Nothing is worst than getting your lips all set for a nice spicy dish, and discovering that it calls for a type of pepper that you don’t have in the house. Sometimes, even when you hit your local supermarket, THEY don’t have what you need either, as in some parts of the country, certain fresh peppers are not that popular so the stores won’t carry them to avoid losing money.
Don’t fret! Most peppers have substitutions that work very well, delivering the same heat and spicy taste as the one the recipe called for.
The key to finding an adequate chile replacement is knowing its heat level, sweetness, and smokiness. While this list focuses on whole fresh and dried chiles, you can always use a hot sauce in lieu of ground chile.
Anaheim: A mild green chile named after the California city, this pepper also goes by the name “California chile” and is often used for chile rellenos; the red strain is called Chile Colorado. Substitution: Canned green chiles or fresh Poblano chiles.
Banana Pepper: The sweet pepper, shaped like its namesake fruit, is also called yellow wax pepper. Substitution: Any mild chile like Anaheim or even bell peppers.
Bhut Jolokia: Also known as Naga Jolokia or ghost chile, this is the world’s hottest chile. Substitution: Red Savina Habanero (lots of them).
Cayenne: A bright red, hot pepper, usually sold dried. Substitution: Chile de Arbol or Guajillo. Crushed red pepper flakes are from cayenne, so it would be the easiest substitute, along with ground cayenne powder.
Chipotle Chiles in Adobo: The smoked incarnation of the jalapeno that’s mixed with adobo sauce. Substitution: One tablespoon ketchup + 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke + 1 jalapeno.
Habanero: A small, lantern-shaped chile that’s intensely hot. Substitution: Scotch Bonnets or double the dose of jalapenos.
Jalapenos: Smooth, dark green chiles that can vary from medium-hot to hot. Substitution: Half the amount of Serrano chiles.
Pasilla: The dried, medium-hot chile also goes by chile negro. Substitution: Ancho chile (sweeter) or Mulato chile (earthier flavor).
Serrano: A hot, slightly-pointed chile available in various colors. Substitution: Habanero or jalapeno chiles.
Thai Chiles: A thin-skinned chile typically found in red and green, popular in numerous Asian dishes. (Bird chile is the name of the dried form; drying the chile gives it the hook shape, similar to a bird’s beak.) Substitution: Fresh or dried cayenne peppers or serrano chiles.
Category: Condiments and Seasonings