Jalapeno Substitute: 5 Comparable Alternatives Worth Using

The jalapeño is a medium-sized chile pepper pod-type cultivar of the species Capsicum annuum; has its origin in Mexico.  It’s said to be the most widely used pepper in the world because of its bright grassy taste and an agreeable level of heat that everyone enjoys.

Jalapeños are found almost everywhere thus rarely do people need to look out for its substitutes.  A replacement for this pepper may be needed if you are looking for a hotter pepper or a flavor change. In this article, we have got a list of alternatives worth considering.

Best Substitutes For Jalapeño Pepper

Finding a jalapeño substitute is easy as few other peppers match its flavor and heat profile. Choosing the right alternative depends on the desired flavor, hotness, and appearance of the dish.

Here are the best replacements for jalapeno worthy giving a try:

1. Serrano peppers

Serrano pepper is a good jalapeno substitute that you can use in most of your jalapeno recipes. Serranos are, of course, much hotter (about 9 times more) than jalapenos but they have a similar appearance and texture. They are a bit smaller than jalapeños with thinner walls.

Unfortunately, it is a less popular chili than jalapeno thus in some places serranos are scarce.

If you are fond of something spicier than a jalapeño, then go for Serrano. Most substitutes for serrano peppers are also suitable alternatives to consider in your recipes.

2. Fresno pepper

Fresno is quite identical to jalapeno because of its similar appearance. They both fall under the same heat range with Fresno peppers being slightly hotter.

Their similar taste profile makes it difficult to distinguish one from the other. Fresno peppers have a smoky and fruity flavor like the roasted jalapeño, and the ripe, red Fresno peppers have a bright grassy taste.

They work well for stuffings and for in salsa as well. Also, it’s a good alternative to jalapeño poppers. Fresno peppers aren’t common in most places, thus even a substitute pepper for Fresno would be great instead of jalapeño chili.

3. Cayenne pepper powder

There is no doubt that cayenne pepper is several times hotter than Jalapeños. But when you are in a pinch and left with not many choices, Cayenne pepper powder is a useful alternative to try. To your advantage, almost every kitchen does have cayenne pepper powder in the kitchen rack for sure.

For a big difference, cayenne pepper powder’s heat can go up to 50,000 SHU which is far spicier than jalapeños. Secondly, it’s a powder red color thus it may not suit every jalapeno recipe.

You may use cayenne pepper powder instead of jalapeños only for the sake of adding heat. Just half a teaspoon of cayenne powder can mean a lot of heat, so use it accordingly while substituting. See if you can you can use some of the alternatives to cayenne pepper as well.

4. Smoked paprika powder

It’s simply amazing to include smoked paprika in some of your dishes for its wonderful flavor and aroma. This powder is a mixture of smoked, dried, and finely ground chili peppers. Mostly, it includes sweeter, milder peppers at low levels of heat. In fact, paprika isn’t as spicy as jalapenos, but it provides a pleasant sweet red pepper flavor, making it an effective stand-in ingredient for the jalapeno.

The smoked paprika tastes good in several recipes like hot sauce or homemade salsa. This chili pepper mix may not be stocked in every kitchen, but if you have it, use it as a jalapeño replacement in a pinch.

5. Anaheim pepper

Many cannot tolerate even the moderately hot jalapeños. If you want a pepper substitute milder than a jalapeño, then Anaheim pepper is an excellent substitute option to consider. This pepper gives a mild kick, about 16 times milder than jalapeños. However, using Anaheim in bigger quantities can kick up the heat to near-equal strength.

Raw Anaheim chile peppers have a crunchy consistency with a bright, fruity flavor. When cooked, the pepper develops a tangy, smoky, and sweet flavor.

Despite the mild sweetness, Anaheim has crispiness which makes it an effective alternative. In dishes like salsa, it works well instead of Jalapeño.

Fresh Green Jalapeno Peppers

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use poblano instead of jalapeño?

Poblano is a mild pepper more like the common bell pepper. Despite the difference in heat, both these peppers are used for stuffing, thus it's easily possible to use poblanos and jalapeños interchangeably in your stuffing recipe. Note that Jalapeños are 4 to 9 times hotter than poblanos.

Can I substitute habanero for jalapeño?

The big difference between these two chili peppers is the heat. When Scoville heat ratings work on a linear scale: a 350,000 SHU habanero is 100 times hotter than a 3,500 SHU jalapeño. Substituting jalapeño for a habanero and vice versa is not typical.

What’s a good Jalapeño substitute in salsa?

When you are looking out for a jalapeño substitute in salsa recipes, adding a mild fresh chili pepper is the best option. Any mild chilies like Anaheim pepper, banana pepper, or poblaño pepper are some of the best alternatives to consider.

What’s a good Jalapeño substitute in guacamole?

Other than jalapeños, you may use any mild fresh peppers like poblano or Anaheim in your guacamole recipe. In the absence of fresh peppers on hand, you can use any moderately hot spice seasonings like red pepper flakes, chili powder, or even cayenne pepper to get that spicy kick.

How much cayenne pepper to substitute for jalapeño pepper?

About ½ teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper per jalapeno is needed to achieve the same heat level. If you are using fresh cayenne pepper, use just less than half the portion of pepper for a jalapeño. Always start with a lesser quantity, and can be added more after taste testing.

How much red pepper flakes equals one jalapeño?

Red pepper flakes are considerably hotter than jalapenos. As a substitute, use around ½ a teaspoon of red pepper flakes per jalapeno. If you aren’t sure, always start with less quality and if needed add more in the latter part of the cooking.

The Final Thought

You might require a Jalapeño alternative when you prefer to have another pepper at a different level of spiciness, either a lower or higher level of heat. But if you want another pepper with a similar flavor, then Serrano or Fresno pepper is the best substitute for the jalapeño.

For further reading, have a look at the best substitutes to use for green chilies, and what is a good pepper to use in place of bell pepper in other articles published here.