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The 10 Best Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper

Ground red pepper, also known as cayenne or chili powder, is a popular ingredient in many different cuisines.

It’s a great way to add some subtle heat to dishes without overpowering them, and the bright red color makes it visually appealing too!

But what if you don’t have any ground red pepper on hand?

What are the best substitutes for ground red pepper that will still bring the perfect amount of heat to your dish?

The best substitutes for ground red pepper include paprika, chili flakes, crushed red peppers, ancho powder, and jalapeno powder. For an even milder flavor with a hint of sweetness, try substituting paprika with smoked paprika or adding sugar to your dish. If you don’t have any spices available at all, diced fresh chili peppers can be used in place of ground red pepper.

Let’s explore these 10 substitutes for ground red pepper in more detail and find out how they differ from one another.

What Is Ground Red Pepper?

Ground Red Pepper

Ground red pepper is a spice made from dried chili peppers that have been ground to a powder.

The stalk and seeds are removed from the fruit, as the latter contains a relatively large amount of pungent substance.

It is spicier than paprika and has a wide range of heats, depending on the variety of peppers used.

It is commonly used in cooking to add heat and flavor to dishes, and can be added at the beginning or end of cooking to achieve different effects.

SourceDried chili peppers
ProductionGround to a powder with stalk and seeds removed
HeatSpicier than paprika with a wide range of heats
UsageUsed in cooking to add heat and flavor
TimingCan be added at the beginning or end of cooking for different effects

The 10 Best Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper

Ground red pepper is a powerful spice with a mild, smoky flavor and an unmistakable kick.

If you’re looking for alternatives to achieve the same level of heat with a unique flavor profile, here are ten great substitutes:

1 – Chili Powder

Chili Powder

Chili powder is a blend of dried chilies and other aromatic spices, offering a robust flavor that complements various dishes. Its pungent aroma and fiery kick make it ideal for adding zest to your meals.

When used as a substitute for ground red pepper, chili powder produces the same effect without losing its authentic qualities.

By incorporating it into your favorite recipes like soups or sauces, you can achieve that extra kick without using ground red pepper.

2 – Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

For those seeking serious heat, cayenne pepper delivers in spades.

This bright-red powder is derived from dried and crushed cayenne peppers. Its intense flavors create unparalleled complexity in your dishes with minimal effort.

When used as an alternative to ground red pepper, cayenne adds just the right amount of heat while maintaining its distinct aroma and flavor profile.

To get the most out of this spicy ingredient, use it sparingly when cooking to avoid overpowering your dish’s natural flavors.

3 – Paprika


Paprika is made from dried sweet peppers such as bell peppers and chilies, providing an earthy taste with a hint of sweetness that makes it more approachable than other spices like cayenne or chili powder.

Whether smoked or sweet, paprika offers complexity in every bite without being too overpowering.

Paprika is an ideal substitute for ground red pepper if you want to add depth without excess heat; its mellow notes will amplify the rest of your dish’s ingredients instead of dominating them.

4 – Crushed Red Pepper

Crushed Red Pepper

Crushed red pepper is another excellent way to add seasoning without breaking the bank on exotic spices.

The product consists of coarsely crushed seeds and pods from various types of hot peppers like jalapenos or poblanos, offering a bold yet approachable flavor profile that stands up well against most culinary creations.

Because it’s made from whole peppers rather than powdered versions like chili powder or cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper offers more subtle notes compared to other spices with similar profiles.

This makes it perfect for achieving nuanced flavors when substituting for ground red pepper in recipes like salads or sandwiches.

5 – Hot Sauce

Hot Sauce

Hot sauce isn’t just for wings—it can also play an important role in the kitchen when used properly by adding significant amounts of heat and flavor to simple dishes like scrambled eggs or burgers.

Many popular hot sauces contain distilled vinegar and fermented chilies as their primary ingredients; these components impart complex aromas while ensuring maximum potency when added to food as a substitute for ground red pepper in small doses.

With so many varieties available on the market today—from classic Sriracha to inventive concoctions—you can easily find one that meets your needs without sacrificing quality or flavor profile.

6 – Red Pepper Flakes

Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes are one of the most popular ingredients in spice racks worldwide.

This coarsely ground condiment is made from dried and crushed cayenne peppers, offering a fiery kick with an underlying sweetness.

A single tablespoon contains over 1,000 Scoville Heat Units, so it’s sure to bring the heat!

To achieve similar results as ground red pepper without the added spiciness, reduce the amount of red pepper flakes used.

7 – Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder, derived from smoked and dried jalapeños, offers a smoky flavor with a hint of heat. Its robust flavors make it a welcomed addition to various dishes like tacos and chili.

Its subtle spiciness makes chipotle powder an ideal replacement for ground red pepper; use it sparingly or mix it with other spices to attain the desired heat level.

8 – Aleppo Pepper

Aleppo Pepper

Aleppo pepper, also known as Halaby pepper or pul biber in Turkish cuisine, is derived from a variety of dried chilies native to Turkey.

This bright-red condiment has fruity undertones and mild heat levels; its bold flavor profile makes it an attractive substitute for ground red pepper without compromising taste.

Aleppo peppers can be found at specialty stores or ordered online for convenience.

9 – Harissa Paste

Harissa Paste

Harissa paste is a Tunisian staple consisting of chili peppers, garlic cloves, olive oil, and spices like cumin and caraway seeds.

With its wide range of flavors—salty umami notes coupled with mild spiciness—harissa paste is sure to add depth to any dish.

For maximum flavor with minimal heat, try using harissa paste in place of ground red pepper; its complexity ensures your meal will be anything but bland!

10 – Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek

Derived from Indonesian cuisine, sambal oelek is a versatile condiment made from chili peppers and vinegar that adds an intense spiciness to any dish due to its high concentration of capsaicinoids—the component responsible for chilis’ heat level.

Though sambal oelek provides more spiciness than regular ground red pepper when used in equal amounts, it can be toned down by adding larger quantities of other ingredients like lime juice or coconut milk.

Use sambal oelek as an alternative for ground red pepper in moderation for best results!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can I use instead of ground red pepper?

There are several substitutes for ground red pepper, including chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, chipotle powder, Aleppo pepper, harissa paste, and sambal oelek.

Can I use chili powder instead of ground red pepper?

Yes, chili powder is a common substitute for ground red pepper as it often contains cayenne pepper, which is the primary ingredient in ground red pepper. However, chili powder may also contain other spices, so it may not be as spicy as ground red pepper.


In conclusion, ground red pepper is a popular spice used to add heat and flavor to dishes.

However, if you don’t have it on hand or prefer a milder spice level, there are several great substitutes available.

Chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, chipotle powder, Aleppo pepper, harissa paste, and sambal oelek are all excellent replacements for ground red pepper, each with their unique flavor profile and level of spiciness.

So don’t hesitate to experiment with these alternatives and find the perfect replacement for your next recipe.

The 10 Best Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper

The 10 Best Substitutes for Ground Red Pepper

Looking for substitutes for ground red pepper? Check out our list of the top 10 replacements, including chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, and more. Find the perfect spice to add heat and flavor to your dishes.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • Chili Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Hot Sauce
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Chipotle Powder
  • Aleppo Pepper
  • Harissa Paste
  • Sambal Oelek


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
jenny happy muncher
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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.