Red Pepper Flakes vs Chili Flakes: Here’s What Matters

How do things stand in a red pepper flakes vs chili flakes showdown? Does it even matter? For an average user, the difference between the two barely registers. They’re both red, hot, and spicy, and that’s all my recipe wants!

But, a better understanding of what these are and where they’re best used can make recipes sharper and better. While there are a few points to note, the key difference is pepper flakes are a blend of a few different types of pepper, however, chili flakes are made from only one kind of chili pepper.

Notable Differences Between Chili Flakes And Red Pepper Flakes

Now that we have individually compared these two products, let’s put them together and see what the differences are.

  • Chili flakes use one type of pepper. Red pepper flakes use more than one type of red chili pepper.
  • Depending on the chilis used, the color of chili flakes will be almost entirely red. On the other hand, pepper flakes will have the presence of white color because of the seeds.
  • Chili flakes don’t contain seeds, red pepper flakes contain seeds.
  • Red pepper flakes are usually hotter than chili flakes. In a good part, this is due to the presence of the seeds.

With the key difference noted, let’s take a look at some characteristics and get a better understanding of chili flakes and red pepper flakes.

What Are Chili Flakes?

Chili Flakes

Let’s consider the key qualities that make chili flakes the remarkable spice that they are.

The Origin And Composition

Origin and composition is pretty much the biggest factor in the chili flakes vs red pepper flakes comparison. Chili flakes come from a single type of pepper. Using just a single type of chili brings out the specific flavors of the chili, thus making it easier to enjoy its taste and quality.

As we know, the red chili pepper is more than just heat and spiciness. Many of them carry undertones of different flavors, including sweetness. A good cook can use these characteristics to further refine their food and recipe. 

There’s also the advantage of knowing how hot the chili flakes are. Of course, it’s unlikely that we can have an exact number but knowing the type of chili pepper can give a fair idea. It’s worth noting that chili flakes are usually not as hot as the red pepper used to make them.

With the knowledge of the heat and flavor, you can have popular options like chipotle chili flakes and Urfa Biber chili flakes knowing what to expect.

Color Can Make A Big Difference

The color of chili flakes is usually red. It can vary in hue and intensity depending on the type of pepper used. You’ll find some to be dark red, bright red, hazy red, or similar variations.

One reason that chili flakes can have such vivid colors is that they don’t contain seeds. Chili seeds are usually white and affect the overall color and heat of the chili. With the seeds removed, chili flakes take on the brighter color of the chili’s skin.

The Taste Factor

Yes, they’re spicy and hot, but often there’s more to the flavor. Chili flakes are relatively on the milder flavor and could even have a sweet taste or undertones depending on the type of chili. The sweetness in chilies isn’t really surprising. Most chilies have sweet undertones and even a noticeably sweet taste. 

Even some of the hottest chilies in the world, including Carolina Reaper and Ghost Pepper have a prominent sweet taste. Of course, in these peppers, the sweetness is immediately followed by the rush of unbearably hot chili.

What Are Red Pepper Flakes?

Red Pepper Flakes

Now that we know chili flakes, it’s time to know what red pepper flakes are. Let’s get down to the details.

Origin And Composition

To put it simply, red pepper flakes are a combination (or blend) of more than one type of red chili peppers. As with most blends, this can vary significantly in quality depending on what you’re purchasing. 

Some red pepper flakes are carefully managed to bring an excellent combination of flavor, spice, and heat. While others could simply be a mix of whatever red pepper the manufacturer could get their hands on. 

In a general sense, red pepper flakes are usually made using the Cayenne pepper family. However, other types are common too, including bell peppers, fresno peppers, and even jalapeno peppers.

In any case, for our requirement of chili flakes vs red pepper flakes, this is a significant point of comparison. Chili flakes is made of a single type of red chili pepper, however, red pepper flakes contain more than one type of chili peppers.

The Color Tells the Truth

Since red pepper flakes come from red peppers, it would be natural to think of their color to be red. In some part, this is true, but there’s more to it. The color of red pepper flakes is a mix of white and red. In some cases, it can significantly go towards appearing white. 

The main reason for this is the presence of chili pepper seeds. Red pepper flakes contain seeds of the chilis. Since these seeds are white, they affect the overall color and appearance of red pepper flakes.

The Taste Factor

Taste of the red pepper flakes is a significant part of the story. Simply put, red pepper flakes can be insanely hot. By and large, this is due to the presence of the seeds. These contain a good amount of capsaicin and contribute big time to the red pepper flakes being hot. 

Greater the amount of seeds, the higher the likelihood that the pepper flakes will be hotter. In that sense, the pepper flakes that have more of the white color are likely to be hotter than those which are very red in color. 

Is Crushed Red Pepper The Same As Chili Flakes?

The term crushed red pepper usually refers to red pepper flakes. Technically, chili flakes are made by crushing red peppers. However, in general terms, the crushed red pepper implies the simple crushing of pepper, without worrying about the seeds. For chili flakes, seeds need to be removed, thus making them different from crushed red pepper.

Are Chili Flakes More Expensive Than Red Pepper Flakes?

The cost isn’t necessarily a differentiating option between chili flakes and red pepper flakes. The price of either will depend on the type of chili pepper(s) used, the processing, and the brand. Using exquisite chili peppers will obviously push the price higher, while going with regular (or cheap) options will make the flakes relatively affordable.

Can I Use Red Pepper Flakes In Place Of Chili Flakes?

It is possible to substitute red pepper flakes for chili flakes (or vice versa) in pretty much all recipes. When you’re making the substitution, keep in mind that the pepper flakes are usually hotter and spicier as compared to chili flakes. When using red pepper flakes to substitute chili flakes, start with half the quantity and work your way up if necessary.

Is It Okay To Substitute Ground Red Pepper For Red Pepper Flakes?

Red pepper flakes are made from ground red peppers. So yes, you could as easily substitute ground red peppers or red pepper flakes. Cayenne chili pepper is a favorite for this use, but you can use other hot peppers with equal effect and success. 

Start with a relatively small amount and work your way up if you feel it’s necessary to add more heat to the recipe.

Do Crushed Red Pepper Flakes Add Heat To Food?

Crushed red pepper flakes tend to be fairly hot. You can expect them to be hotter than a comparable amount of red peppers. Red pepper flakes are quite popular with food preparation. They’re useful to add some color, spice, and heat to the recipe.

Hot And Spicy Chili And Red Pepper Flakes

Through our detailed examination of red pepper flakes vs chili flakes, we know the key differences between both these options. While both these options can appear to be similar, they have a fair amount of differences that set them apart. 

When using either for cooking, keep in mind that the red pepper flakes are likely to be hotter and contain seeds. On the other hand, chili flakes will be relatively mild, but have a rich and deep red color, which can benefit several recipes.

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