In this article, we will list some of the closest cayenne pepper substitutes for those mid-recipe stock realizations. Get a similar flavor without spending the gas money for an emergency grocery trip.

Has it ever happened to you that you’re in the middle of a recipe, and one of the ingredients is missing from the spice rack? Well, if yes, then you’re not alone-we’ve all been there. However, if you do not have the time for a quick run to the grocery store, you can use substitutes for specific ingredients. So let’s find out what we can use as cayenne pepper substitutes.

Cayenne Pepper is a renowned spice in the culinary world. And because of its unique spicy flavor, cayenne pepper has found a solid place in traditional and modern cuisine.

Unfortunately, however, we don’t always find it in our pantry. We usually have just black or white pepper. So, if you’re short on cayenne pepper, or are just looking to switch things up, here’s a guide to cayenne alternatives.

List of Cayenne Pepper Substitutes

Cayenne Pepper Substitutes

1. Chili Powder

Chili powder is a mixture of different types of peppers and spices.

It is a bit spicier than cayenne pepper, but you’ll love the overall flavor. Still, if you wish to enhance the spice with cayenne pepper, then use a combination of chili powder and any other option from this list.

2. Hot Paprika Powder

Hot paprika powder is a fantastic cayenne pepper substitute.

However, before using it right away from your spice rack, check its heat level on the label. Different paprika powders have different heat levels.

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Thus, not all can replace cayenne pepper’s heat or spice level. The generic paprika powder will indeed have a less spicy taste. So, check for “hot paprika” powder to get close to the cayenne pepper’s spice level. 

3. Hot Sauce

Cayenne pepper is the most commonly used ingredient in many hot sauce brands available in the market.

It means that you can get similar spice and heat levels from the hot sauce. Indeed, replacing powder form with paste is not an ideal thing to do. Still, you can get a similar flavor with a slightly different texture.

4. Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed red pepper flakes are another great replacement for cayenne pepper.

Adding pepper flakes may work fine in many recipes as it will maintain the heat and spice level. Red pepper flakes are a mixture of different red chilies, including Anaheim and Fresno peppers.

These chilies are dehydrated and crushed into a flaky form. Red pepper flakes are mostly sprinkled for their flaky texture, whereas cayenne pepper is added to the dish during cooking.

5. Fresh Thai Pepper

Fresh Thai pepper is way hotter than cayenne pepper. You can get your hands on these super-hot peppers in the ‘international food’ section.

These peppers are primarily available in dry form.

On the Scoville Scale, the heat level of Thai peppers ranges between 50,000 to 1000,000 Scoville heat units. On the other hand, Cayenne peppers rate between 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units (SHU).

So, Thai pepper is a fantastic option for people who love extra hot and spicy food.

However, if you find cayenne pepper the highest spice level you can endure, try some mild replacement options.

6. Fresh Hot Peppers

Fresh hot peppers are an excellent cayenne pepper substitute. If you are missing cayenne pepper powder, use these hot peppers, including serrano pepper, jalapeno pepper, Fresno pepper, and Tabasco.

  • Serrano Pepper

Serrano peppers almost share the same heat level as cayenne pepper, but the spice level is just half there. These hot chili peppers are essential ingredients in Mexican cuisine. For people who prefer mild spice levels, serrano peppers are a great option to replace cayenne peppers. Plus, you can easily find serrano peppers in the market.

  • Jalapeno Pepper

Jalapeno pepper is not as spicy as cayenne pepper as its spice level ranges between 2500 to 8000 Scoville heat units. So, if you like a little milder spice, use jalapeno pepper powder. Jalapeno pepper is super easy to find anywhere in the market. Plus, you can grow them in your garden as well.

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  • Fresno Pepper

Fresno is not quite as hot as peppers. On the Scoville Scale, it ranges between 2500 to 10000 Scoville Heat Units. Still, you can add fresh Fresno peppers instead of cayenne pepper for a medium-range spice.

7. Tabasco

Tabasco is an excellent substitute for cayenne pepper. It almost matches the heat level of cayenne pepper and is also similar in taste.

You can add it to the main dish, salad, starters, and even desserts. Plus, you can easily replace it with cayenne pepper in salsas and hot sauces.


The above-mentioned alternative options will do the job perfectly for anyone looking for a cayenne pepper substitute with a similar heat level. Although these substitutes can’t precisely match the spice level, you’ll get close to the original flavor. Of course, you can also pick a specific one per your preferred heat level.

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