4 August 2022

Poblano Pepper Substitute – Top 8 Options

By Killian

Poblano peppers are a spicy addition to your recipe, and many people prefer them over other types of peppers because they aren’t as sweet and add just the right touch to your food. But what is a good substitute for poblano pepper when you don’t have the original?

Hot peppers are a big family with many varieties, and many of them are often interchangeable with little difference in the end result, so you can dive into our list of poblano alternatives and have fun experimenting with your recipes.

The best substitutes for poblano peppers are Anaheim peppers, Cubanelle peppers, Cayenne peppers, Jalapeno peppers, Ancho peppers, New Mexico peppers, Guajillo peppers, and Bell peppers.

The best substitutes for poblano peppers

Poblano peppers are popular for their rich, earthy flavor, along with their low heat and the ability to stuff them with meat and vegetables for your recipes.

When choosing a poblano pepper substitute, you should first look at the level of spiciness. In fact, some chiles similar to poblano can be hotter though and it’s not something everyone can stand for.

However, there are also tricks to make the peppers less hot, so you should also take into account the overall flavor they give to your recipe.

There is no right or wrong answer when choosing a poblano pepper substitute, it all depends on personal taste and which one suits your recipe best.

1. Anaheim peppers

Anaheim peppers are very similar to poblanos, both for their shape and thickness and for the recipes in which we can use them. Anaheim peppers have thick walls and fairly large cavities that you can fill with food.

They owe their name to the city of Anaheim, in California, although they are originally from New Mexico.

Anaheim peppers are considered the best substitute for poblano peppers and can be sliced ​​or diced for use in most recipes that call for poblano peppers.

However, they do not taste exactly the same as poblanos: they are slightly spicier (some can be twice as hot as poblanos) and have a sweeter taste, so keep that in mind when deciding on the amount What are you going to use for your plate?

2. Cuban peppers

If you like poblanos, you’ll probably enjoy their heat, but if you’re in the mood for something milder, cubanelle peppers are the non-spicy topping you’re looking for.

These peppers are good for stuffing, but their walls are quite a bit thinner than poblanos or even anaheim peppers, so you’ll have to be more careful, but it’s definitely possible to use them for stuffing recipes.

Cubanelle peppers have a sweeter flavor than Anaheim peppers, which are already sweeter than poblanos, so they’re not ideal for recipes that call for sliced ​​or diced peppers, unless you like the flavor of it.

3. Cayenne peppers

Cayenne peppers are close cousins ​​to jalapeños and bell peppers and originate from Central and South America.

Despite being part of the same family, these peppers are too long and thin to be good for stuffing and are often used dried or powdered to flavor dishes.

If you are looking for a substitute for poblanos that can give your recipe the spicy touch it needs, cayenne peppers are a perfect option.

These peppers are known even outside the world of food for their health benefits, due to capsaicin, the active ingredient they contain:

  • Helps reduce hunger
  • increases metabolism
  • aids digestion
  • Helps relieve pain
  • lowers blood pressure
  • May reduce the risk of cancer
  • May improve psoriasis

These benefits are shared by other types of hot peppers, and for this reason, adding hot peppers to your recipes, such as your spaghetti sauce, is highly recommended.

4. Jalapeno peppers

While poblanos look more like regular bell peppers, jalapeños have a “chile” look to them. Despite this difference, both peppers are good for stuffing, so you can swap out a poblano for a jalapeno in your stuffing recipe.

However, keep in mind that jalapenos are spicier than poblanos. In fact, if the hottest poblano clocks in at 1,500 to 2,000 Scoville heat units, the hottest jalapeno easily tops 8,000 heat units.

If you can’t handle jalapeños at their hottest, remember to remove the pith and ribs before cooking – this is where most of their heat comes from.

Taste-wise, poblanos have an earthy feel, while jalapenos are brighter and oilier. That’s why jalapenos are best used for standard sauces or as a dressing for your salad. However, that does not mean that you will not enjoy its flavor in your recipe!

5. Ancho chiles

When a poblano chile is almost ripe, it turns red and sweeter, and if you leave it dry, you get an ancho chile. There is also another variety that is obtained from fully ripe poblano peppers, which is called chile mulato and is brown in color.

Despite coming from poblanos, ancho chiles are not the same as poblanos. In fact, by getting sweeter they also balance out their spiciness, making them milder than the green poblanos we know.

Ancho chiles are often sprinkled on a plate or incorporated into sauces, but if you want to use them as a substitute for poblanos in more traditional recipes, you should rehydrate them.

These chiles will have a smokier flavor than poblanos, which can greatly influence the overall flavor of your dish, so start by using less of them than you would with poblanos.

6. New Mexico Chiles

New Mexico chiles have a heat similar to that of poblanos, making them a good substitute for poblano chiles if you want to spice up your recipe.

Like poblanos, New Mexico red chiles have an earthy flavor, but with hints of sweetness and grass. New Mexico green chiles are often a good substitute for garlic and onion because they give a similar crisp flavor.

These chiles are mostly used for red sauces and are usually roasted, which only requires 5 to 10 minutes in a skillet over medium heat. They can also be added directly to your recipe.

7. Guajillo peppers

Mexican cuisine is highly regarded around the world, so it is not surprising that Guajillo peppers are gaining more and more popularity.

These peppers are red or dark red in color, with smooth skin. They are usually found dried or already pulverized, and sometimes also in the form of a paste, which however can contain many unknown ingredients or additives that are not so healthy.

Along with the ancho chili and the pasilla, the guajillo forms part of the so-called “holy trinity” of Mexican peppers. As you can guess, it is mostly used in Mexican recipes and is especially appreciated for sauces and stir-fries.

Its heat level matches that of jalapeños, making it slightly hotter than poblano peppers, but it can be used as a substitute for poblanos if you adjust the amount and ratio of the other ingredients to tone down its heat.

8. Bell peppers

Last but not least, as the milder cousin of poblano peppers, bell peppers are a good alternative to poblanos and the two peppers are somewhat interchangeable.

Specifically, green peppers are the type of pepper that most closely resembles the look and taste of poblanos, with their rich, earthy flavor that is less sweet than that of colored peppers.

Since both poblanos and bell peppers have quite large cavities and thick walls, if you are considering a stuffing recipe, bell peppers are surely one of the best options to substitute for poblanos.

The only problem with bell peppers is that they are basically not hot, but you can get around this problem by sprinkling some chili powder over the finished meal or by adding other spices during preparation.

Bell peppers are also the easiest pepper to find because they are present in virtually every supermarket or grocery store, and it is also common to place them right next to the poblanos.

How to choose a poblano pepper substitute.

Despite the similarities, even the best poblano pepper substitute may not work for your palate. When it comes to personal taste, it’s hard to say what will be a guaranteed hit, so it’s often a trial and error process.

When looking for an alternative to poblano pepper, pay attention to the following

  • itch level: Not everyone can take the heat of hot peppers. Poblanos are still relatively mild peppers, but many alternatives could be higher on the Scoville scale. Choosing the wrong type or amount of pepper to put in a recipe could completely ruin your meal, and not to mention, be detrimental to your health. In fact, the extreme heat could cause stomach aches and other gastrointestinal problems.
  • physical characteristics: Looking for a pepper that can fill you up? Or just something that adds a spicy touch to your dish? Large, thick-walled peppers are ideal for stuffing recipes, while smaller peppers are better when used in sauces or as garnishes.
  • The type of recipe: is strictly related to the characteristics of the pepper. It would be wiser to keep the type of food you want to prepare in mind when looking for an alternative to poblano peppers. Not all peppers are good sliced ​​or diced, for example. Some are only good for sauce recipes or to sprinkle on food.

The quality of the ingredients is also essential for a good result, which means that you must know how fresh peppers should be.