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10 Perfect Bird’s Eye Chili Substitutes To Get The Exact Taste In Recipe

Looking for birds eye chili substitutes? Birds eye chile peppers, also called Thai chilis, are very common in Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese cuisines to add spice. Bird’s eye chilis are small in size, grow in hot climates, and are packed with real heat.

You can add heat to your recipes or make hot sauces with these small but potent peppers. Thai people also use these little fiery peppers in salads, curries, soups, and marinades.

You can remove the seeds if you want to reduce the intensity of bird’s eye chili’s heat. You must wear gloves when working with these hot bird’s eye chiles and avoid touching your eyes as capsaicin chemicals can stay for hours on the fingers.

If you love relishing spicy food, bird’s eye chili is a great option. These small-size chiles are spicy varieties that resemble the bird’s eye. They rank 50,000-100,000 on the Scoville heat scale.

Fresh bird’s eye chili is flavorful but difficult to find outside of Southeast Asia. You can get dried peppers and ground chile powder at most grocery stores.

If you want to spice up your recipe and cannot find bird’s eye chile, the substitutes discussed here will help you add heat and flavor to your meal.

What Is Bird’s Eye Chili?

Bird’s eye chiles are small pointy peppers that are incredibly spicy and used in Southeast Asian recipes. They are green in color when unripe but become red when mature.

You can eat the unripe green bird’s eye chili and use them in curries as a whole, diced, seeded, or sliced. 

Bird’s eye chili gets its name due to its small size and round shape that resembles the bird’s eye. The spicy chili pepper releases a sweet and spicy fruity aroma during the cooking process.

You can chop or add the paste to your soups and curries or add the grounded form to your dishes to provide a delicious flavor.

Now, we will see the best substitutes for bird’s eye chili to get the same taste and flavors. The ten best replacements for bird’s eye chili are Following:

Quick Table: Eye Chili Substitutes

SubstitutesCalories (Per 100g)
Fresno Chili Peppers40
Chile De Arbol50
African Bird’s Eye Chilis15
Habanero Peppers532
Serrano Peppers32
Jalapeno Peppers28
Scotch Bonnet 60
Cayenne Peppers318
Tabasco Peppers12
Pequin Chili Peppers40

1. Fresno Chili Peppers

Fresno peppers have a hot, fruity, and sweet flavor and are slightly spicier than the jalapeno. These peppers are blended into delicious and hot sauces and are also used in pickles.

Fresno looks like a jalapeno, but they are two to three inches long. They hint of smokiness and smooth skin and turn fiery red when mature.

The grassy green Fresno chili peppers have a bright taste similar to jalapenos, but it changes when they mature to red. It becomes a fruity flavor, getting a touch of smokiness.

The heat levels of Fresno range from 2,500-10,000SHU. The spiciness is milder compared to other chilis and is kitchen friendly.

They make an excellent substitute for bird’s eye chilis if you do not want your recipe to be too spicy. You can replace Thai chilis with Fresno peppers in casseroles, dips, soups, sauces, and stews.

Use the red Fresno chilis to get the best flavors when they are comparatively hotter. Use them in salsas and marinades, or use them as a topping for sausages, tacos, and burgers to get a spicy kick.

Adjust the quantity of the Fresno chilis when substituting for bird’s eye chilis to get the spiciness matching your taste.

How To Substitute

Substitute bird’s eye chilis with Fresno peppers in a 3:1 ratio.

2. Chile de Arbol

The famous chile de Arbol peppers are Mexican peppers that are small and thin. The mature, bright, vibrant chile de Arbol peppers are 2-3 inches long and less than half an inch wide.

Chile de Arbol means “tree chili” in Spanish, also called bird’s beak chile or rat’s tail chile. You can find chile de Arbol peppers fresh, dried, or in powder form.

The whole dried chiles keep their vibrant red color, and you can make chili pepper or ristras from these dried chilis. The heat of chile de Arbol ranges from 15,000-30,000 SHU, and they have grassy and smoky characteristics.

They contain calcium and iron, helping you to strengthen bones. Capsaicin in chile de Arbol is good for lowering blood pressure and relieving inflammation.

You can replace bird’s eye chilis with chile de Arbol in dishes like salsa and hot sauces. They are half as hot as bird’s eye chilis, so you can increase the quantity to get the desired taste and heat.

You can add Arbol peppers in preparing Mexican dishes, including chili or salsa, to replace bird’s eye chilis for a unique kick.

How To Substitute

Use chile de Arbol to substitute bird’s eye chili in a 2:1 ratio.

3. African bird’s Eye Chilis

The African bird’s eye pepper is a staple in African, South American, and Asian cuisines. This bite-sized chili is found in the African wild and is famous for its widespread use.

The tiny African bird’s eye chili is vibrantly colored and is renowned for its complex taste and bold heat. It is addictive and makes an incredibly delicious addition to many regional dishes, including stews, hot sauces, soups, meats, and fish curries.

African bird’s eye chilis are also known as piri-piri or peri-peri. About one-inch long hot peppers record 50,000 to 175,000 on SHU and are used in many dishes.

These chilis are about twenty times hotter than the spiciest jalapenos. They have earthy notes, are pleasantly fruity, and have a slightly sweet flavor.  

These chilis contain Capsaicin, enhancing metabolism to help the body burn calories faster. African bird’s eye chilis are effective in relieving colds and flu. 

The dry peri-peri pepper powder is an excellent option to substitute bird’s eye chili powder in chicken, port, rice, stews, and soups. You can also use African bird’s eye chilis in marinades, salsas, and sauces to replace bird’s eye chilis.

How To Substitute

Use African bird’s eye chili to substitute Thai chili in a 1:1 ratio.

4. Habanero Peppers

Habanero peppers are one of the spiciest peppers, perfect for lovers of spicy food. The heat levels of habanero range from 100 000-350,000 SHU, and they are hotter than bird’s eye chilis.

They have a fruity, hot, fruity, and slightly sweet-smoky flavor, and you only need a smaller quantity to substitute bird’s eye chilis in your recipes. The taste will differ, but you will get a spicy touch similar to the bird’s eye chilis.

You can use them in preparing salsas, dry rubs, sauces, and dressings. The fruity flavors of habanero peppers go well with chicken and fish dishes. It will add an extra kick to your recipes.

The intense flavors of habanero can change the taste of your dish to use it sparingly. Use it in those dishes like sauces that call for spicy heat. 

Habanero helps enhance metabolism as it stimulates the production of gastric mucus. It also boosts the immune system. You can get habanero in supermarkets or specialty stores.

If you cannot find bird’s eye chilis, you can substitute them with habanero by using a lesser quantity so that the dish doesn’t get too hot to handle.

How To Substitute

Use habanero pepper to substitute bird’s eye chili in a 1:2 ratio.

5. Serrano Peppers

Serrano pepper has a mild flavor with a medium level of heat that you can find fresh in many supermarkets. Serrano peppers are commonly used in many Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisines.

They are bright, have a grassy flavor, and work well in many dishes, including sauces, salsas, soups, and stews. They are less hot than bird’s eye chilis but make an excellent substitute due to their similar flavor.

You can easily adjust the number of serrano peppers to match the spiciness of bird’s eye chilis in your recipes. 

Serrano peppers provide a medium kick, and the spiciness ranges from 10, 000 to 23,000 Scoville heat units. So you can adjust the quantity accordingly to match your taste.

The serrano peppers have a jalapeño-like brightness and are crispy and slightly grassy. They make a good option for everyday use in the cuisine across various recipes.

If you are short of fresh Thai chilis, you can use serrano, which makes a perfect substitute matching the flavor and the taste.

How To Substitute

Use serrano pepper to substitute bird’s eye chili in a 3:1 ratio.

6. Jalapeno Peppers

The dark green and smooth jalapeno is one of the most common chili peppers used in various recipes worldwide, especially in Mexican cuisine. The heat of jalapeno ranges from medium to intense, but the normal heat range is 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.

It is much less hot than the bird’s eye chilis. 

Jalapeno peppers are rich in nutrients and offer many health advantages. They make an excellent substitute for Thai Chili pepper in many recipes that call for less intense heat.

You need to adjust the number of jalapenos in your recipes, as jalapenos are much spicier than Thai chilis.  

Many recipes use green jalapeno peppers; however, they get vibrant red when fully ripe. Jalapeno peppers are widely used in sauces, stews, soups, and many other dishes, giving a delicious taste to the meal.

They have a more potent capsaicin flavor; you can use them in your daily cooking and tolerate them. When substituting bird’s eye chilis, make sure you use at least double the quantity of jalapeno to get a similar spicy flavor.

How To Substitute

Use jalapeno pepper to substitute bird’s eye chili in a 2:1 ratio.

7. Scotch Bonnet 

Scotch Bonnet is called the Caribbean red pepper, as you can find them in most parts of the Caribbean Islands. Scotch bonnet is the love of Jamaica; they love this spicy treat in Jamaican recipes.

Scotch bonnet is one of the hottest peppers and is also known for its high level of sweetness. The level of sweetness it offers makes it the most preferred ingredient in many tasty tropical hot sauces in the world.

Scotch bonnet is an excellent substitute for the bird’s eye chili to relish hot, spicy, and smoky recipes. You can get them in yellow or red colors, one to two inches in length.

The scotch bonnet looks small in shape, but they are extremely hot and measure 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units. Therefore, consider your ability to handle that spice level before you use them in your recipes.

They are up to forty times hotter than a regular jalapeno pepper.

Scotch Bonnet has a bright flavor and fruity flavor similar to habanero peppers. If you cannot handle too much heat in your recipes, you can remove the inner white placental tissue of the scotch bonnet peppers before using them in your recipes.

Start with a smaller amount of scotch bonnet to substitute bird’s eye chilis, and add more if needed to match your taste. They are rich in phytochemicals and vitamins.

How To Substitute

Use a scotch bonnet to substitute bird’s eye chili in a 1⁄2:1 ratio.

8. Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne chilis immediately provide heat to the dish even if used in small quantities. They are a staple in sauces and salsas. Cayenne chilis offer similar flavor and versatility but are half as hot as bird’s eye chilis.

They make an excellent option to replace bird’s eye chilis in many recipes as they provide a decent heat punch. The cayenne pepper doesn’t overpower the flavors of the dish like Thai chili and offers a similar taste and flexibility.

The spiciness of cayenne ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville scale. 

Cayenne peppers are best used in marinades, dressings, sauces, stews, soups, and stir-fries. You can replace bird’s eyes chilis with cayenne with some addition of heat to have a similar flavor in your dish.

In addition, cayenne peppers will add a unique smoky flavor as well, and the dish will be slightly sweeter.

How To Substitute

Use cayenne pepper to substitute bird’s eye chili in a 2:1 ratio.

9. Tabasco Peppers

Tabasco peppers have a distinctive smoky flavor and are used to produce trendy tabasco sauce. The heat levels of Tabasco peppers are between 30,000-50,000 SHU.

You can also use fresh tabasco peppers or powder or dried in preparation for different recipes, including salsas, soups, stews, and sauces. You can also make chili powder with tabasco peppers to sprinkle on your dishes.

The bright and colorful tabasco matches the spiciness of the famous cayenne pepper and makes a good substitute for bird’s eye chilis as they are very near in heat levels.

Tabasco peppers originally come from Mexico and are widely used to make hot sauce. Fresh tabasco peppers are a good source of vitamin C, potent water-soluble vitamins, and antioxidants.

It also has a good amount of B-complex vitamins and helps in boosting immunity.

How To Substitute

Use tabasco peppers to substitute bird’s eye chili in a 1:1 ratio. Add more if you want a spicier touch to your dish.

10. Pequin Chili Peppers

The small pequin peppers are called the ‘bird pepper’ and pack a punch of heat. The mature chili pequin is vibrant red and has a spicy, nutty, and smoky flavor. This small bird pepper measures only half to three-fourth inches long and is consumed and spread by wild birds. 

The hot pequin chili peppers have a citrusy, nutty flavor, and the heat levels range from 30,000-60,000 SHU. These peppers are commonly used in salsas, sauces, soups, dressings, stews, and marinades.

You can also pickle them for more extended use. Pequin is an excellent substitute for bird’s eye chilis in many recipes, and you can adjust the heat as per your taste or as the recipe calls for. 

If preparing salsas, use the greener pequin as the red ones can be hotter. You can dry or smoke the pequin peppers to ground them and make powder or flakes.

Pequin Peppers will offer an excellent flavor and heat to your sauces and soups.

How To Substitute

Use pequin peppers to substitute bird’s eye chili in a 1:1 ratio. You can add more if you want to make the dish spicier.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Taste Of Bird’s Eye Chilis?

Bird’s eye chili ranges in heat from mild to hot. You must add a small quantity; otherwise, the dish could get too hot to eat.

The chilis add a fruity and spicy flavor to the recipe with intense heatIf you use them in the right proportion, bird’s eye chili peppers will add an excellent depth of flavor to your cuisine.

What Is The Spice Range Of Bird’s Eye Chilies?

The heat level of bird’s eye chilis ranges between 50,000 to 100,000 units on the Scoville scale. It is one of the spiciest peppers that add a spice kick to the recipe.  

Are Bird’s Eye Chili And Thai Chili The Same?

Yes, bird’s eye chili and Thai chili are the same. These names are used interchangeably by people of different regions.

How To Store Bird’s Eye Chilis?

You can use fresh, dried, or ground forms of bird’s eye chilis. To keep the chilis for later use, you can store them in air-tight boxes or plastic wraps.

You can freeze the packed bird’s eye chilis in the refrigerator, and they will not lose their heat content. You can store and use them for up to a year.

10 Perfect Bird’s Eye Chili Substitutes To Get The Exact Taste In Recipe

Prep Time


Cooking Time


Total Time



Bird’s eye chili ranges in heat from mild to hot. You must add a small quantity; otherwise, the dish could get too hot to eat.


  • Fresno Chili Peppers

  • Chile De Arbol

  • African bird’s Eye chilis

  • Habanero Peppers

  • Serrano Peppers

  • Jalapeno Peppers

  • Scotch Bonnet

  • Cayenne Peppers

  • Tabasco Peppers

  • Pequin Chili Peppers


  • Pick any substitute you prefer from the lists above.
  • Follow the recipe instructions for your preferred substitute and use the proper ratio required while cooking.

Recipe Video

Jess Smith

Lirigzon Gashi

Saturday 13th of July 2024

Lirigzon Gashi


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