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13 Best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes To Try In Your Next Cooking

For quite a long time, people have been adding red chili pepper substitutes to their dishes to add a little bit of spice to their food. If you are someone that loves to enjoy spicy meals, then you have most likely had chili peppers in your food at one point or another.

These are one of the main ingredients that you should be using in your cooking to add something a little extra when it comes to spiciness. 

What Are The Best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes

There are actually lots of different types of chili peppers, but some of the most commonly used ones are those of the red chili variety. These are also the type of chili pepper that can be most commonly found in grocery stores.

The purpose of these chilis is to provide a taste that is both spicy and unique, and it can add some extra sweetness or sourness to your food. 

However, if you can’t get your hands on red chili peppers, or you simply want to try something different, then you are probably on the hunt for some alternatives to use instead.

In this article, we are going to share our list of the best red chili pepper substitutes, so you can choose the right peppers to use for the dish that you are making.  

What Is A Red Chili Pepper And What Are They Used For?

For those that don’t already know, red chili peppers are often used to make dishes spicier. You can add them to various different types of food, and the type of peppers that you use will depend on the overall flavor that you are trying to create.

Some peppers are known for being sweet, others are much smokier, and there are some that can even make your dish more sour.

Red chili peppers are actually the fruits of the capsicum pepper plant, and they tend to provide carbs, as well as a small amount of both protein and fiber.

Red chili peppers also contain various different minerals and vitamins, but as they are only typically used in smaller amounts, they don’t majorly contribute to your daily intake.

What Are The Best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes?

There are so many different types of peppers that you can use instead of red chili peppers, including cayenne peppers, serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers and so many more.

However, you will need to keep in mind that different peppers will range in spiciness, with some being much hotter than others. 

It is important to be aware of just how hot the pepper is that you are using, so you don’t accidentally overdo it and ruin your meal.

You can browse our list of some of the best red chili pepper substitutes below and choose the ones that you think would work the best for the dish that you have in mind.

Best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes

SubstitutesCalories (Per 100 gm)
Serrano Peppers32
Cayenne Peppers318
Pequin Chili Peppers0
Jalapeno Peppers28
Tien Tsin Chili
Red Chili Flakes323
Paprika Powder282
Black Pepper255
Chili Sauce93
Sriracha Sauce101
Harissa Paste261
Gochujang Paste200
Piri Piri Sauce67

Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are known to be slightly hotter than red chili peppers, and they are harvested while they are still green. They are one of the hottest chillies that also has a milder flavor, and they are used in the southwest of the USA.

However, you can also find them available at markets. They are not as popular as red peppers and jalapenos, but they are still widely used.

Although, you will need to ensure that you change up the heat in your recipe, as these peppers can vary in terms of the spiciness that they provide your dish. 

How To Substitute

Red chili peppers are not the same as serrano peppers. Still, Serrano peppers are perfect for substituting smaller and thinner sizes with more intense heat. There are ways to substitute serrano peppers for red chili peppers, but it is essential to ensure the result is still delicious.

Cayenne Peppers

Another type of pepper that you should consider as a red chili pepper alternative is cayenne pepper. This type of pepper has a finger-like shape with a curved and pointed end.

Cayenne peppers can range anywhere in spiciness from mild to hot, depending on the conditions that they are grown in.

It will also depend on what type of cayenne pepper you get, as they can be purchased fresh, but you can also get them dried. These peppers are widely available in most grocery stores.

How To Substitute

With a finger-like shape, the cayenne pepper has a similar flavor to red chili peppers. Whether you use them fresh or dried, the result will be excellent. However, it would help if you kept in mind that their taste might differ depending on their growing condition.

Pequin Chili Peppers

Pequin chili peppers are shaped in rectangles, and they are both short and squat, and are around an inch in length. These chili peppers are quite hot, and they are harder to find than some of the other options that are on this list.

This is due to the fact that their cultivation is quite limited. Pequin chili peppers are round, and they are generally smoked over wood, which is what provides them with their signature flavor.

How To Substitute

Pequin chili peppers are the best alternative to red chili peppers with a hot flavor. There is a slight difference in taste between them and red chili peppers, and they have a nice crunch. However, their intact signature flavor derived from them makes it a great option.

Jalapeno Peppers

Another red chili pepper substitute that is more commonly used is the jalapeno pepper.

These are actually one of the most common chili peppers that you can get, and they are both smooth and dark green or red chilies that can range anywhere from medium hot to really hot. 

Jalapeno peppers are probably most commonly used in the cooking of Mexican food, and they are highly popular in many places around the world.

They are also full of nutrients and provide various different health benefits, which is a great added bonus.

How To Substitute

Jalapeno pepper, primarily used in Mexican food, is a common substitute for red chili pepper. These Jalapeno peppers work in dishes that call for hot flavor and are typically added to dishes in small quantities to boost flavor.

Tien Tsin Chili

This type of chili is a hot chili pepper that comes all the way from northern China, and they are most commonly used in Chinese cuisine, like Szechuan or Kung Pao Chicken.

Tien Tsin chili peppers are also sometimes called Chinese Red Peppers, and these chili plants have low yields. Although they are small in size and milder than red chili peppers, they are still quite hot.

However, you should be careful not to add too many of them when you are substituting red chili peppers.

How To Substitute

Popularly used in Chinese cuisine, Tien Tsin chili is perfect to substitute red chili peppers. Despite having a small size and milder flavor, they are still hot enough to match the taste of red chili peppers.

Red Chili Flakes

Red Chili flakes are dried, ground, and usually ground chili peppers, often including seeds. They are often used as a condiment in almost all cuisines. It is the most effortless substitution for red chili pepper.

Red chili flakes are a great way to spice up dishes without adding heat. However, these chili flakes have a heat level of 2,000-3,000 on the Scoville scale. Therefore, when using chili flakes, it’s essential to use only a little, or the dish will taste too spicy.

How To Substitute

You may use a little less than needed to add to your recipe; otherwise, it might get extra spicy.

Paprika Powder

Paprika Powder is the best substitute for red chili pepper because it is used in many traditional recipes and does not contain any capsaicin. Capsaicin is the compound that gives chili peppers their fiery taste.

Paprika Powder is easy to find at your local grocery store or online. If you are looking for a low-cost yet healthy way to make your food taste like a spicy chili, then Paprika Powder is the answer.

How To Substitute

Use red chili pepper with paprika powder in a 1:1 substitution ratio.

Black Pepper

Black pepper has been used in cooking since the time of ancient Rome. It is used in everything from Asian stir-fries to Italian pasta. In addition, you can use black pepper to substitute red chili pepper in various recipes.

Black pepper is a less spicy, smoky alternative that you can get in most grocery stores. 

How To Substitute

To make the switch, mix the black pepper with the recipe’s desired amount of ground red chili pepper, and it will taste the same as the original.

Chili Sauce

Chili sauce is made from ground red chili peppers, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. These ingredients are blended to create a spicy and flavorful condiment.

Chili sauce is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes and a key ingredient in some hot sauces. It is a popular staple in many cuisines and can replace chili sauce perfectly.

How To Substitute

Use chili sauce for red chili pepper in equal quantities to get a similar taste profile.

Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha is a famous hot sauce made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It has a sweet, spicy, and tangy flavor and can be used on everything from a steak to a sandwich. 

Many recipes call for red chili pepper. However, if you want to make these recipes and you don’t have red chili pepper on hand, you can use sriracha for the red chili pepper.

If you want a more fiery taste than your traditional chili peppers, you can use Sriracha Sauce instead. It has a spicy, tangy flavor that can be used as a dip or on top of any dish.

How To Substitute

Use an equal quantity of sriracha to substitute red chili pepper for the best results.

Harissa Paste

If you want extra spice and heat in your recipe, consider using Harissa paste instead of red chili pepper. It would give your recipe a better color in various recipes such as curries, marinades, and other recipes.

For Mediterranean and Southeast Asian cuisines, Harissa paste will work great. It is made with cumin, coriander, herbs, and garlic. The paste will be an excellent addition for smokiness to your recipe.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 substitution ratio to get a similar flavor in your recipe by using harissa paste.

Gochujang Paste

Gochujang Paste is a Korean red chili pepper paste that can add heat to a dish. You can get it easily in most Asian grocery stores.

It is also made with fermented soybeans, garlic, salt, sugar, red pepper powder, and extract. It is a condiment you can use in soups, sauces, stews, or dip into substituting red chili pepper.

How To Substitute

Use Gochujang paste in equal quantity to replace the red chili pepper in your recipe.

Piri Piri Sauce

If you love spicy food and are in the mood for something with a little extra kick, consider substituting red chili pepper with Piri Piri Sauce.

Piri Piri is a spicy Portuguese sauce made from red peppers and herbs and is used in many different dishes. For example, you may use it to marinate chicken, as a sauce for grilled fish, or as a sauce for grilled pork.

How To Substitute

You may use an equal amount of Piri Piri sauce to get a similar flavor in your recipe.

What Are Dried Red Peppers?

Dried red chili peppers are often used for cooking Mexican food, and they are dried, but they will still keep their red coloring after they have been dried out. These peppers have a smooth skin, and they will provide a light and fruity note to any meal. 

However, if you don’t have any dried red chili peppers at home, you don’t need to worry, as there are lots of different alternatives that you can use instead. One of the best substitutes for this is paprika, which we are going to talk a little bit more about below.


Paprike is a great substitute to use instead of dried red chili peppers. For every 10 dried chilis that the recipe calls for, you should use 2 paprikas.

You can add as much or as little paprika as you want, depending on your preferences when it comes to adding heat into your food. One dish that people love to make using paprika is pork and vegetables.

How To Substitute

If you are looking for the perfect substitute for dried red chili peppers, paprika is your go-to choice. It helps add heat to your dish and is popular in pork and vegetables. In addition, paprika requires significantly fewer quantities to replace dried red chili peppers.

RELATED: 10 Of The Best Alternatives To Chinese Five-Spice To Use In Your Cooking!

Cayenne Chili Pepper

Cayenne chili Pepper is another great substitute for dried red pepper, and even if you are unable to find it as a whole pepper, you will still be able to use the dried out ones.

Alternatively, you can simply crush it to use as red pepper flakes. You will be able to use this to substitute a whole dried chili pepper, but you will have to be careful if you don’t want to overdo it. 

You should start by adding a smaller amount, and if you need to add more you can. It is much better to do this than to add too much in the beginning and ruin your dish.

How To Substitute

Substituting dried red chili pepper for Cayenne chili pepper will result in a dish with a hotter flavor. In most recipes, cayenne pepper can be substituted for dried red chili pepper and have a fruity, spicy, and citrusy flavor.

Dried Poblano Peppers

Something else that you should consider using in place of dried red peppers is the dried form of poblano peppers. They are typically quite low on the heat scale, and they are relatively sweet with a smoky flavor.

Due to the fact that they are not too spicy, they are great for adding to different meats or to things like soup, that you don’t necessarily want to be too spicy.

How To Substitute

Dried Poblano Peppers are a great option when you’re looking for a spicy, smoky flavor. You can substitute dried red chili pepper for a great, tangy chili. Dried Poblano Peppers are milder, smoky peppers that can substitute for the more pungent dried red chili peppers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Red Chili Peppers Hot?

Red chili peppers can actually range from anywhere between hot and very hot. If you are not used to eating chilis, then it is likely that you will find them to be very hot. Although, they do have a slight hint of fruit in the flavor. 

Are Red Chili Peppers Hotter Than Green Peppers?

Green peppers are very different from red peppers, and this is because there is more capsaicin in red peppers than in green peppers. This means that red peppers tend to be hotter.

Are Fresh Chili Peppers Hotter Than Dried Chili Peppers?

Dried peppers will contain a lot more capsaicin than fresh peppers, which means that they are often hotter. However, fresh peppers can also taste hotter than dried peppers.

13 Best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes To Try In Your Next Cooking

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If you’re looking for a substitute for red chili peppers, here are some ideas to get you started.


  • Serrano Peppers

  • Cayenne Peppers

  • Pequim Chili Peppers

  • Jalapeno Peppers

  • Tien Tsin Chili

  • Red Chili Flakes

  • Paprika Powder

  • Black Pepper

  • Chilli Sauce

  • Sriracha Sauce

  • Harissa Paste

  • Gochujang Paste

  • Piri Piri Sauce


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith