Sweet red pepper spice is made from sweet red peppers and savory spices. It’s the perfect blend for creating Middle Eastern dishes, Mediterranean recipes, or anything else you desire to experiment with. Your kitchen will feel cozy, warm, and inviting with this delicious addition to your spice rack.
Sweet Red Pepper Spice
It’s Time to Upgrade Your Spice Rack
Spending more time at home likely means you have become more acquainted with your kitchen! If you’ve looked at your extra time in the house as an opportunity to hone your cooking skills, then now is the perfect time to give your spice rack a facelift.
Cooking with herbs and spices is one of the easiest ways to add great flavor to any dish. While you can find dozens of different herbs and spices in the kitchen, some of them taste better than others when paired with certain foods.
The Best Herbs to Add to Pepper Dishes
There are so many fresh herbs that pair perfectly with Peppers! Here are some of the best herbs to add to your favorite Pepper dishes.
Peppers & Cilantro
One herb often paired with Sweet Peppers is cilantro. Sweet Peppers and cilantro are two staple ingredients often found in Mexican dishes that also include ingredients like lime juice, avocado, corn, and Tomatoes. These foods work together to create that authentic Mexican flavor that you can’t help but love!
When Mexican dishes have spicier pepper flavors mixed in, cilantro can be added to these dishes to cool down their heat. But the crisp sweetness of Bell Peppers is brightened up by cilantro’s strong, citrusy flavor, making it the perfect herb to balance the range of flavors often found in Mexican cuisine.
Pepper & Cilantro Recipes
Here are some of our favorite recipes (with a few fitting into the Mexican cuisine category) featuring both Sweet Peppers and fresh cilantro:
Peppers & Thyme
Thyme is a popular herb often used in savory dishes, but it also adds better flavor the longer it is cooked, making it perfect for many soups and stocks. Its herbal flavor and notes of grass and florals make thyme a versatile herb that is used in many dishes within French, Italian, Middle Eastern, and American cuisine.
When you see thyme and Bell Peppers in the same recipe, it is usually a savory dish where cooked meats take center stage. However, you may also find these two ingredients together in soups, sauces, or even pickling brine!
Use up your fresh thyme and Sweet Peppers in one of these tasty recipes:
Peppers & Parsley
One of the most versatile herbs you can cook with is parsley. This fresh herb has a clean, earthy flavor and light scent, making it easy to pair with a wide range of foods. Parsley is most often added to a dish as a final garnish, bringing the dish’s fresh flavors to the forefront. But it also adds great flavor when mixed into certain dips, hummus, pesto, and chimichurri sauce!
Since parsley pairs so well with a wide range of foods, it’s not hard to find it as a garnish for dishes featuring Sweet Peppers.
More Herbs to Pair with Peppers
While cilantro, thyme, and parsley pair well with Sweet Peppers, there are many more herb options to choose from! If you want to experiment with more fresh herbs, here are a few extra options that often taste great when added to dishes with Peppers:
What’s the Difference Between Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Red Chili Pepper, and Ground Red Pepper?
Although each of these ground ingredients shares a similar appearance and texture, these flavorful spices have unique spice levels, flavor profiles, and uses.
- 1. Cayenne pepper is a super spicy chili that rates high on the Scoville scale—a method for measuring peppers’ heat levels.
- 2. Ground paprika is produced by grinding numerous peppers and can have a flavor ranging from sweet to fiery.
- 3. Ground red pepper and red chili powder are both generic spice names that at times refers to cayenne, but can also include other red chilies.
Despite its name, black pepper is unrelated to any of these bright red spices, and comes from the fruit of a flowering vine, rather than the pepper family.
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What Is Cayenne Pepper?
Typically found in the spice aisle of the grocery store as a finely ground powder, cayenne is a hot pepper that can add a punch of heat to any recipe, from homemade hot sauce to chili con carne. This staple of Mexican cuisine is native to South America and starts as small, thin, bright red pepper before being dried and ground down to cayenne pepper powder.
With a hot, fiery taste, cayenne is one of the main ingredients of Tabasco sauce, and is commonly used in a wide range of world cuisines, like Creole, Asian, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Korean, and more. Belonging to the Capsicum Annuum family of plants, cayenne is related to a number of peppers, including jalapenos, bell peppers, and New Mexico chili peppers.
What Is Paprika?
Paprika is a unique ground spice that can be made from multiple kinds of peppers, resulting in distinct flavors and heat levels. Despite its fiery red color, not all paprikas are spicy. When cooking with paprika, it is imperative to know which of the three types of paprika is being used to avoid imbalances of flavor.
Sweet paprika (aka Hungarian paprika), which is made primarily from ground red bell peppers, is a more subtle spice used primarily as a garnish to add color to dishes. On the other hand, hot paprika (aka Spanish paprika), which is made from ground chili peppers or a combination of chili and bell peppers, can have a heat level comparable to other ground red chilies. Smoked paprika is made when the chili and/or bell peppers are smoked before getting ground into a powder, resulting in a, you guessed it, smokier flavor.
What Are Ground Red Pepper and Red Chili Powder?
This generic form of ground chili pepper—which can be labeled by spice manufacturers as ground red pepper or red chili powder—has a similar finely ground, bright red appearance to cayenne and paprika, but can be made from a variety of ground chilis in the Capsicum family of peppers.
However, the majority of ground red chili pepper products found in the spice aisle, including Mccormick’s popular spice, are made from ground cayenne peppers. In general, red chili powder and ground cayenne can be used interchangeably when a recipe calls for one or the other.
Can You Use Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, and Paprika Interchangeably?
Despite the similarities in appearance, these three ingredients can’t necessarily be used interchangeably in all recipes. While fresh cayenne is a consistent source of earthy, spicy heat, chili powder and paprika are more unpredictable ingredients.
The flavor and heat level of a given chili powder can fluctuate depending on the ingredients, so while a super-hot chili powder could at times be swapped for cayenne, it is not guaranteed to be a good substitute. Generally, ground red pepper and red chili powder can be used as cayenne pepper substitutes, as they are frequently made from the same pepper.
Paprika comes in a variety of spice levels and flavors, ranging from sweet and mild to spicy and smokey. Substituting cayenne, or any kind of dried chili pepper, for sweet paprika would certainly affect the overall flavor of the dish. However, hot paprika can be used as a suitable substitute for spicier ground peppers.
Red Pepper Nutritional Information
All varieties of dried, ground red pepper are low in calorie, fat, cholesterol, and sodium counts. For example, in a 1 teaspoon serving of crushed red chili flakes, there are:
- 1. 5.7 calories
- 2. 0.3 grams of fat
- 3. 0 milligrams of cholesterol
- 4. 0.5 milligrams of sodium
- 5. 1 gram of carbohydrates
- 6. 0.5 grams of dietary fiber
Potential Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne peppers, scientifically known as Capsicum annuum,belong to the Solanaceae or nightshade plant family, which also includes tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes
They’re a type of chili pepper and have a moderately hot, spicy flavor thanks to a compound called capsaicin
Hot peppers like cayenne peppers may offer some health benefits, but research is limited on the potential health benefits related to cayenne pepper consumption specifically.
Note that capsaicin, the compound that gives cayenne peppers their signature spicy flavor, is linked to some health benefits when consumed in supplement form
However, since the related research didn’t investigate cayenne pepper specifically, more studies are needed.
Nonetheless, adding cayenne peppers to your diet may benefit your health in a few ways.
Here are 6 potential benefits of cayenne pepper, plus tips on how to use it.
1. Contains several important nutrients
Cayenne peppers and other types of hot peppers are a concentrated source of many nutrients and can be a healthy addition to your diet.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown for one 45-gram hot red chili pepper:
- Calories: 18
- Protein: 0.8 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Fiber: 0.7 grams
- Vitamin C: 72% of the DV
- Provitamin A: 48% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 5% of the DV
As you can see, just one chili pepper provides an impressive amount of nutrients.
Chili peppers like cayenne peppers are especially rich in provitamin A carotenoids and vitamin C.
Vitamin A exists in two forms: provitamin A and preformed vitamin A. Provitamin A carotenoids are found in plant foods, while preformed vitamin A is concentrated in animal foods
Provitamin A carotenoids found in cayenne include alpha carotene and beta carotene, which the body can convert into the active form of vitamin A
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that’s involved in many aspects of health. For example, it’s necessary for
- the functioning of the immune system
- growth and development
- bone health
Plus, hot peppers like cayenne peppers are packed with vitamin C.
Just one 45-gram chili pepper provides 72% of this nutrient. Like vitamin A, vitamin C is essential to immune health. It also plays critical roles in collagen production, iron absorption, and neurotransmitter synthesis
Additionally, hot peppers like cayenne peppers provide nutrients like B6, vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium.
Even though cayenne peppers are nutritious, most people can only handle a small portion because of their intense spicy flavor. However, consuming small amounts of cayenne regularly could contribute to the improved intake of certain nutrients.
Chili peppers like cayenne peppers are high in a number of nutrients, including vitamin C and provitamin A.
2. A source of capsaicin
Many of the health benefits attributed to hot peppers like cayenne peppers are linked to their capsaicin content. Peppers contain a variety of compounds called capsaicinoids, but capsaicin is the most abundant.
When you consume it in high-dose supplement form or apply it topically, capsaicin may offer several health benefits, including:
- pain relief
- improved athletic performance
- lowered blood sugar levels
However, research on the effects of taking capsaicin supplements is quite limited, and more evidence supports the use of topical applications of capsaicin, such as capsicin-containing creams
Research also suggests that capsaicin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, it’s unclear whether the amounts of capsaicin consumed in normal servings of cayenne peppers and other hot peppers have any meaningful benefits
Even though the capsaicin found in cayenne peppers likely offers some benefits, more research is needed to fully understand how capsaicin derived from normal serving sizes of cayenne peppers affects health.
A compound called capsaicin in cayenne peppers may offer some health benefits. However, available studies focus on high-dose oral capsaicin supplements and topical applications, not the amounts found in normal serving sizes of hot peppers.
3. Packed with beneficial plant compounds
Although capsaicin is perhaps the most well-known plant compound found in cayenne peppers, they contain many more protective plant compounds that may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
For example, cayenne peppers provide:
- vitamin C
All of these may help protect against cellular damage caused by oxidative stress — an imbalance between damaging molecules called free radicals and antioxidant defenses in the body
A 2015 study showed that Capsicum annuum pepper varieties, including a type of cayenne pepper, had the greatest antioxidant activity compared with other types of peppers, including habanero-type peppers (C. chinense).
Following a diet high in nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods like peppers could help promote optimal health and increase your body’s antioxidant defenses.
Studies show that consuming a diet rich in plant foods that contain a variety of antioxidants may protect against certain health conditions like heart disease and may help prolong your life
Consuming cayenne peppers, along with other fruits and vegetables, is a smart way to keep yourself healthy while providing your body with protective plant compounds and essential nutrients.
In addition to capsaicin, cayenne peppers contain other beneficial compounds, including carotenoids and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
4. Regularly eating hot peppers may benefit overall health
Even though studies on cayenne pepper intake and health are limited, some studies have associated hot pepper consumption in general with improved health outcomes.
Researchers think that the beneficial compounds found in hot peppers, including capsaicin, may help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage, which could help protect against certain health conditions, including heart disease
For example, a 2019 Italian study that included 22,811 adults found that regular chili pepper consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease.
Some researchers suggest that capsaicin may improve certain aspects of cardiovascular health, including blood vessel function, but more studies are needed to confirm this potential benefit
A large 2021 review of four observational studies found that chili pepper consumption was associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes
Other studies have also linked chili pepper consumption to a lower risk of all-cause mortality
While these findings are encouraging, this does not mean that eating a chili pepper every day will protect you from developing chronic diseases. It simply means that some studies have found associations between chili pepper consumption and some potential health benefits.
If you’re trying to improve your health, it’s best to examine your diet as a whole instead of focusing on just one food, such as chili peppers.
Eating more vegetables and fruits, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and getting regular activity are much more important for protecting your health than adding any particular food into your diet.
Some studies have linked regular hot pepper consumption to a lower risk of all-cause and heart-disease-related mortality.
5. Can flavor your food without the need for added salt
Although salt isn’t bad for you when you eat it in small amounts, consuming too much salt can take a toll on your health and may even increase your risk of certain health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease
Interestingly, using cayenne to flavor your food may help you cut back on your salt intake.
A 2017 study found that when participants added cayenne pepper to soup, they were less likely to desire salt, were less hungry, and felt fuller 1 hour after their meal .
However, the study did find that the participants seemed to crave more sweets and fats after cayenne consumption. For this reason, more research is needed to understand how cayenne affects taste perception and cravings.
If you’re using salt to flavor your food, you could try adding a dash of powdered cayenne pepper to see whether it helps you use less salt.
You could also try adding fresh, finely chopped cayenne pepper to recipes like omelets and salad dressings to reduce the need for added salt.
Using cayenne pepper may help cut down on your use of added salt, which could benefit health.