Is Crushed Red Pepper the Same As Cayenne Pepper?

Traditional spices market in India.
Cayenne and crushed red pepper are different spices. (Image: Mariusz Prusaczyk/iStock/Getty Images)

Cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper are two different spice preparations that come from the same species of pepper, which is known as Capsicum. The spices are common in Cajun and Creole cooking, as well as the cuisines of China, Southeast Asia, Southern Italy and Mexico, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Cayenne No Substitute for Red Pepper

Cayenne pepper, soy sauce and chopsticks on the wooden table.
Cayenne and crushed red pepper are not interchangeable. (Image: longtaildog/iStock/Getty Images)

Due to differences in how cayenne and crushed red pepper spices are prepared, don't assume that a similar amount of one spice can replace the other in a dish, even though the crushed red pepper and cayenne might come from the same or similar sources. Spice manufacturers might use several varieties of peppers from within the Capsicum species to create either kind of spice. They might also mix in other ingredients to enhance the texture or flavor of the spices. If you’re not sure which to use for a particular recipe, the safest plan is to do a side-by-side comparison to determine which type benefits your dish the most.

Heating Things Up

Chili
Both spices are hot. (Image: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images)

Both spices are hot due to the presence of a chemical called capsaicin. The heat the chemical generates is the signature flavor of many spicy dishes, but it also has applications in pain-relieving ointments to alleviate lower back pain, arthritis and shingles. The hot stuff is also used in pepper spray for personal protection.

How They're Made

Organic Spicy Red Pepper Flakes
Crushed red pepper comes from the pods. (Image: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images)

Manufacturers make cayenne pepper by grinding the pepper into powder. Crushed red pepper comes from the dried pods within the pepper. Cayenne and crushed red pepper create hot, smoky flavors. If you want to obtain potential health benefits, discuss capsaicin supplementation with your doctor.

Spicy Supplements

Hand holding a pill
Capsaicin supplements may be beneficial to your health. (Image: Iromaya Images/Iromaya/Getty Images)

Many cultures tout the medicinal benefits of capsaicin, but you might not achieve these benefits by obtaining capsaicin from spice preparations. Capsaicin supplements are available in capsule and cream form. Capsule supplementation might aid digestion and weight loss, and cream applications might help relieve discomfort due to shingles, psoriasis, arthritis or muscle pain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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