What is a Good Substitute for Red Pepper Flakes?

image of Replacement For Red Pepper Flakes

Are you on the hunt for a good substitute for red pepper flakes? Well, you are in luck.

We have a great list of the top 8 substitutes, whether you are cooking up a delicious hot stew or prepping for a spicy spaghetti dinner.

Take a look.

What are Red Pepper Flakes?

image of Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes are frequently used in the culinary world and restaurants everywhere. This spicy ingredient is a popular way to bring out the flavor in many different dishes. And it is easy to store, with a long shelf life.

Because people tend to use red pepper flakes on a frequent basis, it can be easy to run out without warning. This can lead to a large scale hunt for something to take its place.

8 Substitutes for Red Pepper Flakes

Before panic sets in, here is an excellent list of red pepper flake substitutes. These options will bring out the flavor of your upcoming dish. In turn, making it taste like you used the real thing or better.

Make Your Own Red Pepper Flakes

If you run out of red pepper flakes or you like having them on hand at all times, you can make your own at home.

  • Follow these simple steps for homemade red pepper flakes.
  • Wash your favorite type of pepper
  • Cut the peppers into thin slices or rings (¼ inches or smaller for the best results)
  • Pop the peppers into the food dehydrator at 130°F
  • Leave them in the dehydrator for 12 hours. (or leave them go overnight.)
  • Check to ensure they are crispy and dry before removing them. (They may need to remain in the dehydrator a bit longer)
  • Once dry, place the pepper slices into a plastic baggy and seal it, pressing all of the air out..
  • Now crush the peppers with your fingers until you get flakes
  • Now store them in a dry, cool place until you are ready to use them.

Red pepper flakes have a long shelf life and can last much longer than many of the other ingredients listed above.

You can use your red pepper flakes in all your favorite dishes to get a spot on flavor you can that will make your mouth water.

1. Dried Peppers (Sweet and Spicey)

If you run low on red pepper flakes and need a quick fix, dried peppers could be the best solution.

Dried peppers are the result of dehydrating chili, jalapeno, or habanero peppers. By removing all of the moisture from the vegetable, it will have a much longer shelf life.

Without water, there is no place for mold to grow. Thus allowing these peppers to sit in your cupboard for much longer than fresh peppers.

Dried peppers are a staple in a large variety of Mexican meals. You can use them in various foods, from soups and stews to sauces and toppings.

Because they offer a sweet taste with a  subtle spicy kick, they can easily take the place of your red pepper flakes.

When substituting dried peppers for red pepper flakes, add two peppers for each tablespoon of flakes.

2. Hot Sauce (Quick and Simple)

Dried peppers are frequent flyers in Mexican cuisine. And hot sauce is a traditional staple in many American homes.

Chances are good; you have a bottle of liquid heat already sitting in your fridge. In turn, making it an easy alternative when you are in a bind.

Hot sauce is an excellent replacement for pepper flakes in most dishes. It offers the same spicey flavor but in a liquid form. Because it is liquid, it may not work for all dishes but will do just fine in most.

Hot sauce comes from cayenne or chili peppers and other ingredients. This mix gives you a condiment with some zing.

You should always double your measurements when substituting hot sauce for red pepper flakes.

3. Chili Powder (Various Levels of Heat)

Some chili powders will not be as spicey as red pepper flakes. In that case, you simply add a few extra pinches to your dish.

Chili powder comes from different types of chili peppers and seasonings, such as

This blend of ingredients gives recipes a great flavor similar to red pepper flakes.

When using chili powder in recipes looking for pepper flakes, like soups or pizza sauce, you will love the taste.

Use two teaspoons of chili powder for every teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

4. Chili Paste (Great Flavor Profile)

Chili paste is available in various flavors depending on the pepper it comes from. You can have a sweeter style or one that nearly burns your mouth.

This paste is typically made from various ingredients like

  • Chili peppers
  • Fermented soybeans
  • Vinegar
  • Garlic
  • and other ingredients.

Chili paste is perfect for recipes such as

  • Pasta sauces
  • Stew and soup base
  • Pizza sauce
  • A rub for fish, meat, and poultry
  • Chili
  • Dipping sauce

Chili paste is known for its bold, spicy taste. You always want to use it in moderation, about ½ of what you would use in red pepper flakes.

5. Chipotle Powder (Bright and Delicious)

Chipotle powder is another fantastic option to turn to when you run out of red pepper flakes. This ingredient will give your dish a nice flavor and bright, beautiful color.

Along with a powerful punch, the chipotle powder can provide your meal with a smokey flavor. You can add this to almost any recipe, from dressings to stews. It is a go-to for many Indian and Mexican menus, and for a great reason.

Chipotle powder is a combination of smoked chipotle peppers and dried jalapenos. Therefore you get the best of two delicious pepper flavor profiles.

When using chipotle powder, double the amount for a similar heat level to red pepper flakes.

Learn more: The Best Chipotle Paste Substitute (#4 SO POPULAR)

6. Hot Paprika (Not Quite as Hot)

Paprika can come in various flavors, from mild to hot, depending on the type of pepper used. If you have hot paprika in your cupboard, you have an excellent substitute for red pepper flakes.

Hot paprika is an excellent topping to give your favorite foods a bold flavor. With a spicy kick, you won’t miss the original ingredient at all.

Many people enjoy paprika as a topping on pizza, steamed veggies, rice, and so much more.

When your recipe calls for red pepper flakes, double up on the amount of hot paprika you use. This specific ingredient is quite as spicy as the original.

Learn more: Top Paprika Substitutes (#7 YOU MIGHT HAVE NOW)

7. Ground Habañero Pepper (Hot and Spicey)

If you are a fan of heat, ground habanero peppers are a fantastic substitute for red pepper flakes. This ingredient comes from dried, grounded habanero peppers. These peppers offer a much higher heat index than red pepper flakes.

At 100,000-350,000SHU, we highly recommend using only ½ of what the recipe calls for in red pepper flakes. Adding equal amounts might work for some, but it will definitely be overpowering and hot.

If you have ground habanero pepper in the pantry, you can use this as a red pepper flake alternative. Well, for almost any dish. You will find this ingredient provides a spicey yet subtly sweet flavor.

8. Black Pepper (Mild Flavor)

For a flavor with a little less heat, you can use black pepper instead of red pepper flakes. Unlike pepper flakes, black pepper comes from peppercorn, not a vegetable plant.

This peppercorn spice comes from a chemical compound, piperine. And it doesn’t provide the same powerful punch as other options. Yet, this ingredient is a good substitute when you are in desperate need.

You can use black pepper as an ingredient in endless recipes. Or as a topping on foods like potatoes, stews, sandwiches, salads, etc.

Because black pepper isn’t super spicey, you should add it to taste in every recipe. The amount used will vary depending on the dish and the person using it.

Red Pepper Flakes FAQs

Here are a few of the most common questions asked regarding red peper flakes.

What is A Good Substitute For Red Pepper Flakes?

Find out what makes a great substitute for red pepper flakes – from milder alternatives to spicier options. Learn the best ingredients to use and start creating delicious dishes!
Prep Time14 minutes
Active Time13 minutes


  • Make Your Own Red Pepper Flakes (DIY)
  • Dried Peppers (Sweet and Spicey)
  • Hot Sauce (Quick and Simple)
  • Chili Powder (Various Levels of Heat)
  • Chili Paste (Great Flavor Profile)
  • Chipotle Powder (Bright and Delicious)
  • Hot Paprika (Not Quite as Hot)
  • Ground Habañero Pepper (Hot and Spicey)
  • Black Pepper (Mild Flavor)


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Carefully follow the cooking directions for your chosen substitute, making sure to use the proper ratios of ingredients.

Up Next: Your Top Guide For All Food Ingredients Substitutions!

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