Things to Make Spicy Without Peppers

10 Things to Make Spicy Without Peppers

Peppers provide heat, sourness, sweetness, and smokiness to meals, but not all people enjoy using them in their dishes. Though substituting peppers with other spices can distort the flavor, they often have similar effects. Luckily, I know how to make things spicy without peppers, and I’m happy to share my secret with you! 

Here are ten alternative spices to make your meals spicy without peppers:

  1. Cumin
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Turmeric
  4. Ginger
  5. Garlic
  6. Dry mustard
  7. Horseradish
  8. Cardamon
  9. Oregano
  10. Wasabi root

Spices are best known and used for enhancing the taste and flavor of food; while some may prefer the fantastic heat peppers add to a dish, others use them sparingly or not at all. However, the good news is that other spices and seasonings can offer your meals some serious kick. Let’s take a deeper look at these alternative spices to discover how they might help you achieve a similar smoky, sweet, and savory taste in your dishes.

1. Cumin


Cumin spice is made from Cuminum cyminum plant seeds belonging to the parsley family.

Since it is a versatile spice, either prepared whole or ground, cumin is a staple for various cuisines such as carrot soup and Hunan beef

As an alternative to pepper, Cumin offers an intense aroma and taste. Food moguls often describe its unique flavors as “rich and hearty, with an edge of citrus.”

As opposed to many spicy foods, typically those in the pepper family, cumin helps to promote  digestion and reduces irritable bowel syndrome. This makes it a suitable pepper substitute for your dishes.

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices used as sticks, powder, or oil extract in making delicious recipes. People often think to use it in sweeter dishes, but many forget that they can use cinnamon in more savory recipes, as well. 

When whole cinnamon sticks are ground, they exude a strong aroma consisting of sweet and woody notes.

It also has a spicy taste that can add a sweet-spicy kick to savory dishes such as:

It also tastes great in hot chocolate, eggnog, and other slightly spiced beverages. 

3. Turmeric


Turmeric is a common spice retrieved from the root of Curcuma longa. Its active ingredient, curcumin, offers both culinary and health benefits; it relieves pain and inflammation..

Turmeric is strongly scented and has a bitter and peppery taste that adds smokiness and kick to your food.

With its vibrant yellow color, turmeric will make sure your dishes stand out. Thus, you can widely use it to make amazing dishes such as turmeric scrambled eggs or grilled pork chops with pineapple-turmeric glaze recipes.

4. Ginger

Is Ginger Supposed To Be Spicy?

Ginger is a spice that exists as a stem of a ginger plant. It is often consumed fresh or as dry in powdered form.

While fresh ginger root is spicy, sweet, and aromatic, it retains its peppery spice and sweet flavor in powder form.

Ginger is a warm spice that chefs use for savory recipes such as:

  • Moroccan chicken
  • Chinese dishes
  • Snacks such as samosa

You can also combine it with other recipes such as garlic for their herbal effects.

5. Garlic

Is Garlic Supposed To Be Spicy?

Garlic is an herb related to chives and onions. It is often consumed fresh or in dry powdered form.

From powdered garlic to fresh ground garlic, the plant is widely known and used for its strong scents and robust flavors. Though it does not have the heat like chili peppers, garlic has an earthy, warm, and unique flavor.

Thus, you can make roasted chicken legs with garlic and herby pasta with garlic and green olives.

6. Dry Mustard

Dry mustard alone does not have taste or flavor. However, if combined with water, it contributes to its acidic, citrusy feel that is rich and preferable for savory dishes.

You can use it to create different blends, such as tangy mustard vinaigrette and mustard sauces. Additionally, its sweet and spicy flavor makes it perfect for making garlicky sweet-hot mustard condiments to balance the heat and broccoli mac and cheese.

7. Horseradish

Horseradish is extracted from the roots of the Brassica family, consisting of broccoli and cabbage plants.

Flavor-wise, horseradish is spicy once you cut into it. However, unlike spicy chilis, its pungent smell is limited to a few minutes.

Note that fresh horseradish has a fresh flavor that adds punch to your savory cuisines. Thus, you can use it to make tasty horseradish hash browns.

8. Cardamom

Cardamom is a widely used spice that hails from the ginger family. Depending on the cooking need, it can be used as whole seeds or in powdered form.

The seed pods are recognizable by their triangular-shaped, papery husk-containing seeds. However, they come in two varieties.

Characterized by a minty, citrusy, and peppery flavor, the green cardamom can be used for its herbal purposes, especially to make teas such as ginger cardamom tea.  

Alternatively, it exists as black cardamom characterized by the additional hint of bark and smoke.

Whole-seed cardamom is occasionally used to make savory dishes, such as the easy yellow rice with cardamom and cloves and cardamom honey chicken.

9. Oregano

Oregano is a robust fragrant herb with a sweet and peppery bite to the spice.

Thus, it can add an extra kick to various dishes such as broccoli and potato frittata and grilled shrimp with oregano and lemon.

Other than using fresh oregano leaves, you can use them in dry powder form. Consider the Watkins Gourmet Spice Organic Oregano (available at that provides an aromatic feel to your dish.

10. Wasabi Root

Wasabi is a spice traditionally prepared from a rare plant hailing from the cabbage family

Because it exists as a root, you can grind and smash it to make a condiment with a signature fresh, vibrant, and spicy flavor from the compound allyl isothiocyanate.

Real and freshly prepared wasabi tastes bright and has a quickly fading heat flavor that makes it suitable for sushi servings. 

Additionally, it emits a strong and spicy odor that overpowers the smell of raw fish and highlights its flavor perfectly.  


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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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