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Poblano Pepper Substitute: Your 13 Best Options

What if your favorite Poblanos aren’t available, and you need a Poblano pepper substitute for your recipe? No problem, because there are plenty of peppers you can use as a replacement. 

These peppers are well-known worldwide, so take this chance to learn more about these special peppers with that a rich and earthy flavor and low spice levels. 

Read more to find out how to substitute Poblano peppers, their taste difference from other peppers, and what type of pepper will work well for your dish.  

Wooden board with poblano peppers

What Are Poblano Peppers?

Poblanos are a type of chili pepper that originated in Mexico.

Poblano peppers are dark green and ripen to a dark red or brown. They can be eaten raw, or you can use them in stuffed recipes.

What sets poblano peppers apart is their remarkable balance of flavors and heat.

Their Scoville Heat Units (SHU) typically range from 1,000 to 2,000, ensuring a pleasant, warming sensation rather than a fiery burn.

Their mild to medium spiciness making them accessible to a wide range of palates.

They’re well-known and popular in various cuisines, especially Mexican cuisine. 

From the iconic chiles rellenos, where they’re stuffed with cheese or meat and enveloped in a crispy batter, to their role in salsas, soups, and stews, poblanos add a distinctive flair to dishes.

Even when dried into ancho peppers, they impart a unique fruity sweetness to sauces and marinades.

Best Poblano Pepper Substitutes

Since these are popular, on some occasions, you may find it hard to buy them at the grocery or farmer’s market. 

Luckily, this type of pepper is quite versatile, and there are many Poblano pepper substitutes you can try that are just as delicious.

Dish served with colorful bell peppers

1. Bell Peppers

The best option is bell pepper if you want a Poblano pepper substitute with no spiciness. 

It has a mild and earthy flavor. You can also taste a slightly sweet flavor. 

This type of pepper is widely available, and you can choose from orange, yellow, red, or green bell peppers. 

For the sweetest flavors, get yellow bell peppers. Buy the green bell pepper if you want a more earthy taste. 

Green bell peppers also most closely resemble poblano peppers in appearance and taste. 

They have thick walls and huge cavities perfect for stuffing recipes. You can eat them raw because they are crisp and delicious! 

If bell peppers have a downside as a poblano pepper substitute, they’re not that spicy. They also lack some of Poblano’s earthy flavors. 

Pro Tips 

Use a ratio of 1:1 when substituting bell peppers for Poblanos. 

Add some chili pepper, dried chilies, or chili powder for more spice during or after cooking to recreate the heat of Poblanos.

Green Jalapeno Peppers on top of the tablecloths.

2. Jalapeno Peppers

One of the best substitutes for Poblano peppers is jalapeno pepper. 

It may have a chili pepper appearance, but jalapeno peppers do well in stuffing recipes like Poblano peppers. 

While Poblanos have an earthy flavor, jalapeno peppers have a grassy flavor. 

Jalapeno is actually more popular in Mexican dishes because it’s a hot pepper and easily adds that nice kick to delicious meals. 

Its fruity and slightly spicier flavor makes it an all-around Poblano pepper substitute.    

Pro Tips

Jalapeño peppers are spicier. To reduce the heat levels, remove the ribs and piths before using them in your cooking.

They go well in salsas, rice dishes, and stuffed recipes and work great as a salad topping. 

Try roasting or smoking a Jalapeno pepper for milder heat and more delicious sweetness. 

Anaheim peppers on the black background.

3. Anaheim Peppers

No Poblano peppers? No problem! You can try the Anaheim pepper. 

Their girth and appearance are close to Poblanos’. They’re also thick and wide, making them suitable for stuffing with ingredients. 

The Poblano and Anaheim peppers have a gentle spiciness and sweet smokiness. They are also widely available and can be bought at any grocery store. 

You can use Anaheim peppers in many recipes that call for Poblano peppers, so there’s no problem substituting them. 

Pro Tips

The Anaheim pepper gets sweeter and spicier after cooking. Use only a tiny amount if you don’t want an overly spicy dish.

4. Cubanelle Peppers

Another great Poblano pepper substitute that’s not spicy is the Cubanelle pepper, also known as the Cuban or Italian frying pepper. 

Cubanelles are mild peppers with a thinner skin and delicate spice. You can also taste a refreshing and fruity tone in them. 

They’re similar to bell peppers in sweetness and Anaheim peppers in appearance.  

But the downside to using them as a Poblano pepper substitute is they’re much thinner. They can’t handle too much stuffing as they can tear easily. 

Use Cubanelle peppers instead for recipes requiring sliced or diced fresh peppers. 

Pro Tips

Cubanelle peppers are perfect for frying and grilling. You can also use them in quiches, scrambled eggs, and omelets.

Cutting board with sliced banana peppers.

5. Banana Peppers 

Also known as banana chilies or yellow wax pepper, banana peppers are named that way because they look like bananas and have smooth and waxy skin.  

There’s no spice in a banana pepper, though. Banana peppers taste is mild and sweet, it is known for its tang and zest rather than its spice (or lack of it). 

Banana pepper is medium-sized and can be enjoyed raw or pickled. 

Pro Tips

Like Poblano, you can use banana pepper for stuffing. Moreover, add it to your sandwiches, salads, and soups. 

It tastes great in pizzas and nachos and is an excellent addition to cheese and charcuterie boards

6. Guajillo Peppers

Another spicy pepper makes it to this list of the best substitutes for Poblano. 

The Guajillo pepper matches the spiciness of the jalapeno and is spicier than the Poblano. It also has a slightly fruity taste and light, smoky undertones. 

Like the Poblano, the Guajillo pepper is one of the most used peppers in Mexican cuisine. 

It’s a dark reddish brown pepper with smooth skin and is often sold in dried, powdered, or paste form. 

Fresh Guajillo pepper is pliable, while older Guajillos will easily crack when bent and appear dusty. 

Pro Tips

Adjust the quantity of your Guajillo peppers if you need them to be less spicy. 

You can use them in sauces, salsas, soups, and stews. They’re also excellent in tamales and enchiladas. 

7. Chipotle Peppers 

You can use chipotle peppers if you’re okay with using a spicier Poblano substitute. 

Interestingly, chipotle pepper is an overripe jalapeno that goes through a drying and smoking process. 

Chipotle pepper has a spice that’s not overpowering and a stronger sweetness than jalapenos that will add a nice zing to your dishes.  

Its spiciness is similar to that of Guajillo and Anaheim peppers and Tabasco Sauce. 

Pro Tips 

Use a ratio of 1:1 when substituting chipotle peppers for Poblano. 

8. Serrano Pepper 

Although small and slim, Serrano peppers pack a lot of flavors and make great Poblano pepper substitutes. 

Serrano peppers have an excellent heat and fresh flavor. These yellow, green, red, or orange peppers can easily add warmth and spice to sauces and any dish. 

Pro Tips

Use Serrano peppers more sparingly, as they can make your dish very spicy. 

You can use them fresh in salsas, sauces, garnishes, and relishes. Serrano peppers also taste great when pan-cooked or roasted. 

Serving tray with Cayenne peppers and bowl with pepper flakes

9. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper can easily add a kick to your without overwhelming other flavors, making it a good substitute for Poblano peppers. 

You can typically find cayenne papers in powdered or dried form that you can easily add to your recipes. 

Although cayenne pepper is small and won’t work for stuffing recipes, it’s a versatile pepper you can add to your meat and seafood. It’s also great in sauces and pizzas. 

Pro Tips

Cayenne pepper is used in many cuisines, from Mexican and Indian to Italian. Try it on your next recipe, and add it to your roasted vegetables instead of using salt and pepper. 

10. Ancho Chile Pepper 

These dried Poblano chilies are also famous in Mexican cooking with a heat similar to Poblanos. 

Ancho chile peppers have a sweet, smoky flavor and mild spice. They also have this scent that will remind you of raisins.

Ancho chile peppers have a strong flavor, so use them sparingly in your dishes. 

Pro Tips

Ancho chile pepper is traditionally used in sauces and purees. It also works well in chili, soups, and stews.  

Before using it in cooking, soften and reconstitute it in hot water. Remove the seeds and stems and soak it for around 20 minutes.

Wooden bowl with raw Chile de Arbol Peppers

11. De Arbol Chile Pepper 

These are thin and small Mexican peppers in vibrant red color. You can buy De Arbol Chile pepper in fresh, powdered, or dried form. 

It’s definitely hotter than jalapeno pepper, much like cayenne and Serrano pepper. But it also has that mild sweetness and nutty, smoky flavor. 

It’s why you only use it for dishes that need more than a bit of heat, like chili, hot sauces, and salsa. Just a few pieces of this pepper will add significant heat to your dish. 

Use it as a Poblano pepper substitute in hot sauces and tomato-based dishes. It also tastes terrific with grilled chicken, on tacos and burritos, over huevos rancheros, and in tortas.

Pro Tips

When using dried De Arbol Chile pepper, grind them into flakes or powder and use it as seasoning. 

You may also rehydrate it in hot water for about 20 minutes and then use it with your other ingredients to make a fresh chili sauce or salsa. 

12. Mulato Chile Pepper 

The Mulato Chile Pepper is a Poblano pepper that ripens to a dark brown. It then gets dried and is commonly ground into chili powder. 

Mulato has a licorice or chocolate flavor with a hint of tobacco and cherry. Moreover, it has a low spice, so you can eat it like bell peppers or bananas. 

And like the other peppers on this list, it’s been used in Mexican cooking for many years. 

Pro Tips

Add a flavor boost to your salsa or chili using Mulato Chile Pepper. 

Pair it with tomato-based sauces, roasted pork, and braised beef. You can also make chili con carne with it.

Hatch Peppers on the fabric napkin.

13. Hatch Chile Pepper 

Last but not least is the Hatch Chile Pepper. The Hatch chiles, grown in the Hatch Valley in New Mexico, make an excellent Poblano substitute, with a heat rating similar to Poblano pepper. 

 It’s well known for its earthy, smoky, and slightly sweet flavor. It only adds a nice spicy kick to your dishes, which makes them perfect for soups, tacos, and salsas. 

You can eat it raw and get a crisp, spicy, and mildly pungent flavor like an onion. 

You’ll get a nice, smoky, sometimes buttery flavor if you roast Hatch Chile Peppers. 

Pro Tips 

Use it to substitute Poblanos in sauces, chilis, soups, and stews. You can also stuff these peppers. 

But if you want the flavors to really bloom, roast fresh hatch peppers. 

How to Pick the Best Poblano Pepper Substitute?

When picking a substitute for Poblano pepper, consider its availability in your location and for the season. Other replacements may be easier to find all year round.

Moreover, consider the heat sensitivity of the people eating your dish.

Opt for mild Poblano pepper substitutes like bell peppers or Cubanelle peppers. If you like the spicier options, you can go for cayenne peppers.

For a smoky taste, choose Ancho peppers or Anaheim peppers. You can also try Mulato or Serrano peppers for a unique flavor.

Use these Poblano pepper substitutes in almost any type of dish. You can try it in stuffed peppers, chilis, enchiladas, nachos, and chiles rellenos.

Moreover, they’re excellent in stir-fries, Pico de Gallo, tacos, and quesadillas.

You won’t go wrong with these Poblano pepper substitutes if you love slow cooker carnitas, chicken chili relleno casseroles, tortilla soups, mac and cheese, and chili quiche.

What pepper is most similar to poblano?

Anaheim pepper is most similar because it almost has the same girth, which means you can use it for recipes that need stuffing ingredients. Its flavors will work well with any recipe that calls for Poblano peppers.

What is a good substitute for dried poblanos?

Try using Guajillo, chipotle, or cayenne pepper in dried or powdered form. Tabasco sauce will also yield the same flavors and mild heat.

Is jalapeno similar to poblano?

Jalapeno is similar to Poblano and can be an excellent substitute because of its thick walls. But Poblano peppers have a milder, smoky, and less spicy flavor.


Poblano peppers offer a unique spice to many culinary creations. When picking a Poblano pepper substitute, make sure that it will work with your recipe, best complement your dish, and won’t be too spicy for you or your guests to enjoy.

Knowing the characteristics and flavor profiles of these pepper substitutes can also help you bring out the flavors of your ingredients and create an unforgettable and tasty dish! 

Wooden board with poblano peppers

Poblano Pepper Substitute: Your 13 Best Options

Natalia-Flavorful Home
What if your favorite Poblanos aren’t available, and you need a Poblano pepper substitute for your recipe? No problem, because there are plenty of peppers you can use as a replacement. 
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course substitutes
Cuisine American


  • Bell Peppers
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Anaheim Peppers
  • Cubanelle Peppers
  • Banana Peppers
  • Guajillo Peppers
  • Chipotle Peppers 
  • Serrano Pepper 
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ancho Chile Pepper 
  • De Arbol Chile Pepper 
  • Mulato Chile Pepper 
  • Hatch Chile Pepper 


  • Pick the best Poblano pepper substitute from our list.
  • Adjust the ingredients in the recipe as needed.


Consider the following factors when choosing the right substitute:
  • its availability in your location and season.
  • the heat sensitivity of the people eating your dish.
  • opt for mild Poblano pepper substitutes like bell peppers or Cubanelle peppers.
  • if you like the spicier options, you can go for cayenne peppers.
  • for a smoky taste, choose Ancho peppers or Anaheim peppers. 


Calories: 64kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.04gSodium: 446mgPotassium: 371mgFiber: 6gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 4942IUVitamin C: 170mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg
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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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