If you’re into cooking, then you’ve almost certainly encountered a few different recipes that call for green chilies. There’s a lot to love about them – they taste fresh, add a nice hit of spice to your dishes, and are very versatile.
However, if you’re used to using them in your cooking then you might start to wonder if there’s anything else you could use instead.
Maybe even something that you can experiment with to see if you can take your kitchen game to a whole new level. Maybe you want to adjust the spice levels a bit, up or down. Or maybe you’ve just run out of green chilies.
Either way, we’re happy to tell you that the answer is yes! There are a lot of options out there if you want to sub out green chilies for something else, and this list should give you some great ideas.
This is one that’s so obvious that it’s easy to forget. In most situations, chili powder will work very well as a substitute for green chilies. It’s very easy to add a little or a lot, depending on how much spice you want in any particular dish.
Take care though, as different chili powders can have quite different heat levels. Make sure you know what you’re dealing with before you add a load of it to your dinner!
Some varieties are also combined with other spices and seasonings for more flavor, so check before you buy it.
Kashmiri Chili Powder
Kashmiri chili powder is not the same thing as regular chili powder. It’s mild in terms of spice (the peppers it’s made from are only around 1000 – 2000 scovilles) but that might be a good thing if you want to tone down the spice on a dish.
Another great thing about Kashmiri chili powder is that it will give your dish a beautiful dark red color – perfect for dishes like rogan josh.
Everyone knows jalapeños. They’re the most popular kind of chili on the planet and are a favorite on pizzas, in jalapeño poppers, and in general. But are they a good substitute for green chilies? Yep, in a pinch, they’ll work fine.
They’re on the milder side when it comes to heat (from around 2500 to 8000 scovilles) so you might want to add a bit more than you normally would. If you’re counting on the green color as well, then jalapeños are perfect.
Padrón peppers are another mild alternative to green peppers (around 500 – 2500 scovilles). They come from Padrón in Northwestern Spain, where they’re usually eaten fried in olive oil and dressed with salt.
However, if you need something to substitute for green peppers, these might just fit the bill. They have a deep, green color so they look the part, and have enough spice to liven up a dish.
If you need something to add a powerful spicy kick to a dish, though, they’re not your best bet.
Serrano peppers are noticeably hotter than jalapeños and pack around 10,000 – 23,000 scovilles per pepper. They’ll serve as a perfectly good substitute for green chilies in most cases.
Their smokiness and earthiness is most commonly used in guacamole, but they’ll also go nicely in curries, salads, and more.
Pasilla peppers are often used in sauces, so if that’s what you need then they’re a great bet. They’re relatively mild at a maximum of 4000 scovilles so they won’t give you too much of a burning mouth.
However, if you need to add a bright green color, you might want to look elsewhere. They can range from a darker green to a dark brown, but don’t have the same lively hue as green chilies.
A bit of a curveball here. Bell peppers aren’t spicy at all. Not even a little bit. But for some dishes, that’s just fine. As you know, they come in a variety of colors, including green, that can add brightness to all kinds of dishes, from salads to jalfrezi.
Of course, they won’t be much good if the heat is an important part of the dish, but otherwise, you’re golden. Getting a good char on them if you’re frying them can add a wonderful smoky flavor to a dish.
Bird’s Eye Chilies
These are known by a few other names but the “bird’s eye” comes from their small size. Don’t let that fool you, though. They pack a serious punch into their small bodies (around 50,000 – 100,000 scovilles units, or sometimes more).
They’re often used in Thai cuisine, where they add a lively heat to dishes like the famous Thai curries. You can also use them as a substitute for green chilies.
They can come in several different colors, including both green and red, so you should be able to find whichever color you prefer.
Scotch bonnet peppers are also known as bonney peppers or Caribbean red peppers (although actually, they’re not all red). They’re seriously spicy, so make absolutely sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you start slicing them up.
They range from 100,000 to a whopping 350,000 scovilles. They’re most commonly used in Caribbean and West African cuisine but they can serve as an excellent substitute for green peppers too.
They have a unique, sweet, fruity flavor alongside their fearsome heat. Another warning – you might want to wear gloves when you’re cutting them.
If you get bits of the pepper or its juices under your fingernails, you’re going to be dealing with a nasty, painful burning sensation for a few hours.
Named for the city of Havana (a port where they were commonly traded), these are the hottest peppers on this list. They’re actually a close relative of scotch bonnets and can reach heats of well above 350,000 scovilles, the upper boundary for scotch bonnets.
The heat builds up slowly as you eat and can linger for quite a while after your meal is done. If this sounds good to you, then habaneros would be a great choice of substitute for green chilies.
Just like with the scotch bonnets, take care when you’re preparing these. Getting it under your fingernails is an experience that you can really do without.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s The Difference Between Green Chilies And Green Peppers?
When people talk about green chilies, they’re usually talking about a spicy chili pepper that’s green in color. If they’re talking about green peppers, they usually mean green bell peppers, which aren’t spicy.
Bell peppers also come in various other colors, none of which are spicy.
Are Jalapeños And Chilies The Same Thing?
They’re not quite the same thing. Jalapeños are a type of chili but there are lots of other types as well. Check out the body of this article to find out more about a few of them.
Are Green Chili Peppers Hotter Than Red?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The color of a chili isn’t actually a guide to how spicy it is by itself. You can get green chilies that are pretty hot (e.g. finger chilies) and red ones that are too (e.g bird’s eye chilies).
Likewise, you can get green chilies that are mild (like Anaheim peppers) and red ones that are mild too (like ancho peppers). If you want to know how hot a chili is, the most important thing to know is the variety, not the color.
What’s The Mildest Green Pepper?
If you’re looking for a pepper with no spice at all, that’d be the bell pepper. It doesn’t get any milder than 0 scovilles! If you’re looking for one which is slightly spicy, but only a tiny bit, then Padrón peppers are your best bet.
They max out at around 2500 Scoville’s, which is the lower boundary of the spice range of the jalapeño.
Can I Use Chili Flakes Instead Of Chili Powder?
It is usually fine to use chili flakes instead of chili powder and in some cases it might even be better. This is due to the texture of the flakes, which can add nicely to dishes such as tuna salad, pizzas, and stir-fries.
Even with dishes like stews, you shouldn’t notice much difference if you throw chili flakes in the pot instead of chili powder.