8 Best Substitutes for Red Chili Pepper

Red Chili

For many years people have had the pleasure of adding hotness to their food by using chili peppers. If you love spicy meals, then chili peppers are one of the main ingredients to use in your cooking.

There are many types of chili peppers, but the red hot chili ones are the ones that we commonly eat, and what we can usually find in our local stores.

Their primary use is to give spice, a unique taste, sweetness, and sourness to the food. Small peppers are so hot that you’ll feel like a dragon, meaning you’ll feel like fire is coming out of your mouth.

Always make sure not to overuse chili peppers, because the hotness varies, and you don’t want to make your meal spicier than it should be.

Also below, you can find out what to use instead of dried red chili pepper in your recipes. Read the article to find out more about these red chili peppers.

What are actually red chili peppers?

You can use chili peppers in dishes to make meals like fajitas, pasta, or salsa. You can also add peppers to chili stews, seafood, marinades, and many more recipes. They do not just provide us with heat but also sweetness, smokiness, and additionally bring some sourness to your meal.

The red chili peppers are actually the fruits of capsicum pepper plants. They provide us with carbs and they also offer a small amount of protein and fiber.

They have a lot of vitamins and minerals but we eat them in a very small amount so they do not really contribute to our daily micronutrient intake.

Red Chili Peppers Substitutes

The most important thing for finding an appropriate chile replacement is to know the heat of the peppers, the sweetness, and also the smokiness.

Below I’ve prepared a list for you to find the perfect replacement. Also, always keep in mind the hotness of the pepper and make sure to use less if necessary!

1. Serrano Pepper

Serrano Pepper

This is a slightly hotter pepper that is harvested while it is still green. It’s one of the hottest chilies with a milder flavor. They are used in the southwest USA but you can also find them in markets. It is less popular than red peppers and jalapenos but it is still widely used. Make sure to adapt the heat in your recipe because peppers have a varying level of heat.

2. Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne peppers

This is a chili pepper that has an iconic chili “finger” shape, with a curved, pointy end. The spiciness ranges from mild to hot – it actually depends on the growing conditions and what type it is as to how spicy the pepper is. They can be found fresh and they can also be dried so you can find them in your local food stores.

3. Pequin Chili Peppers

Pequin chili peppers

This is a rectangular shaped chili: short and squat around an inch long. They are hot chili peppers that are actually harder to find than others because the cultivation is limited. They are round and are smoked over wood to provide a signature taste.

4. Jalapeno

Jalapeño Pepper

This is one of the most common chili peppers. They are smooth, dark green or red chilies that vary from medium hot to very hot. They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine and are popular worldwide. They have a pack of nutrients and have many health benefits.

5. Tien Tsin Chili

This is a hot chili pepper from northern China, that is used mostly in Chinese dishes like Szechuan or Kung Pao Chicken. These chili peppers are also known as Chinese Red Peppers. These chile plants have low yields. They are small and significantly milder but still hot. Make sure when substituting not to add too much.

6. Paprika


You can always use paprika. A fresh, good quality big red paprika. For 10 dry chilies use 2 paprikas and add according to your hotness level taste. You can always use it to make pork with some vegetables.

7. Cayenne Chili Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Another substitute is the cayenne chili pepper – if you can’t find it as a whole pepper, you can use the dried one as well or simply crushed as red pepper flakes. You can substitute a whole dried chili pepper but try not to overuse. You can add a small amount at the beginning and if there is a need you can always add more.

8. Dried Poblano Peppers

There is one more dried pepper that I would recommend and that is the dried form of poblano peppers. They are usually low in heat, sweet with a smoky flavor. Because they have low heat, they are very good to add to meats and soups so your meal won’t be very spicy.

Related questions:

Are red chili peppers hot?

Well, they range from medium hot to very hot and if you are not used to hot chilies you might think that they are really hot. They have a slight fruitiness in their flavor and are excellent when added to salsa, chili sauces, and adobo sauce.

Are red chili peppers hotter than green?

The green peppers actually taste differently and there is an extra twist. There is more capsaicin in red peppers than in the green ones, which means that the red peppers will tend to be hotter.

Are fresh chilies hotter than dried?

Well, the dried peppers have much more capsaicin than the fresh ones. Technically they tend to be hotter but sometimes the fresh peppers will taste hotter than the dried ones.

1 comment
  1. I have a pickle recipe that calls for 4 dried red peppers, seeds removed. Can I substtchili flakes? And if so, how much?

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