Cayenne pepper, a spicy spice that is actually paprika. How is it different from chili?

When we want to add a hot taste to our dishes, most of us reach for hot peppers.

But cayenne pepper has an even more intense taste.

It is actually a type of dried ground chili peppers.

How to use it correctly?

In which dishes is it best suited and what positive benefits does its consumption bring us?

Come with us in the footsteps of this devilish hot spice.

What is cayenne pepper?

The hot spice we know as cayenne pepper is not actually pepper at all. Like Szechuan pepper, it does not come from the black pepper tree (Piper nigrum). Cayenne pepper is actually ground chili peppers, usually a type of bell pepper (Capsicum frutescens).

Ripe red chili peppers are ground into a very fine powder, which is either used alone or mixed with other spices, especially salt and pepper. Due to its characteristic sharp taste, it is mainly used in Mexican and Asian cuisine.

Ground form of cayenne pepper.

What does cayenne pepper taste like?

Cayenne starts out as a small, thin, bright red pepper. It is then dried and ground into an orange to red powder. You hardly ever come across fresh cayenne pepper. The taste of cayenne pepper combines spiciness and sharpness, just a pinch of ground cayenne pepper is enough to enliven many dishes. The burning sensation is caused by the content of capsaicin, a substance that stimulates the nerve endings on the tongue when consumed. This spice is one of the main ingredients of tabasco sauce and curry mixture.

What is the difference between cayenne pepper, chili and hot pepper?

In a spice rack or bowl, these three hot spices are very similar in ground form, but their flavor profiles are slightly different.

  • Cayenne pepper – is actually a very hot chili that comes from a plant called bell pepper, on the Scoville scale, a method of measuring the hotness of peppers, it ranks higher than “regular” chili.

  • Chili – chili peppers or hot peppers are small peppers of different colors with different intensity of heat, they come from different types of peppers, for example from bell peppers or Chinese peppers.

  • Hot pepper – usually it is a ground mixture of different hot and non-hot varieties of pepper, in terms of intensity it is the lowest on the Scoville scale.
Wooden spoons with different hot spices.

The origin of cayenne pepper

As for the name cayenne pepper, Cayenne is the city in South American French Guiana where this spice originally originated. The Europeans gave it the name pepper after the spice reached Europe after the discovery of America, because its sharpness reminded them of pepper. In addition, peppers as such also reached Europe only in connection with overseas discoveries.

Today, the bush pepper, from which cayenne pepper comes, can be found in various countries, especially in the tropics, as peppers need a long time to fully ripen. The most important world producers include China, Mexico, India and some African states.

How to use cayenne pepper?

This spice is one of the basic ingredients of Mexican cuisine, but you will also find it in Indian, Thai or Japanese cuisine. In general, it can be used in any recipe that calls for chili.

Due to the great heat of cayenne pepper, it is necessary to be very careful when using it and only use a really small amount, otherwise its intensity will overpower all other ingredients.

  • You can use a small amount of cayenne pepper very easily when preparing chili con carne , it will add sharpness to the dish.

  • This pepper is very versatile in recipes with beans . Livens up bean soup, salad and stew.

  • Get inspired by the use of this spice in Mexican cuisine and use it to make a variety of homemade dips that taste great with crackers, vegetables and meat.

  • Lovers of Mexican food can’t do without cayenne pepper even when preparing a burrito or tachos.

  • Another option is to add this pepper to various recipes for minced meat . It can liven up meatballs and stuffed pepper pods with its taste.

  • In combination with salt, pepper salt is also produced, which is used as a seasoning for meat dishes.

  • You can also spice up breadcrumbs with cayenne pepper, so the resulting fried dishes will have a more intense flavor. Add a small amount of this spice in recipes for fried steaks or fried cheese, for example.

Bowl of chili con carne.

What to replace cayenne pepper with?

If you don’t have cayenne pepper, you can easily replace it in recipes with other dried chilies or ground hot peppers. Compared to cayenne pepper, you will need to use more of them to achieve the same heat of the dish.


Store cayenne pepper in a sealed, airtight container in a dry, dark place. Like most ground spices, it loses its intensity over time.

Cayenne pepper and health

In addition to capsaicin, cayenne pepper also contains a number of different minerals, antioxidants and other substances that have many positive effects on our health.

  • Capsaicin Benefits – Many of the health benefits attributed to cayenne pepper are related to the capsaicin content. Research suggests that capsaicin may offer several health benefits, including pain relief, improved athletic performance, and lowering blood sugar. In addition, it also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

  • Benefits of other plant compounds – although capsaicin is probably the most well-known plant compound contained in cayenne pepper, we also find other plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, such as flavonoids and carotenoids. These substances can help protect against cell damage caused by oxidative stress.

  • Cardiovascular Disease – The beneficial compounds in cayenne pepper may protect against certain health conditions, including heart disease. For example, a study confirmed that regular consumption is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease. Capsaicin improves some aspects of cardiovascular health, including blood vessel function.

  • Colds – some people use cayenne pepper in home remedies for colds. Research confirms that capsaicin can relieve symptoms such as sneezing and stuffy nose.

  • Pain relief – when used topically, capsaicin also has the potential to reduce pain by reducing the amount of substance P – a chemical that transmits pain messages to the brain. Creams or ointments containing capsaicin, for example, help relieve pain and tenderness in osteoarthritis. However, some people may experience an unpleasant burning sensation during application as a side effect.

  • Skin problems – the antibacterial properties of cayenne pepper help protect the body from certain Streptococcus bacteria that can cause skin and soft tissue infections. Studies show that capsaicin patches can relieve itching caused by various skin conditions, including psoriasis.

  • Digestive problems – cayenne pepper also helps the proper functioning of the digestive system, stimulates the digestive process and reduces inflammatory processes in the intestines.

  • Weight loss – food supplements containing cayenne pepper accelerate metabolism and thus promote weight loss. Eating this spice slightly raises your body temperature, which leads to the burning of additional calories. People who consume hot foods also generally have less appetite for sweet and fatty foods.

Nutritional values, vitamins and minerals in cayenne pepper

One teaspoon of cayenne pepper, which is equivalent to approximately 1.8 grams, contains:

Calorie Proteins Fats Carbohydrates Fiber
5.72 kcal 0.216 g 0.311 g 1.02 g 0.49 g

In terms of vitamins, cayenne pepper is especially rich in provitamin A and vitamin C. Provitamin A carotenoids contained in cayenne pepper include alpha carotene and beta carotene, which the body can convert into the active form of vitamin A. Other vitamins include vitamin K or E.

Vitamin A Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B Vitamin C Vitamin E Vitamin K
749 IU 0.006 mg 0.017 mg 0.157 mg 0.044 mg 1.38 mg 0.538 mg 1.44 µg

When it comes to minerals, cayenne pepper contains, for example, potassium, iron or copper.

Potassium Phosphorus Magnesium Manganese Copper Calcium Zinc Iron
36.2 mg 5.27 mg 2.74 mg 0.036 mg 0.007 mg 2.66 mg 0.045 mg 0.14 mg

Side effects of cayenne pepper

Handling cayenne pepper can lead to eye and skin irritation in more sensitive individuals. This spice should generally be avoided by people who experience heartburn or other indigestion from spicy foods. Taking high doses of dietary supplements with cayenne pepper may also be associated with the risk of irregular heart rhythm and increased blood pressure.

Growing cayenne pepper

Chili peppers, including those from which cayenne pepper is obtained, have also penetrated our windowsills, balconies and terraces in recent years, as they can be relatively easily grown in pots. In addition to the fact that you can then make your own cayenne pepper from them, although its intensity is usually not as strong as that of pepper that comes from tropical regions, it is also an interesting ornamental plant.

The pepper plant from which cayenne pepper is obtained.

First soak the seeds in water, let them germinate and then grow seedlings from them. Plants need enough heat, moisture and light. The fruits should ripen in a warm and sunny place for three months before harvesting. The ideal place is a south-facing window, or a warm balcony or, of course, a greenhouse.

The dried form of cayenne pepper before grinding.


After harvesting the peppers, cut them in half and let them dry thoroughly in the sun or dry them using an electric dryer. Before grinding, we remove the seeds from the peppers, they are bitter and could negatively affect the taste of the cayenne pepper.

Milan & Ondra

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