cayenne pepper substitutes

13 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Pepper

If you love strong flavors and spicy food, then letting go of cayenne pepper might be impossible for you. But what about achieving the same piquant taste with the substitutes for cayenne pepper?

Famous in Southwestern, Mexican, and Cajun dishes, cayenne pepper is a herb that provides a hot, spicy flavor to your recipes. It works magic when added to a bowl of soup or hot marinade.

Used in a variety of dishes for culinary purposes, cayenne pepper amplifies the heat in your food without muting other flavors. Indian curries, tacos, and cod wraps with salsa are some famous foods prepared with this spice.

However, if for any reason you cannot find cayenne at hand, do not panic. We have curated a list of cayenne pepper substitutes to make sure that your dish acquires the same sharp spiciness. 


13 Best Substitutes for Cayenne Pepper

1. Red Chili Flakes

Either as a seasoning on the pizza top or added while making soup or pasta, red chili flakes are everyone’s favorite. It is easily available and one of the best substitutes for cayenne pepper.

Chili flakes have the same flavor profile as cayenne, but because of their coarse texture, it is best to ground them before use. You can either use it to season a dish while cooking or just before serving. 

Besides its peppery taste, chili flakes give a healthy edge to your dish. Its nutrients and beneficial plant chemicals like capsanthin, capsaicin, and ferulic acid are efficient in maintaining good health. 

How to substitute: Use one and a half tablespoons of red chili flakes to replace cayenne pepper.

2. Jalapeno Powder

jalapeno powder

Generously used in Latin American and Cajun dishes, jalapeno powder serves as a great substitute for cayenne pepper. Although similar in flavor, it has a mild heat and is occasionally called spicy-sweet.

Jalapeno is picked and consumed when still green, but once it is fully mature, you may occasionally see it in its red, orange, or yellow color. This pepper not only adds a distinct spicy edge to your pizza but can also be utilized as a topping. 

How to substitute: Use two tablespoons of jalapeno powder to substitute for one tablespoon of cayenne pepper.

3. Paprika


When you want your dish to have a strong flavor, a hint of earthiness, and a comparable red color, try using paprika. Emerging from Hungary, paprika is prepared from dried and powdered red peppers.

It is available in two variants; sweet and hot paprika. Sweet paprika is mild with low heat levels, while hot paprika has a strong spicy taste that can equal the flavors of cayenne pepper, serving as its ideal substitute. 

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Paprika is a component of several traditional cuisines, including goulash and chicken paprikash. With its high vitamin C levels, capsaicin, and pain-killing properties, this spice is used as a common ingredient in a wide range of treatments.

How to substitute: One teaspoon of hot paprika can satisfactorily replace one teaspoon of cayenne pepper. However, when using sweet paprika, you need to double the quantity.

4. Gochugaru (Korean Chili Powder)


Popularly used in Korean cuisine, gochugaru has hot, pungent flavors that can easily replace cayenne pepper. If you have ever wondered what gives Kimchi, the signature Korean dish, its characteristic flavors, it is gochugaru.

Gochugaru is a crimson powdered mass that resembles red chili flakes and paprika in appearance. It is regarded as the ideal cayenne pepper substitute since it adds a similar heat and spiciness to the meal.

Gochugaru powders can even be prepared at home. Your condiment could be mild or hot, depending on the manufacturing method. However, regardless of the method used to cook it, it will retain its peculiar fruity and peppery aroma.

How to substitute: An equal quantity of gochugaru can be used to substitute cayenne pepper.

5. Chili Powder

chili powder

A forever available ingredient in almost all households, chili powder is a great substitute for cayenne pepper. It is an aromatic mixture comprising dried cayenne peppers and additional spices, including cumin, oregano, and paprika.

While using chili powder as a substitute, remember that they do not produce the exact taste of cayenne pepper. It tweaks the flavors of your dish with its heat and earthiness. Additionally, it enhances digestion, aids in weight loss, and improves skin and hair quality. 

How to substitute: Use the same quantity of chili powder as stated in your recipe containing cayenne pepper.

6. Chipotle Powder

chipotle powder

If you desire a hot, smokey flavor in your dish, consider using chipotle powder. Produced from dried and smoked jalapeno peppers, it offers a spicy taste with nuanced flavors. 

The chipotle powder has a complex flavor profile with a strong aroma and rich, smokey undertones. Mexican food is incomplete without chipotle powder. It improves the flavor of quesadilla sauce, gives the chili a smokey flavor, and revitalizes classic tacos. 

This red powder can even treat cancer and respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Additionally, people suffering from night blindness can benefit from the high vitamin A concentration of a chipotle powder.

How to substitute: Chipotle powder can substitute cayenne pepper in an equal amount.

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7. Black Pepper

black pepper

Black pepper is one of the most common spices in the world that originated from the Southwest coast of India. With its earthy, nutty aroma and spicy taste, it is one of the best substitutes for cayenne pepper. 

In comparison to other peppers, black pepper does not stimulate your taste buds as much. But in terms of flavor, it is quite sharp. Although it does not have the same heat level as cayenne pepper, it can nevertheless warm up your food. 

The chemical ingredient piperine, distinct from the capsaicin in chili peppers, gives it its peculiar spice. It is a common seasoning in Western cuisine and is commonly served with salt.

How to substitute: One tablespoon of black pepper satisfactorily replaces cayenne pepper.

However, adding a little extra depending on your taste and requirement won’t have a considerable effect on your dish.

8. Tabasco Pepper

tabasco pepper

Next on the list of cayenne pepper substitutes comes tabasco peppers. These peppers were originally produced on Avery Island, but are now even grown in places like Central and South America. 

These peppers work wonders when added to tacos or enchiladas. When fully grown, they turn a vibrant crimson and are harvested to make the sauce. The distinct flavors of tabasco sauce make it an excellent cayenne pepper alternative in wet foods.

Even oatmeal is favorably served with Tabasco sauce. Additionally, the hot sauce is helpful for weight loss and can increase your body’s metabolism.

How to substitute: Use the same amount of tabasco pepper as stated in your recipe containing cayenne pepper.

9. Thai Peppers

thai pepper

If your dish demands extra heat and spice, Thai peppers might be an ideal substitute for you. Typically used in salsa and hot sauces, it provides a pleasant crunch and flavor to your dish. 

While some cayenne pepper substitutes are dried or processed, Thai chili is the fresh and most vibrant green alternative. It not only adds flavor to your food but also has a great appearance with its rich green or red hue. Rich in vitamins A, B, and C, Thai peppers are good for your eyes and immune system.

How to substitute: Use a half teaspoon of Thai peppers to replace cayenne pepper in any recipe.

10. Serrano Peppers

serrano pepper

Originating from the highland areas of Mexico, serrano pepper is one of the most often used Cayenne pepper alternatives. Its intense flavor and high heat index make it comparable to cayenne pepper. 

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The shelf life of these peppers increases when frozen or dehydrated. Interestingly, the flavor of this pepper intensifies on cooking. Thus, the quantity used in a recipe must be cautiously decided. 

This low-calorie, low-sodium spice has advantageous health effects. It has a high fiber content that aids in weight loss, heart health, and maintaining blood sugar levels.

How to substitute:  Two teaspoons of serrano pepper will satisfactorily replace one teaspoon of cayenne pepper in any recipe.

11. Habanero Pepper

habanero pepper

Extremely hot with an intense flavor profile, habanero pepper can be used as a substitute for cayenne pepper in a wink. They originated in the Amazon and have a much stronger taste than cayenne pepper.

The habanero is a well-liked component in spicy sauces because of its heat, flavor, and floral aroma. Because of its fruitier taste than other chili peppers, it is frequently used with mango or peach to produce a fiery tropical blend. Fish tacos with habanero also taste fantastic.

How to substitute: Use one-fourth teaspoon of habanero pepper to replace cayenne peppers. 

12. Aji Amarillos

Aji Amarillos

Also known as yellow pepper, Aji Amarillo’s vibrant yellow color might deceive you into believing that it has a mild taste. However, in reality, these peppers are fairly hot and can nicely substitute cayenne pepper. 

Aji Amarillo has countless culinary applications. Although frequently used to produce Aji paste, it can also be crushed or pulverized and put a whole in chili or soup.

How to substitute: Use a 1:1 ratio to substitute aji amarillos for cayenne pepper.

13. Mustard


Relying on mustard when unable to find any of the ingredients mentioned above is not a bad option. A mixture of ground mustard plant seeds, water, salt, vinegar, and a few other spices is used to prepare mustard.

It has a peppery flavor with hues ranging from yellow to brown. Mustard is often used with cooked meats, vegetables, cheeses, and raw foods like sashimi.

It best replaces cayenne pepper in hot dogs, corn dogs, sandwiches, and hamburgers. Furthermore, mustard is a fantastic addition to various stews, dressings, sauces, marinades, or soups.

How to substitute: An equal amount of mustard can be used to substitute cayenne pepper in any recipe.

Missing the warmth and spice of cayenne pepper in your meal can be disheartening. Its absence might leave your dish bland and your palate unsatisfied. However, these substitutes of cayenne pepper will not leave you in such a situation. So, choose your favorite ingredient and prepare that fiery meal you have been craving for. 

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