Chili Flakes vs Red Pepper Flakes: The Best Guide!


You’ve all heard of the saying, “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

We believe that saying originated from someone who really loves his spicy food! (*)

And that’s all we’ll be tackling about in this article, for our love of all things spice.

Don’t you just love to eat spicy foods, feeling that heat building up from your favorite food until you find refreshing relief from a cold glass of water?

We know we do!

Fun fact: Eating spicy food can cause our bodies to release endorphins, a happy trigger chemical giving an instant feeling of pleasure! (*)

When you think of spice, what comes to mind first? Duh, peppers!

That’s also why we love spicy stuff, as there are so many different kinds of spices and peppers to choose from, namely red pepper flakes and chili flakes.

But what’s the difference between chili flakes and red pepper flakes in the first place?

We’ll share everything you need to know with you, so read on!

What are Chili Flakes?

image of Chili Flakes

Chili flakes are made from roasting chilies. Usually, chili flakes are made from one type of pepper, which brings out its flavors and attributes.

Chili flakes have various health benefits, such as:

These help speed up our metabolism, thus burning more calories. Combined with a proper diet, it can help you lose weight!

Dried red chili flakes have high antioxidant levels, which help our general health and fight oxidative stress.

What is Red Pepper Flakes?

Red pepper flakes are a bit more complex than chili flakes as they consist of different peppers.

They also offer additional health benefits to take advantage of, such as:

Capsaicin, which you can find in dried red pepper flakes, help prevent prostate cancer.

It can help with digestive problems, inflammation, and pain.

Dried or crushed red pepper flakes are rich in vitamins A, C, B6, E, along with iron, potassium, and magnesium. It only contains six calories a teaspoon.

What Is The Difference Between Chili Flakes vs. Red Pepper Flakes?

Now that you know what chili flakes and red pepper flakes are, let’s tackle their fundamental differences.

1. Composition

The composition of chili flakes consists of just one type of pepper. That way, you can enjoy the quality and taste of that specific pepper!

Chili pepper flakes’ flavor can come from chipotle chili flakes, Urfa Biber Chili peppers, or Allepo chili.

With red pepper flakes, it usually takes on a more complex composition, having more than one type of pepper. That’s right; pepper flakes are made of various peppers with their chili seeds included!

The composition will vary from the brand and kind of red pepper flakes you purchase.

You can find red pepper flakes containing ingredients like Fresno peppers, bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, jalapeno peppers, chipotle chili peppers, or red cayenne peppers.

2. Color

In terms of appearances, red pepper flakes and chili flakes look the same at first. However, you’ll see some differences looking at the color.

Given how chili pepper flakes are processed, most of them are red. The redness will differ, though, as it depends on the chili used to make it.

It can range from light hazy red to dark piping red!

As for red pepper flakes, their color ranges from white to different saturations of red. The color comes because of the mixture of other peppers.

Red pepper flakes also go through a process where producers retain the seeds after drying.

3. Taste

Just like all other kinds of peppers, chili pepper flakes will have some heat. But since it contains less capsaicin, it can actually taste a bit sweet. Again, it depends on the pepper used for the process.

That’s why we recommend chili pepper flakes if you’re new to eating spicy food or have a lower spice tolerance.

On the other hand, red pepper flakes have a high capsaicin and hotness level. This is because it also uses pepper seeds, so red pepper flakes retain the same level of spice as the raw peppers used. Most peppers used are from the capsicum annum family, known for their heat.

Suppose you love spicy food and have a high heat tolerance, then awesome! But if you don’t want to go too hot, add fewer red pepper flakes and check the ingredient list.

Fun fact: Some brands have a spice indicator on their chili flakes or red pepper flakes. Check this to get a gist of how hot your food can get!

4. Uses

You can add a few chili flakes to virtually any dish.

We don’t recommend adding it to the sweet stuff, though (even if we have found chili chocolate ice creams before).

It will give a milder flavor in terms of spice that anyone would appreciate, regardless of the cuisine.

You can use it as pizza toppings, in salad dressing, among other recipes. Even a bit of it can make a difference to your dish.

Red pepper flakes are more versatile than red chili flakes.

You can use it in many types of dishes, from chili con carne to buffalo chicken wings sauce. But given its spice level, be wary about adding too much unless you want to satisfy your spice curiosity!

5. Price

Now, this is where chili flakes and red pepper flakes have something in common. Both of them come in either cheap or expensive options; there isn’t a massive difference in price range if any.

The price all depends on the brand and the kind of chili used. Both ingredients are also readily available in supermarkets and online stores.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any more questions about red pepper flakes and chili flakes, here are our frequently asked questions:

1. Can I substitute red pepper flakes for chili flakes (and vice versa)?

Heck yes, these make great substitutes for one another.

You do need to change the amount, though.

When you want to replace red pepper flakes with chili flakes, you may want to add a bit more for heat.

If it’s the other way around, replace chili flakes with only half the quantity of red pepper flakes in a recipe.

Let’s say a recipe requires two tablespoons of chili flakes.

You can use red pepper flakes to substitute chili flakes but only use one tablespoon.

You can add more after taste testing to reach your desired spice level.

2. What can I use as a substitute for chili flakes?

When substituting chili flakes, or even red pepper flakes for the matter, we recommend using any of these:

That said, the food consistency may change since some of these are liquids. Furthermore, they may have different flavors or heat, but it’s up to you to experiment on the amounts and what works best for your tastebuds and recipe’s intent.

Pro-tip: If you need to make buffalo chicken wings, we recommend using the hot sauce for its consistency, whether as a sauce or coating.

Some people ask about using paprika to substitute for red pepper flakes or chili flakes. This can work, but you won’t get any heat at all. Instead, you get a smokier flavor.

It will still work on different meals and is great if you don’t want any spice at all. That says, only add 1/3 teaspoon of paprika for every one teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

3. What makes chili flakes and chili powder different?

Like chili flakes, chili powder consists of various kinds of dried chili peppers. However, they have a different consistency. Many chili powders in the USA have a diverse blend of dried chilies with added herbs or spices like cumin, salt, oregano, and garlic powder.

Chili powder is fine with a powdered consistency, whereas chili flakes are tiny, chopped pieces of dried chili. Chili powder may also include other ingredients for a fuller flavor.

4. Chili flakes vs red pepper flakes: Which is better?

We can’t recommend one better ingredient for everyone, as it all depends on your taste preferences and spice tolerance.

If you’re a huge fan of spicy flavors, we suggest red pepper flakes. But if you just want a tiny kick of heat, then chili flakes are the way to go.

Fun fact: If you want a particular brand or type of red pepper flakes, we recommend using ghost pepper flakes or Korean red chili pepper flakes. Just a teaspoon will have your mouth on fire!

5. Are red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper flakes the same?

While cayenne peppers are one of the popular peppers used for red pepper flakes, they are not the same.

Cayenne pepper is one type of pepper, while red pepper flakes are made of different dried peppers.

6. Can you make your own red pepper or chili flakes?

Yes, you can! Here are the steps to follow to make red pepper flakes:

Pick the peppers

Make sure you choose peppers according to what spice level you can take. Refer to the Scoville units to measure peppers’ heat levels and consider the recipe’s needs.

We recommend using only a blend of peppers you can take in terms of spice.

Create the pepper flakes

  1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit for drying your peppers. You can also sundry them if you’re from an arid environment.
  2. Chop the pepper stems off with a knife, then slice the peppers in half. Do not remove the seeds.
  3. Place the sliced peppers on non-greased baking sheets, lined up beside one another rather than clumped together.
  4. Turn the heat up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake your peppers for six hours.
  5. Once six hours have passed, switch your oven off and leave the dried peppers there overnight to continue drying and dehydrating.
  6. Take your peppers and start crushing them in a food processor or by hand. Use gloves and grind them in a plastic bag for your safety.
  7. Transfer your crushed red pepper flakes to an airtight container, and you’re good to go!

If you prefer using just chili, here are steps to creating chili flakes:

  1. Wash your chilies and dry them, then discard the stems. You can either leave the chilies whole or slice them in half. Remove the seeds to lessen the spice or keep them for a more intense flavor.
  2. Dry your chilies in. a dehydrator or the oven for 6-8 hours at a temperature of about 50-60 degrees Celsius. Leave the oven door open a bit when drying them, which improves airflow and ensures proper airflow, and removes water vapor. Once dried, let the chilies cool.
  3. Make chili flakes by crushing the peppers, placing them in a plastic bag, and crushing them by hand. Use gloves when doing this! Alternatively, you can crush the chilies in a coffee grinder or blender.
  4. Store your homemade chile flakes in an airtight container. Please make sure they are in a dark, cool, and moisture-free area. These dried chili flakes can last for up to 12 months.

Wrapping It Up

Red pepper flakes, chili flakes… Even with their differences, they are superb additions to different savory dishes. While they have distinct differences, there’s one thing they do have in common: They give that heat and kick that many will appreciate, so there’s no “better” one for everyone.

Now that you know the answers, why not stock up on both chili flakes and red pepper flakes for your cooking needs? Enjoy!

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