Inside the Spice Cabinet: Cayenne Pepper

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Used in both savory and sweet recipes, just a pinch of this piquant red powder is all you need to punch of the heat.

What Is Cayenne Pepper?

Taste: Spicy
Most Popular Use: Spice blends, meat, fish, vegetables, sauces

Cayenne is a type of red chili pepper originally from French Guiana, but that spread to other parts of the world during the 15th and 16th centuries. It’s a fairly hot pepper, and has a mid-range Scoville Rating of 30,000 – 50,000. While we typically use it in powdered form, you can also find and cook with cayennes that are fresh, dried, or even made into oil.

Cayenne pepper has also received a lot of attention for its health benefits, and in fact it was used as a medicine before it was really considered a culinary seasoning. A diet with regular amounts of cayenne is said to have a positive affect on both the digestive and circulatory systems.

How To Use Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is widely used in Mexican, Asian, Indian, and Southern cooking, among others. Just a pinch adds a sweet-spicy heat to an entire pot of beans, enchilada sauce, fried chicken, or even mac n’ cheese. It also adds a nice kick to egg dishes and dry-rubs for meat and seafood.

When you first start cooking with cayenne pepper, start off with an eighth to a quarter teaspoon for a large dish like a soup or braise, or a bare sprinkling for smaller plates like scrambled eggs. This gives you a bit of spice without feeling overwhelmed. Remember – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there.

Recipes for Cooking with Cayenne Pepper