Cayenne pepper is one of the most popular chilies in the world, and not only for its life as a staple spice in your rack. In fact, if you use it only to spice your food, you are missing out on many practical – and often creative – uses of this hot pepper, whether that’s in fresh, dried, or powdered form. Here are nine top cayenne pepper uses that’ll give you a new take on this chili.
1. Make some homemade crushed red pepper: Crush up dried cayenne pepper and use it as a base for your own take on hot pepper flakes.
2. Enjoy it as an energy-boosting coffee replacement: Take cayenne pepper pills (or mix a teaspoon of cayenne powder into water) to give you an energy boost in the morning.
3. Fire up your tea for some natural decongestant: Create a spicy feel-good tea with cayenne pepper powder and ginger. It’s great for when you’re feeling under the weather, especially for head colds. It acts as a natural decongestant.
4. Make your own hot sauce: Who says store-bought is the only way to enjoy some liquid fire? Louisiana style hot sauces typically use a cayenne pepper base. You can too.
5. Use it as a pain reliever: If you want to leave the pain pills behind, cayenne pepper is a natural pain reliever. Many arthritis sufferers and those with chronic pain take it daily for some natural relief. This is due to the capsaicin in cayenne and all chilies – it has anti-inflammatory properties. Cayenne contains a decent amount of capsaicin, and while it’s spicy, it’s not so hot as to be a literal pain to ingest.
6. Protect your bird feed from squirrels: We love how cayenne (and any other hot pepper too) can ward off pesky squirrels. Just sprinkle cayenne pepper powder (or hot sauce) on the feed. Birds can’t taste the heat.
7. Make a chili ristra: This practice has been around for centuries as a practical way to dry out excess hot peppers, but it’s also stunning as kitchen decor. Fresh cayenne peppers are a great length to really make a ristra that has presence. Plus, after the chilies are dried, you can preserve them for months of use.
8. Use it to treat kitchen cuts: Sprinkling cayenne pepper powder on a cut slows down the blood flow and disinfects the wound. It contains anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.
9. Increase your circulation: Cayenne pepper is a natural metabolism booster – as all chilies are. Taking it regularly can provide a significant circulation boost. For those with constant cold feet or hands, it’s a great solution to warm you up.
Many chilies share these same uses, but cayenne pepper really is in the sweet spot of heat. It’s a pepper that most can handle, so – for the health uses – you’re getting a decent amount of capsaicin with each dose. Note that for many of these health-based cayenne pepper uses, you’ll need to take multiple cayenne pepper pills (or multiple teaspoons of the powder) each day. For many, that mild inconvenience is well worth the benefits.