Whether you are making a dry rub with garlic and herbs, sprinkling it on pizza, or using it to flavor your favorite sauce or tacos, red pepper flakes are an excellent choice to spice things up.
Made from a variety of crushed and dried peppers, including serrano peppers, cayenne peppers, and Anaheim peppers, they are a great source of flavor and heat and ideal for almost any Mexican dish you can think about.
But, there can be a situation in which you are prevented from using these amazing flakes. Although the flavor is fantastic, some people can’t stand the heat because the level of heat ranges from a whooping 30,000-35,000 Scoville Heat Units.
Or, perhaps, you ran out of it, or you can’t find any in your local grocery store. What should you do then? Well, don’t worry, the solution is right in front of you. It is the ultimate list of red pepper flakes substitutes where you can surely find what suits you the best.
So, stay tuned to find out what are the best substitutes for red pepper flakes.
What Are The Best Red Pepper Flakes Substitutes?
Here, in front of you, are the 7 best alternatives for crushed red pepper flakes that you must know.
1. Cayenne Pepper Powder: Ideal Replacement
Why is it stated in the heading that this is an ideal red pepper flakes substitute? Well, if you noticed at the beginning of the article, ground cayenne pepper is one of the main ingredients of red pepper flakes. So, it is not a surprise that it found itself in first place on this list.
The flavor of these two are very similar but there is a difference in texture, of course, since red peppers are in the form of flakes and this is in the form of powder.
Also, the heat is not that similar since cayenne pepper powder has a higher heat level, so be aware of that when adding it to your favorite sauces, chutneys, soups, stews, or marinades.
If the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder.
2. Chili Powder: Exciting Spicy Blend
Another red pepper flakes substitute is chili powder. It is a powder ideal for spicing up almost any dish, especially those classic Mexican dishes since it is very versatile.
Also, most people who are fans of hot and spicy foods, probably have at least one jar of chili powder in their pantry. Even if you do not have any in your kitchen at the moment, it is really easy to find it in any grocery store or supermarket.
But, if you really love your dishes to be hot, you need to be aware that chili powder is not as hot as red pepper flakes. So, when you plan to substitute it for red pepper flakes, add 2 teaspoons of it if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
3. Chipotle Powder: Add Both Flavor And Color
If you are after the flavor and color, then chipotle powder is your best bet. This classic Mexican condiment is made from red jalapenos that are dried and ground.
It will give your dishes that unique smoky flavor and a beautiful appearance. But when it comes to heat level, it is not as hot as red pepper flakes.
So, when you are adding it to your delicious soups, stews, pizzas, salads, or sandwiches, make sure to add a little bit more of it.
If the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, then you can add 2 teaspoons of your chipotle powder.
4. Paprika Powder: Less Heat But More Flavor
There are a few main varieties of paprika, sweet paprika, hot paprika, and smoked paprika. The powder is made of dried hot peppers and sweet peppers and it also can be spicy, sweet, or smoked. There are also some variations from product to product.
Since red pepper flakes possess a high level of heat, it is more logical to use a hot version of paprika powder. But, it won’t hurt if you try some less spicy paprika powder because you can always add some high-heat ingredients to spice things up.
You can use paprika powder in various dishes such as soups, salads, and stews, as well as in dry rubs, dressings, and sauces.
Let’s not forget that paprika can also be beneficial for your health since it possesses capsaicin and some other nutrients important for your health like vitamins A, E, and B6.
Since hot paprika powder has a similar heat level to red pepper flakes, you can add the same amount.
5. Habanero Powder: Spice Things Up
And here is the one really hot red pepper flakes substitute. It is habanero powder and it is made of one of the spiciest peppers in the world called habanero peppers. The heat level of habanero peppers ranges from a whooping 150,000-300,000 SHU. Insane, right?
But, some people like it and I cannot blame them. This hottie can be added to stews, soups, curries, and various sauces. Just be really careful when adding it to your dish instead of red pepper flakes.
The reason is obvious. If you don’t want to burn your mouth, you can add 1/4 to 1/2 the amount of red pepper flakes. That way your taste buds will be safe and satisfied.
6. Chile De Arbol Powder: Unique Nutty Flavor
Another powder on the list of red pepper flakes substitutes is the so-called Chile de Arbol powder. This type of powder is not so common as, perhaps, chili powder, but it can serve as a good substitute for red pepper flakes.
But why is that so? Well, this powder has a similar appearance to red pepper flakes, and it possesses an earthy flavor and a heat level that ranges from 15,000-30,000 SHU. Except for texture, every other factor is similar to that of red pepper flakes.
Only the spiciness is a little lower, but you can easily solve that by adding about 1/4 teaspoon more to your dish where you are substituting red pepper flakes.
7. Gochugaru: Korean Red Pepper Flakes
Last, but not least, on the list of best red pepper flakes substitutes is a Korean version of red pepper flakes called gochugaru. Gochugaru is made from dried Korean red chili peppers.
The flavor profile contains sweet and spicy flavors with smoky undertones. The texture is a little bit different but not significantly so.
When it comes to heat level, there are some major differences because the level of heat of gochugaru is about 4,000-8,000 SHU which is about 8 times lower than red pepper flakes.
So, when you are adding it to your dish, add about 3/2 teaspoons more than red pepper flakes.
7 More Substitutes For Red Pepper Flakes That Pass The Test
And these previous 7 are not all. Here are 7 more red pepper flakes substitutes that are not the best ones but can serve well when needed. And, of course, I will reveal a few important pieces of information about each of them. So, keep reading!
1. Chili Paste
Another chili variety is chili paste. There are a lot of types of chili paste and those include sweet, fishy, fermented, and spiced chili pastes. It is up to your preference and the dish you are making at the moment to choose.
You can always add chili paste to sauces, noodle dishes, marinades, and soups.
2. Chili Sauce
Chili sauce is made from sugar, peppers, salt, and vinegar alongside water, garlic, and tomatoes. Chili sauces can vary from sweet chili sauces to hot chili sauces so you can choose according to your preferences and the dish that you are making.
Dishes for which this sauce is suitable include sauces, soups, grilled meat, and stews.
3. Chili Flakes
The difference between chili flakes and red pepper flakes has been a topic of discussion among many chefs and culinary experts for years.
Many people believe that these two are the same but there are some slight differences.
For this very reason, I added this condiment to the additional 7 substitutes for red pepper flakes. Through the earlier link, you can find out what are the differences between these two and why people tend to equate them.
4. Black Pepper
Maybe you didn’t expect to see this one on the list but, yes, black pepper can be a good substitute for red pepper flakes if you want a condiment that is much milder.
You can add black pepper to almost any dish but keep in mind that adding too much can cause your dish to taste bitter.
Take note that it is better to use ground black pepper over cracked black pepper or pepper berries.
5. Serrano Pepper Powder
This is the power that you cannot find that easily in grocery stores and that is the main reason why it did not find its place on the list of 7 best alternatives.
This dried chili can be an ingredient in many varieties of red pepper flakes blends so it is not a surprise that it can be a good substitute for the same. You can use it in marinades, salsas, pasta dishes, and some other similar Italian dishes, etc.
6. Red Thai Peppers
Red Thai peppers are really hot ones since their heat level ranges between 50,000-100,000 SHU, so if you like to spice things up, this is your best bet.
You can add red Thai pepper flakes to marinades, soup, and sources.
7. Hot Sauce
Whether it is Sriracha or Tabasco, you can freely add hot sauce to your favorite dish instead of red pepper flakes.
Hot sauces are best suited for soups, sauces, stews, and broths. Also, note that it is not a good idea to use them for dry rubs.
DIY Red Pepper Flakes: Your Own Masterpiece
And, of course, you can make your own homemade red pepper flakes if you have all the necessary ingredients on your hands. So, if your storage shelf can provide you with such peppers that include jalapeno, Anaheim, serrano, cayenne, and habanero, there is nothing that can stop you.
You will have to dry those peppers using a dehydrator or an oven. After you dry them, you have to crush them with a mortar and pestle and you will get the homemade red pepper flakes that you can also store in an airtight container to preserve their flavor. Easy peasy, right?
Not only can you adjust the level of spiciness, but you will also get a much healthier version of red pepper flakes that is full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beta-carotene.
Know Your Red Pepper Flakes Alternatives
Now that you know that it is possible to easily substitute red pepper flakes for condiments with similar heat levels, flavors, and textures, there is no need to worry when you run out of your favorite spice.
Also, if you have the right ingredients, you can always make your own version of red pepper flakes and adjust its flavor profile and level of heat to your liking. That way, you will make your own perfect red pepper flakes substitute.