Red Chili Pepper Substitute

If you need to use red chili pepper, but you don’t have any on hand, you may be wondering if there is a red chili pepper substitute. This is a commonly asked question, as many people most likely don’t have red chili pepper on hand.

Especially those who do not cook often, as they are far less likely to have red chili pepper in their home. Which can be a problem if you are trying to make a recipe that calls for the addition of red chili pepper.

This is quite a common recipe ingredient in spicy recipes, as red chili pepper can be used dried, fresh, or as a sauce. So it is not uncommon to find this ingredient called for in a variety of recipes.

Keep reading to find out whether or not there is a red chili pepper substitute and what options you have if you don’t have this particular ingredient.

Substitutes for Red Chili Pepper

If you have a recipe that calls for red chili pepper, you may be wondering about a red chili pepper substitute. The good news is that red chili pepper is quite easy to substitute if you do not have it on hand when you need it.

Red hot chili paste and chili pepper

Red chili pepper is a very common ingredient that you may see in a lot of different recipes. Especially in recipes that are spicy, as a red chili pepper brings the heat more than it brings any kind of particular flavor.

But many people do not have red chili pepper at home as they do not use them frequently enough to buy any. So you may need to know about substitutes for this type of pepper that you actually do have on hand.

Thankfully, red chili pepper is quite mild in flavor and is typically used mostly for the pungent heat that it brings. So it is quite an easy ingredient to substitute if a recipe calls for red chili pepper, but you do not have any.

1.   Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is considered to be the best red chili pepper substitute if you do not have this ingredient on hand. Cayenne pepper has a similar flavor as well as a similar amount of heat that it brings to the meal.

Cayenne pepper, dried and fresh

This pepper is also red, so it will result in a recipe that looks exactly the way it would if you used red chili pepper. It is a great option and is more commonly found in the majority of kitchens, even if you do not cook very frequently.

2.   Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are a great alternative to red chili pepper if you do not have that particular ingredient on hand. These are green peppers that are known for their pungent spiciness that can be overwhelming if not used carefully.

Serrano peppers are considerably more spicy than red chili peppers, so you need to use them with care and decrease the amount that the recipe calls for. As long as you do this, this can be a great substitute if you happen to have Serrano peppers.

It is best to use fresh peppers instead of dried ones as they are of better quality, and it can be difficult to find dried Serrano peppers.

3.   Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeño peppers are another kind of green pepper that brings the flavor and the spice. These can make a great alternative to red chili pepper if you are making a recipe but don’t have that ingredient.

Organic Green Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeño peppers have a similar heat level to red chili pepper as they are not overwhelmingly spicy but still bring the heat. Just keep in mind that jalapeño peppers have a very distinct flavor that is noticeable.

So they are not going to be the best alternative depending on the kind of meal that you are making as you will taste the jalapeño flavor. You can often decrease this flavor by cooking the jalapeños down, as this will make them milder.

4.   Paprika Powder

Paprika is a very common substitute for red chili pepper as it is red and has a similar amount of heat. Paprika is also quite mild in flavor, so it is not going to be very noticeable in the dish that you add it to.

Paprika is really only sold as a powder, so you will need to make adjustments as necessary if the recipe calls for fresh red chili pepper. This spice is much more commonly found in kitchens, so it is very likely that you have the substitute on hand.

5.   Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of the most common seasonings that the majority of people are already going to have in their kitchens. It is added to a variety of dishes to add a kick of spice that is considered to be quite mild.

black pepper seeds

Black pepper has a dark and earthy flavor that is very mild and often does not come through dishes. So it is usually used for its cake of spice that is just enough to bring the heat but not overwhelmingly hot.

If you are using a recipe that requires red chili pepper, you can replace it with black pepper in order to have that heat element. It will not provide that bright red color or red chili pepper flavor, but it will give your dish a spiciness.

6.  White Pepper

White pepper is another great alternative to red chili pepper if you need something that is going to provide a heating element. White pepper is pretty much identical to black pepper, except the black outer skin has been removed.

White pepper has also been aged longer, resulting in a deeper and earthier flavor that may be a little bit more noticeable. It is equally as spicy as black pepper and is a great option if you do not have anything else on hand.

7.   Sriracha Sauce

If you need to substitute red chili pepper, Sriracha sauce is a great option, as many people have this condiment on hand. This is a red hot sauce that has a bright and slightly sweet flavor as well as plenty of heat.

Bowl of sriracha sauce

It can make a great substitute for red chili pepper, especially as it has that red color. You may have to adjust the measurements depending on the type of red chili pepper that is called for, as Sriracha comes in the form of a sauce.

This is a good substitute as long as there is not too much red chili pepper being called for, as Sriracha does have a recognizable flavor.

8.   Harissa Paste

Harissa paste is made of a combination of spices to create a bright red paste that is full of flavor and heat. This can be a great red chili pepper substitute if you need something that is going to bring that red color and spiciness.

Keep in mind that harissa paste is going to be much more flavorful than traditional red chili pepper. So it is generally best used if not much red chili pepper is called for in the recipe.

Or it could be a great substitute if you are looking for a spicy ingredient that is going to have more of a kick to it. As harissa paste has a very complex flavor that is going to give you a variety of spices that come through in the dish.