochugaru instead.

4. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is a blend of ground chilies and spices. It is a common option used to season Mexican cuisine. There are varieties of chipotle powder, with different high spice levels. But most of them have a strong smoky flavor.

Why is Chipotle Powder a good substitute for Cayenne Pepper?

Like gochugaru, the chipotle powder is a blend between ground chilies and spices, making it a good replacement for ground cayenne powder. The flavor profile of chipotle peppers is quite similar to cayenne pepper, although it is slightly more intense. Chipotle can also be used in Tex Mex Alternatives

5. Jalapeño peppers

Jalapeño peppers are a type of fresh peppers that originated in Mexico. They are typically green and round in shape. They contain capsaicin, which gives them their characteristic heat. It mixes well with other dishes, just like ground cayenne pepper powder. The powdered form of this spice is easy to make out of ground chili peppers.

Why is Paprika a good substitute for Cayenne Pepper?

Jalapenos have a very similar flavor profile to ground cayenne pepper because they both contain capsaicin. It is best to use a dried Jalapeno to make it last a long time. You can preserve it by dehydrating it along with other hot peppers and hot sauce like Tabasco pepper as a replacement for cayenne pepper. 

6. Chile de Arbol

Chiles de Árbol is thin, short Mexican peppers that grow to 2-3 inches long and less than a half-inch wide. They turn bright, vibrant red in color as they mature. In Spanish, “chile de árbol” means “tree chili,” referring to the pepper’s woody stem.

Why is Chile de Arbol a good substitute for Cayenne Pepper?

The chile de árbol, another ideal substitute for cayenne pepper, has a Scoville heat level of around 15,000-30,000.

What can you substitute for Scotch Bonnet Pepper

What Does Cayenne Pepper Taste Like

In terms of heat tolerance, most people should be fine with fresh cayenne peppers. It’s hot enough to be flavorful but not so intense that it would turn off the vast majority of palates. Because it has more capsaicin than a jalapeño and lower-heat peppers, this is a hot pepper that may be used in different ways beyond its culinary uses.

Despite the heat found in these red peppers, cayenne has a subtle scent. Because of its high spice level, cayenne is best utilized in tiny amounts while cooking to avoid a dish being overwhelmed by the concentrated spice.

On the Scoville scale, which measures the amount of capsaicin in various peppers, a cayenne pepper’s heat range varies from 5,000 to 50,000 units. Most ground cayenne producers, on the other hand, use peppers that are at least 30,000 Scoville units strong to ensure a lot of heat.

How to Substitute for Cayenne Pepper
How to Substitute for Cayenne Pepper – Use a tiny amount first and tase your dish!

Types of Cayenne Pepper and Their Heat Levels

In this section, we give you the 5 most common types of cayenne pepper to give you an idea of what particular flavor matches and the level of heat you need to replace with. 

1. Sweet Cayenne Peppers

Sweet cayenne peppers are unlike the other types of hot peppers in that they’re sweet, with a subtle earthy flavor that makes them excellent in salsa. They are fantastic for stir-fries since they’re so mild and reach incredibly long, making them flavorful in salsa. It has 0-1000 Scoville heat units.

2. Orange Cayenne Peppers

Orange Cayenne Peppers are spicy hot peppers from India. They are used for cooking and also for spicy seasoning. The hottest pepper in the world is called Bhut Jolokia which has a heat rating of 30,000-50,000 Scoville heat units.

3. Dragon Cayenne

The heat of Red Ember peppers is far milder pepper than that of Dragon Cayenne peppers. These are usually 7 to 10 inches long and extremely spicy, therefore they’re best suited for individuals who enjoy spicy food. These are small and a cross between Thai pepper and fresh cayenne peppers. It has 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville heat units. 

4. Golden Cayenne Peppers

The color of the Golden cayenne pepper is gold, making it stand out from other red peppers. The yellow cayenne pepper is a moderately hot cultivar with comparable Scoville units to many other types. It has high Scoville heat units of 30,000-50,000. 

5. Joe’s Long Cayenne Peppers

Joe’s Long Cayenne pepper originated in Calabria, Italy, and then traveled over to a grower named “Joe” in New York. These peppers are quite spicy and thin, but they’re extremely long Cayennes. This type of pepper has 50,000 Scoville heat units.

Are cayenne pepper and red pepper the same?

Although they both come from the same plant, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes are often different spices. Red peppers are usually sweeter and less spicy than cayenne pepper. Ground Cayenne pepper typically has a higher rating on the Scoville scale. How there are quite a few styles so check how hot your one is. I typically only use small amounts for cooking, and then taste first before adding any more.

Can you use Cajun seasoning instead of cayenne pepper?

Yes. It is because Cajun seasoning contains cayenne pepper powder as its essential ingredient. It will not give the exact flavor, but it provides the same heat levels. 

Is cayenne pepper hot?

Cayenne pepper is spicy, and it has a lot of capsaicin, which makes it hot. However, it is not dangerous for humans unless they overeat. If you want to use it in cooking, add it at the end of the cooking process with a few teaspoons when the food is already done. You can add more hot sauce if you think its spice level is lacking.