Poblano peppers are the unsung heroes of Mexican cuisine. They’re originally dark green in color and turn bright red to reddish brown when they ripen. These peppers have a mildly spicy, delicious taste and add a touch of smoky heat to dishes like Chile Relleno and mole sauce.
But what happens when you’re craving that distinctive flavor and you find yourself pepperless? Well, there are plenty of substitutes out there that can mimic the taste and heat of poblanos. Whether you’re out of peppers or looking for a milder or more intense option, this list of the 7 best poblano pepper substitutes will deliver that kick of heat you love.
1. Anaheim Peppers
Anaheim peppers, also known as California chili, are a fantastic substitute for poblano peppers. While they have a similar heat level to poblanos, they are also a bit sweet, making them a great option for those who want a bit of a kick without the overwhelming heat. Nutritionally, they pack a punch with high levels of vitamins C and A.
Anaheim peppers are incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to sandwiches and tacos. They can also be roasted, grilled, or sautéed to bring out their natural sweetness. As for a suggested ratio, one Anaheim pepper can typically be substituted for one poblano pepper in most recipes. But it’s always a good idea to give it a taste test and adjust accordingly.
Suggested ratio: 1 Poblano pepper = 1 Anaheim pepper.
2. Guajillo Peppers
The US household may not be familiar with these bad boys, but Guajillo peppers are a staple in Mexican cuisine. They are known for their tangy and slightly sweet flavor. They also pack a bit more heat than poblano peppers, which can make them a great substitute for those looking to add a little extra spice to their dish.
When substituting, a good rule of thumb is to use half the amount of Guajillo peppers compared to Poblano. Keep in mind that Guajillo peppers are generally more dried and tougher than Poblano peppers, so they may need to be soaked in hot water for a bit before using in a recipe. Guajillo peppers are also great for adding a depth of flavor to soups, stews, chili, and salsa or making delicious sauces for enchiladas, tamales, and other Mexican dishes.
Suggested ratio: 1 Poblano pepper = 1/2 Guajillo pepper.
3. Pasilla Peppers
Pasilla peppers have a comparable heat level to Poblano peppers and a deep, smoky taste. They are smaller and longer than poblano peppers, and their color is deeper and darker. These thin dried chilies are also popular in Mexican cooking, especially for traditional dishes like mole sauce.
Because Pasilla peppers are tastier and have a higher heat level than Poblano peppers, you may want to start with a lower amount. They can be roasted, stuffed, or mixed in sauces in the same manner as Poblano peppers can. You can even blend them with other peppers and spices to create a tasty paste that can be used as a marinade or meat rub.
Suggested ratio: 1 Poblano pepper = 1/2 Pasilla pepper.
4. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are a great substitute for poblano peppers because of their similar texture and mild heat level. They’re ideal for folks who want a sweeter taste in their recipes rather than the smoky flavor of poblano peppers. While poblano peppers are considered medium-hot with a Scoville heat unit (SHU) of 1000-2000, bell peppers have no heat at all (with 0 SHU).
Bell peppers are versatile and may be used in a number of dishes, including soups, stews, and chili. They may also be stuffed, grilled, or roasted to give a sweet flavor to any recipe. You can also use them to enhance a dish’s color and taste without overpowering it. If you want a bit more heat, add some crushed red pepper flakes to bring the spice level up to your desired taste.
Suggested ratio: 1 Poblano pepper = 1 Bell Pepper.
5. Jalapeño Peppers
Jalapeno peppers are a terrific option if you’re searching for peppers with a little bit more zing. They have a Scoville heat rating of 2500–8000, whereas Poblano peppers are milder.
Jalapeño peppers have a wide range of culinary applications, from soups and stews to salsas and dips. They can also be pickled or stuffed. It’s important to bear in mind that jalapeno peppers have a stronger flavor and a little more heat than poblano peppers, so you might want to use less of them than you would use poblano peppers.
Suggested ratio: 1 Poblano pepper = 1/2 Jalapeno Pepper.
6. Ancho Peppers (Dried Poblano)
Ancho peppers may also easily replace Poblano peppers in recipes since they are equally hot (1000-2000 SHU) and have a similar fruity, smoky flavor. The only difference is that ancho peppers are slightly sweeter and less earthy.
You may use ancho peppers in place of poblano peppers in a variety of dishes in equal amounts, including stews, soups, and sauces. They can also be used as spices after being processed into a powder. Keep in mind that ancho peppers are typically dried, so you’ll need to rehydrate them before using them in a recipe. To do this, simply soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes.
Suggested ratio: 1 Poblano pepper = 1 Ancho Pepper.
7. New Mexico Chile
Both Poblano and New Mexico Chile peppers have a similar nutritional profile, with the exception of New Mexico Chile’s slightly higher vitamin C content. But where these two peppers differ is in their heat level. Poblano peppers are mild, but New Mexico Chile can range from moderate to spicy depending on the particular pepper.
New Mexico Chile is a great addition to traditional Mexican dishes like Chile Colorado, enchiladas, and tamales. It’s also fantastic in soups, stews, and chili if you are looking for that smoky and spicy aftertaste.
You can even use it to add a little kick to everyday dishes like mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, or even sandwiches. Start with roughly half as much New Mexico Chile as you would use for poblano pepper. You may achieve a similar heat level, although the flavor profile may be slightly different.
Suggested ratio: 1 Poblano pepper = 1/2 New Mexico Chile.