Substitute for Green Chilies – 5 Best Alternatives

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Looking for a substitute for green chilies in enchiladas, in soup, or just as a general substitute for any other meal? You will be pleased to know that there are quite a few options to choose from. There are many reasons that you would need to use a substitute instead of green chilies. The substitutes need to taste, feel, and act quite similarly to a green chili in order to be a good substitute.

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Chilli (jalapeño and Thai bird's eye chilli)

Table of Contents

Why Substitute Green Chilies?

Green chilies, also referred to as Jalapenos, are a spicy yet sweet chili that can be used to help flavor a plethora of dishes. It can also act as a main ingredient too.

While it is most commonly found in Mexican food, Jalapenos can be sliced and used as a topping for subs and sandwiches whenever you want them to. They are versatile and flavorsome and can be used in a lot of magnificent ways.

However, there are sometimes issues that get in the way and make it so you have to use something else instead.

Thankfully, there is no shortage of alternatives to use in place of jalapenos. Some of them are less spicy, some of them are spicier. Yet all of them can be used interchangeably without any issue at all.

One of the main reasons to substitute jalapenos for any other type of chili is because of spice tolerance. Some people simply find jalapenos too spicy for their mouths to handle. This is completely valid and is a fine reason to want to look for a different ingredient that has the same flavor and texture without the spice levels.

Despite this, the complete opposite is also true. Some people may be looking for an alternative to a jalapeno as they want something spicier to give them more of a kick while they are eating. If you can tolerate spicy food, you may come to love it so much. Many people have described spicy foods as being addictive. This helps show that they would want to swap a jalapeno with a chili that is even spicier.

This does not just go for meals where chilis are for flavoring. Almost any recipe involving chilies will have room for you to play around and substitute your preferred chilies for the ones you do not like. Even a recipe such as the Sambal Oelek chili paste can be tailored to your preference by using different chilies than the ones mentioned in the recipe.

Substitute For Green Chilies – 5 Best Alternatives

Green Chili Alternatives

Many places that sell green chilies in a can or in a bag will have a detailed list of what they actually are. This is because green chilies are not a singular type of chili but is a general mix of different chilies that are all in the same spice range and flavor group.

For the most part, a bag of green chilies will be jalapenos, as they are the most common type.

Thankfully, despite jalapenos being the most common, they are not the only type of green chili. There are many alternatives that you can use instead, some of which are hotter and others are milder and more subtle.

Banana Pepper

Banana peppers work incredibly well as a low-spice substitute for green chilies. The Scoville level of these is 0-500 and will depend entirely on their maturity. More mature banana peppers will be spicier whereas the younger ones will be milder.

There are many ways to use banana peppers as they can be great in almost anything and will add just a slight hint of spice to the dish. They can also be sliced while raw and added to a salad to give it a slightly spicy undertone.

As for flavor, these peppers have a tangy taste once you look past the low spice levels. The flavors are great and this pepper can be used however you want. A great use for this pepper is to use it as a pickling ingredient when you want to make pickles. It will impart a tangy and slightly spicy flavor onto your pickles.

Substitute For Green Chilies – 5 Best Alternatives

Poblano Pepper

Arguably the most popular pepper in Mexico is the poblano pepper. This small and smoky pepper is great to use if you are wanting a more flavorsome dish. The spice level of this pepper is quite high at 1000-2000 SHU. Though the delicate smoky flavor of the pepper is well worth this spice.

If you are someone that can handle the spice, using these chilies will give your dish a very smoky flavor that can be enhanced if the pepper is roasted before being added.

Substitute For Green Chilies – 5 Best Alternatives

Pasilla Pepper

The pasilla pepper, also called the little raisin, is a varying pepper that can go from 250-3999 SHU. This all depends on their maturity as they get spicier as they age. Despite looking scary, this pepper is quite tame if you eat it early on in its life.

Pasilla peppers are great if you are looking to add more spice to your meal and can also be turned into a super spicy seasoning if you dry them and crush them in a mortar and pestle.

The most common use for the pasilla pepper is to make sauces or salsa from it, so it is slightly unorthodox to use this as a fresh ingredient although it will still work incredibly well.

Substitute For Green Chilies – 5 Best Alternatives

Anaheim Pepper

Anaheim peppers are slightly spicier than a lot of other alternatives as they have a Scoville level of 500-2500 SHU. They are medium-sized and can be very easy to work with. They work great as a raw ingredient when you are looking to add spice to a meal.

Regardless of how spicy they are, these peppers work really well when fresh and added to a salad or a salsa. They impart a nice level of heat to a dish and will also provide a delicious flavor.

Substitute For Green Chilies – 5 Best Alternatives

Cayenne Pepper

Despite being a substitute for green chilies, cayenne peppers are violently red. These are the spiciest chilies listed as they have a rating of 30000-50000 SHU, which is pretty high. If you can really handle your spice and don’t mind a little burning of your tongue, these are definitely for you.

They are usually sold while they are dry but can sometimes be found while fresh in shops. Despite being a lot spicier, the flavor of the cayenne pepper is not too different from the other substitutes. It will still work really well as a replacement for anyone that is looking to seriously spice up a recipe.


Should You Substitute Peppers and Chilies?

Substituting peppers and chilies is always a good idea if you think it will benefit you. When following a recipe, if you’re not into the ingredients they used and you are able to swap things out for what that suit you better without changing the end result too much, do it.

If you are not a fan of green chilies as they are too spicy for you, swap them out. Try something more manageable. It will not change the flavor of the dish too much. It can also be quite helpful for people who do not have the best spice tolerance.

The same goes for people who love spice. If you want more of a kick in a meal and can swap out something mild like a jalapeno for something stronger such as cayenne pepper, go for it. It will make you enjoy the meal so much more and that alone is worth it.

FAQs on Green Chili Substitutes

Are canned green chilies hot?

Canned chilies can sometimes be hot. Depending on what type of green chilies are used, the spice levels can fluctuate. Most of the time they are not going to be incredibly hot and will commonly be as spicy as a jalapeno. It will never be unbearable and might actually be good for helping you improve your spice tolerance.

Are green chilies hot?

Some green chilies are hot and others are less hot. The Scoville rating of green chilies can differ depending on the species and how far along it is in its lifespan. Some chilies get spicier with age and maturity despite still being green. There are some green chilies that can reach a spice level of 1000 SHU yet it is rare that they will go much above that.

Can I substitute green chilies for jalapenos?

You can. Green chilies are commonly just a mix of different fresh green chilies with varying spice levels. If you have a jar or a bag of fresh jalapenos you can totally use those instead. Jalapenos have a brilliant flavor that is tangy yet also sweet all while still being sort of spicy.

Can you use green chilies as a substitute for salsa verde?

You certainly can use green chilies in a salsa verde. However, this will result in the dish being spicier. Alongside this, the liquid content and texture will also change so it is best to experiment and adjust your other ingredients accordingly to ensure the flavors and texture are still how you like them.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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