Cayenne Pepper Substitute – 8 Fairly Hot Alternatives

With the delicious and fiery heat of cayenne pepper, you can have a go-to for a good punch to everything from sauces to hot juices.

This medium-hot pepper has been used for medicine and food for 9,000 years! Currently, it’s gaining a lot of popularity as a weight loss diet.

Both green and red chilies are extensively used in cooking. They are more commonly used in dried and ground form, or dried or smoked flakes, in preparing various dishes.

When you don’t have Cayenne, you can replace it with other types of hot pepper, especially those with the Capsicum Annuum gene.

Best Substitutes For Cayenne Pepper

What can I use as a substitute for cayenne powder in cooking? It is a commonly raised question in cooking forums.

As we have mentioned, several peppers are available, but only a couple have similar hotness and pungency to cayenne pepper.

The alternative chili types you choose instead of cayenne pepper should possess a similar amount of capsaicin concentration, which is 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units.

We have identified a few types of chilies that can replace hot Cayenne. They can easily be integrated into your food delicacies as a whole, dried powder, or flakes.

Here are the top 8 substitute options you can use in place of dry or fresh cayenne pepper:

Best Replacement For Cayenne Pepepr

1. Paprika

Paprika chilli is produced in countries like Hungary, the Netherlands, China, Serbia, Spain, and some regions of the United States.

Hot paprika isn’t as spicy as cayenne pepper, but they both have a similar taste. Use it whole, in flakes, or as ground pepper.

One teaspoon (2 grams per serving) of paprika supplies 6 calories and contains Vitamin A (21% DV).

Its heat levels vary according to its variety. Hungarian paprika is the most recommended recipe because it has a unique flavor and higher pungency.

Since its heat level is much lower than Cayenne, you need to increase the quantity by half a ratio to achieve a spice similar to that of ground cayenne pepper. Also, look at substitutes for paprika; some are definitely good replacements for Cayenne.

2. Serrano Pepper

The serrano pepper (Capsicum Annuum) is a popular hot spice mostly cultivated in the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo mountain regions.

The Scoville rating of Serrano is 10,000 to 25,000, which is very close to Cayenne in spice and heat. They are interchangeably usable in most recipes or choose one of the alternatives for serrano peppers according to your heat and flavor preferences.

It is best when used as whole green chili instead of fresh Cayenne.

3. Jalapeños Pepper

The Jalapeño is perhaps the most popular chilli pepper in the United States.

Compared to Cayenne, it has a lower heat level and a distinct flavor.

If you use Jalapeño as a swap for cayenne pepper, you have to use a little more quantity than the latter to achieve a similar heat level.

It is ideal for people who prefer mildly hot chilies; if jalapenos aren’t available, you may use a jalapeno substitute.

Like Cayenne, it can also be used in whole, powder, or flake form in hot recipes.

4. Red Chili Flakes

Any type of red chili belonging to the species Capsicum annuum can make red chili flakes.

Red pepper flakes are commonly used for perking up pizza, chowders, salads, pickling, homemade sausage, sandwiches, spaghetti sauce, soups, vegetable recipes, or stir-fries.

You can substitute cayenne pepper powder with red chili flakes from Chile de Arbol, Japones, and Tien Tsin.

Top-quality flakes and crushed peppers are made from Birdseye chilies, Capsicum frutescens, cultivated in India. Its hotness and spice are similar to those of cayenne pepper.

You can also substitute raw, whole, or powdered forms of Cayenne with red pepper flakes made of Cayenne.

Some popular red pepper flakes have a mixture of three or more types of chilies, including cayenne pepper. If possible, make your flakes with peppers of your choice, or use any substitutes for red chili flakes.

5. Chipotle Powder

It is the Jalapeno peppers, smoke-dried and ground.

After smoking, the heat of this hot spice is mellowed down, giving it a smoky and spicy flavour.

In most ethnic food aisles in grocery stores, you can find roasted chipotles in whole or ground into powder form.

The jalapenos’ heat varies according to where they are sourced. Thus, the hotness and spice of the chipotle powder are much lower than those of Cayenne.

If you wish to make the recipe hotter and spicy, then you need to add more chipotle powder, and vice versa.

Smoky Jalapeno powder has a smoky flavor, which is more appealing to most people.

Chipotle is a good alternative to cayenne pepper, especially for those who prefer mild pungency and richer flavor; even choosing one of the alternatives for chipotle would work in some recipes.

6. Hot Sauce

Some of the recipes require Cayenne to be used in liquid form. In such cases, replacing the cayenne pepper sauce with a few drops of hot pepper sauce is easy.

Tabasco, sambal, or bell pepper sauces are excellent replacements for cayenne pepper sauce.

But they may not work well as replacements in a recipe that calls for Cayenne in whole or powdered form.

7. Tabasco Pepper

Tabasco pepper is a good cayenne substitute, as they share a similar heat profile.

The juicy texture of Tabasco is more advantageous when using gravy dishes.

Tabasco has a different flavor from most types of red chilies, so adding it can change the flavor of dishes to a significant extent.

This substitute works great, especially in making salsas and hot sauces.

It has the same red color as Cayenne but a lower heat level.

8. Thai Pepper

If you are looking for something hotter than Cayenne, Thai pepper is a fantastic choice.

The heat produced by the Thai variety is almost double that of Cayenne—50,000 to 100,000 Scoville heat units.

If you love spicy dishes, it is a good swap for cayenne pepper; even a Thai chili substitute could go well in some recipes.

Cayenne Pepper Substitutes

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a less spicy substitute for cayenne pepper? 

Paprika has a similar flavor profile but is noticeably milder. Regular paprika won’t top 100 to 500 Scoville heat units, which are at least 80 times milder than cayenne chili. However, sometimes paprika can be replaced with spicier ones like Serrano. Another commonly available and milder pepper is Jalapenos, a good alternative.

Can I substitute cayenne pepper for Tabasco sauce? 

Heat-wise, Tabasco is the closest match to Cayenne. However, besides peppers, Tabasco sauce has additional ingredients like salt and vinegar, which give it a complex flavor and a paste-like consistency instead of chili powder. It can be a replacement for Cayenne, especially in savory dishes.

Can I use cumin instead of cayenne pepper? 

You can’t use cumin instead of cayenne pepper, but a better option is to use traditional chili powder, which often contains cumin as an ingredient.

Cayenne substitute for weight loss? 

Other than Cayenne, other spices like turmeric, ginger, cumin, mustard seed, cinnamon, fenugreek, black pepper, saffron, and rosemary are effective for weight loss.

Read NextGolden Cayenne Pepper: All facts, including Scoville, flavor, uses, and benefits.