Cayenne Vs Red Pepper Flakes- 5 Key And Important Similarities And Differences

Last Updated on May 10, 2022 by Guillermina

It is not easy trying to figure out the similarities and differences between Cayenne vs Red Pepper Flakes, especially because sometimes red pepper flake seasonings use cayenne peppers. However, when you discover the delicious difference, you can easily use them in your cooking and flavoring!

I absolutely love using red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper seasonings in my cooking because it gives my food heat as well as a tangy flavor. Through this blog, you will learn about the key differences, and similarities, and how to use both of these seasonings effectively in your kitchen.

What Are Red Pepper Flakes?

So, what are red pepper flakes? It is more common to use red pepper flakes in cooking or as a topping compared to using cayenne pepper seasoning or flakes. Most of the time, red pepper flakes are made using hot red chili peppers which are dehydrated or baked hot peppers.

The pepper type depends, although usually, it is a mixture of three different peppers with the seeds. The seeds bring a crunch to the red pepper flakes’ seasoning while also giving an extra hint of spice. Red pepper flakes are usually given as a side at pizzerias too!

What Is Cayenne Pepper Flakes?

 Can I substitute red pepper flakes for cayenne pepper?

Now that we know what red pepper flakes are, we can dive into cayenne pepper flakes. This pepper seasoning is not as often used, but still enjoyed! Cayenne peppers are red, long, and grow up to 6 inches long. These peppers actually have powerful antioxidants and other nutritional benefits.

Most of the time, the use of cayenne pepper flakes in cooking is to give both heat and color to a dish. You can use this seasoning on light meats as well as rice.

The 3 Main Similarities Between Cayenne Vs Red Pepper Flakes

1. Color

The main similarity between cayenne vs red pepper flakes is the color of the seasoning. They are both commonly used in cooking and can be substituted for one another because of the color they produce! Both are vivid red that brings a splash of color to just about any dish!

2. Process

The process in which you make cayenne vs red pepper flakes is the same! First, the peppers used to produce these seasonings are naturally dried. Once they are dried, they go through a process called dehydrating where the water is sucked out of the peppers.

 Can I substitute red pepper flakes for Paprika?

3. Peppers/Ingredients

This is actually both a similarity and a difference between Cayenne vs Red Pepper Flakes. Since some red pepper flake seasonings use cayenne pepper to get the vivid red color we all know and love, this means that both use the same ingredients including salt and sometimes vinegar.

The 3 Main Differences Between Cayenne Vs Red Pepper Flakes

1. Peppers (Depending on Recipe)

The peppers really depend on the recipe that the brand uses or that you make for yourself. Some pepper flakes do not use cayenne pepper at all but ancho pepper or dried chipotle peppers. It is important to look at the ingredients when purchasing a store-bought red pepper flake packet.

2. Flavor

What about flavor? Surprisingly, when looking at cayenne vs red pepper flakes, there is a huge difference in flavor. Some cayenne red pepper seasoning has a flavor that is close to smoky. Often, cayenne pepper also does not have the texture of red pepper flakes because seeds are not used.

3. Heat Level

It is also important to note that the heat level behind cayenne vs red pepper flakes completely depends on the recipe that is used. However, that being said, cayenne peppers are genuinely hotter than chipotle dried peppers and android peppers used in red pepper flakes.

 cayenne vs red pepper flakes

How To Make Pepper Flakes

Did you know that you can make your own pepper flakes from scratch? It does take time, but it is also very easy to do if you have the right equipment. There are kitchen products that specifically dehydrate peppers and is used to collect the dust that peppers emit or oil when they are dehydrated.

You can use dehydrated peppers in your cooking by rehydrating them. This is simply a method to make seasonings and flakes as well as helping to make the peppers last longer. It is awful to suddenly realize that the peppers you bought last week are no longer good.

I recommend starting the process though through the use of an oven. This is a perfect method for those of us who do not own a dehydrating machine. Instead, you will line a baking sheet with naturally dried peppers at 360 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 5-10 minutes.

One this is done, all you will need to do is place the peppers in a Ziplock bag. Make sure that the pit as well as any bad arts are taken out before this step. Then, you will crush the peppers in the bag with your hands. Keep it closed as this can be messy.

Pepper Flake Substitutes

Did you know that there are also red pepper flake substitutes you can use? Yes! Sometimes when I am out of this amazing ingredient, I focus on looking for substitutes. My favorite substitute at the moment if paprika powder. It is a seasoning and spice that is not very hot, but does contain that vivid red color.

If you need to add more heat, I recommend using hot sauce as you cook! Protect your eyes though as the heat and the smoke can cause irritation similar to when you cook with onions and garlic.

 Is cayenne pepper the same as cayenne powder?


In conclusion, the debate over Cayenne vs Red Pepper Flakes is silly considering both of these seasonings are connected. Red pepper flakes often use cayenne peppers. Although it is true that cayenne pepper seasoning is different because it is closer to a fine powder.

That being said, we hope you have learned something new about cayenne vs red pepper flakes! What do you think about this article? Do you have any thoughts? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to share this blog about wonderful information on Cayenne vs Red Pepper Flakes with friends and family.


Can I substitute red pepper flakes for cayenne pepper?

Red pepper flakes are delicious and have a unique flavor, consistency and process. Surprisingly, other peppers and seasonings can be substituted in dishes. For example, cayenne peppers and pepper powder is a substitute that works well when you don't have red pepper flakes, just be ready for a punch of heat and flavor!

Which is hotter cayenne or red pepper flakes?

Red cayenne pepper flakes are hotter then regular red pepper flakes. Cayenne peppers are higher on the Scoville heat index compared to dried red chili peppers.

Can I substitute red pepper flakes for Paprika?

Yes! The color is very similar, however, there are a few differences. Red pepper flakes are thicker, while Paprika is typically a powder seasoning with a low hint of spice and heat.

Is cayenne pepper the same as cayenne powder?

No! Cayenne peppers are not the same as cayenne powder. Although cayenne pepper powder comes from cayenne peppers, there is a long process where other seasonings and peppers are added to make the fine powder.