How to Make Homemade Cayenne Pepper

Homemade cayenne pepper and hot pepper flakes are wicked! They’re vibrant, spicy and easy to make – although a little bit of caution is necessary.

making homemade cayenne pepper
Homegrown and dried hot peppers make excellent cayenne pepper and pepper flakes.

Other uses for hot peppers: Hot Pepper Jelly, Canned Hot Pepper Rings, Salsa, Bacon Wrapped Hot Peppers

I love growing and harvesting hot peppers in the garden. They’re so beautiful and super tasty!

harvest of cayenne peppers
Long slender cayenne peppers are hotter than jalapeno or serrano but not as hot as habanero peppers. Making them perfect for hot pepper powder and flakes. But you can use other dried hot peppers too – whatever you have access to.

I like using our cayenne peppers to make homemade cayenne pepper and pepper flakes. It starts with drying the peppers. Here’s how.

How to Dry Hot Peppers

  1. Sort through and remove any blemished hot peppers. You can dry green or red peppers. Do not remove green stem ends – you’re going to need those!
  2. Wash and pat peppers dry to remove as much surface moisture as possible.
  3. To prevent any risk of mold, it’s best to cut a slit lengthwise down each pepper. This allows air to circulate into the inside of the pepper. If you are hanging your peppers in a super dry (desert like) environment and the peppers are relatively slender, you can get away without doing this step. But I’ve learned to err on the side of caution and always slice my peppers now. It doesn’t have to be fancy or precise – just create an opening to let in some air.
  4. Using a regular sewing needle and a thick thread or fishing line. Thread the needle with a long piece of thread. Poke the needle through the top of the pepper through the thick part where the green stem covers the pepper (it will hold best in the thick part). Repeat for each pepper. Make several shorter strings to make it easier to manage.hanging cayenne peppers
  5. Hang in a dry, dust free space for 2-3 weeks. Exact time will vary based on humidity levels in the air. If you have beautiful hot, sunny weather, you can hang your string outside.
  6. If you have a lot of space and hot dry weather for an extended period, you can also lay your peppers on screens in the sun.
  7. When your peppers are dry and brittle you can take them off the string and store them in an airtight bag or container until ready to use.
  8. As long as they are stored in a dry, dark space, dried peppers will last for years.
    cayenne peppers dried on a string
    These peppers were hung to dry indoors so they kept their vibrant red color. Notice teach one has a cut in them to allow for air circulation and prevent mold on the inside.

How to Make Homemade Cayenne Pepper & Pepper Flakes

And now for the easy part! Get your spice grinder or coffee grinder and make homemade cayenne pepper and pepper flakes in 10 minutes or less!

WARNING: During this process fine cayenne pepper powder will be in the air – be prepared to sneeze! When you open the lid of the grinder, keep your eyes averted until the dust settles.

cayenne peppers to process
Time to fill those jars and make some pepper flakes and hot pepper.

Homemade Hot Pepper Flakes

Place dried peppers into grinder.

Grind peppers a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Just a couple of short pulses is all you need.

making pepper flakes
Just a couple of short pulses will give you hot pepper flakes.

Hot Pepper Powder

A few more pulses will give you a much finer powder – cayenne pepper.

making cayenne pepper
Continue to grind to flakes to get a fine powder. Be careful of fine dust powder when you open the lid!

Storing Cayenne Pepper and Pepper Flakes

Transfer your pepper and pepper flakes into your spice jars and keep with your other herbs and spices in a dry, dark cupboard, preferably away from the heat of your oven.

Use a funnel to reduce spills.

cayenne pepper in funnel


Label and enjoy in your favorite recipes.  But be warned, we find our homemade cayenne powder is much spicier than store bought powder – use small amounts, taste and adjust accordingly.

jars of homemade cayenne pepper and pepper flakes

Can You Use Different Hot Peppers?

Absolutely! You can use any thoroughly dried hot pepper you want to make your pepper and pepper flakes. The flavor will be slightly different, but you’ll get a nice spicy kick depending on the heat of your peppers.

Do you have a favorite hot pepper? Have you ever dried them and turned them into pepper or pepper flakes? Let me know your favorites either down below or on Instagram @getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.

Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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  1. Hi Getty

    I like the Hungarian hot wax pepper. It produces a lot of peppers per plant. I have dried ones in my spice cabinet dating back a few years. All still good for use. Very spicy! I use much less of it than store bought stuff. Last year I started with paprika peppers. Haven’t used it yet, still have some commercial powder. I also use a coffee grinder for fine powder. For flakes I use a small chopper.

    Needless to say, I had to cover everything last night. Mother Nature threw a curve ball last night with quite heavy frost here in Manitoba. I had the sprinkler going on the bigger garden where it’s impossible to cover everything. I hope for the best.

    Happy gardening this year amid the Covid scare.


    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      I just came in from uncovering my tender, warm loving veggies – all seem to be fine.

      Sounds like you grow some great pepper varieties and are making great use of them. All of them would make great powder or flakes – much more flavorful and potent than store bought versions.

      Happy gardening to you too!


  2. Hello! I am planning to grind some Ring Of Fire peppers and was curious, do you leave the seeds in or remove before grinding? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jason,
      I always leave the seeds in. If you prefer, you can take out all or some of the seeds, but I wouldn’t fuss too much. As long as your peppers are super dry to the point where they’re brittle, they’ll grind up to a nice fine powder. But remember, that fine powder is pretty nasty to breathe in. When you open the lid of your grinder, look away and let the dust settle.

      Oh, if you want to save some of the seeds for planting next season – go for it.

      That sounds like it’s going to be some mighty spicy powder! Enjoy.


  3. Oh wow, those peppers are beautiful!
    I love love peppers.
    Got a question, where did you get your coffee grinder from? I use the same method for grinding up my peppers but the grinder I have is not as big and the blades are not as aggressive.

    1. Hi James,

      It’s a Black and Decker coffee grinder that we’ve had for years. I can’t even remember when or where we got it. Yeah, we had amazing peppers that year and whoo wee, they made some hot pepper!

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