McCormick Science Institute

Red Pepper


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Red Pepper Page Main

Red Pepper is the dried, ripened fruit pod of Capsicum frutescens, one of the most pungent Capsicums. It is sometimes referred to as Cayenne Red Pepper, having been named after the high heat chilies grown in the vicinity of the Cayenne River in French Guiana.


Red Pepper adds heat and bite to seasoning blends, meats, pickles, seafood, Italian, Indian, Mexican, and Caribbean cuisines. Red Pepper is used in seasoned salt, chili powder, jerk, mole negro, and berbere seasoning blends.


Although there are numerous sources of Red Pepper, India, Pakistan, and China are the major producers. Varieties originating from these countries are among the hottest and most pungent types.


Early Spanish explorers found Red Pepper pods in the Caribbean while looking for true pepper berries. In innocent confusion or perhaps to save face, the Spaniards named their discovery "pepper." There is no relationship between the capsicum pods and the true pepper berries, but the misnomer "pepper" has stuck.

Quick Facts

Crushed Red Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper
Ground Red Pepper
Ground Red Pepper


Orange-red to deep red

Flavor & Aroma

Tobacco, hay-like, hot/pungent

Sensory Profile

Red Pepper is noted for its hot, sharp pungency. The heat is both a throat and a mouth heat. Its musty flavor combines with floral, spicy and hay-like notes to give Red Pepper its characteristic flavor profile.