Skip to Content

7 Best Red Pepper Flake Substitute To Use

7 Best Red Pepper Flake Substitute To Use

Red pepper flakes are something I use all the time when I’m cooking. Especially when I’m making pasta sauce with cream cheese – the intense creaminess and the neutral warmth combine together really well! In this article, I’m going to run through some great red pepper flake substitute options to use.

7 red pepper flake substitutes you’d love

Here are 7 red pepper flake substitute options I know you’ll enjoy : )

1. Ground cayenne pepper

crushed red pepper flakes

Ground cayenne pepper makes a great replacement for red pepper flakes since their level of spice is around the same. On top of that, they both have quite a neutral heat to them, rather than one of them being a little smokier than the other.

If you’re substituting cayenne for red pepper flakes, use a little less cayenne. The reason for that is that a powder will spread through a dish more easily, so it might taste a little bit spicier than you might hope.

2. Ground habanero pepper

homemade red pepper flakes

Ground habanero pepper can be another great alternative for red pepper flakes in your kitchen. It’s a great option for the same reason that cayenne works well – they both share the neutral heat that red pepper flakes give to food.

However, ground habanero pepper is hotter than red pepper flakes, so I would suggest only using half as much ground habanero pepper as you would red pepper flakes.

3. Paprika

substitute cayenne for red pepper flakes

Paprika can work as a really great replacement for red pepper flakes since it has such a bright color! The intense color will add the look of heat to a dish very easily since paprika is finely ground.

The only real drawback of using paprika is the fact that there’s not a lot of heat to it. To that end, it would be wise to avoid using only paprika to replace red pepper flakes. If you did want to use only paprika, you would need to use around a tablespoon of paprika for every quarter teaspoon of chili flakes in your recipe.

4. Chile de Arbol powder

how much red pepper flakes equals one red pepper

Chile de Arbol powder really isn’t that common in most kitchen spice racks in the world, but it does make for a great replacement for red pepper flakes if you happen to have the spice to hand.

The thing that makes chile de Arbol powder great is that the spice is a little milder than most other peppers typically are, but it combines that with a wonderful earthiness that you can often taste in red pepper flakes.

When substituting, use half a teaspoon of chile de Arbol powder for every three-quarter of a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

5. Hot sauce

Whatever hot sauce you use is likely a great option to replace red pepper flakes. Personally, I’ve got a soft spot for Cholula, but any brand will surely work really well.

Always bear in mind, though, that hot sauce can only be used in dishes where the moisture doesn’t matter that much. For example, you cannot use hot sauce as part of a dry rub, but you could use it in stews or chilis.

A generous dash of hot sauce should work well for your recipes that usually make use of red pepper flakes.

6. Chili powder

chili powder

Chili powder is actually a blend of different spices that you would use to make chili, meaning that it has quite a complicated flavor, in some cases. This means that it’s really versatile and handy to have around, especially to replace red pepper flakes.

Red pepper flakes are generally hotter than chili powder, so we would suggest using double the amount of chili powder you’d use with red pepper flakes.

7. Chipotle powder

chili powder

Chipotle powder is a great option that will work well if you haven’t got a great range of options available to you. The reason we say this is that chipotle powder is made with smoked peppers, so the flavor won’t be as clean and straightforward as it would be with red pepper flakes.

If you don’t mind the slight smokiness, then chipotle powder can work really well – it has an ideal spice level to work as a 1:1 replacement for red pepper flakes.

How do you make red pepper flakes?

It’s actually much easier than you might think to make red pepper flakes. Below, we’ll run through the ingredients and equipment that you’ll need, and then we’ll run through the steps.

  • Red chili peppers – around 50 cayenne peppers will yield a cup of red pepper flakes.
  • Oven
  • Chef’s knife
  • Blender, or a pestle and mortar

Here are the step-by-step-instructions:

  1. To get started, use the knife to remove the stems from the cayenne peppers. While they’re not unsafe to eat, they are quite bitter and unpleasant. Slice the peppers in half lengthways, but do not remove the seeds.
  2. Then, place the peppers onto a lined baking sheet, and place them into an oven preheated to 170˚F.
  3. Keep the peppers in that very low oven for six hours, allowing the moisture to slowly evaporate out of them.
  4. After six hours, switch the oven off, but keep the peppers inside overnight. That will allow them to continue dehydrating with the residual heat.
  5. In the morning, transfer the peppers to a food processor, and pulse until you reach the desired consistency. Alternatively, you could crush the peppers with your hands, or use a pestle and mortar to grind them to the correct consistency.


How much ground red pepper equals red pepper flakes

This is a tough question to answer since there are so many different types of peppers used to make flakes and powders around the world. However, I would suggest using roughly half as much powder as flakes – the powder will spread more easily, and flavor can be drawn out more quickly.

What are dried red pepper flakes?

Dried red pepper flakes are pieces of hot pepper. The peppers have been dried over a long period of time and crushed into flakes. Those flakes are then used to add spice to dishes.

What does red pepper flake taste like?

Red pepper flakes have quite a clean, spicy flavor. They’re not very smoky or sweet, at all, but rather they’re just hot.

red pepper flake substitute

7 Best Red Pepper Flakes Substitute

Red pepper flakes are something I use all the time when I’m cooking. Especially when I'm making pasta sauce with cream cheese – the intense creaminess and the neutral warmth combine together really well! Here some great red pepper flake substitute options to use when it runs out.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine all
Servings 1


  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • Ground habanero pepper
  • Paprika
  • Chile De Arbol powder
  • Hot sauce
  • Chili powder
  • Chipotle powder


  • Choose your favorite red pepper flakes substitute from above
  • Prepare your meal as usual. But instead of using red pepper flakes to add some spiciness to your dish, use the substitute option.
  • Bon Appetit!
Keyword crushed red pepper flakes, homemade red pepper flakes, red pepper flake substitute, red pepper flakes substitute paprika, substitute cayenne for red pepper flakes, substitutes for red pepper flakes

Wrapping it up!

I hope this article has been able to save you from the misfortune of having run out of red pepper flakes – that can be really frustrating. Now go and enjoy your meal using these red pepper flake substitute options! Bon appetite : )

Other ingredient substitute posts you’d love!

Recipe Rating