Chilli Flakes vs Red Pepper Flakes

Is there a difference between red pepper flakes and chilli flakes? Well it depends where you’re asking! In the UK, chilli flakes will be spicy. Whereas “red pepper flakes” are most likely to refer to flakes of the sweet, mild red bell pepper.

Which means the essential difference is heat levels. In the UK, chilli flakes are hot. And red pepper flakes are not.

However, in other parts of the world, red pepper flakes will also refer to hot pepper flakes. Which is when it is harder to distinguish between the two.

When "red pepper flakes" is being used to talk about hot chillies, they are more likely to be a blend of different chillies. Often with cayenne red pepper featured highly in the mix.

If you love cooking with chilli, browse our chilli flakes collection, or check out our diverse range of pepper collection

What are chilli flakes?

Chilli flakes, originating from dried red chilli peppers, are a fiery spice staple in kitchens worldwide. This simple yet potent seasoning adds a burst of heat and depth to various dishes, making it a go-to for those seeking to elevate their cooking.

Used in everything from pasta sauces to marinades, chilli flakes are versatile and can be tailored to suit individual spice preferences. Whether sprinkled over pizzas or stirred into soups, their ability to enhance flavour is undeniable. 

What are red pepper flakes?

In the UK, red pepper flakes are mild flakes of the bell pepper. Use them to season dishes with sweetness and and earthy flavour. For instance you might use them in a ragu or bolognese. Or perhaps in a meat or vegetable stew. 

You can also use them to add extra subtle sweetness to roasted vegetables. Or perhaps to use as a finishing garnish on anything that has been cooked in a tomato and pepper sauce. 

4 key differences of red pepper flakes & chilli flakes

Flavour profiles

Chilli flakes contribute layers of heat. Red pepper flakes, in contrast, more earthy sweetness. Both can be slightly smoky.

Heat intensity

Chilli flakes provide a spiciness, allowing for flexible adjustments in recipes without overwhelming other flavours. On the other hand, red pepper flakes will be mild - in the UK at least!

Kitchen use

Both are incredibly versatile, adding depth to a variety of dishes, from pasta to pizza. Chilli pepper flakes are often used sparingly due to their potent heat, usually as a finishing touch to deliver a spicy punch.


Chilli flakes typically have a vibrant, red hue, complementing the visual appeal of dishes. Red pepper flakes share a similar colour but may appear darker. 

Which one should I use when cooking?

Choosing between chilli flakes and red pepper flakes depends on the specific flavour you want to bring to your dishes.

In the UK, if a recipe calls for chilli flakes it will be to make a spicy recipe. 

While red pepper flakes in the UK are less common - and will be used to add a subtle vegetable sweetness.

If you want to know the best chilli & hot sauce, check out our chilli collection!


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