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Best Poblano Pepper Substitute (11 Direct Substitutes)

Some of the best homemade Asian sauces and spicy chicken sauce recipes require the tastiest peppers to make them, and the poblano pepper is one of them. But what if, like many others, you run out? Well, I’ve got some of the best substitutes for poblano peppers that you can pick up at the store or may even have already.

You can substitute poblano peppers with ancho chili pepper, cayenne pepper, chipotle pepper, jalapeno pepper, and bell pepper. But this isn’t all you can swap poblano peppers for, so let’s get into them all!

A closeup of 3 fresh poblano peppers.

🤷 What Is Poblano Pepper?

The poblano pepper is a mild chili pepper originating from Mexico. It’s known for its dark green color and thick, meaty flesh. They have a Scoville heat rating of 1,000 to 2,000. Poblanos are widely used in dishes like chiles rellenos and mole sauce, adding a mild spice and rich depth to the recipes.

📌 Poblano Pepper Recipes

Chile Relleno – This is a classic Mexican dish made by stuffing a roasted poblano pepper with cheese, dipping it in egg batter, and frying until golden brown. 

Poblano soup – This pepper soup is a creamy and flavorful concoction that highlights the earthy richness of poblano peppers. It’s blended with ingredients like onions, garlic, and spices for a comforting and satisfying bowl of warmth.

Poblano Corn Chowder – Poblano corn chowder is a delicious, hearty, and creamy soup bursting with the smoky-sweet flavors of roasted poblano peppers and the natural sweetness of corn.

Poblano Rice – This bowl of peppery rice is a flavorful side dish combines the subtle heat of poblano peppers with fluffy, aromatic rice.

A table of different ingredients including fresh poblano peppers.

💡 Best Poblano Pepper Substitute

Ancho Chili Pepper

2 poblano pepper = 1 ancho chili pepper

Ancho chili pepper is a superb substitute for poblano pepper, offering a slightly sweet and smoky taste that hits just right on the taste buds. It can be thrown in as a way to thicken BBQ sauce, make chili paste substitutes, and even be used in cocktails. Aside from its culinary uses, ancho chili pepper is also another good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, and iron. You can even use a chili powder substitute for a different texture but the same flavor.

Cubanelle Peppers

1 poblano pepper = 1 cubanelle pepper

Cubanelle peppers are a sweeter alternative to poblano pepper with a mild spice and sweet flavors. Though they’re slightly thinner and lighter in color than poblano peppers, they’re similar in size and shape. They’re also a fantastic source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and fiber.

A closeup of two fresh cubanelle peppers.

New Mexico Chili Peppers

1 poblano pepper = 1 New Mexico chili pepper

New Mexico chili peppers bring a vibrant Southwestern twist, infusing a delicious balance of mild heat and sweet, smoky flavor notes. They’re like the poblano’s spirited cousin, adding a touch of excitement to recipes while still maintaining that comforting spicy warmth. The size of the New Mexico chili peppers also makes them easy to handle and chop, perfect for substituting poblano peppers.

Anaheim Pepper

1 poblano pepper = 1 Anaheim pepper

Anaheim peppers are another great choice with mild to medium heat and a sweet and slightly fruity taste. They’re quite similar in shape and size to poblano peppers and come in different colors like green, red, and yellow. They’re often easier to find and make for a seamless transition when swapping them out for poblano peppers. Anaheim peppers are also a great source of vitamin C for a healthy immune system and skin.

A closeup of two fresh green Anaheim chilis

Jalapeño Peppers

1 poblano pepper = 1 jalapeño pepper

Jalapeño peppers are the best mild pepper swap for poblano peppers. They range from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units and are usually eaten when green. When left to ripen to a red color, they give off a delicious, sweeter flavor. Apart from their flavor and spiciness, jalapeño peppers are also a great source of vitamin C, low in calories, and high in fiber.

Chipotle Pepper

1 poblano pepper = 1 chipotle pepper

Chipotle pepper is a very popular and highly used pepper made from dried and smoked jalapeño peppers. It’s commonly used in Mexican cuisine and packs a delicious level of smokiness to them. The spicy and smoky flavors paired with C vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber are why it’s held as one of the better peppers to use. If you can’t find any but want the same tasty flavor, you can use some alternatives to chipotle pepper.

Serrano Pepper

1 poblano pepper = 1 serrano pepper

Serrano pepper is a great swap that’s smaller and somewhat spicier, with a bright and fresh zing and slightly fruitier undertone. Its higher spiciness and flavor can provide a delicious contrast to other flavors when swapping it out, but make sure to use slightly less if you do. You can do a 1:1 swap, but keep in mind the heat and flavor you want your dish to have.

Bell Pepper

1 poblano pepper = 1 bell pepper

Bell peppers are a highly nutritious vegetable with vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber. They come in a range of colors, including green, red, yellow, and orange, each bearing its own unique flavor. They’re an even better swap for poblano peppers because you can stuff them as is with ingredients like ground meat, rice, quinoa, or beans. Make sure you pick ones that are firm, shiny, and free of blemishes for the best possible cooking experience.

One red and one yellow fresh bell pepper.

Guajillo Chile Pepper

2 poblano pepper = 1 guajillo chile pepper

Guajillo chile peppers are another popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine known for their mild spiciness and smoky and fruity taste. These peppers are usually dried and need to be soaked in hot water before use. Once the pepper is soft, remove the seeds and stem and chop it finely. Use them in the recipes as you would with its swap. Though they are slightly spicier than poblano peppers, adjusting the amount according to your preference should do the trick.

Cayenne Peppers

1 poblano pepper = 1 cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is a top substitute for poblano pepper, offering a significant increase in heat and a more pungent flavor. It’s a great source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. It also contains antioxidants that can help protect the body against damage from free radicals and anti-inflammatory properties. If you can’t find any or want a milder heat, you can use some cayenne pepper substitutes instead.

A closeup of a batch of fresh cayenne peppers.

Habañero Pepper

2 poblano pepper = 1 Habañero pepper

Habañero pepper is a very spicy chili pepper swap for poblano peppers. These peppers are commonly used in Caribbean and Mexican cuisine and have a considerably spicier and fruitier, almost tropical taste. You can actually use Habañero pepper in combination with other peppers to get a similar flavor to poblano. A small amount will get you the same heat. Any more, and it’ll be over-spiced.

🧐 FAQs

How hot is a poblano pepper?

Poblano peppers are known for their mild to medium heat levels, ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat units. To put that into perspective, jalapeño peppers, which are considered moderately hot, have a heat range of 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units.

What does a poblano pepper taste like?

Poblano peppers have a rich, earthy flavor with a slightly sweet taste. They are often described as having a smoky flavor. When roasted, they take on a sweeter, more complex flavor.

How do you roast a poblano pepper?

One popular method is to roast them over an open flame until the skin is blackened and blistered. This can be done on a gas stove, grill, or under a broiler.

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