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13 Hot And Sweet Substitutes For Poblano Pepper

If you happen to need a versatile hot, smoky, and red chili pepper that can substitute for poblanos, bell peppers are your best bet. They’re also the perfect ingredient for making a sauce or salsa!

If you can’t find these peppers at your grocery store’s produce section or don’t want to do any shopping but still want to make something with them, here’s a list of 13 common poblano peppers substitute that will help you out.

The number of poblanos used in each dish (including the amount of hot pepper, such as cayenne or red chili pepper, added) varies according to the recipe.

For example, if a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of red chili powder, 2 medium poblanos, and 2 tablespoons of chopped onion, the total spice level is 5.

These substitutes will give you the same spiciness and flavors, maybe even more than poblano peppers. 

Nutritional Value Table

SubstitutesCalories
Anaheim Peppers130
Red Bell Pepper31
Ancho Chilies281
Red Chili Powder8
Fresh Green Chilies40
Capers23
Pimento Peppers (Dried)44
Curry Powder325
Thyme Leaves0.80
Ginger80
Sriracha Sauce101
Jalapeno Peppers28
Cayenne Pepper (Dried)17

1. Anaheim Peppers 

As their name suggests, they’re just big poblano peppers. With canned or fresh ones, you’ll need to use less red chili pepper if you’re substituting for fresh ones or use more if you’re substituting for the canned version.

Both are hot but not as hot as fresh poblanos, so this is a good substitute if it’s unavailable and you want some heat without being too spicy.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 medium fresh poblano pepper with 1 medium fresh Anaheim pepper, or Replace 1 tablespoon of dried and ground poblano pepper with about 1/4 cup of chopped Anaheim peppers.

2. Red Bell Pepper

Red bell peppers are a great poblano peppers substitute if you can’t find any poblano peppers and don’t want to go shopping for them.

Just remember to reduce the amount of red chili powder used since the taste is milder than a poblano’s. The heat level will also depend on which bell pepper you’re using.

Hotter ones include red and yellow ones, while milder ones include white, orange, and green bell peppers.

You can also substitute fresh, finely chopped green chili peppers if you want more heat without changing their color (green chilies are just unripe red ones).

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon of dried and ground poblano pepper with 1/4 cup of finely chopped red bell peppers.

3. Ancho Chilies

Ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers. They’re one of the most popular chili peppers in Mexican cooking because of their hot and smoky flavor.

They’re also sweeter than a fresh poblano, so you can use less red chili powder if you want to. In case you’re using canned ones, reduce the amount of red chili powder used.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon dried and ground poblano pepper with 2 teaspoons canned chopped anchos.

4. Red Chili Powder

This is a powdered form of dried and ground red chilies, specifically the New Mexico red chilis. It’s also used as a substitute for fresh or dried poblano peppers.

In fact, in Mexican-American cooking, it’s known as chili powder, but in other cuisines, it’s red pepper.

The best thing about using this instead of whole peppers or flakes is that you can control the amount of heat you want to add to your dish by varying the amount of chili powder you use.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon of dried and ground poblano pepper with 2 tablespoons of red chili powder or flakes.

5. Fresh Green Chilies

This is another very common poblano peppers substitute. You can use fresh green bell peppers or fresh jalapeños, either whole or chopped, instead of red chili powder.

To keep their color the same, you’ll replace the amount of red chili powder used with the amount of chopped jalapeño used.

If you want more heat, just reduce the amount of red chili powder used (reduce by about half). 

If you want less heat and more cayenne flavor, increase the amount of chopped jalapeño used. The heat level will also depend on which chilies you’re using.

Hotter ones include the jalapeño and serrano, while milder ones include the poblano, Anaheim, and cayenne peppers.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon dried and ground poblano pepper with 1/4 cup chopped green chilies.

6. Capers

These little berries are very hot (like a jalapeño pepper), and they’re best used if they’re chopped up to reduce their heat level.

They also have a slightly salty flavor, which is why they’re used in sauces and dressings but not in dishes like soups or stews where salt is already added.

It’s best to use capers that aren’t packed in vinegar (called non-parceled).

If you can’t find them easily, don’t worry. You can use vinegar instead (just reduce the amount used by about half) to keep their flavor.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon dried and ground poblano pepper with 1 tablespoon chopped caper berries.

7. Pimento Peppers (Dried)

If you can’t find fresh poblanos, dried pimento peppers will work as a good poblano peppers substitute in many recipes.

However, you should not use more of them than any other substitute since they’re very hot, and it’s better to have less heat than too much.

Also, try not to add the pimento red pepper flakes that are used as a substitute for fresh chili peppers in some recipes because they can overpower the other flavors and make your dish taste spicy.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon dried and ground poblano pepper with 1 tablespoon chopped pimento peppers (dried).

8. Curry Powder

This is a blend of various spices commonly used in Indian cooking. The most common ingredients are turmeric, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, Chile powder, and cumin.

The heat level of curry powder depends on which kind you’re using (and your taste).

However, if you use a curry powder blend with dried red chili peppers, you don’t need to add any extra red chili powder. You can add some if you’d like to give your dish more of a kick or to change the flavor.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon of dried and ground poblano pepper with 1 tablespoon of curry powder.

9. Thyme Leaves

Compared to other herbs, thyme, as a poblano peppers substitute, is very hot. It’s also quite fragrant and has a little bit of a tangy taste. If you like herbs like rosemary, oregano, and basil, you’ll probably like this herb, too.

It’s commonly used in stews because of its flavor and the fact that it can help tenderize tough cuts of meat.

This is one herb whose fresh form is preferred over dried ones since fresh thyme leaves don’t have as strong a flavor (it’s more subtle).

Because of this, use dried thyme if your recipe calls for fresh ones, but if you’re making soup or stew that calls for thyme leaves, don’t worry about using fresh ones.

Here are some more substitution tips for fresh and dried herbs.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon dried and ground poblano pepper with 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves.

10. Ginger

Ginger is the perfect substitute if you don’t like spicy or hot food but still want to add a little spice to your dish. It’s best used as a seasoning and not as an ingredient in spicy dishes because it can overpower their flavors.

You can also use fresh ginger instead of dried red chili flakes if you’re making Indian food like curries. The flavor is different, but if you prefer the taste of ginger, then it’s fine to use either one.

You’ll just need to adjust the amount used (fresh ginger is much stronger than dried).

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon of dried and ground poblano pepper with 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh or dried ginger.

11. Sriracha Sauce (Or Any Hot Sauce)

These sauces are made by fermenting chilies, sugar, salt, and distilled vinegar. They’re very popular in Asian cuisine because they add just the right amount of heat (and flavor) without being overwhelming.

Use more of it if you’d like a more intense sriracha flavor. You can also use other hot sauces like Tabasco sauce or habanero peppers instead. Remember to reduce their heat level accordingly and don’t overdo it.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon of dried and ground poblano pepper with 2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce.

12. Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeño peppers are hot and sweet. They’re a milder version of serrano peppers and cayenne peppers, both of which have much hotter and more pungent flavors.

They’re best used as a substitute for other hoppy peppers (like serranos and cayenne peppers) since they’re less spicy and hotter than these other two.

They can also be used as a substitute for fresh red chili flakes, but ensure you reduce the amount used by half.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon dried and ground poblano pepper with 1 teaspoon jalapeño peppers

13. Cayenne Pepper (Dried)

This is one of the spiciest peppers in existence. It’s also pretty hot and has a pungent flavor. This pepper is best used in small amounts because its heat can overpower your dish if you use too much.

You should also use cayenne pepper sparingly if you’re using other hot peppers in your dish because it can make it taste overly spicy.

If you like very spicy dishes, then this is the perfect substitute for dried and ground poblano peppers.

How To Substitute

Replace 1 teaspoon dried and ground poblano pepper with 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (dried)

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between Poblano Peppers, New Mexican Green Chilies, And Jalapeños?

All three are peppers. New Mexicans are a little hotter than other chilies, while jalapeños are super-spicy. Both green and red chilies can get so hot that you may be unable to handle them!

Poblanos have a milder taste than any of these three peppers but still pack quite a punch. They were originally from Mexico but have been grown in the United States since at least the 1800s.

Are There Different Types Of Poblanos?

Yes. There are two kinds that are grown in both Mexico and California. They differ in flavor, heat level, and harvesting time. The first kind, the “seeded”, is the most widely available variety. 

The second kind is sold as “bell or candle-shaped” chilies but is a hybrid of the two types – the seeds were removed from the bell, and then it was grown to a normal-sized pepper.

The “Bell” poblanos are sometimes called New Mexico Chiles (NM) or California Chiles (CA). 

The chili is also sometimes labeled simply “Poblano”.

Are Poblanos Different From Cayenne Peppers?

No, they’re not. Poblanos and cayenne are chili peppers, but they vary in color, taste, and heat level.

Cayenne pepper is the powder of the fruit of the plant Capsicum annum, while poblanos are a fruit (capsicum baccatum or cayenne) that resembles a bell pepper.

Cayenne peppers are usually red and are often hotter than poblanos. Capsaicin is what gives these peppers their hot heat.

Some people enjoy its fiery heat, while others avoid it entirely because of the reputed side effects of capsaicin ingestion.

Are Poblanos Warm Or Hot?

These peppers’ heat and/or flavors can vary significantly from batch to batch. Do not assume that any poblano pepper you buy will be the same as any other.

Always taste Chile before adding it to your cooking.

If you are concerned about spicy food, ask the retailer for suggestions on how to use the poblano. Or, of course, shop for a lower-heat poblano that suits your tastes!

13 Hot And Sweet Substitutes For Poblano Pepper

5 from 6 votes
Prep Time

5

minutes
Cooking Time

10

minutes
Total Time

15

minutes

Looking for a poblano pepper substitute? Check out our guide for the best substitutes for poblano peppers and get the exact taste profile.

Ingredients

  • Anaheim Peppers

  • Red Bell Pepper

  • Ancho Chilies

  • Red Chili Powder

  • Fresh Green Chilies

  • Capers

  • Pimento Peppers (Dried)

  • Curry Powder

  • Thyme Leaves

  • Ginger

  • Sriracha Sauce

  • Jalapeno Peppers

  • Cayenne Peppers (Dried)

Directions

  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith