Crushed Red Pepper Flake Substitute

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes. © Erin Huffstetler
  • Prep Time
    2 min
  • Cook Time
    0 min
  • Total Time
    2 min
  • Yield

Don’t fret if you don’t have the crushed red pepper flakes your recipe calls for. You probably have something in your pantry that can take its place. Let’s look at a few options.


  • Hot peppers (dried, ground cayenne or chili powder)


Best Bet – Dried Peppers

Crushed red pepper flakes are nothing more than dried peppers (usually cayenne) that have been ground up just enough to leave you with a mix of flakes, seeds and ground pepper. So, if you happen to have some dried peppers in your pantry, it’s really easy to make your own pepper flakes. Just grab a couple dried peppers; give them a quick whirl in your food processor; and they’re ready to use in your recipe.

That’s really all there is to it.

Now, one thing to keep in mind: Different peppers have different levels of heat. So, if you want a good flavor match, try to use a pepper that’s similar in heat to a cayenne. If all you have is really hot dried peppers, don’t sweat it. Just use less pepper flakes in your recipe. Here’s a chart that rates the heat level of peppers.

Good Bet – Ground Cayenne Pepper

Since ground cayenne pepper is made from the same pepper as crushed red pepper flakes, it also makes a good substitute. Use ½ to ¾ as much to achieve the same level of heat.  I recommend starting with the smaller amount, and adjusting up for taste.

Still Good – Chili Powder

If you don’t have dried peppers or ground cayenne pepper in your pantry, use chili powder. It isn’t nearly as hot, but if you double the quantity called for, it’ll get the job done.

View All Ingredient Substitutions