Don’t have cayenne, or realized you’re all out while you’re making a recipe? Here’s the best substitute for cayenne pepper in recipes.

Cayenne pepper substitute

Making a recipe that calls for cayenne and don’t have it? Don’t worry, there are few options that are perfectly suited as a substitution. Cayenne is a spice that’s made of ground cayenne peppers, a moderately hot red chili pepper (though some cayenne pepper blends contain other peppers). Just a pinch adds just the right amount of heat to meat or fish, curries, stews, and more.

Cayenne peppers can be used fresh in recipes, but they are harder to find and more rare. You’re most likely to encounter the ground cayenne powder in recipes. Don’t have it handy? Here are a few ground cayenne pepper substitutes.

Best ground cayenne pepper substitute

1. Red pepper flakes

The best cayenne pepper substitute? Red pepper flakes. They have a chunkier texture than ground cayenne pepper, but they add quite a bit of heat. If you’re looking for the same level of spice as the cayenne, you may need to add a bit more. Start with a 1:1 substitution.

2. Hot paprika

Another good cayenne pepper substitute? Hot paprika. Chances are if you don’t have cayenne you might not have hot paprika around. But the spicy version of paprika works well as substitute. Don’t use standard sweet paprika here: it doesn’t have heat. Use an equal part of hot paprika, then adjust to taste.

3. Hot sauce

A final cayenne pepper substitute? Hot sauce! Cayenne pepper doesn’t add a lot of flavor: it mainly adds heat. So hot sauce can replace some of the heat that cayenne brings! Just keep in mind that some hot sauces have a very distinctive flavor. We wouldn’t suggest adding Frank’s Red Hot to a Moroccan-style stew that calls for cayenne. So keep in mind that the type of hot sauce should match the cuisine.

Here are some recipes where you could use this cayenne pepper substitute:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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