Cayenne Pepper Substitute – 8 Easy Alternatives Worth Trying

With its delicious and fiery heat, cayenne pepper is a go-to for a good punch to everything from sauces to hot juices.

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

Cayenne peppers, 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 a variety of dishes.

In case of the unavailability of cayenne pepper, you can replace it with other types of hot pepper, especially those belonging to the Capsicum Annuum genes.

Best Substitutes For Cayenne Pepper

What Can I Use as a Substitute for Cayenne Powder in Cooking? It is a commonly raised question in cookery forums.

As we have mentioned, there are several varieties of chili pepper available, but only a couple of them have similar hotness and pungency of cayenne pepper.

The alternative chili types you choose instead of cayenne pepper should possess a similar amount of capsaicin concentration.

The capsaicin concentration of peppers is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU).

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

Best Replacement For Cayenne Pepepr

Here are the top 8 hot peppers to use in place of cayenne pepper: 

1. Paprika

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

Hot paprika chili is very much akin to cayenne pepper both in quality and taste. Use it as powder, flakes, or whole chili.

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

The heat levels of paprika vary according to its verity. Hungarian paprika is the most recommended variety for recipes because it has a unique flavor and higher pungency.

Since the heat level of paprika is much lower than cayenne, you need to use a quantity by half a ratio more to achieve a pungency similar to cayenne pepper. Also, have a look at substitute peppers for paprika, some of them definitely good replacements for cayenne.

2. Serrano Pepper

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

The Scoville rating of Serrano pepper is 10,000 to 25,000 which is very close to cayenne pepper in pungency and heat. They are interchangeably usable in most recipes or else 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 green cayenne pepper.

3. Jalapeños Pepper

The jalapeño is perhaps the most popular chili pepper in the United States.

In comparison to cayenne pepper, it has a lower heat level and distinct flavor.

If you are using Jalapeño instead of cayenne pepper, you have to use a little more quantity than the latter to achieve a similar heat level.

It is an ideal choice for people who prefer mild hot chilies; if jalapenos aren’t available you may even use other similar peppers.

Just like cayenne pepper, it can also be used as whole chili, powder, or flake forms in hot recipes.

4. Red Chili Flakes

Any type of red chilies belonging to the species of Capsicum Annuum, including cayenne pepper, is used for making 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 flakes with red chili flakes made from De Arbol Chiles, Japones Chilies, and Tien Tsin chilies.

Top-quality red chili flakes are got from Birdseye chilies, Capsicum frutescens, cultivated in India. Its hotness and pungency are similar to cayenne pepper.

You can also substitute raw, whole, or powder form of cayenne with red chili flakes made of cayenne.

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

5. Chipotle Powder

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

After smoking the hotness of this pepper is mellowed down and gives a smoky and spicy flavor.

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

The heat of the jalapenos varies according to the place where it is sourced. Thus the hotness and pungency of the chipotle powder are much lower than cayenne pepper.

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

Chipotle has a smoky flavor which is more appealing to most people than that of the cayenne pepper.

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

6. Hot Sauce

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

Tabasco sauce, Sambal hot sauce, or bell pepper sauce are excellent replacements for cayenne pepper sauce.

But hot sauces may not work well as replacements in recipes that require whole or powdered cayenne pepper.

7. Tabasco Pepper

Tabasco pepper is a fine replacement for cayenne pepper as both of them share a similar heat profile.

The juicy texture of Tabasco pepper is more advantageous in using dishes that have gravy.

Tabasco pepper has a totally different flavor from most types of red chilies and for this reason, adding Tabasco pepper can change the flavor of the dishes to a significant extent.

Tabasco pepper is a good substitute for cayenne pepper especially in making salsas and hot sauces.

Tabasco pepper has the same red color as cayenne pepper but a lower level of hotness.

8. Thai Pepper

If you are looking for chilies hotter than cayenne pepper, Thai pepper is a fantastic choice.

In fact, the heat produced by Thai pepper is almost double the amount of cayenne pepper – 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville heat units.

It is a good replacement for cayenne pepper if you love really spicy dishes; even a Thai chili substitute could go well in some recipes.

Cayenne Pepper Substitutes


What is a less spicy substitute for cayenne pepper?

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

Can I substitute cayenne pepper for tabasco sauce?

Heat-wise, Tabasco is the closest match to the cayenne pepper. However, besides peppers, Tabasco sauce has additional ingredients like salt and vinegar which gives it a complex flavor; also a sauce-like consistency as opposed to red chili powder. Tabasco sauce can be a replacement for cayenne, especially in savory dishes.

Can I use cumin instead of cayenne pepper?

You can’t use cumin in place of cayenne pepper, but you can use traditional chili powder that often contains cumin as an ingredient.

Cayenne pepper substitute for weight loss?

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

Read Next: Golden Cayenne Pepper: all facts including Scoville, flavor, uses, and benefits.