In a salsa, salad, quesadillas, on top of your nachos, baked, fried, or even served as a jelly, jalapenos bring the needed heat to make your recipes pop. These peppers are not extremely hot and add a fresh and earthy flavor to your dishes.
Because they’re pretty popular, it’s not so likely that you might be looking for a jalapeno substitute because you can’t find it at the supermarket. In that case, you might be interested in trying one of our delicious jalapeno substitutes to bring more heat to your dish or change its flavor.
The best substitutes for jalapenos
On the Scoville scale, which measures the hotness of peppers, jalapenos measure between 2500 and 8000 units. Compared to other peppers, jalapenos have a brighter flavor and taste earthy when served fresh.
Red jalapenos are riper than the green ones and are hotter. The red ones can be smoked or roasted, while the green ones are chopped in a salsa or salad.
Jalapenos are extremely versatile, so they can be stuffed, grilled, picked, or oven-roasted. They’re low in carbs, and they are rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6. This is why they can be added to several recipes if you’re following a diet to lose weight.
It’s not hard to find jalapeno peppers, however, you may happen to run out of it. Jalapeno peppers might also be too hot for some people, or sometimes you might just want to give a different flavor to your dish.
There are actually different types of substitutes that you can use in multiple recipes. You can even experiment with several ones until you find the right one for your dish.
1. Bell Peppers
If you can’t tolerate the heat but want to achieve the same texture in your recipes, you can use bell peppers as a substitute for jalapenos. They have a rating of 0 units on the Scoville scale, so they’re the mildest jalapeno replacement.
Bell peppers will work for you if you cannot eat spicy food or if you want to prepare a milder version of your favorite dish for your kids.
You can stuff bell peppers, roast, or grill them because they provide the same crunchy texture of jalapeno peppers, and their thick walls can tolerate more extended cooking times. They can also be added on top of your pizza or in sandwiches.
However, they have a different taste and flavor, so they won’t be the best alternative if you want to find a substitute for fresh jalapeno in your salads or salsa.
2. Banana Peppers
Banana peppers are sweet with a tangy flavor and have a score between 0 and 500 units on the Scoville scale. This is why they can be the perfect jalapeno alternative if you want a substitute that provides the same texture but doesn’t add too much heat to your recipe.
Banana peppers are bright yellow, but they can change color to green, red, or even orange when they ripen.
Due to their tangy flavor, you can use them to substitute jalapenos in salads and salsa. Thanks to their size, you can stuff banana peppers or pickle them.
3. Poblano Peppers
Poblano peppers are common in Mexican cuisine and can be used to replace jalapenos in multiple recipes and dishes. They’re quite mild, as they score between 1000 and 1,500 units on the Scoville scale.
You can replace jalapenos with poblano peppers if you want a milder option that doesn’t add much heat while still enjoying the deep green color. They can also be stuffed, fried, grilled, or charred because their thick skin can handle extended cooking times and high temperatures.
4. Anaheim Peppers
Anaheim peppers have thicker walls than jalapenos. You can replace jalapeno peppers with Anaheim peppers if you’re looking for a milder option that doesn’t add much heat.
Unlike bell peppers that provide no hotness at all, Anaheim peppers add just a little bit of heat to your dishes. They score between 500 and 5000 units on the Scoville scale, so they’re suitable for those who don’t like their dishes to be too spicy.
Use your Anaheim peppers in salsa or on top of your nachos. You can also stuff them or sauté them.
5. Pickled Jalapenos
When you can’t find fresh jalapenos, the pickled ones become the next best option. Choosing to substitute canned jalapenos for fresh minimizes prepping time and guesswork while cooking. The processing reduces the earthy green flavor of jalapenos and replaces it with a sharp taste.
Pickled jalapenos add a tangy and vinegary flavor because they’re kept in vinegar. If you choose to add them to your dish, you need to be careful about the amount of salt you’re adding to your recipe.
Opting for pickled jalapenos means that your recipes will probably be milder because the peppers are diced and kept in the solution, which dissolves the capsaicin. They measure between 2,500 and 5,000 units on the Scoville scale.
They can also bring a different taste to your salsa, nachos, salads, and your version of Taco Bell tacos because of the other ingredients in the brine, like garlic and cumin. You can add them to your sandwiches or on top of your pizza to elevate its taste.
6. Smoked Paprika Powder
Smoked paprika powder will add some heat to your dishes, combined with a slightly sweet and smoky flavor. Despite its red color, not all types of smoked paprika powder are spicy.
Some of them can be too mild, measuring about 250 units on the Scoville scale, while others measure about 1000 units. This means that you need to do a little research to find the right version to add to your dish.
This seasoning won’t provide the same level of heat in your dishes but will work for you if you want a milder option and if you don’t enjoy the crunchy taste of jalapenos.
Combining smoked paprika powder with bell peppers will provide you with crunchiness and different levels of heat with a distinctive flavor and will work if you run out of jalapenos while preparing salsa or soups.
7. Fresno Peppers
Fresno pepper is an excellent jalapeno replacement if you want an alternative that provides the same heat level with a twist in flavor. Fresno pepper is crispy but has a smoky flavor with a fruity aroma, so it will work for you if you’re not fond of the taste of jalapeno peppers.
Some people confuse mature Fresno with red jalapeno peppers, although they can be slightly hotter. The green ones are less spicy and are more earthy and fresh.
They have thinner walls, so they might not be as crunchy. However, you can add Fresno peppers to your salsa if you want it to be spicy because they measure between 2,500 and 10,000 units on the Scoville scale.
They will change the taste of your dishes, so start with a tiny amount of Fresno peppers to see how your recipe tastes.
8. Serrano Peppers
If you’re looking for a substitute for jalapeno that adds more heat without changing the taste of your dish, serrano pepper will work perfectly for you. It’s easier to digest because of its thin walls.
This is why you need to be careful about the amount you add to your dish if you want to achieve the same level of hotness. It can be served raw or pickled, but it can’t be stuffed because of its thin walls.
9. Fresh Cayenne Chili
The skinny red chili adds a lot of heat to your recipe and also helps intensify other flavors. When cooked, the hotness of this spicy pepper becomes even stronger, so you need to be careful about the amount you add to your dish.
Red cayenne chili pepper has a slightly sweet, smoky flavor, and the thin walls add a subtle crunch to your salsa. On the Scoville scale, cayenne pepper has a score between 30,000 and 50,000 units, so it’s a lot spicier than jalapeno peppers.
10. Cayenne Pepper Powder
In some cases, you might be looking for a jalapeno seasoning substitute that adds more heat to your recipes without adding texture. Cayenne pepper powder is a jalapeno pepper substitute that works for you if you hate the texture or crunch of jalapeno.
This is a seasoning that is extremely hotter than jalapeno peppers because it has a score between 30,000 and 50,000 on the Scoville scale. It’s about 12 times hotter than jalapeno peppers.
One teaspoon of this pepper powder in your sauce will recreate the heat of jalapeno, so you need to add just a little amount and increase it when required. If you run out of jalapenos and want to have the same texture and heat, you can combine bell peppers with cayenne pepper powder.
11. Hot Sauce
There are different types of hot sauces on the market, and each one of them can be the perfect red jalapeno substitute.
Hot sauce types have a Scoville score of about 50,000 units, so they’re pretty spicy. However, they can be the perfect addition to your recipe if you don’t like the texture of jalapenos.
You can also mix hot sauce with other types of milder peppers like bell peppers or Anaheim peppers to enjoy a hotter taste than that of jalapenos.
12. Habanero Peppers
Habanero pepper has a tropical, fruity flavor, but it’s extremely hot. Its color ranges from bright green to orange and is a good jalapeno pepper replacement in nachos, salsa, and fruit-based sauces.
With a score ranging between 300,000 to 445,000 Scoville units, Habanero pepper is one of the hottest peppers that you can buy. This is why a little goes a long way.
It’s more than 70 times hotter than jalapeno peppers, so it will be a good substitute if you really want to add hotness to your dish. We recommend that you only use a tiny amount in your recipe and see if it works for you. You can remove the seeds and membranes to make the peppers a little milder.
How to choose a jalapeno substitute
When it comes to choosing a jalapeno substitute, you need to think about two factors; heat and texture.
There are several jalapeno alternatives that provide a milder level of heat while adding the same texture, like bell peppers and banana peppers, although banana peppers have a slightly tangy flavor.
For a stronger level of heat, you can add poblano peppers, which can be stuffed or grilled. Anaheim peppers are even hotter, but they’re still milder than jalapenos. They can be stuffed, sautéed, used in salsa, or added to your nachos.
If you want to have the crunch of jalapenos but want to change the taste a little bit, you can experiment with pickled jalapenos. They will work as a substitute for jalapeno in salsa, but they will add a special taste.
The smoked paprika powder can be a milder option to add to your sauces if you don’t like the texture of jalapenos. For more heat minus the texture, you can add hot sauce or cayenne pepper powder.
You can use Fresno peppers for more heat in your dishes as they add a slightly smoky aroma to your salsa. Serrano peppers and red cayenne chili peppers add the same texture to your dish, but they’re a lot hotter than jalapenos.
Habanero peppers will only work for the boldest cooks. It’s one of the hottest peppers that you can use to replace jalapenos.
With all these versatile options, you can try each one of them depending on your recipe, or even combine several ones to see how your recipes taste.