How to Use Cayenne to Spice Things Up in the Kitchen

By Sher Warkentin in Healthy Feeling

Cutting down on sodium is one of the most recent steps I've taken to help my family eat healthier, but it can often leave a meal tasting a little bland. I've experimented a lot more with spices lately and cayenne pepper has become a pantry staple.

While it's true that cayenne brings the heat, that doesn't mean you have to love spicy foods to enjoy it. It has a lot great uses—even in desserts! Keep reading to find out how to use cayenne in some surprising ways.

Cayenne powder is a versatille spice.

Not Just For Spice Fans

Cayenne powder is an ingredient that I often use in curries and chili, but recently I've started incorporating it into other dishes. Cayenne peppers are typically associated with all things hot and spicy, but the truth is when you really learn how to use cayenne effectively, even those eaters with delicate taste buds can enjoy it.

With cayenne, a little definitely goes a long way, so when you begin to experiment with it in your cooking it's important to start by using it in small amounts. You can always add more, but you can't take it out of the sauce.

As a general rule of thumb, start with ⅛ of a teaspoon to incorporate it into recipes you already make. It can be a great addition to dishes like soups, stews, or a stir fry to add more flavor. It can even help jazz up leftovers or store-bought pre-made dishes like canned soups. If a pinch doesn't seem like enough, you can go up to ¼ teaspoon.

Unexpected Cayenne Recipes

It isn't just savory dishes that benefit from a little spice. Some of my favorite cooking discoveries are sweet recipes using cayenne pepper, like desserts and breakfast foods. Try something as quick as adding a tiny pinch of cayenne powder to your coffee or hot chocolate and you'll instantly see how versatile this ingredient can be. Here are a few simple dishes to try that will completely change the way you look at cayenne and heat in cooking.

Spiced Chocolate and Avocado Pudding

Cayenne and chocolate make a perfect flavor pair. This sweet dessert gives you a little kick while also managing to be pretty healthy thanks to the avocados. Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup milk or milk substitute
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne powder

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Chill in the fridge for at least thirty minutes and serve.

Citrus and Spice Smoothie

This smoothie is loaded with nutrients, and the addition of cayenne powder gives it just the right kick to satisfy those sweet and savory cravings that hit in the afternoon.

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • ½ cup diced mango
  • ¼ cup ice
  • Pinch of cayenne powder

Blend all the ingredients and serve. Makes enough for two large smoothies.

Cayenne can give this breakfast staple an extra kick.

Good Morning Kick Oatmeal

I have a tendency to crave savory foods in the morning, but when I'm trying to eat healthy I stick with oatmeal. Adding a dash of cayenne gives my breakfast a little punch that satisfies those cravings while still helping me eat well.

  • ½ cup whole oats
  • 1 cup milk or milk substitute
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne powder

Stir the oats and milk together and mix in the spices. Cook according to the stove or microwave directions from your favorite oatmeal recipe.

Cayenne isn't just for chili cook-offs and spicy curries. There are a lot of versatile ways you can use this red powder in your kitchen. Just remember that less is more when you're experimenting!

Do you like pursuing new seasoning adventures? Share your discoveries with us on Twitter!

Image source: Pixabay | Unsplash | Sher Warkentin

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Why It’s Good

Using spices like cayenne powder can help add flavor to your cooking when you're trying to minimize salt and eat healthier. Even if you're not a fan of spicy foods, you can still enjoy this ingredient by learning how to use cayenne in some versatile ways.