can i substitute chili powder for cayenne pepper

Can I substitute chili powder for cayenne pepper? No doubt, this fiery pepper works amazingly well in so many dishes, but what if you do not have any available?

Cayenne peppers can be extremely hot; in fact, it hits over 30,000 heat units on the Scoville scale, and they can sometimes go up to 50,000 heat units.

The good thing is that though many recipes call for cayenne pepper, they do pretty well with other substitutes.

And chili powder is one good substitute because it is made using dried chili peppers and works well in many recipes.

However, you can find quite a few other options on the spice rack. So, what can I substitute chili powder for cayenne pepper?

You can certainly substitute chili powder for cayenne pepper but sometimes paprika, hot sauce, and gochugaru work even better. 

The Spicy World of Cayenne Pepper

the spicy cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is your go-to ingredient when you want to take dishes like chili con carne to a whole new level.

It is something that gives your homemade hot sauce that extra kick to make you want more of it.

It is originally from South America and begins as thin, small red pepper, which is then ground down to make cayenne pepper powder.

It is an essential part of Tabasco sauce. And it often makes an appearance in many international cuisines, including Indian, Asian, Creole, Chinese and more.

Fact: Cayenne has connections to bell peppers, jalapenos, and chili peppers, as they all belong to the Capsicum Annuum family. 

The Healthy Side of Cayenne Pepper

healthy side of cayenne pepper

Keeping the health benefits of cayenne pepper in mind, you should certainly stick to it whenever you can.

It is rich in various nutrients, including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6

To get these nutritional benefits, you ought to include fresh cayenne pepper in your diet. 

If consumed fresh, you can easily get up to 50% of your RDA of vitamin A and about 72% of your RDA of vitamin C.

Going with the powdered form is still better than not consuming cayenne pepper at all.

But, keep in mind that the vitamin content is not that high in the powdered cayenne pepper.

Nevertheless, you can get about 15% of RDA of vitamin A from a teaspoon of dried powdered cayenne pepper.

It is not much, but still necessary for your reproductive health, vision, immune health, and proper functioning of your lungs, heart, and kidneys. 

Can I Substitute Chili Powder for Cayenne Pepper?

can use as substitute

Since cayenne and chili powder are both ground-up dried peppers, chili powder can be used as a cayenne alternative.

The deeper red peppers used in their preparation are occasionally smoked.

Just remember to taste it first to get an idea of how it is going to affect your recipe.

Giving it a quick smell test may also help you be sure of using it in your recipe.

Tip: When substituting, be sure to use an equal amount of chili powder for cayenne powder in the recipe. 

Using Chili Powder and Cayenne Pepper Interchangeably

use each interchangeably

Apparently, cayenne pepper and chili powder look quite similar but remember you cannot always use them interchangeably in every recipe.

If you are after earthy, spicy heat, you will only get it from cayenne pepper.

It is just so much more reliable, especially compared to chili powder, and even paprika.

You can undoubtedly opt for a super-hot chili powder in place of cayenne pepper in most of your recipes, but not all.

The reason is that its heat intensity and flavor profile may vary significantly depending on the ingredients. 

What Can You Substitute for Cayenne Pepper?

what can substitutes for cayenne pepper

Okay, so you may have gathered the fact that cayenne pepper is healthy, but what if you run out of it and have nothing in stock to manage your recipe?

Don’t worry, in times like those, you can always make do with various other substitutes.

Chili powder is certainly one option, but it is not all. 


Interestingly, paprika is quite popular in many parts of the world, like Hungary, where people love it with goulash.

You can also utilize it in many other dishes, including deviled eggs and pickled veggies.

It will also enhance the flavor of the meats you may have prepared for sandwiches.

It is worth mentioning that paprika may work great in so many recipes that call for cayenne pepper. 

But, its taste may vary from mild and sweet to hot.

Therefore, you may end up changing the flavor of your dish by substituting paprika for cayenne pepper.

But, you can get better results if you opt for sweet paprika in this situation. 

Red Chili Flakes

a red chili flakes

Red pepper flakes are another common ingredient that may be purchased in supermarkets.

They work quite well mainly because dried chili peppers are used to make them.

You may get it in pizzerias if you want to spice up your pizza slices. Unlike chili powder, it has not been ground yet.

In most cooked meals, this will not be an issue.

Tip: Depending on how spicy you like things, you might need to increase the amount of chili flakes as compared to the cayenne required in a recipe. 

Jalapeno Powder

Yet another impressive substitute for cayenne pepper is none other than a jalapeno pepper.

It is interesting that you can grow it in your home in small pots, so you will never run out of it.

Growing your own gives you the opportunity to get fresh peppers, which will provide you with extensive health benefits.

Of course, it can be tedious, but it gets easier once you get the hang of it.

Moreover, it is possible to store ground jalapeno peppers for quite long. Simply get fresh peppers and cut them into thin slices.

Be sure to remove the seeds before placing them in your oven. Simply grind them using your blender and you can use it to replace cayenne pepper in your recipes.

Tip: You might need to leave your jalapeno peppers in your oven for about 12 hours so that they become brittle. 


a gochugaru

Gochugaru is a combo of red pepper powder and flakes and is a staple in Korean cuisine.

It tastes a lot like paprika, but it is capable of generating more heat.

This ingredient, which is derived from sun-dried chili peppers, can add a smokey flavor to your recipe, so remember it when substituting for cayenne pepper.

Nevertheless, the spice can stand in for cayenne pepper and still add a lot of flavor to a dish. 

And it works amazingly well for dumplings, kimchi, and grilled meats. 

Do not forget to use some when enjoying French fries and it will quickly enhance their flavor profile. 

Hot Sauce

When you have pretty much exhausted all your options, you still have one left up your sleeves. That is the hot sauce!

The major thing you will notice about cayenne pepper is the heat it lends to the dish.

The spiciness of cayenne pepper can thus be replaced, at least in part, by hot sauce.

Remember that each brand of hot sauce has its own unique flavor profile.

We would not recommend replacing the cayenne in a Moroccan stew with Frank’s Red Hot. So, remember that the heat level should reflect the dish. 

Serrano Pepper

a serrano pepper

You already know chili powder can work well in most recipes demanding cayenne pepper.

So, you can get similar results by putting your money on the serrano pepper.

Serrano peppers are a great stand-in.

Depending on your heat tolerance, aji peppers of any color can be used as a suitable replacement.

Keep in mind that you need to cook the peppers for this to work, or they must be dried and ground into chili powder.

Tip: For every tablespoon of cayenne pepper, you need to use an ounce of serrano pepper to get good results. 


Can I substitute chili powder for cayenne pepper? In most cases, yes, you can.

But, you should also bear in mind that chili powder is capable of changing the taste of your dish, so be careful when substituting.

Therefore, you may consider experimenting with many other available substitutes, such as paprika, gochugaru, or even hot sauce.

It is worth mentioning that while you can find many substitutes, sticking with cayenne pepper is an excellent idea because of its amazing health benefits.