Chili Flakes Vs Red Pepper Flakes: What to use?

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chili flakes vs red pepper flakes

There’s nothing yummier than making yourself a slice of spicy chickpea avocado toast for lunch. But adding a sprinkle of chili or red pepper flakes really tops it off to give it that extra bang. So you have both spice types in your pantry, and now you’re faced with a problem, which one is the best:

Chili flakes or red pepper flakes?

There are numerous differences between chili and red pepper flakes, such as the coloring, smell, taste, and cooking uses. However, the main difference is chili flakes are made only from chilis, while red pepper flakes are made from a mix of different peppers. Both options are hot and spicy.

In this detailed guide, we’ll provide you with all the hot details about these two spicy flakes and you’ll be able to decide which one suits your dish better.

What Are Chili Flakes?

Unlike chili powder that’s made from finely crushed chilis and other spices, chili flakes are only made from ground chili peppers. 

The flakes are made by roasting chili peppers such as Aleppo, Urfa Biber, and chipotle peppers.

They’re roasted until the chili peppers are crisp and brittle, then crushed into perfect red chili flakes. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the unique characteristics of chili flakes:

Chili Flakes Flavor and Heat Level

Chili flakes are packed with flavor and have an almost sweet and savory taste. These flakes have a nice heat to them, but they’re not as hot as red pepper flakes.

Adding these flakes to your dish gives it a mild burn and a pleasant flavor without losing the taste of the chili, among any other spices you might add.

Color of Chili Flakes

When chili peppers are roasted, the seeds are removed, which gives them a general red color. 

However, once all the flakes are collected and put in a bottle, you’ll notice different shades, varying from a dark red to a bright red (this depends on the type of chili used).

Chili Flake Uses

Chili flakes are versatile and can be used in almost any savory dish you can think of, for example:

  • Sprinkle on top of avo
  • Add to a salad
  • Sprinkle on top of a pizza
  • Add to a curry dish for some extra heat
  • Add to a stir fry

Tasty Tip: If you want to make the most exquisite cup of hot chocolate, add a pinch of chili flakes. The chocolate and chili flakes complement one another and bring out the flavor of the hot drink.

What Are Red Pepper Flakes?

what are red pepper flakes

Unlike chili flakes that are made from one type of pepper, red pepper flakes are made from a mix of chili peppers. The most popular peppers are cayenne pepper, jalapeño, bell peppers, anaheim, and serrano peppers.

Red pepper flakes are made by drying out the mix of peppers. The best way to bring out the flavor of the peppers is to dry them in the sun slowly. 

Once the peppers are brittle, they’re pulverized into flakes.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the unique characteristics of red pepper flakes:

Flavor and Heat Level of Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes have a strong flavor and smell. These flakes are also a lot hotter than chili flakes. This is because the seeds aren’t removed from the mix, which makes the flakes pretty hot.

The different types and number of peppers used will also influence the taste and heat level of the flakes. You can purchase a mild type or a very hot type of red pepper flake.

Top Tip: Rather, use fewer flakes when cooking and test the heat level before adding more. Once you’ve added too many flakes, removing the sting from your dish will be difficult (#BurntTongue).

Red Pepper Flake Color

The primary color of red pepper flakes is red. But due to the various types of peppers used and the seed content in the flakes, they vary in color from shades of red to yellow and white.

Red Pepper Flake Uses

Because red pepper flakes have a much stronger and hotter flavor, they should be used sparingly in most dishes (unless you enjoy hot food), such as:

  • Different types of sauces
  • Sprinkle lightly on pizza toppings and pasta 
  • Add to curry dishes
  • Add to your beef jerky mix for an extra kick

Difference Between Chili Flakes and Red Pepper Flakes

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most obvious differences between chili and red pepper flakes:

  1. Chili flakes have a sweet savory-like taste and are pretty hot, whereas red pepper flakes have a more potent flavor and are far hotter in comparison.
  2. Chili flakes are only made from one type of chili, whereas red pepper flakes are made from various red peppers.
  3. Chili flakes can be used in most dishes to add warmth and flavor, whereas red pepper flakes are more suited for meals where you need more spice and heat.

Can You Substitute Red Pepper Flakes for Chili Flakes?

You can substitute red pepper flakes for chili flakes. 

However, check the packaging to find out which peppers have been used. Red pepper flakes are far hotter and spicier than chili flakes, so you’ll need to use fewer flakes in your dish.

What Can I Substitute for Chili Flakes?

If you need a gentle substitute for chili flakes, these substitutes work very well:

  • Ground habanero pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Ground cayenne pepper

Are Chili Flakes and Crushed Red Pepper the Same?

Chili flakes and crushed red pepper flakes aren’t the same. Even though they are both peppers, they have different colors, flavors, heat levels, and uses.

My Last Foodie Thoughts 

It’s great having a variety of spices and flakes to choose from in the kitchen. However, when it comes to pepper flakes, some like it hot, and some do not. It’s entirely up to you and what your taste buds enjoy.

Remember that these two flakes couldn’t be more different, and mixing them up could result in the most amazing dish or a dish that comes close to burning away your sense of taste and smell.

Always make sure to check the label, which should give you some indication of the heat level. Imagine accidentally adding red pepper flakes to your mother-in-law’s hot chocolate instead of chili flakes.

You won’t be very popular (unless that’s your intent!).

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