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27 September 2013

SCOVILLE HEAT UNITS: 30,000 – 50,000 SHU

The cayenne pepper is a thin chili pepper, green to red in color, about 2 to 3 inches long. The “cayenne pepper” spice you use mostly in pizza restaurants is the dried, ground version of this pepper.

It belongs to the nightshade family of flowering plants and are related to bell peppers and jalapenos.

The cayenne is a bright red chili ranging from 2-5 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cayenne chilies are usually sold as a powder, as cayenne pepper.

The word cayenne comes from the city of Cayenne in French Guiana. Cayenne is great in soups and sauces, on pizzas, as well as over meats and seafoods. Keep it on the table in a shaker as an alternative to salt or pepper.

History of the Cayenne Pepper

The cayenne is one of the most popular peppers used in the Western hemisphere. The name of the pepper is taken from the city of Cayenne in French Guinea, from where the pepper originates and where its first documented uses were found.

Cayenne peppers are usually used as a dried spice, which is made by drying and grinding the peppers or pulping and baking them into cakes, which are then ground to produce the spice.

Cayenne peppers can also be used fresh in dishes, but are a little harder to find outside of the powdered form.

About Cayenne Chili Peppers

Cayenne is a very popular pepper that is used in a variety of dishes and flavorings. You can buy cayenne pepper at most supermarkets in a variety of forms – the most noticeable form being the red powder, but the majority of chili flakes that can be found on the market are from Cayenne peppers.

In addition, the vast majority of popular hot sauces all rely on cayenne for part of their kick, particularly if the sauce also contains vinegar. The cayenne pepper is a sub-tropical to tropical plant natively, but they can be grown as annuals in temperate climates as well.

They can even be overwintered if protected from frost!

Cayenne Nutrition

5 grams (1 tablespoon) of cayenne pepper contains the following nutritional value:

  • Calories: 17
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 1.4 grams
  • Protein: 0.6 grams
  • Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 5% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 5% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 3% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin: 3% of the RDI

Health Benefits of Cayenne

Cayenne contains numerous medicinal properties and are good for your health. Studies have indicated that cayenne and other hot peppers can help boost your metabolism, curb your appetite, lower blood pressure, aid digestion, relieve pan and reduce some Cancer risks.

The real benefits come from the active ingredient, Capsaicin.

Learn more about the benefits of cayenne peppers.

Cayenne Pepper Substitute for Cooking and Recipes

A question I receive often is, what is a good substitute for cayenne pepper? If you happen to run out of cayenne powder, there are many different powders, blends and even hot sauces that you can use. See my post on cayenne pepper substitutes to help you.

Try this Homemade Cayenne Pepper Sauce Recipe or this Homemade Cayenne Powder Recipe.


  1. I bought some long thin beautiful red peppers at a market. Really would like to use in my red pepper jelly. We like it fairly hot, usually use jalapeƱos. These look like cayanne peppers and are beautiful!
    Your suggestion please!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Dawn, the best way is to grow them yourself, honestly. I have found some green fingerlings, which are pretty similar, at my local Butera, but not sure what’s available to you.

  2. We grew some of these this year and just had the first taste of our labor – AMAZING flavor! We put it on pizza, but I’m going to smoke a few on my grill this weekend to serve along side some beef ribs. WOOO! So delicious!

  3. anyone can answer. r the cayenne chillies really hot. i dont know whether to use it in my sushi???

    REPLY: Rena, Cayenne peppers measure about 30K-50K SHU, which is roughly 5-6 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper, so yep, they do have some heat. I think they would be great for sushi, but I’m not sure of your heat level preference. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  4. r the cayenne chillies super seriously hot???coz i realy need to find out, dont know whether i should use it in my sushi.

    1. I dont find them to be seriously hot, though most my family does.
      Get some and use a small amount to start. That is the best way to decide if it’s too hot for you.

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