Best Red Chili Pepper Substitutes To Bring Heat

Red Chili Pepper Substitute

In need of red chili pepper substitutes? We’ll get rolling with the answers.

Red chili peppers have been the heart of recipes for a long time and they rock harder than the band red hot chili peppers. They bring heat to a recipe, but they also add color. There are a whole lot of substitutes for red chili peppers available globally. The tough part is finding one that’s convenient and available fresh.

Another consideration is whether you want a replacement for fresh or dried red chili peppers. It’s a small but notable change that can affect your recipe and the heat.

So, let’s see what are our best options to get this done!

Top Red Chili Pepper Substitutes

1. Anaheim Pepper

Anaheim pepper is a mild green chili that’s readily available and relatively easy to work with. Using this pepper will turn on the heat, but it won’t really set the Scoville Scale to get rumbling. It’s a simple and quick choice, which will do its job fairly well. 

Using this green pepper will change the color of the recipe, especially if you’re expecting something of a deep red color.

2. Jalapeno

Jalapenos are one of the most famous peppers and have earned fame worldwide. They are common with Mexican cuisine, though they’ve made inroads to other cuisines as well. Conventionally, a jalapeno is green, but red jalapeno peppers are available too. While they add heat to a recipe, they also bring their unique taste and texture.

If maintaining the color of the recipe is important for you, choose the red jalapeno peppers. 

3. Banana Pepper

The red chili pepper brings heat to the food. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you want to avoid! Go bananas on the banana pepper in such a situation. These peppers have practically zero heat and are available in several colors. Choose the red banana pepper to maintain the color of the recipe, or play around with others to get more options.

4. Cayenne Pepper – Thai chilies substitute

The bright red cayenne pepper is a hot and spicy substitute for the conventional red chili pepper. It’s also a good Thai chilies substitute because of its color and heat. In fact, this pepper is versatile enough to be used in a whole range of recipes and cuisines. 

Cayenne peppers can be used fresh or dried. Their spiciness ranges from mild to hot, so they form a good option for most uses. 

5. Serrano Pepper

Serrano peppers have a mild taste, but they tend to be very hot. These peppers are harvested green, but you might find some red ones available as well. 

Add them to your recipe for some serious hot action or modify it to account for the heat they bring. 

Serrano peppers aren’t as common as red peppers or jalapenos, yet they’re easily available and shouldn’t be a trouble to find.

6. Pequin Chili Pepper

The convention pequin chili pepper is short, squat, and around an inch long. This gives it something of a rectangular shape. These peppers get treated with smoke, which brings out their classic flavor. 

When using these peppers, keep their unique flavor in mind. While the smoked chili flavor goes well with most dishes, it’s better to be prepared for its use. These peppers aren’t as widely available, so they may be difficult to get hold of.

7. Tien Tsin Chili Pepper

Speaking of peppers that are difficult to get a hold of, Tien Tsin Chili Pepper makes an excellent substitute for red chili peppers. Cultivated in Northern China, this pepper got its name from the province that sees the most cultivation of these peppers.

Another name for this pepper is Chinese Red Pepper. As you can guess, they go fabulously with Chinese recipes like Kung Pao Chicken. They’re quite a treat to enjoy with other cuisines as well, that is, if you can get hold of them!

The pepper is quite hot and can take off well on the Scoville scale. So, use it sparingly and see how your recipe reacts to it.

Top Dried Red Chili Peppers Substitutes 

1. Paprika

The versatile paprika is always there if you need a quick red chili pepper substitute. Keep in mind, paprika is way hotter than the average red chili pepper. So, when working on a substitution, reduce the amount of paprika as compared to the chilis. For example, if the recipe calls for ten red chili peppers, using one to three paprikas should be good enough!

2. Cayenne Chili Pepper

Here it is, the versatile cayenne chili pepper (again). This time though, we’re specifically interested in the dried pepper. It tends to be hotter than the fresh cayenne pepper and can be ground into flakes for use. 

It’s probably better to use the whole cayenne chili pepper. Grinding it at home is simple enough, but you’ll need to be extra careful with the chili dust and what comes in contact with you or your hands. 

3. Dried Poblano Peppers

Give a shot to dried poblano peppers. They pack low heat, but have an interesting smoky flavor. They’ll make your recipe shine and all things considered, are a pretty good pick. You could use them in several recipes, especially if you want to go low on heat. Their smoky flavor and hints of sweetness are a bonus!

4. Pasilla Chile

Pasilla is sometimes confused with poblano peppers. But, this dried chili has an impressive culinary setup of its own. Though it looks quite similar to poblano, it has a distinct flavor. The chili lives on the mild to moderate side of heat and provides excellent flavor to most recipes.

Conventionally, pasilla chile works best with soups, though it works well with a whole range of recipes and cuisines without a hitch.

5. Hot Sauce

Need a quick fix? Pick a hot sauce or chili sauce to be your substitute for red chili peppers. While your choice of sauce will affect the flavor, there’s a good chance it will add to the color and the heat of the recipe. Plus, it’s a remarkably convenient option and can do the job in a jiffy.


Is Crushed Red Pepper The Same As Chili Flakes?

Crushed red pepper and chili flakes look quite similar and we expect them to add heat and color to the recipe. They might even seem interchangeable, but crushed red pepper and chili flakes are different condiments.

Chili flakes have something of a deeper red color in comparison to crushed red pepper. This is largely due to the process of making each of these items. Making crushed red pepper often involves simply crushing the pepper. For making chili flakes, the seeds are usually removed from the chilies, thus giving them a more uniform color.

Crushed red pepper or red pepper flakes are usually hotter than chili flakes. A big reason for this is that crushed red pepper is made using a variety of red peppers, while chili flakes use only red chilies as their ingredient.

Which Is Hotter? Fresh Or Dried Chilies?

As chilies dry, the water content decreases, which causes an increase in the capsaicin content by volume and weight. Since capsaicin is the compound responsible for making chilies feel hot and spicy, dried chilies are usually hotter than their fresh counterparts.

Green Chili Peppers Or Red Chili Peppers – Which Is Hotter?

Red color in chili usually indicates a higher concentration of capsaicin, the compound responsible for the heat and spiciness and chilies. As such, you can expect red chili peppers to be hotter than green chili peppers. While this visual examination isn’t always true, the color is a fairly good indicator and the observation will stand true in most cases.

The Bottom Line

Finding a suitable red chili pepper substitute is often easy, depending on how much change you can accept for your recipe. You could use several other chili peppers to adjust the heat of the recipe, or experiment with the color. 

While the substitutes for dried peppers and fresh peppers can be used interchangeably it’s worth trying to see what works best. And if you want something quick and simple, pick hot sauce!

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