7 Pantry-Friendly Swaps for Red Pepper Flakes

How to keep the heat when you're out of the real thing.

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Red pepper flakes are found all over the place, except perhaps in your own spice rack when you need it most. But these dried and crushed peppers are the perfect way to add a pop of heat when sprinkled on top of foods and a great way to add flavor while you're cooking things like stews, chili, or curry.

Even if you're someone who insists these flakes be stocked at home, it's always possible to run out. Here are just a few other ideas that come from that same rack or your pantry to compliment what you're eating.

Related: How Do I Know Which Type of Pepper to Use When?

What Do Red Pepper Flakes Taste Like and How Are They Used?

Red pepper flakes, also known as crushed red pepper, are typically a blend of red chili peppers, Anaheim peppers, jalapeños, yellow chilies, and cayenne peppers, or any combination of those. The dried peppers are ground up just enough that you're left with bits of various sizes; flakes, seeds, and ground pepper all mixed together. The flavor is complex, savory and vegetal with intense heat when consumed directly.

The most recognizable place for red pepper flakes is any pizza place, the little jars of red and white polka-dotted bits lining every table or counter. This is because a dusting of them on top of a slice can be quite a sublime experience. Shake some into a stew, casserole, or spicy soup, or be bold and add some to a dish with jam or even a dessert to offset the sweetness with a little spice.

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Best Crushed Red Pepper Flake Substitutes

No matter what you choose, replicating the exact taste and especially the texture of red pepper flakes will be impossible. It is a unique product in the way it delivers pops of heat so it's best to not expect perfection.

Make Your Own

Not all of us have dried peppers hanging out in our pantries, but if you do, you're a quick process away from making your own. Remove the stems and toss them in a food processor. Only pulse a little bit – you don't want to pulverize them. This homemade product can step in one for one for the store-bought stuff, but if you aren't sure of the heat level of your dried peppers, use less in your recipes.

Ground Cayenne

Cayenne pepper powder, or ground cayenne, will be the best substitute for heat in a dish. Plus, it's already in a lot of red pepper flake blends, so it shouldn't make any huge difference in whatever recipe you're making, but sprinkling it right on top of that slice of pizza is a mistake you don't want to make. Ground cayenne is more concentrated so use half the amount of red pepper flake called for in a recipe — try it in a curry or a vegetable stew.

Related: Cayenne Pepper vs. Chili Powder: What's the Difference?

Chili Powder

Chili powder is milder than standard red pepper flakes, but the taste is pretty similar. Double the amount of red pepper flakes called for, since it isn't as potent as they are. If you happen to be stewing greens or baking something with red pepper flakes, this is the one to reach for.

Hot Paprika

Hot paprika will be the best substitute in terms of flavor; it supplies a beautiful heat with the added bonus of a gorgeous color. Regular paprika will supply the taste, but not the spice. If using standard paprika, use four times the amount of red pepper called for. You can always taste it and adjust.

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Chile de Arbol

If you are a big fan of Mexican or Latin American cooking, or simply happen to have some chile de arbol lying around, this would be great to use in an equal amount to red pepper flakes. It will be a little more mild but very similar in flavor. Try this on salmon, in salsa or chili, or in a rub.

Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is not as hot as red pepper flakes on a heat scale, so you'll be better off using nearly twice as much. Let this stand in when making pico de gallo, salsa, guacamole, or a pot of red beans and rice.

Hot Sauce

There are a ton of added components like vinegar and spices in hot sauce, so this is the most likely to alter the flavor of a recipe, If you don't need the heat, just omit it. If you do, a couple of dashes for every tablespoon of red pepper flake called for is a smart place to start.

The biggest pro of this substitution is the ability to just top things with it. For example, if you love red pepper flakes on your pizza and you're out, dashing on the hot sauce is perfect compromise.


Read the original article on All Recipes.