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Today we will be comparing red pepper flakes vs cayenne — the two most notoriously spicy chilies that are always well-stocked in the grocery spice rack.
Both are capable of lighting up just about any dish with a favorable punch.
But is one better than the other depending on the dish?
Is there a heat difference?
Are there other distinctions between these peppers?
Well, we are going to address all of these questions here, so endeavor to read to the end.
What Are Red Pepper Flakes?
Red pepper flakes, also known as crushed red pepper, is a condiment or spice made of various dried, crushed red chilies pepper.
Usually, cayenne is the most dominant ingredient in the mixture, taking the highest percentage while the other peppers are used in smaller quantities.
This spice contains chilies like jalapenos, Anaheim, and serrano with a heat level of about 30,000 to 50,000 SHU.
The flavor profile is slightly sharp and a little earthy with a decent dose of spicy.
To prepare red pepper flakes, the peppers are dried and crushed into flakes and then mixed with the seeds — adding further spiciness to the mixture.
Red pepper flakes are added to a wide variety of dishes making the flavor as well as the heat pop.
You can use them in many soups, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauces, stews, salads, curries, tacos, baked goods, vegetables, fried chicken, and many other recipes.
Read Also: Red Pepper Flakes Vs Chili Flakes
What Is Cayenne Pepper?
Cayenne peppers are closely related to jalapeño and bell peppers.
They are thin chili pepper, green to red, about 2 to 5 inches long before being dried and ground down to cayenne pepper powder.
They belong to the nightshade family of flowering plants and are related to bell peppers and jalapenos.
It has a hot fiery taste that enhances the flavor of savory dishes, sauce (particularly Tabasco sauce), soup, or stew, sprinkles it over egg dishes, mixes it into hummus, stirs it into homemade lemonade for a delicious kick, and more.
Nutritiously, Cayenne pepper, whether diced or grounded, can help reduce hunger, lower blood pressure, aid digestive health, help relieve pain, psoriasis, cancer risk, and boost your metabolism.
Crushed Red Pepper Vs Cayenne: Is One Hotter Than The Other?
In terms of their fire, Cayenne pepper takes the win here. It is much hotter than regular crushed red pepper in the supermarket.
Cayenne powder only is made from cayenne pepper of about 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units — independently.
Crushed red pepper or red pepper flakes, on the other hand, is made from three or four different chilies.
Cayenne is mostly the base of the mix, but the intensity can cut when the other chilies used have less fire on the pepper scale. And this could be the milder anchor and jalapeño.
But hey, this is not a steadfast rule.
Crushed red pepper is a mixture of other chilies, and the chilies used can gang up to be a whole lot hotter than cayenne.
Read Also: Tomato Puree Vs Crushed Tomatoes
Red Pepper Flakes Vs Cayenne Crushed Pepper: Longevity
Properly stored, crushed red pepper flakes will stay in their best shape for approximately 2 to 3 years.
Meanwhile, you’ll probably get an extra year or two (3 to 4-year shelf life) with cayenne. But both should be kept well.
And there is no better way to retain the flavor and potency of these peppers than to store them in containers with tight-fitting lids and kept in a pantry away from light.
No doubt chili flakes and powders don’t go bad too soon as fresh do.
The chances for bacteria to sip in are very slim if well kept.
But if for any reason it has passed its prime, you’ll simply notice the spice color looks washed out compared to when you bought it.
Also, there is a lack of flavor and heat when tasted.
What Is The Hottest Pepper In The World Now?
This is definitely not for the faint of hearts!
If you’ve not been eaten some really hot or spicy recipes, please DO NOT use any of the peppers I’m about to share with you.
This list is dedicated to avid spicy food lovers that have nurtured the ability to condone these insanely peppery chilies ONLY — and not for once-in-a-blue-moon eaters.
Here is the list of hot peppers anyways:
- Carolina Reaper 2,200,000 SHU (1st position)
- Trinidad Moruga Scorpion 2,009,231 SHU (2nd position)
- 7 Pot Douglah 1,853,936 SHU (3rd position)
- 7 Pot Primo 1,469,000 SHU.
- Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” 1,463,700 SHU.
- Naga Viper 1,349,000 SHU.
- Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) 1,041,427 SHU.
- 7 Pot Barrackpore ~1,000,000 SHU.
Well, if you think these peppers aren’t good enough, maybe you should consider the hottest thing on earth: Lava. Not Lava pepper, I mean Volcano Lava.
Just a bad joke — but you got the whole point, right?
Read Also: Carolina Reaper Vs Ghost Pepper
What Can You Substitute For Red Pepper Flakes?
Cayenne pepper powder has proven itself beyond reasonable doubt to be one of the best substitutes for red pepper flakes since these peppers are among the ingredients in red pepper flakes.
But because they are hotter than red pepper flakes and have a different texture, you’d want to use less of it to get a similar level of heat in your dish.
For every 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, use ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder.
Moreover, they are best to use as a substitute in sauces, soups, stews, and curries.
But for whatever reason, you can’t get your hand on some cayenne pepper; you can choose between Chile de Arbol powder, chili powder, gochugaru, chili paste, habanero powder, chili sauce, hot paprika powder, or chipotle powder.
Well, I’m considering treating this as a topic of its own so that you can get a detailed understanding of each of these peppers. What do you think?
So between red pepper flakes vs cayenne which will it be? Here are some pieces of advice that will help:
First and foremost, any powder pepper is going to meld more with a dish, especially sauces and soups, than flakes.
Therefore, if you want invisible spiciness that penetrates the entire dish, then cayenne pepper powder would be your best bet — though the meal will taste spicier, so you might have to cut the quantity.
However, crushed red pepper flake, on the other hand, is a preferable alternative for topping with considerable heat.
Ideal for sprinkling on top of pizza, salads, and sandwiches to quickly add some extra oomph. Besides, most people seem to control their spicing better with red pepper flake.
Read Also: Scotch Bonnet Vs Ghost Pepper