Cayenne pepper powder consists of dried and ground cayenne chilies. It delivers a bright red color along with moderate heat (30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units). But among the typical spices on the common spice rack, cayenne is easily the spiciest you’ll find. The heat scares many off, but cayenne pepper can be very versatile in the kitchen. Below we provide five fast and fiery cayenne pepper uses to make the most of that jar in your closet.
Because of how easy it is to buy cayenne powder, many use it as the quickest way to tap into the health benefits of chili peppers. The capsaicin in cayenne, like in all chilies, can act as a natural pain reliever and weight loss solution among other benefits. Adding a little cayenne pepper to your tea is a great way to intake this fiery spice. Beyond the heat, cayenne has a very neutral flavor profile, so it won’t get in the way of the flavor of your tea. See PepperScale’s cayenne tea recipe for recommended proportions.
As a paprika substitute
Cayenne pepper powder is not an exact match for paprika in terms of its looks. Cayenne pepper is paler with a slightly more orange appearance than you typically see in paprika. Even so, both powders are strikingly red. Because they have similar colors, you can use cayenne pepper powder in any recipe that requires paprika for its color. You don’t have to replace all the paprika in the dish, just enough of it to give the dish your preferred level of heat. Combining these two pepper powders is nothing new since cayenne pepper is the source of the heat in many of the hotter Spanish and Hungarian paprikas.
If you’re a fan of fiery flavors, cayenne makes a good step-up paprika substitute on deviled eggs. The traditional pepper on deviled eggs is paprika. In the standard version, the eggs get a light dusting of paprika to give them their traditional look and flavor. The problem is that while paprika can be flavorful, it is usually not hot. To give your eggs a little spark, you can replace all or some of the paprika with cayenne pepper.
In fried chicken
Some people like their fried chicken spicy. For some, the best way to increase the heat level of fried chicken is to add some hot sauce to it at the table. While this works, it also means that liquid is being added to a dish that should have a dry and crisp crust. Hot sauce can make the breading on fried chicken wet and soggy. In addition, the vinegar note that many hot sauces bring might not be everyone’s ideal flavor profile.
Instead, using cayenne pepper in the breading of fried chicken can give it a little heat without making it wet, while also enhancing the color. Take a look at this jalapeño fried chicken recipe that uses this technique in the breading.
In macaroni and cheese
For a spicy twist on a classic side dish, add a dash of cayenne to the roux for your macaroni and cheese. You can use it in place of black or white pepper. Not only will it enhance the flavor for lovers of spicy food, but it will also make the color more appealing as well.
To make chili oil
Lightly heat a little cayenne pepper powder or flakes in oil to create a spicy and brightly colored chili oil. Serve chili oil as a condiment at the table.