Cayenne Pepper

What is Cayenne Pepper?

Commonly known as red pepper, this hot chili pepper has been called by many other names, such as Guinea spice, cow-horn pepper, finger chili, and bird pepper. In full maturity, the chili turns a bright red color, and hence the name red pepper. It is mostly used in powdered form to add taste to any spicy dish. The pepper belongs to the nightshade family closely related to the families of bell peppers and jalapenos. Cayenne pepper is very popular among Asians and Mexicans where it is also sometimes used to make herbal supplements to cure a number of ailments. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Many hot sauces around the world are being made by adding a little red pepper to get a unique flavor. The extract of this hot chili pepper is also used in some spicy beverages. The golden cayenne has been thought to be originated from Mexico.

red chilli peppers isolated on white background

Cayenne Pepper Diet

This hot chili, sometimes known as ginnie pepper or aleva pepper, has been found to be quite effective in burning fat and losing weight. Many people therefore follow a cayenne pepper diet to increase the body’s thermogenic reaction. Adding only a pinch of red pepper to any dish can help reduce its negative effects on the body due to its high fat content. It can also be used in place of some other foods, possibly harmful or contributing to weight gain, to add flavor to a dish and to make it less fatty. Cayenne pepper is considered an overall healthy food as it also contains capsaicin, which helps in increasing blood flow to all parts of the body.


The regular cayenne hot peppers are long and thin shaped with a vivid red color. However, many other varieties have also been cultivated varying in thickness, length, and color. These varieties are given many interesting names, such as cayenne golden, cayenne Carolina, cayenne Iberian, cayenne Indonesian, cayenne sweet, and cayenne passion. Most of these are red or orange colored with only the golden one in a lovely yellowish golden color. This variety is hotter than others with a smooth texture as compared to regular cayenne peppers that have a rough and rippled skin. The dried variety of cayenne hot chili peppers is often termed as Guinea spices. They are either used in the whole form or ground into a powder, which can be readily added to any dish.

The regular and widely available varieties are mostly produced in India, Pakistan, and China. Chilies grown in these regions are the hottest of all varieties and are usually very deep red. They have a tobacco-like flavor and a pungent odor.

Health Benefits

In many cultures around the world, cayenne or aleva pepper is being used for a number of medicinal purposes. It is good for stomach related problems like diarrhea and upset stomach and has also been found to be effective against cough and sore throats. Some people use grounded finger chili to prevent migraine headache. The hot chili pepper has also been found to possess anti-inflammatory properties and therefore it proves to be good for diabetes and arthritis. Cayenne pepper prevents the formation of blood clots throughout the body and is therefore very effective for the prevention of stroke and heart attack. Many other health benefits have also been associated with this pepper variety including assistance in weight loss and prevention of cancer.


Like all other hot chili pepper, this one also grows well in full sun and less rain. One only needs to water the plant occasionally to assure healthy cultivation. Most varieties of bird pepper usually reach maturity within 4 to 5 months but some of them, including the golden cayenne pepper, take about a year to reach full maturity. The longest chili peppers of this species reach a length of 6 to 7 inches. Most of them have wrinkled skin and some are extra thin. Cayenne peppers have been found to be very fragile in nature and therefore it is recommended to sow the seeds indoors in favorable conditions.

The plants should be protected from excessively hot as well as weather. Mild sunshine and well-drained soil are two conditions in which these chili peppers literally thrive. Also make the soil well-fertilized but not over-fertilized to avoid withering leaves. After about 100 days pick the peppers and note their color and length to check for maturity. Regular cayenne chilies are typically anywhere from 4 to 6 inches in length and a bright red color.

Heat Scale

Because of the many varieties of cayenne pepper varying in hotness, they are rated on the Scoville Scale starting at 30,000 and going to a maximum of 190,000 heat units. These chili peppers are therefore termed as “noticeably hot” but not extremely or shockingly hot. Because of this reason, they are widely used in many popular cuisines without making the dishes too hot to handle. If you pick the fruits before they have a chance to mature, their Scoville Scale rating is much lower. The health benefits discussed above are usually attributed to a heat scale of 30,000 to 50,000 possessed by red peppers and not above this level. Based on this rating, the pepper can be compared to Tabasco and super chile pepper.

Cooking with Cayenne Pepper

To prepare a less-spicy version of cayenne pepper at home remove the seeds and inner membrane from dried fruits and grind the peppers into a powder. The hotter versions of the chili usually include the seeds and are usually used for making hot sauces. The peppers are available all year round so you can use them fresh or in other forms to make your salads and other dishes tastier. Do not overcook the peppers especially in powder form to avoid making dishes too hot to handle. If you accidentally put too much chili in the dish, then cool it down by adding potatoes, milk, or a little sugar. To get rid of the burning sensation in mouth if taken in raw form, immediately consume some dairy product like milk or yoghurt. The peppers can be effectively used to marinate chicken before cooking.