The 5 Best Amazing Substitutes For Red Pepper Flakes

If you love to add spice to your meals, then no doubt you usually have a jar (or several) of red pepper flakes available in your pantry. 

Not only do they add some heat, but they can really enhance the overall flavor of a dish. When some food appears to be bland or lacking in an area, adding some heat can really help to ‘spice’ it up.

However, while your kitchen may usually be stocked with red pepper flakes, it may come as a surprise when you come to use them and you find that you do not have any left! 

The 5 Best Amazing Substitutes For Red Pepper Flakes

While you might be wondering how to swap red pepper flakes with something else, have no fear, because the great thing about spice is that they can be substituted really easily. 

This means that spice and the heat that you are after is really versatile. So long as you have other spices in your cupboard, you will have no trouble finding another way to add heat to your food.

Or, if there are no red pepper flakes at the grocery store, you may find a great substitute to use that does the same job.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the 5 best amazing red pepper flakes substitutions to try right now.

1. Chili Powder

Chili powder is quite the flavorful substitute for red pepper flakes. This is because, as well as using peppers for heat, it also includes some other spices too.

While you might think that chili powder is really hot in the heat department, you can find milder versions too. You don’t have to reach for the milk after every mouthful!

Chili powder can be added as a rub or into roasts, stews, salads and soups, as well as chutneys and the like.

It is just as versatile as red pepper flakes. However, it is said to help boost a metabolism, as well as be good for the immune system. 

2. Cayenne Pepper Powder

For the most popular pepper found in red pepper flakes, you may want to use cayenne pepper powder (try saying that fast three times over).

This makes it a great option if you are looking for a substitute. However – and that is a big however – it is much hotter than the regular red pepper flakes.

This means that you should use less powder than you would with the flakes.

So, if you are going to substitute red pepper flakes with cayenne pepper powder, use half a teaspoon to every one teaspoon of red pepper flakes. 

Cayenne pepper is often used in both Asian and Mexican cuisine, often in dips, sauces and marinades.

It is said that cayenne pepper has great health benefits too, such as helping to reduce illness. 

3. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle is often used within Mexican cuisine to give a smoky flavor. It is often made using red colored jalapenos which have been dried and then ground to a fine powder.

While it does give food a lot of heat, it is not as hot as red pepper flakes. This means that you can be a bit more generous than if you were using red pepper flakes. 

So, for every 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, use two teaspoons of chipotle powder. You will also notice that it adds some color to a dish as well. 

Just like with the other spices, it can be used for numerous dishes to add some color and heat. 

4. Paprika

Paprika has the widest flavor profile on this list. While it can range in heat intensity, it is often sweet too. The color can also vary in shades of orange to a deep red.

While often used within Spanish, Mexican and Hungarian dishes, it is used around the world due to its versatility. It also makes a great substitute for red pepper flakes.

For every one teaspoon of red pepper flakes, use one tablespoon of paprika. This amount does not change even if it is a higher heat paprika. This is because it is not as hot as red pepper flakes. 

It is often said that paprika can boost the immune system. So, if you are feeling under the weather with a cold, try adding some paprika to your dish to add some heat and health benefits. 

5. Red Pepper Flakes (Homemade Version)

If you do not want to use a different spice and have some peppers to hand, then you could just make your own red pepper flakes. 

So long as you have either cayenne, serrano, jalapenos, or Anaheim peppers to hand, you will be able to make something similar to the jar variety.

While it will take longer than the store bought variety, it will give you the peppery heat that you are after. It is also very useful if you do not have any other spices to hand!

All you need to do is put the peppers into the oven to dry them out. You can also use a dehydrator too. Once dry, you will then need to crush them to create flakes. You can do this by using a mortar and pestle. 

The overall heat of the flakes all depends on the kind of peppers that you used. Once the flakes have been created, you can then use them the same way you would the jar variety. 

However, do keep an eye on the peppers in the oven. Keep on checking on them every so often, otherwise you risk them burning. It should not take too long for them to dry out. 

What Actually Are Red Pepper Flakes?

Red pepper flakes are crushed dried red peppers. While you can buy these from your local grocery store, you can also easily make your own if you have a few red or green peppers that need to be used.

There are a few different peppers which are used in the jar bought variety. These are cayenne, anaheim, serrano, and jalapeno. 

More often than not, the red pepper flakes jar variety usually contains more than one type of pepper. However, there are types that do just contain one pepper. It is worth reading the ingredients list to find out what is inside the jar.

You may also notice that some red pepper flakes are hotter than others. It all depends on which peppers were used to create them.

Red pepper flakes are very versatile and can be used in stir-fries, soups, pizzas, tacos, stews, roasts, salads and so much more. They can even be used in baking, such as when chocolate and spice is being combined. 

They are also used for dry rubs on meat, as well as inside chutneys and sauces. It is always great to have some red pepper flakes to hand – or spices and peppers in general – if you like food with a kick. 

Final Thoughts

Red pepper flakes are a great way to add some oomph to a dish or bake. You can add a little or a lot – whatever takes your fancy. However, if you do not have anything to hand, you may find that you are in a bit of a pickle.

Even so, just because you do not have any red pepper flakes to hand does not mean that you cannot create the same kick. There are many substitutes available, from using a different spice to creating your own red pepper flakes. 

While the above list are great substitutes for red pepper flakes, there are other things to try. These are: chili paste, gochugaru, habanero, and chili de Arbol powder.

You can play around with the heat level too to make sure you get the exact kick that you are after.

Hopefully the above list has helped you to find some interesting red pepper flakes substitutions!

The 5 Best Amazing Substitutes For Red Pepper Flakes

The 5 Best Amazing Substitutes For Red Pepper Flakes

Recipe by Jenna

If you have run out of red pepper flakes, here are 5 of the best amazing substitutes to use for red pepper flakes to add some heat to that dish

Course: Substitutes
5 from 1 vote


  • Chili Powder

  • Cayenne Pepper Powder

  • Chipotle Powder

  • Paprika

  • Red Pepper Flakes (Homemade Version)


  • Decided on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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