Poblano vs Anaheim: The 4 Differences You Need To Know

Those who are cooking experts might already know poblano and anaheim peppers. For those who have never encountered them in their culinary journey, poblano and Anaheim are two incredibly similar varieties of pepper.

They might look alike, but the difference between poblano and anaheim peppers is astonishing. The thing with these two kinds of peppers is that they are often interchangeable, so people usually think they are the same thing.

Let’s delve into the amazing world of spicy peppers to find out more about their characteristics, their taste, their look, and how they are used in the kitchen.

What are poblano peppers?

Poblano is a large pepper that comes in different colors, depending on how ripe it is. In the beginning, when the poblano is less ripe, it has a shiny green color. When it is ripe enough, it changes into a bright, deep red.

Its colors influence the way it tastes too. A green poblano pepper will be less spicy than a ripened one.

Poblano peppers are very important in Mexican culture and thanks to the ever-growing popularity of their delicious cuisine, this variety of pepper is growing more and more popular worldwide.

And it is for this exact reason why it is so easy to find them in supermarkets, farmers’ stalls, and corner shops wherever you go.

Green, less ripe poblano pepper are those that are normally used most in the kitchen. They are quite thick and meaty, so they are perfect to eat roasted, or stuffed and cooked in the oven.

They can even be added to salsas and various dips for veggies and chips to add a little poblano spiciness to them.

How spicy is a poblano pepper?

Poblano peppers are generally quite mild. Red poblano peppers are obviously spicier than green ones, but it all depends on the pepper itself.

Every so often, the same plant can produce different peppers with different levels of spiciness. The rule stated that the more red you see in a pepper, the spicier it will be.

On the odd occasion, even the less ripe, green peppers can surprise you with their astonishing flavor. But be aware that the poblano variety is not a generally super spicy pepper.

This is why they are often added to a recipe to give a little spice or tingle to a mild dish. 

What are Anaheim peppers?

The Anaheim pepper is so popular in New Mexico that they are associated with the common, generic name of ‘chile’, simply because it is the variety that is most diffused in the area.

This vegetable has an elongated shape, oblong and a little wrinkled at the junctures. Their color varies according to how ripe and spicy they are.

They go from delicate green to a bright red, but there are even yellow Anaheim peppers, sometimes with a white-ish nuance too.

The Anaheim chili pepper is used in several New Mexican and even Mexican recipes and traditional dishes due to its signature Anaheim pepper flavor. During the colder months, they are even sold freshly roasted and ready to eat.

This happens specifically in their native area of New Mexico, but it is not a rare thing to see even in some neighboring US states.

How spicy is an Anaheim pepper?

Anaheim peppers tend to have a broad range of spiciness. They go from mild to extremely spicy, depending on numerous factors.

One key factor, as we already mentioned for the poblano pepper, is their color. The greener your Anaheim pepper is, the milder it will be. The redder it is, the spicier it will taste.

Another factor is the place where it grows. Peppers produced in New Mexico are generally spicier than those grown in California.

On top of that, the same plant can grow peppers with different levels of heat, so it all depends on being able to identify the one that “looks spicier” to you.

What is the difference between Anaheim and Poblano peppers?

Poblano vs Anaheim: you could say this is a heated fight! Poblano and Anaheim peppers have many similar characteristics that make them look alike and cause people to think they are the same thing.

But they also possess features that highlight how different these two varieties of peppers are. As Mexican cuisine gets more and more popular not only in the United States but worldwide (and rightfully so!) poblano and anaheim peppers are easier to find.

To a not so careful eye, these two different types of pepper might look the same. They might have a slightly different shape or various different colors. Even comparing their taste can fool the most refined palate

1. Origin

As we briefly mentioned, Poblano and Anaheim peppers have unique origins. Poblano peppers are Mexican, originating from the Free and Sovereign State of Puebla.

It takes its name from the state where it originated from. In fact, those who live in the Mexican state of Puebla are also called poblanos.

Anaheim peppers originated in New Mexico, but take their name from Anaheim, CA, a city that is part of the Los Angeles Greater Area. 

The reason they are named after the Californian city is because of a farmer, Emilio Ortega, who after a trip to New Mexico grew so fond of this variety of peppers, he decided to take the seeds of the plant back to his hometown in California.

Thence, poblano and anaheim peppers definitely have different origins, although it can be said they were born in neighboring countries. 

2. Appearance

Poblano and Anaheim peppers present themselves in very different ways, which makes it even easier to discern the differences between the two types of pepper.

Poblano peppers are bigger and thicker. Anaheim peppers are slightly thinner and have an oblong shape.

If we wanted to make a comparison that would make it easy to understand the difference between these two peppers, we could say that poblanos have a leaf-like shape, while anaheim peppers are more similar to the classic pepperoncini.

Although they have different shapes, they present themselves with similar colors. Poblano peppers range from deep green to vivid red, and sometimes they even feature a very dark color, closer to black than dark red.

Anaheim peppers also have those green and bright red colors, but there are a few of them that feature a bright yellow, with off-white nuances.

These possible ways to present themselves are often dictated by the area where they grew up, and how spicy they are.

The rule of thumb with peppers is that the closer they are to a red shade, the spicier they taste.

3. Flavor & Spiciness

This one is quite tricky. Both poblano and anaheim chili peppers have a similar taste. In fact, it’s very hard to distinguish the two, as they can be used interchangeably in recipes.

They are both considered mild peppers, although some of them can surprise you with their elevated level of heat.

The thing is that the spiciest Anaheim pepper will be a lot hotter than the spiciest Poblano. However, the mildest Anaheim pepper will be a lot milder than the mildest Poblano.

That’s because Anaheim peppers have a Scoville heat range between 500-2500, while Poblanos range between 1000-1500. 

In both cases, as you already know, greener peppers mean they have lower spiciness levels, therefore are relatively mild. They are frequently used for roasting or as key ingredients in salsas and dips.

Redder peppers are the spicy ones. They can vary from hot to incredibly hot, depending on the location where they were cultivated and their variety.

4. Recipes

Both poblano and anaheim peppers can be used in plenty of recipes!

Poblano peppers are perfect for roasting or broiling. Their bulkier shape allows them to be the perfect stuffed pepper, and you can add whatever you fancy to the filling.

Poblano performs the best of themselves in salsas, dips, and relishes though. They are so versatile, sometimes they are even utilized as ingredients for cocktails.

Similar to poblanos, anaheim pepper can also be stuffed and cooked in the oven. As their shape is quite elongated, it is relatively challenging to stuff them from the top. As a result, the best way to do it is to cut your pepper along its side, right in half before stuffing.

Another way to enjoy your anaheim peppers is to add them to your homemade soup (and this works for poblano peppers too!). 

Are Poblano and Anaheim peppers the same?

No, they are not the same, although they display various similarities that cause people to think they are one type of pepper.

They are both mild peppers, although they both can rise to an unexpectedly excessive level of heat. Anaheim peppers do beat Poblanos in the spiciness department, though.

Their colors are incredibly similar, even though poblano peppers can reach a dark, kind of black color when it is ripe enough. Anaheim peppers, on the other hand, can be seen in yellow, whitish color.

Both Poblano and Anaheim are thick and flagrant, perfect to be eaten roasted, broiled, or stuffed. And as they have quite a mild taste, they can even be eaten raw, as a healthy snack, or as an appetizer accompanied by salsa or a dip.

However, they do have different origins. Poblanos are Mexican, while Anaheim peppers are American, growing between New Mexico and California.