Poblano Pepper: Flavor, Uses, And Substitutes Explained

poblano pepper substitute

Who does not love to relish the bold flavors of adorable saucy stuffed poblano peppers with ground beef and rice? All do. Even the roasted poblano tastes amazingly good on its own. This large-sized chile pepper is a crux ingredient in many luscious Mexican dishes.

This article explores the best poblano pepper substitute you can use in a pinch; also a little about its flavor and uses.

What Are Poblano Peppers?

The poblano is a mild chili pepper native to the state of Puebla, Mexico. Dried, it is called ancho or chile ancho, from the Spanish word ancho meaning ‘width’. Basically, it’s a large aromatic variety of chili pepper, usually dried and used in several Mexican dishes, especially for stuffings.

What does poblano pepper taste like? Poblano’s taste is similar to a green bell pepper but delivers a more hot kick. People love poblano peppers for their earthy and mild spiciness.

After cooking, its heat mellows down and they become slightly sweet.

Ripe poblanos are red and have stronger flavors than unripe, green chilies. Most recipes require dried poblanos known as ancho chiles which are more spicy and smoky in taste.

Is poblano pepper spicy? Yes, they are moderately spicy. But they are not as spicy as a serrano or a jalapeno.

Uses In Cooking

What are poblano peppers good for?

These peppers are not only delicious but also nutritious. They are rich in carotenoids, capsaicin, and other antioxidants that have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Their large size makes them useful for stuffings. Roasted chilies in whole or sliced form are a popular ingredient in several recipes.

Most people love them for their wonderful flavor that offers a mild kick of heat tinged with a little bit of sweetness.

Some of the popular uses of poblano in cooking include buttermilk dressing, relish, pesto, stuffings, cornbread, posole, chili Rellenos, cocktail drinks, and soups.

Best Substitutes For Poblano Peppers

What to do if you need a poblano pepper substitute?  What are other peppers that can replace poblano?  These are some questions many ask especially in places where poblano isn’t available.

There are decent alternatives for poblano peppers out there that you can very well integrate into recipes that call for poblano. Let’s now look at some of the best replacement options.

1. Anaheim pepper

There’s a considerably higher level of heat in Anaheim, but still, this is the best poblano pepper substitute to lay your hand on. Most importantly, the thicker outer wall of this pepper is strong and large enough to be fit for stuffing as poblano peppers do.

Either green or dried Anaheim pepper will easily fit into most recipes that call for poblano. Be sure of your recipe before using Anaheim chilies as a substitute because they are both hotter and sweeter than poblano. Preferably, use it in lower quantities than poblano chilies to protect the authentic taste of your recipe.

2. Cubanelle peppers

Cubanelle is a good stuffing chili the size of Anaheim pepper but 10 times milder than poblano. The thinner outer cover of this chili does not give you the ease of stuffing like the Anaheim or poblano. Despite these two drawbacks, it still works as a worthy alternative to poblano for stuffing, chili Rellenos, and soups.

If you aren’t fond of peppery sweetness, sliced and dices Cubanelle chilies won’t fit into most of the regular poblano recipes. Similarly, while using Cubanelle chilies in place of poblano peppers, be ready to compromise with its low level of heat.

3. Ancho pepper

Ancho chilies are nothing but dried poblanos. It is out of the question for stuffing, but you can swap out minced or sliced poblano peppers with it.

The smoky taste of ancho chilies differentiates it from poblano. If you love to relish the smoky and earthy flavor of ancho peppers, then it is a superior alternative to poblano chilies for sure.

Use ancho peppers in lower quantities than poblano lest your dishes won’t be overwhelmed by their smoky flavor.

4. Bell pepper

For stuffing, bell pepper is a great replacement for poblano chilies as they are large in size with thick walls. Green bells are less sweet than red and yellow bells, so they are a better option to consider.

Certainly, it isn’t the right choice to use in place poblano in terms of its zero heat. Only the earthy flavor is what they both have in common. If you prefer non-spicy peppers over poblano-type chilies then bell pepper is the right substitute pepper for you.

5. Jalapenos

Can you substitute jalapenos for Poblanos?

Jalapenos peppers are medium-sized chili peppers that are hotter than poblano. You can use it for stuffing or slice them into small pieces to add to your recipes like the poblanos.

Poblanos are 1,000-2,000 Scoville units of heat but Jalapenos range between 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville; this makes them a less likely substitute for each other. However, it’s possible to reduce the heat of jalapenos to some degree by removing their pith and ribs before cooking them.

Jalapenos have a grassy flavor compared to the earthy note of poblano. In a pinch, use jalapenos instead of poblano peppers, preferably in lower quantities.

The Bottom Line

What can I use instead of poblano pepper? Anaheim chile is my best pick for substituting poblano peppers. Cubanelle chili is another good replacement option for you.  Few others like jalapenos, and bell pepper match poblano in appearance but not in flavor, especially the heat. Choosing the right alternative to poblano chilies largely depends on your personal taste preferences.