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Jalapeno Substitute: Top Ingredients To Replace It With.


Are you on the hunt for a jalapeno substitute? Your search ends here. Our list below has plenty of other chilis you can use in place of jalapeno. 

Whatever reason you have for looking for a replacement, there are some alternatives you can use. Find out more about the possible swaps below. 

black tabletop with colorful jalapeno peppers

What Are the Best Uses of Jalapeno?

Jalapenos are widely used in the culinary world. They are prized for their moderate heat, which is at 2,500 – 8,000 on the Scoville scale. Jalapenos also have a distinct grassy taste. The combination of its flavor and heat makes it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. 

It is used in omelets, tacos, and casseroles. These peppers can be eaten raw, sauteed, and roasted. Jalapenos are also great when pickled. They are good additions to stews and other savory dishes. 

You can use jalapenos to make hot sauce or chili paste. Its uses are endless! 

Best Substitutes for Jalapenos

If you suddenly run out of jalapenos, some substitutes can come to the rescue. They’ll also come in handy if you want to add some heat or alter your dish’s spice level.

Here are the best substitutes for jalapenos:

1. Serrano Peppers 

Serrano peppers are good jalapeno substitutes. This is especially true when you are looking to amp up the spiciness of your recipe. A serrano pepper can max out at 25,000 SHU, so it is a lot hotter than a jalapeno pepper. 

Yet, serrano peppers do not stray away that much from the flavor of jalapenos. 

If you don’t want an overly hot dish, alter the recipe to decrease the number of peppers used. Don’t use a 1:1 substitution ratio. 

2. Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cayenne pepper powder is made from pulverized cayenne peppers. It can replace jalapeno peppers in recipes where it is used as a flavoring. Be forewarned that your dish will be significantly hotter.

As cayenne peppers are at 30,000-50,000 Scoville heat unit (SHU), you can expect the same heat from their powder form. Obviously, you cannot make chili poppers with them. But you can add them to other recipes like stews and soups. 

In a pinch, red pepper flakes can also work in some recipes if the powdered version is unavailable.

3. Smoked Paprika Powder

The smoked paprika powder can also be an excellent substitute for jalapeno. It should be noted that smoked paprika is made from an assortment of red peppers. Depending on the brand, it can include poblano, cayenne, and Aleppo peppers. 

That said, it can alter the flavor of your dish. You’ll still have your needed kick, though, as the paprika powder can also be hot. The smoked version has a smokiness, which can translate to the dish. 

You can only use it in limited recipes since it is in powder form. It will not work if you need whole, sliced, or chopped jalapenos. 

4. Bell Peppers 

If you don’t want any heat in your dish, bell peppers are your go-to substitute for jalapeno peppers. Bell pepper is at 0 on the Scoville scale, so it doesn’t have any heat. 

This can be a downside for some recipes. But, if you’re feeding children or you don’t have a high tolerance for heat, this is perfect. 

Plus, bell peppers are easy to find. You might even have them on your fridge. This makes them a great swap, especially when you’re in a pinch. 

5. Hot Sauce 

Yet another great substitute for jalapeno peppers is the good old hot sauce. It’s a kitchen staple, so you probably have the bottle in your household. This makes it easy to substitute, especially when you’re in a hurry. 

Hot sauces can provide a mild amount of heat to dishes. The only disadvantage is that they come in a thick liquid form. This limits the recipes you can use them in. 

6. Fresno Chile Peppers 

A Fresno pepper can substitute jalapeno pepper in all recipes. They look similar to jalapenos and offer the same flavor, too. 

On top of that, they are at 2,500-10,000 SHU. This puts them in almost the same range as jalapenos, making them the closest substitute. 

7. Anaheim Peppers

If you want to tone down on heat, you can use anaheim peppers instead of jalapeno chili peppers. They sit at 500-2,500 on the Scoville scale, so they are on the milder side of the spectrum. 

An anaheim pepper is perfect as it still provides heat, so you will not be missing that element in your dish. 

8. Cubanelle Peppers 

A cubanelle pepper can also make a good jalapeno substitute. At just 500-1,000 SHU, they are very mild in heat, even less hot than anaheim peppers. 

Yet, cubanelle peppers are more intense than jalapenos when it comes to earthiness. Their large cavity also makes them ideal for stuffing. 

If you don’t mind a strong earthy note in your dish, then cubanelle peppers are perfect.

9. Pepperoncini 

The pepperoncini peppers are one of the mildest chilis, with just 100-500 SHU. They can substitute jalapeno peppers in all recipes, especially if you want less heat. 

Pepperoncini peppers are best when pickled. Their sweet taste gets more evident this way. 

10. Banana Peppers

If you don’t want much heat, banana peppers can replace jalapeno peppers. They are classified as mild peppers, maxing out at 500 SHU. 

They can still give your recipe a slight kick, though. If this is too mild, you can put more banana peppers than the number of jalapeno peppers needed in your recipe.

11. Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers are green peppers popular in Mexican cuisine. They are at 1,000-2,000 SHU, so they are milder than jalapenos. But, they have a distinct smoky taste that is welcome in some dishes. 

Compared to jalapeno chili peppers, poblanos are larger. You can stuff them too, but you’ll have to alter the amount of filling you’ll put. 

12. Pickled Jalapenos

If fresh jalapenos are out of reach, you can use pickled jalapenos in their place. They’re made from the same peppers, so you can expect the same heat. 

However, since they are submerged in pickle juice, they will have a different texture. Plus, the flavor of the liquid gives them an acidic taste. 

That said, they are not suitable for all recipes that call for fresh chilis. They lack the bite and can alter the flavor of your dish. 

13. Fresh Cayenne Chili

Like cayenne pepper powder, fresh cayenne peppers are also great substitutes for jalapenos. They are significantly hotter, which works well if you want to make an intensely spiced dish.

Cayenne peppers are extremely popular, so you won’t have trouble finding them. They work well as a flavoring but are not fit for stuffing.  

14 Habanero Peppers

On this list, habaneros have the most extreme heat, rated 100,000-250,000 SHU on average. They can work in place of jalapenos if you are making an extra hot dish. If you have high heat tolerance, then habanero peppers are great for your recipes. 

Yet, if this is too much for you, you can opt for other ingredients on this list. Or, you can use just a small amount, depending on how much heat you want in your dish. 

dish with whole red jalapeno peppers

How Do You Choose a Jalapeno Substitute?

Selecting a substitute for jalapeno peppers can be tricky. If you pick the wrong replacement, it can make your recipe fail. No need to worry; we have some tips to help you choose the perfect jalapeno pepper substitute.

1. Decide How Hot You want to make your dish

Using other ingredients in place of jalapenos can change the spice level of your dish. For this reason, choosing an alternative that you can tolerate is best. If you like just the same amount of heat, go for Fresno peppers. 

Yet, if you want a milder substitute, opt for bell peppers, cubanelle, or anaheim peppers. If you want something significantly hotter, then pick cayenne or habanero peppers.

2. Consider the Form

Some alternatives mentioned above are fresh, pickled, powdered, and liquid. This matters when picking one that will work for your recipes. 

Choose fresh chilis when possible. They will provide the same texture and won’t alter the consistency of your dish. 

Cayenne pepper powder and paprika powder work as flavorings. Meanwhile, hot sauce is best when making sauces and stews.

3. Pay Attention To Availability

If time is of the essence, choosing the most accessible option makes the most sense. Pick hot sauce, paprika powder, or bell peppers if you’re in a hurry. They are kitchen staples that you probably already have. You can opt for other fresh chili swaps if you grow chilis in your garden. 

How Do You Store Jalapeno Properly?

Refrigerating your jalapenos extends their shelf life up to a week. If you want to keep them longer, freezing them is also an option. You can freeze them indefinitely. But expect their quality to deteriorate once they hit the 10-month mark. Dehydrating and pickling are also great preservation techniques.

How Do You Make Your Own Pickled Jalapenos?

To make pickled jalapeno peppers, you need to slice them first. Pickling whole jalapenos also work. You just have to ensure that you poke some holes for the pickle juice to be able to get to their insides. Then, you make the brine by combining water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Put your chilis inside containers and pour enough brine to submerge them completely. Tightly seal your containers and store them in the refrigerator.

How Hot Is A Jalapeno?

Jalapeno peppers are rated at 2,500 – 8,000 SHU. This makes them moderately hot. For reference, bell peppers are at 0 SHU, while cayennes max out at 50,000 SHU.

Which Is Hotter Jalapeno Or Serrano?

Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapenos. They sit at 10,000-25,000 SHU, so even the hottest jalapeno pepper is still a tad milder than the mildest serranos. 

Summary 

Jalapeno chilis are called for in many recipes. If you ever find yourself without them, there is no need to worry. There are other chilis and spice substitutes you can use in their place.

Our list above has given you all you need to know about suitable replacements. You can use these substitutes even if you simply want to alter the spice level of your dish. All you have to do is pick the right one that works for you!

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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