Cayenne pepper has a great flavor profile. Easily to find in powdered form, cayenne pepper is a great way to add just enough heat to any dish. Ground cayenne pepper comes from, you guessed it, fresh cayenne peppers which is a type of chili pepper. Cayenne pepper also has some impressive health benefits. Known to lower blood pressure, help digestion, as well as many other benefits, cayenne pepper is great to incorporate in any diet.
This spicy seasoning packs the heal level and is rated at 30,000-50,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. So, if you're looking for a convenient way to increase the spiciness in a dish or spice rub, make sure you have cayenne pepper on hand. However, there are times when the jar of cayenne pepper runs out or it just isn't in the spice rack. Don't make a run for the grocery store! There are plenty of good substitutes that won't sacrifice flavor or heat.
Check out some of our favorite cayenne pepper substitutes below.
1. Red Pepper Flakes
You probably have a jar of red pepper flakes sitting on your spice rack right now. Swapping in red chili flakes will usually work as a cayenne pepper substitute, just keep in mind that they have a different texture. Still, in a pinch, red pepper flakes work just fine when you need to add heat to a dish.
Paprika has a smoky flavor, comes in a powdered form and is easy to find at the grocery store. You might see a few common varieties: basic paprika, Hungarian, and Spanish paprika. These varieties have different heat levels that run from mild to hot.
When you only want little heat, go for basic paprika. If you only have regular paprika on hand, but still want some spice, just double the amount of paprika. Hungarian paprika has a deep red color, tends to be a bit sweeter, but will still bring the heat. Spanish paprika is made with smoked peppers, giving you a mix of heat and smoke.
3. Chili Powder
Chili powder is made from a variety of chili peppers that are dried and ground. It might not be as hot, but will still work as a good substitute.
4. Hot Sauce
Your favorite hot sauce or Tabasco sauce work nicely as a replacement for cayenne pepper. Add in a few dashes and you might not even realize you're missing out on cayenne powder.
5. Thai Peppers
You might be able to find fresh Thai peppers at the store, but if you can't, most carry dried Thai peppers. I'll warn you though, they're hot! Ranging from 50,000-100,000 Scoville Heat Units, if you don't mind the spiciness, Thai peppers will work for you.
Popular in Korean cooking, gochugaru is a blend of red pepper flakes and has a vibrant red color. It has a somewhat smoky flavor, but will still give you the heat you want. Gochugaru is commonly used when making kimchi and other dipping sauces, but is also suitable as a cayenne pepper substitute.
7. Serrano Peppers
Serrano peppers are a type of hot pepper and happen to be just as spicy as ground cayenne pepper, so if you don't mind using fresh peppers in your dish, try out serranos.