Innate immune responses are tightly regulated by various pathways to control infections and maintain homeostasis. One of these pathways, the inflammasome pathway, activates a family of cysteine proteases called inflammatory caspases. They orchestrate an immune response by cleaving specific cellular substrates. Canonical inflammasomes activate caspase-1, whereas non-canonical inflammasomes activate caspase-4 and -5 in humans and caspase-11 in mice. Caspases are highly specific enzymes that select their substrates through diverse mechanisms. During inflammation, caspase activity is responsible for the secretion of inflammatory cytokines and the execution of a form of lytic and inflammatory cell death called pyroptosis. This review aims to bring together our current knowledge of the biochemical processes behind inflammatory caspase activation, substrate specificity, and substrate signalling.