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The 14 Best Substitutes For Cayenne Pepper

Do you love the spicy kick of cayenne pepper?

If so, then you know how important it is to have in your kitchen.

It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used to add flavor and heat to any dish.

But what happens when you don’t have access to cayenne pepper or if you want to try something new?

Knowing which ingredients make good replacements for cayenne pepper is key.

From red chili flakes and paprika powder, to jalapenos and chipotle peppers, here are 14 of the best substitutes for cayenne pepper so that your dishes never lack flavor!

What is Cayenne Pepper?

Cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is a red-colored chili powder made from dried and ground cayenne peppers.

It is used to add flavor and spiciness to dishes, often used in Mexican, Indian, African, Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Thai cuisines.

Cayenne can range in heat level from mild to hot depending on the type of pepper used.

The most commonly found variety of cayenne pepper has a medium heat level that will give your dish a spicy kick without being too overwhelming for those with more sensitive palates.

The flavor of cayenne peppers is quite versatile as it combines savory notes with a hint of sweetness and a strong hint of spice.

Depending on how much you use, this spice can provide dishes with an underlying warmth or intense heat that will leave your mouth tingling.

When cooking with cayenne pepper be sure not to overdo it as its pungent flavor can easily overpower any dish if added in large quantities.

A little bit goes a long way so start by adding small amounts until you reach the desired level of spiciness before seasoning further!

The 14 Best Substitutes For Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a pungent spice that adds heat to any dish.

But if you don’t have it on hand, there are other options.

Here we look at 14 substitutes for cayenne pepper that will still give your recipes the kick they need:

1 – Hot Paprika


Hot paprika is a great alternative to cayenne pepper, as it has a similar flavor profile with a milder heat level.

It’s made from ground-dried chilies and provides an earthy, smoky taste that adds depth of flavor to dishes.

Hot paprika is perfect for adding subtle warmth to recipes like chili, soups, stews, and sauces.

It can also be used in rubs for grilled or roasted meats.

One of my favorite recipes where this swap makes sense is Spanish-style shrimp: simply sauté peeled shrimp with garlic and hot paprika until cooked through.

Serve over rice or potatoes for a delicious meal!

2 – Red Chili Flakes

Red Chili Flakes

Red chili flakes are a great alternative to cayenne pepper when you’re out of the latter.

These dried, crushed chilies have a milder heat than cayenne and provide an earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness.

They can be used as a topping on pizza or pasta dishes, or incorporated into sauces and marinades for meats and vegetables.

One of my favorite recipes that uses red chili flakes is roasted cauliflower with garlic and olive oil – the flakes add just enough heat to balance out the sweetness from the roasted veggies.

Another great dish is spicy shrimp tacos – mix together some chili powder, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and red chili flakes in a bowl before coating your shrimp in it for maximum flavor!

3 – Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder is a blend of spices that can be used to add a spicy kick to dishes.

It typically contains chili peppers, cumin, garlic, and oregano, as well as other herbs and spices depending on the brand or recipe.

Chili powder has a smoky flavor with moderate heat that makes it ideal for adding depth to recipes like tacos, chili con carne, and enchiladas.

When substituting cayenne pepper with chili powder in recipes, you may need to adjust the amount since chili powder is not as spicy.

For example, if your recipe calls for one teaspoon of cayenne pepper you may want to try using half a teaspoon of chili powder instead.

My favorite ways to use this swap are in my homemade taco seasoning mix or when making Mexican-style rice dishes like arroz rojo.

4 – Gochugaru


Gochugaru, also known as Korean red pepper flakes, is a staple in many Asian cuisines.

It has a smoky flavor with a hint of sweetness and packs a moderate amount of heat.

The texture is slightly coarse and the color ranges from bright red to deep orange-red.

Gochugaru can be used as an alternative to cayenne pepper for adding heat and flavor to dishes like kimchi, stews, soups, and marinades.

My favorite recipes that use gochugaru include spicy pork bulgogi tacos, Korean fried chicken wings, and bibimbap bowls.

These dishes are sure to tantalize your taste buds while providing just the right amount of kick!

5 – Jalapeno Powder

Jalapeno Powder

Jalapeno powder is a great substitute for cayenne pepper, as it has a similar flavor profile but with less heat.

The powder is made from ground jalapenos and can be used to add a mild kick of spice to any dish.

It’s perfect for adding an extra layer of flavor to tacos, burritos, chili, and even soups.

For those looking for something more intense than jalapeno powder, try combining it with other spices like smoked paprika or garlic powder.

This combination will give you the same kick that cayenne pepper does without being too overpowering.

My favorite recipes using this swap are spicy roasted potatoes, black bean burgers with jalapeno mayo, and zesty quesadillas!

6 – Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is a smoky and spicy seasoning made from ground-dried chipotle peppers.

It has a deep, earthy flavor with notes of sweet smoke and heat that can be used to add depth to any dish.

The heat level ranges from medium-hot to hot depending on the variety of pepper used.

When substituting chipotle powder for cayenne pepper, you should keep in mind that it will provide a more intense smokiness than the cayenne’s pure heat.

I love using chipotle powder in chili recipes, tacos, or even sprinkled over popcorn for an extra kick!

It also makes a great addition to marinades or sauces for grilled meats or vegetables.

7 – Aji Amarillo Peppers

Aji Amarillo Peppers

Aji amarillo peppers are a bright yellow pepper from Peru that have a mild to medium heat level and a fruity, slightly sweet flavor.

These peppers can be used in many dishes as an alternative to cayenne pepper, adding a unique flavor profile with just the right amount of heat.

They work great in sauces, salsas, and marinades for meats or vegetables.

For example, try blending them into your favorite guacamole recipe for extra zing!

Or add some diced Aji Amarillo peppers to your next batch of chili for added depth and complexity.

Another delicious option is to make an Aji Amarillo cream sauce by simmering the peppers in heavy cream until softened.

This creamy sauce pairs well with grilled fish or chicken and adds a subtle kick without overpowering the dish.

8 – Chile de Arbol

Chile de Arbol

Chile de Arbol is a type of chili pepper that is commonly used in Mexican cuisine.

It has a bright red color and thin, curved shape, and it packs quite a punch with its high level of heat.

When substituting Chile de Arbol for cayenne pepper, you can expect to get the same level of spiciness but with more depth of flavor.

The chiles have earthy undertones that complement other seasonings like garlic and onion powder.

My favorite recipes to use this swap are tacos al pastor, enchiladas verdes, and mole poblano. In each dish, the chiles add an extra layer of complexity without overpowering the other flavors.

You can also use them in salsas or as a topping for nachos!

9 – Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is a great substitute for cayenne pepper if you’re looking to add some heat to your dishes.

Most hot sauces are made with a combination of peppers, vinegar, and salt for an intense flavor that packs quite the punch.

The type of pepper used in the sauce will determine its level of spiciness, so be sure to read labels before purchasing.

My favorite recipes where this swap makes sense include adding hot sauce to chili or tacos for a smoky kick, using it as a marinade for grilled meats and vegetables, or stirring it into soups and stews for extra flavor.

It can also be used as a condiment on sandwiches or mixed with mayonnaise to make spicy remoulade.

No matter how you use it, hot sauce adds an unexpected twist that’s sure to please!

10 – Tabasco Peppers

Tabasco peppers are a type of chili pepper that originated in the Mexican state of Tabasco.

These small, fiery red peppers have a unique flavor profile with a hint of smokiness and acidity.

They can be used to add heat to dishes, as well as depth and complexity of flavor.

When substituting Tabasco peppers for cayenne pepper, you may need to adjust the amount depending on how spicy you want your dish to be.

For example, if you’re making tacos or fajitas, try sprinkling some diced Tabasco peppers over them before serving for an extra kick!

Or mix it into your favorite guacamole recipe for added zest.

You can also use it in marinades or sauces like salsa or hot sauce for an extra layer of flavor.

11 – Serrano Peppers

Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are a type of chili pepper that have a bright, fruity flavor and a moderate to high level of heat.

They can be used in place of cayenne pepper when you want to add some spice without too much heat.

Serranos are great for adding an extra kick to sauces, salsas, marinades, and even soups.

My favorite recipes featuring serrano peppers include spicy guacamole with diced tomatoes and onions, grilled chicken tacos with a creamy avocado sauce, and stir-fried vegetables with garlic and ginger.

The peppers can also be pickled or added to salads for extra crunchy texture and flavor.

When substituting serranos for cayenne pepper, keep in mind that they may need less cooking time as they tend to release their flavor quickly.

12 – Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are a great substitute for cayenne pepper if you’re looking for a less intense heat.

These medium-hot peppers have a bright and slightly fruity flavor that adds depth to any dish.

Their thin walls make them ideal for slicing into rings or dicing into small pieces, which can then be added to soups, stews, chilis, and other dishes.

In addition to their culinary uses, jalapenos are also commonly used in pickling recipes and as an ingredient in salsas.

For those seeking a spicy kick without the intense heat of cayenne pepper, jalapenos make an excellent substitution.

My favorite recipes with this swap include stuffed jalapeno poppers, grilled jalapeno shrimp tacos, and jalapeno cornbread muffins.

13 – Thai Peppers

Thai peppers are a type of chili pepper that can range from mild to very spicy.

They have a unique flavor profile, with notes of citrus and smokiness that make them ideal for adding heat to dishes.

These peppers are often used in Thai cuisine, where they’re added to curries, stir-fries, and soups.

When swapping out cayenne pepper for Thai peppers, you may need to adjust the amount depending on how much heat you want in your dish.

Some of my favorite recipes using Thai peppers include Pad Kra Pao (stir-fried pork with holy basil), Tom Yum soup (spicy lemongrass soup), and Khao Soi (coconut curry noodle soup).

14 – Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco sauce is a spicy condiment made from aged red peppers, vinegar, and salt.

It packs a punch of heat that can be used to add flavor to many dishes.

When substituting Tabasco for cayenne pepper, you’ll need to adjust the amount you use as Tabasco has more intense heat than cayenne pepper.

I love adding it to my favorite recipes such as chili, tacos, and even macaroni and cheese!

It’s also great in sauces like Buffalo wings or BBQ sauce.

For an extra kick of flavor try using Tabasco instead of cayenne in your next dish.

The results will be sure to please your taste buds!


In conclusion, cayenne pepper is an incredibly flavorful and versatile spice that can be used in a variety of dishes.

However, if you don’t have cayenne pepper on hand, there are plenty of other spices and peppers that can be used as a substitute.

Some of the best substitutes for cayenne pepper are hot paprika, red chili flakes, chili powder, gochugaru, jalapeno powder, chipotle powder, aji amarillo peppers, chile de arbol, hot sauce, tabasco peppers, serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers, thai peppers, and tabasco sauce.

Each of these spices and peppers has its own unique flavor profile, so you can experiment with different combinations to find the perfect flavor for your dish.

Using a combination of these spices is a great way to add depth and complexity to your dish, and will ensure that you never have to go without cayenne pepper again.

Cayenne pepper

The 14 Best Substitutes For Cayenne Pepper

If you're out of cayenne pepper, you don't have to throw in the towel on your recipe! In this article, I'm sharing 14 of the best substitutes for cayenne pepper that you can use in its place. I'll explain what flavors each substitution brings, as well as how to use it properly. So, no matter what you're making, you can still get that perfect spicy kick without running to the store.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitutes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 50 kcal


  • Hot Paprika
  • Red Chili Flakes
  • Chili Powder
  • Gochugaru
  • Jalapeno Powder
  • Chipotle Powder
  • Aji Amarillo Peppers
  • Chile de Arbol
  • Hot Sauce
  • Tabasco Peppers
  • Serrano Peppers
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Thai Peppers
  • Tabasco Sauce


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