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What Are The Best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes?

For quite a long time, people have been adding chili peppers 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.

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. 

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.

Pequim Chili Peppers

Penguin 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. Penguin chili peppers are round, and they are generally smoked over wood, which is what provides them with their signature flavor.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What Are The Best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes?

5 from 2 votes

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


  • 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

Recipe Video

Jess Smith