Homemade Cayenne Powder & Red Pepper Flakes

Learn how to turn ripe cayenne peppers from your garden into cayenne powder and red pepper flakes. It’s super easy to make your own healthy and wholesome kitchen spices!

Related articles: Grow & Make Your Own Paprika Powder and How to Make Celery Salt

Bowls of cayenne powder and red pepper flakes
How to make homemade cayenne powder and crushed red pepper flakes.

When to harvest your cayenne peppers:

Harvest cayenne peppers when they’re brilliantly, vividly red all over. Avoid any rotten, or heavily insect-damaged peppers.

Cayenne peppers don’t all get ready at the same time. You’ll likely be picking a small handful every few days once the first ones start turning color.

handful of cayenne peppers
Select fresh and vibrantly colored cayenne peppers from your garden to turn into kitchen spices. High quality peppers make for high quality spices!

The peppers can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so after picking, so if you want to try and accumulate a good-sized pile before you drag out your dehydrator, just keep them in an uncovered bowl or similar container while you’re waiting.

Once you’ve gathered enough to justify turning on the dehydrator, you can start making your powder!

Related Article: How to Grow Peppers from Seed

making red pepper flakes in mini food processor
You’ll need a coffee (or spice) grinder and/or a mini food processor to make crushed pepper flakes and cayenne pepper powder.

Preparing & Drying

To turn your cayenne peppers into powder or flakes, first they have to be dried! But before that, you’ve got to prepare them for the drying.

For cayenne powder:

Using a sharp knife and wearing gloves, slice off the tops of your fresh cayennes. Discard these tops, and run the knife down the side of the pepper to split it open. Scrape out the seeds, and discard them.

For red pepper flakes:

Just remove and discard the green top from the pepper. Leave the seeds inside. This gives the finished product that classic crushed red pepper flakes look, and will also make it spicier than if you left out the seeds.

For faster drying, you may wish to split the peppers right down the middle, but try not to lose the seeds. Be sure to wear gloves when handling hot peppers!


Once you have the red parts of the pepper (if making powder) or whole pepper, minus the green top (if making red pepper flakes), place them on your dehydrator’s rack. Repeat until all peppers have been processed, or your dehydrator’s racks are all full.

Dehydrate at 135°F for 12 hours or until cayenne peppers are completely dry. If they aren’t dry after 12 hours, let them keep going until they are. Only use fully dried peppers to grind for powder – if there is still moisture left in the peppers, then your powder can mold or spoil, and must be discarded.

If you don’t have a dehydrator (oven drying):

Set your oven to the lowest temperature possible (which is often around 170 to 180 degrees F), spread the peppers out onto a parchment lined baking sheet (to prevent sticking), and dry in the oven. Check every 30 minutes or so, and gently stir the peppers around. Depending on pepper size and your oven temperature, it may take up to 3 or 4 hours for your peppers to dry.

Once completely dried and cooled, peppers can be ground immediately, or stored whole for later use.

Dried peppers can be stored in glass jars with lids or folded-down brown paper bags. Regardless of which one you choose, store the peppers in a cool, dry, dark location for best shelf life.

homemade cayenne pepper powder
DIY cayenne pepper powder

Homemade Cayenne Powder Recipe

Ingredients you will need:

  • Dried cayenne peppers, with seeds and tops removed
  • High-powered small coffee grinder, or spice grinder
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Wax paper or parchment paper
  • A food-grade small container with a tight-sealing lid (4 oz glass jelly jars are a good choice!)
  • gloves, for when you handle or chop the whole dried peppers (they can still contain oils that may burn sensitive skin!)

Instructions for cayenne powder:

Place the dried cayenne peppers in the blender/coffee grinder, and process in pulses and short bursts until the chunks of peppers start getting broken down into powder.

Once you’ve got the majority of it broken down, dump the powder in the strainer, and sift over a square of wax or parchment paper. The stuff that ends up going through the strainer onto the paper is your good, fine cayenne powder: anything left behind in the strainer can be dumped back in the coffee grinder/blender to process further to try and get more powder out of them. Keep repeating this- grinding, sifting, repeat- until you’re satisfied with what you’ve got. Any little remaining coarse bits can be purposed elsewhere, not mixed in with the fine powder.

DIY crushed red pepper flakes
Stock your kitchen’s spice cabinet with homemade crushed red pepper flakes!

Homemade Red Pepper Flakes Recipe

Ingredients you will need:

  • Dried whole cayenne peppers, with tops removed
  • a small food processor and/or a coffee grinder
  • A food-grade small container with a tight-sealing lid (4 oz glass jelly jars are a good choice!)
  • gloves, for when you’re handling the dried whole peppers

Instructions for red pepper flakes:

When making red pepper flakes, you only want to grind them into coarse little bits. If you over-grind, it’s not the end of the world, but you’ll end up with cayenne powder instead!

We use a Black & Decker 1.5 cup mini food processor – and just pulse several seconds at a time, until the desired consistency and texture are reached. This may take up to 4 to 5 minutes. However, you may still find that the texture is still a bit coarse for your tastes, if only using a mini food processor.

If you’d like it slightly finer, but still nicely textured product, run the red pepper flakes for just a few more seconds/pulses, but this time use a coffee or spice grinder.

Bowls of cayenne powder and red pepper flakes
Store finished spices in a cool dark spot, out of direct sunlight – since light exposure will more rapidly fade the bright, fresh colors.

Storing Homemade Spices

Transfer the finished cayenne pepper powder and/or red pepper flakes to small food-safe containers. A repurposed clean jelly jar, or small 4 oz. canning jar works well.

Avoid shaker-top or narrow-mouthed containers: homemade cayenne powder does not contain any anti-caking agents, so it will clump. Make sure you can get a measuring spoon or your fingers in there!

Shelf Life

Seal lid tightly, and store in a cool, dark, dry place for best shelf life. Sunlight will fade the color and shorten its freshness.

Dried ground homemade cayenne powder should be good for at least 1 year. Homemade cayenne powder is used in exactly the same way and amounts as store-bought cayenne powder.

DIY dried red pepper flakes should also stay fresh for at least 1 year.

Stored properly, your freshly homemade spices should serve you well until next garden season rolls around!

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