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11 Delicious Red Pepper Flakes Substitutes You’ll Love

A bottle of red pepper flakes is always an essential ingredient to have in your spice cabinet since it is commonly used in many dishes.

However, there are days when you run out of it at the last minute or want something milder, which is why it’s good to know what substitutes you can use instead.

Up ahead, we’ve put together the best substitutes for red pepper flakes.

Nutrition Table

Cayenne peper318
Chipotle powder7
Paprika powder282
Chili powder282 
Chili sauce11
Habanero pepper powder18
Black pepper6
Sambal oelek21
Crushed dry pepper6
Hot sauce11

What Are Red Pepper Flakes?

Red pepper flakes are a popular spice made from an assortment of dry peppers which have been pulverized into little flakes. 

They are spicy, versatile, and have a prominent red color which is why they have become a staple ingredient in many different cuisines. 

Red pepper flakes bring a spicy touch of heat to most dishes as their heat level ranges between 30,000 to 35,000 Scoville units.

They also offer a pop of color when used in certain sauces. However, they tend to lose their intensity over time, so the best red pepper flakes are a batch that is no more than six months old. 

Red peper flakes are used in so many different dishes and can be added to anything from marinades to roasted vegetables, pasta, meats, soups, and sauces.

Basically, any dish that required a touch of savory spiciness could do with an addition of red pepper flakes.

 Aside from bringing an incredible taste to dishes, red pepper flakes also have many nutritional benefits. They have great antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation in the body, and they are rich in vitamins A, C, and B6. 

1. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a great substitute to use when you don’t have red pepper flakes. It is made purely from cayenne pepper, so it is much spicier and lies in the 30,000 to 50,000 range on the Scoville scale.

Cayenne pepper adds a bold, spicy taste to any dish that calls for crushed red peppers.

However, since it often comes in its grounded form, cayenne pepper won’t give you the same texture as red pepper flakes, but if the taste is what you’re after, it really delivers on the spiciness.

How To Substitute

Use half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper for each teaspoon of red pepper flakes required.

2. Chipotle Powder

If you’re a fan of Mexican food, you’re likely no stranger to chipotle powder. It is made from dried and smoked jalapeno peppers and is often added to chili, tacos, and salsa.

Chipotle powder has a smoky and spicy taste, so it is a great replacement for red pepper flakes. It is a very versatile ingredient, so it can be added to a wide range of dishes.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting red pepper flakes with chipotle powder.

3. Paprika Powder

Much like red pepper flakes, paprika is a staple in most people’s spice cabinets, so if you have it on hand, it is a great replacement to use when you can’t get your hands on red pepper flakes. 

Since it is made from a mixture of peppers in the bell pepper family, it often doesn’t have much heat when compared to spicy red pepper flakes.

However, the taste and intensity of heat will depend on what kind of paprika you are using. 

There are three common varieties which include hot paprika, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika. You’ll need to use hot paprika if you want to replicate the spiciness of red pepper flakes properly.

How To Substitute

Use one tablespoon of paprika for every quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes needed.

4. Gochugaro

Gochugaro is a very popular Korean chili seasoning. It is essentially the Korean version of red pepper flakes. Depending on the brand you get, gochugaro can either be in the form of a powder or little flakes. 

In Korean cuisine, these pepper flakes are used in all kinds of dishes like stews, kimchi, and meats. So, you can use them in any savory dish you are making.

Gochugaro delivers moderate heat but is nowhere near as spicy as red pepper flakes. So you may need to use more depending on your preference.

How To Substitute

Start with a 1:1 ratio when replacing red pepper flakes with gochugaru. Then add more after tasting the dish if you prefer it to be spicier.

5. Chili Powder

Chili powder is a versatile spice you can easily get your hands on. In fact, you likely already have it in your spice cabinet right now, which is why it is such a good substitute for red pepper flakes. 

 It isn’t as hot as red pepper flakes, so if you want to replicate the same level of spiciness, you may need to use a lot more chili powder. However, it imparts a similar warmth and can be used in many different dishes.

You can make chili powder on your own if you want to save the cost of buying it.

How To Substitute

Use a 2:1 ratio when substituting red paper flakes with chili powder. However, if you’re the biggest fan of spicy food and prefer a milder taste, then stick with a 1:1 ratio.

6. Chili Sauce

Chili sauce is a popular condiment used in both Asian and western cuisines.

 It is typically made from a blend of chili peppers, vinegar, sugar, and other spices. So, it brings a tangy, sweet, and spicy taste to any dish. 

Chili sauce often isn’t as spicy as red pepper flakes, but you’ll still get a mild dose of heat.

It is also a very versatile option as you can add it as a condiment served on meats, potatoes, and rice or use it as a base ingredient for sauces, marinades, and stews.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing red pepper flakes with chilis sauce.

7. Habanero Pepper Powder

Habanero powder is a great substitute for red pepper flakes, especially if you don’t mind taking the heat up a notch. 

It is made from ground habanero peppers, known to be one of the spiciest peppers. They have a Scoville unit that ranges from 100,00 to 400,000.

However, extreme spice isn’t all they offer. Habanero peppers also have a subtle fruity and sweet taste which you’ll notice in the powder. They can be added to just about any dish that calls for red pepper flakes.

How To Substitute

Use half a teaspoon of habanero pepper powder for each teaspoon of pepper flakes required.

8. Black Pepper

Black pepper is a very common spice made from dried berries of the nigrun piper plant. They have a unique earthy taste and aroma with a mild spicy taste, so they work well in any dish that calls for pepper flakes. 

They are also not as hot, so if you’re not a fan of the intense heat of red pepper flakes, black pepper is a fantastic alternative.

You can find them whole in their peppercorn form or ground into a fine powder. 

To get the same gritty texture of red pepper flakes, it is best to use whole black peppercorns and then coarsely grind them yourself.

How To Substitute

Use 1 :1 ratio when replacing red pepper flakes with black pepper.

9. Sambal Oelek

Sambal oelek is a chili paste originating from Indonesia. It is made from a blend of different chili peppers and other spices. It has a mild spicy taste and a robust flavor that imparts an amazing taste to any dish.

Sambal oelek is a great substitute to use in place of red pepper flakes and works most especially well when incorporated into sauces and stews.

Since it is a paste, the texture is slightly different from red pepper flakes, but you’ll get a similar kick of heat and a rich flavor.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing red pepper flakes with sambal oelek.

10. Crushed Dry Pepper

As we’ve already established, red pepper flakes are basically dried pepper that has been crushed into flakes. So, what better way to replicate them than to make your own crushed dry peppers? 

This option is best made ahead and probably not something you want to do at the last minute, but it is a perfect substitute.

You’ll get the same texture and spicy taste of red pepper flakes and you get to decide how spicy it is since you’ll be choosing what pepper to use.

All you’ll need are peppers that have been dried in the oven, and then you can pulverize them in a grinder or blender.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing red pepper flakes with crushed dry peppers.

11. Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is a great last-minute substitute you can use in place of red pepper flakes. There are many varieties on the market ranging from mild to hot, so you can choose the one that best suits your taste. 

It brings a lovely kick of spice to most dishes and can be added either at the beginning or the end of your cooking.

However, due to its liquid consistency, hot sauce works best with sauces, soups, stews, and other dishes with a similar liquid consistency.

How To Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing red pepper flakes with hot sauce. However, you can add more if you prefer, but you’ll need to taste the dish first to avoid using too much.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Crushed Pepper The Same As Pepper Flakes? 

Crushed peppers and pepper flakes are the same thing. The two names are commonly used to refer to dried chili flakes that have been crushed into small flakes.

What Is A Milder Substitute For Pepper Flakes? 

Chili powder and paprika are the best replacement for red pepper flakes if you want something mild. They both impart a subtle heat to a dish but aren’t as intense as red pepper flakes.

Can I Use Paprika Instead Of Pepper Flakes? 

You can use paprika in place of pepper flakes. Paprika is typically made from dried and ground chili peppers, so it will impart a similar flavor to your dish.

In addition, there are different varieties of paprika ranging from smoky to spic, so you can choose the one that best suits your preference.

How Do They Make Red Pepper Flakes? 

Red pepper flakes are made from peppers that are first dried and then pulverized into tiny flakes. Sometimes they are dried in the sun, but most store-bought versions are dried in an industrial oven.

Which Is Hotter Cayenne Or Red Pepper Flakes?

Cayenne peppers are spicier than red pepper flakes. The main reason for this is the fact that cayenne pepper is made purely from the cayenne chili variety, which ranges between 30,00 to 50,000 on the Scoville scale. 

Meanwhile, red pepper flakes are made from an assortment of different peppers, which are usually not as spicy as cayenne.

Can I Use Chili Powder Instead Of Red Pepper Flakes?

You can use chili powder in place of red pepper flakes. However, it isn’t as hot as red paper flakes, so you may need to double the quantity you use.

Are Red Pepper Flakes Spicy?

Red pepper flakes are quite spicy. This is because they usually consist of a range of different peppers ranging from mild to very hot.

11 Delicious Red Pepper Flakes Substitutes You’ll Love

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Red pepper flakes substitutes are a favorite among many people who love the heat and flavor of this dried pepper. Try out some from the list!


  • Cayenne peper

  • Chipotle powder

  • Paprika powder

  • Gochugaro

  • Gochujang

  • Chili powder

  • Chili sauce

  • Habanero pepper powder

  • Black pepper

  • Sambal oelek

  • Crushed dry pepper

  • Hot 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