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11 Cayenne Pepper Substitutes To Spice Up Your Dishes!

Cayenne pepper is easily one of the most famous and reachable spices on the market. You can find it anywhere, from your local grocery store to many health stores.

Cayenne peppers are a type of chili peppers with a mild, spicy taste, helping enhance the flavor in every dish you put it to.

Cayenne pepper is sold in powdered form, making it easy for you to add smokiness and spice without actually putting a whole fresh pepper in your recipes.

Even though this spice is very easy to find in the store next to you, sometimes an emergency strikes and you have absolutely no time to shop now.

So, what to do now? Are there any good substitutes for Cayenne peppers? Luckily there are a few choices and we chose the best ones for you.

The best Cayenne pepper substitutes are

  1. Chili Flakes
  2. Black Pepper
  3. Chili Pepper Powder
  4. Fresh Peppers
  5. Paprika
  6. Hot Sauce
  7. Serrano Peppers
  8. Spanish Paprika
  9. Gochugaru
  10. Chipotle Powder
  11. Cumin

To find out more about these above-mentioned substitutes, keep on reading the rest of the article.

Substitute For Cayenne Peppers

Chili Flakes

Chili Flakes

Chili pepper flakes, just like cayenne pepper, are one of the most popular spices on the marker. It is mostly used to spice up your food after it has been cooked, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put it in your dishes while cooking.

Chili flakes are made out of a variety of crushed and dried peppers. To substitute cayenne peppers with chili flakes, you need to use double the amount for cayenne peppers. The only thing you will notice is the difference in the texture of course.

Black Pepper


Do I even have to ask if you know about black pepper? It is the one essential ingredient in the kitchen and I am sure that own, no matter if you like the taste of it in your dishes.

Black pepper has a mild taste and it’s a good substitute for Cayenne pepper if you can’t handle Cayenne’s level of heat.

Black pepper is definitely the one spice that is very budget-friendly and available at every supermarket you look at. You can use black pepper in recipes, garnishes, and even some hot winter drinks.

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Chili Pepper Powder

Chili Pepper Powder

Chilli pepper powder may look similar to Cayenne and Paprika but they are not the same. Chili powder is a spice made from sun-dried chili peppers(the most popular pepper) with a sweet, mild, flavor but with a good chili kick. It is made from different varieties of chili peppers.

You can use chili to add a bit of heat to your dishes or use it as a garnish. Because this alternative to Cayenne pepper is very mild, you can double the amount of it when you’re substituting it.

Cayenne Powder


Well, this is the most obvious substitute for fresh Cayenne pepper in powdered form. If you want to substitute cayenne peppers in your dishes, then the Cayenne pepper powder will definitely help you, and of course, vice versa.

Cayenne pepper powder has a more mild flavor than the actual peppers, so you would want to use a little bit more of this powder to get that spicy kick.

Fresh Peppers

Fresh Peppers

Hot peppers can help when it comes to substituting a spice that you don’t have in your pantry. Granted, your dishes may not have that smoky flavor that usually comes from Cayenne pepper, but it does the job perfectly fine, giving your dish a nice, peppery, spicy.

You can add some ghost pepper(one of the hottest pepper on the market), some fresh bell pepper, chile pepper, or any other spicy pepper that can do the job perfectly fine.

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Paprika is made from a variety of chili peppers and gives your dishes a smoky flavor. You can find it in your nearest grocery stores, sold in different heat levels, from sweet paprika, to mild, and of course, hot paprika. I recommend getting the hot paprika, as it can mimic the heat level of cayenne pepper with no problem.

Hot Sauce

Hot Sauce

What is the easiest way to add some heat to your dishes without thinking twice about it? Well, of course, we have the hot sauce as one of the easiest ways to spice up any dish. Hot sauce is usually made from Tabasco peppers and chili peppers.

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Hot sauce has multiple purposes in the kitchen. You can add it to your dishes, put it on top of some fried chicken, or use it as a dipping sauce. If you want to make your dish even spicier, I suggest using Tabasco sauce.

Tabasco sauce is a type of extra hot sauce made from salt, vinegar, and Tabasco peppers. It is one of the most famous hot sauces on the market.

Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers closely resemble Jalapeno peppers with a long and skinny exterior. They are a type of chili peppers that are perfect for garnishes, making chilies, salsa, and turning into hot sauce.

They add an amazing spicy kick to everything you put them in. You can also eat Serrano peppers simply pan-fried, with just a little bit of oil on top of them. It’s a perfect pre-course for during the summertime.

You can either substitute fresh cayenne peppers or Cayenne powder with Serrano peppers.

Spanish Paprika

Spanish Paprika

Spanish, or more famously known as smoked paprika is made from peppers that are already smoked, dried, and then ground into a very fine powder.

This type of paprika is honestly next level, it brings out extra smokiness to everything you put it in. Spanish paprika has a moderate heat level so this would make a milder substitute for Cayenne.

Since this spice is maybe 5 times milder than Cayenne pepper, try using a generous amount of this paprika to mimic the Cayenne taste.


Gochugaru Is a popular Korean spice made out of ground red pepper flakes. It is used in Korean cuisine for adding a smoky flavor. This is a much milder Cayenne pepper alternative so be sure that you use more of this spice to achieve the same spice levels.

Gochugaru has a beautiful red color that will definitely help brighten up the appearance of your dishes. Admittedly, this vibrant spice is pretty difficult to find in your regular grocery store but maybe you will have some luck on spice markets, any online stores, or health-food stores.

But, if you by any chance you have this spice at home, it would totally make a good Cayenne substitute.

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Chipotle Powder

Chipotle Powder

Chipotle is a type of chili pepper and it’s used as a spice, usually sold in powder form, and it is made out of dried, Chipotle peppers but not just that. This powder also has different spice mixtures like garlic, cumin, oregano, and sometimes dried basil.

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Of course, Chipotle powder is used in Mexican cuisine for making spicy Enchiladas, taco seasoning mix or any other seasonings, marinading meat, and even making hot sauce. Chipotle is an excellent substitute for Cayenne pepper.


The reason why I’m mentioning Cumin in the list of Cayenne pepper substitutes is that both of these spices have a very similar earthy flavor. Even though Cumin can’t measure up with the heat level of Cayenne pepper, at least it brings something to the table.

I would say that Cumin can make a decent substitute for Cayenne if you have absolutely nothing else to work with.