12 Best Substitutes For Red Chili Pepper (+PHOTOS)

substitutes for red chili pepper
12 min reading time

Red Chilli Pepper is a tropical evergreen shrub that can grow up to 3 meters tall. It is native to Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The plant has lanceolate leaves and white flowers. The fruit of the plant is a bright red pepper that is typically used as a spice.

Red Chilli Pepper is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as capsaicin, which gives the pepper its characteristic heat. In addition to its culinary use, Red Chilli Pepper has also been used medicinally to treat conditions such as stomach pain and respiratory infections.

What Are They Used For?

Red chili peppers are most commonly used as a spice to add heat to dishes. They can be used fresh, dried, or ground into powder. When used fresh, they are typically sliced thin and added to soups, stews, or stir-fries.

Dried chili peppers can be reconstituted in water and used in the same way as fresh peppers. Chili powder is made by grinding dried chili peppers into a fine powder and is used as a seasoning for food.

It can also be used to make chili paste, which is a thick paste made from chili powder and other ingredients such as oil, vinegar, and garlic. Chili peppers have a strong, spicy flavor that can add interest to many different dishes.

12 Best Substitutes For Red Chili Pepper

The best substitutes for red chili pepper are – Serrano Pepper, Jalapeno Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Pequin Chilli Pepper, Tien Tsin Chilli Pepper, Paprika, Dried Poblano Peppers, Habanero pepper, Black Pepper, Chilli Sauce, Sriracha Sauce, Harissa Paste, Gochujang Paste .They are discussed in detail here –

1. Serrano Pepper

substitutes for red chili pepper - serrano pepper

Ever find yourself in the middle of cooking a recipe that calls for red chili pepper, only to realize you’re all out? If you’ve ever found yourself in this predicament, never fear! The serrano pepper is here to save the day.

This hot little pepper can easily be substituted for red chili pepper in any dish. Just remember to use half as much, since serranos are significantly hotter than red chilies.

And if you really want to spice things up, you can always leave the seeds in. So next time you’re stuck without red chili pepper, reach for the serranos and enjoy the extra kick!

2. Jalapeno Pepper

substitutes for red chili pepper - jalapeno pepper

If you’re looking for a pepper with a little more kick than the standard red chili pepper, then the jalapeno pepper is a great option. This vibrant green pepper packs a serious punch, and its unique flavor is sure to add some spice to your cooking.

While it may be small in size, the jalapeno pepper packs a powerful punch.

When used in cooking, it can add some serious heat to your dish. In fact, it’s not uncommon for jalapeno peppers to be used as a substitute for red chili pepper.

So if you’re looking for something with a little more heat, then the jalapeno pepper is the perfect choice.

3. Cayenne Pepper

substitutes for red chili pepper - cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper can be used as a substitute for red chili pepper. It has a similar flavor profile, with a slightly fruity taste and a bit of heat. Cayenne is also a bit sweeter than most red chili peppers, so it can help to round out the flavor of a dish.

When substituting cayenne for red chili pepper, you may need to use less, as cayenne is generally more potent. Start with half the amount of cayenne and then adjust to taste.

So, you can add a pinch or two of cayenne to your dish, you’ll be sure to spice up your meal with this fiery little pepper.

4. Pequin Chilli Pepper

substitutes for red chili pepper - pequin chilli pepper

Pequin chili pepper can be used as a substitute for red chili pepper in various recipes, but it’s important to note that Pequin is significantly hotter. While red chili peppers score between 500 to 750 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), Pequin peppers range from 30,000 to 60,000 SHU. This means they are about 13-120 times hotter than standard red chili peppers.

Therefore, when using Pequin as a substitute, adjust the quantity to ensure the dish doesn’t become excessively spicy. The flavor profile of Pequin peppers is also slightly different, with a smoky, fruity taste compared to the more straightforward heat of red chili peppers. The success of this substitution will depend on the specific recipe and individual spice tolerance.

5. Tien Tsin Chilli Pepper

substitutes for red chili pepper - tien tsin chilli pepper

Tien Tsin chili pepper is a good option as a substitute here. Though it’s not an exact match in terms of flavor, it has a similar heat level and can be used in many of the same dishes.

Tien Tsin chili peppers are native to China and get their name from the city of Tianjin. They’re also sometimes called Szechuan peppers or Chinese prickly ash. The peppers are small and cylindrical, with a bright red color.

When dried, they have a wrinkled appearance. Tien Tsin chili peppers are typically used in stir-fries and other Asian dishes.

6. Paprika

substitutes for red chili pepper - paprika

In a pinch, paprika can be used as a substitute for red chili pepper. While the two spices share a similar flavor profile, paprika is significantly milder than chili pepper. As a result, it may not be suitable for dishes that require a lot of heat.

However, paprika can be used to add color and flavor to many different kinds of dishes. For example, it can be used to season roasted vegetables, create a savory Rub for meats, or add a bit of spice to a soup or stew.

Whatever dish you’re making, just remember to use less paprika than you would chili pepper. Otherwise, you may end up with an unexpectedly fiery meal.

7. Dried Poblano Peppers

substitutes for red chili pepper - dried poblano peppers

Dried Poblano peppers, also known as Ancho chilies, can be used as a substitute for red chili peppers in recipes, but there are a few differences to consider. The heat level of Ancho chilies is much milder, ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) compared to the 500 to 750 SHU of most red chili peppers. This means they will add less spiciness to a dish.

In terms of flavor, Ancho chilies offer a sweet and smoky taste with hints of chocolate, tobacco, and a slightly fruity finish, which differs from the bright, direct heat of red chili peppers. When using dried Poblano peppers as a substitute, you may need to adjust the quantity or consider adding additional spices to achieve the desired heat level. The success of this substitution will depend on the specific recipe and personal taste preferences.

8. Habanero pepper

substitutes for red chili pepper - habanero pepper

Habanero peppers can serve as a potent substitute for red chili peppers, but it’s important to remember they are considerably hotter. With a Scoville Heat Units (SHU) rating of 100,000 to 350,000, habaneros are around 140-700 times spicier than common red chili peppers, which typically range from 500 to 750 SHU.

Habaneros also have a distinctive flavor profile, offering a fruity, citrus-like taste and floral notes, providing a different dimension to dishes compared to the more straightforward heat of red chili peppers. When using habaneros as a substitute, be sure to adjust the amount used to prevent overpowering the dish with heat. The success of this substitution will largely depend on personal spice tolerances and the specific recipe in question.

9. Black Pepper

substitutes for red chili pepper - black pepper

It is commonly used kitchen ingredient can be found in your pantry. It’s a more intensely spicy taste that can be felt on the throat or tongue before torching the language. It is an excellent source of nutrients.

It is a fantastic ingredient to fight off inflammation. It is also great to control blood sugar. Black pepper is more intense when compared to other peppers and should be used with care.

Although it might not have a similar spice profile or color, it’s an excellent substitute due to its many benefits.

10. Chilli Sauce

substitutes for red chili pepper - chilli sauce

Chilli sauce can be a convenient substitute for red chili peppers in many recipes, providing a similar heat and flavor profile. However, it’s important to note that chili sauces often contain additional ingredients such as vinegar, sugar, garlic, and other spices that could influence the overall taste of your dish.

The heat level can also vary greatly depending on the type of chili sauce used. Some sauces might be milder or hotter than a typical red chili pepper, which averages between 500 to 750 Scoville Heat Units.

When using chili sauce as a substitute, start with a smaller amount and adjust to taste, keeping in mind the extra flavors it may bring to your dish. The success of this substitution will depend on the specific recipe and personal taste preferences.

11. Sriracha Sauce

substitutes for red chili pepper - sriracha sauce

Sriracha is one of the varieties of spicy red chili sauce that’s growing in popularity among chili lovers. Sriracha is similar to hot sauce, however it is a bit thicker and more red in color.

Similar to the regular chilli sauces, Sriracha also contains several other ingredients, including sugar, salt as well as garlic and distilled vinegar. Make sure to season your food accordingly. Sriracha can add heat and color to your recipes.

12. Harissa Paste

substitutes for red chili pepper -  harissa paste

Harissa is an excellent alternative, with amazing heat as well as the beautiful red color of chili peppers, this paste is an excellent option to use into marinades, spice rubs curries and many more.

It’s made up of a variety of other ingredients which makes it a complicated ingredient to use.

The spices include cumin garlic, coriander, and other herbs. Thus, this distinctively flavorful paste is extremely popular when used in Mediterranean and South-East Asian dishes. It can bring smokiness and sweet heat to your food.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: Can you substitute chilli powder for crushed red pepper flakes?

In a pinch, you can substitute chili powder for crushed red pepper flakes. However, Chili powder is not as fiery as crushed red pepper flakes, so you may want to use a little less chili powder than the recipe calls for.

You could also add some cayenne pepper to the chili powder to make up for the lack of heat from the crushed red pepper flakes.

Q2: Can you substitute red pepper flakes for chilli flakes?

Absolutely – In fact, many people do!Red pepper flakes are made from dried red peppers, while chili flakes are typically made from a mix of dried peppers (chili, red bell, jalapeño, etc). So they’ll have a very similar flavor profile. That said, chili flakes will usually be a bit milder since they’re a blend of different peppers.

If you’re looking for a little heat, go with the red pepper flakes. If you want something with more of a kick, use chili flakes. Either way, your dish is sure to be delicious!

Q3: Can you substitute red pepper flakes for chilli powder?

Well, it depends. If you’re looking to add some spice to a dish, then red pepper flakes might be a good alternative to chili powder. However, if you’re trying to create a specific flavor profile, then you’ll want to use the appropriate chili powder.

For example, chipotle chili powder will have smoky undertones while ancho chili powder will be more earthy. So it really just comes down to what you’re looking for in a dish.

Q4: Are red chili peppers hot?

There’s no denying that red chili peppers pack a serious heat punch. But just how hot are they, exactly? Let’s take a closer look.

Capsaicin is the active compound in chili peppers that gives them their signature heat. It’s a member of the capsaicinoids family, which also includes other chemicals like dihydrocapsaicin and nordihydrocapsaicin. All of these compounds interact with our bodies to produce the sensation of heat.

Q5: Are red chili peppers hotter than green?

It really depends on the chili pepper. Some red chili peppers are hotter than some green chili peppers. It all comes down to the particular pepper’s Scoville heat rating.

Q6: Are fresh chilies hotter than dried ones?

Yes, fresh chilies are generally hotter than dried. The reason is that the water content in fresh chilies dilutes the capsaicin (the compound that makes chili peppers hot) while the drying process concentrates it.

Q7: Can you substitute jalapenos for red chilies?

Yes, you can substitute jalapeno peppers for red chilies in most recipes. Jalapeno peppers are a little milder than red chilies, so you might want to add a little more of them if you’re looking for a spicier dish. Enjoy!

Q8: Is cayenne pepper the same as red chili pepper?

Cayenne pepper and red chili pepper are the same thing. Cayenne is just a type of chili pepper that is usually a bit hotter than other varieties.

Both cayenne and other types of chili peppers contain high levels of capsaicin, which is what gives them their spicy heat. Capsaicin has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including increased metabolism, improved cardiovascular health, and pain relief.

Q9: What’s hotter, red chili, or jalapeno?

Red chili is hotter than Jalapeno. In general, the more capsaicin a chili pepper contains, the hotter it will be. It’s what triggers the pain receptors in your mouth, causing that burning sensation. Red chili peppers contain more capsaicin than Jalapeno peppers do.


Chili peppers are a popular spice used in many dishes, but some people may not be able to enjoy them because of their heat. Luckily, there are plenty of substitutes for red chili pepper that can give your dish the same flavor profile without making it too spicy. Have you tried any of these substitutes?

Read Also:

About Author


  • Alice Riley

    Never knew that jalapeno could be a substitute for red chili pepper. Interesting! 🌶️

  • Francesca Davey

    I always use cayenne pepper when I run out of red chili. Works like a charm.

  • Yasmin Norris

    Bell peppers as a substitute? Aren’t they too mild?

  • Olivia Hudson

    I’m a bit skeptical about using Pequin chili pepper as a substitute. It’s way hotter than regular red chili, isn’t it?

  • Lola Brady

    As an avid home cook, I found this article quite informative. The variety of substitutes suggested here can help bring new dimensions to dishes traditionally made with red chili peppers. However, it’s important to remember that each substitute has its own unique flavor profile and heat level, so it might take some trial and error to find the perfect one for your dish.

  • Maddison Nelson

    Pasilla peppers have a more smoky flavor compared to red chili. Not sure if they’d work as a direct substitute.

  • Paige Hurst

    I tried using serrano peppers instead of red chili once, and it completely changed the flavor of my dish. Not in a bad way, but it was definitely different.

  • Louise Schofield

    This article is a lifesaver! Ran out of red chili pepper in the middle of making dinner and used cayenne pepper instead. Couldn’t even tell the difference!

  • Amber French

    Substituting red chili pepper? Blasphemy! Nothing can replicate its unique flavor and heat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

DMCA.com Protection Status

Win one of the 20 coolest kitchen gadgets!

Image of Chefd giveaway Nessie Ladle.

Surprises every month. The fun twist is that you can choose your own in the next step.


Chefd subscribers - contest