Anaheim peppers are becoming more and more common in recipes. However, not many people keep them on hand and need a substitute. The good news is that there are several viable replacements that are very similar.
The most similar substitutes for Anaheim peppers are poblano, chilaca, guajillo, shishito, and cubanelle peppers, as they all have similar flavors and levels of spiciness. Jalapeno, Fresno, Hungarian wax, hatch chili, serrano, and bell peppers are also suitable but taste a little different.
The rest of the article will discuss each replacement in greater detail. I will also include comparisons of flavor and spice levels, plus recommendations for the best dried substitute.
1. Poblano Peppers
Anaheim peppers have mild to medium heat levels at 500 to 1,000 on the Scoville heat scale. Their flavor is also smoky, tangy, and mildly sweet. Poblano peppers are an excellent substitute for Anaheim peppers because they have similar sweetness and spice levels.
Poblanos are large, dark green peppers that grow wide at the stem and have thin, tapered bodies. Mature poblanos turn a dark reddish brown and are about 2 inches (5 cm) wide and around 4 inches (10 cm) long.
Poblanos usually range from 1,000 to 2,000 on the Scoville heat scale. Like Anaheim peppers, poblanos start out green and turn red as they age. They also become sweeter as they ripen. When fully matured, they are very sweet peppers known as Anchos. These are usually sold dried.
2. Chilaca Peppers
Chilaca, a.k.a. chili negro, is another Mexican pepper with mild to medium heat levels (1,000 to 2,500 on the Scoville scale) similar to the Anaheim pepper. These peppers are 6-9 inches (15-23 cm) long, with a thin, flattened cylindrical shape about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in width. They have shiny, dark green or black skin with rounded vertical ridges.
Chilacas make an excellent substitute for Anaheim peppers if you find them fresh. However, they are usually sold dried as pasilla bajio. They are typically used in Mexican sauces like mole.
Related The 6 Best Substitutes for Roasted Red Peppers.
3. Guajillo Peppers
Guajillo peppers are classic crimson-colored chilis, usually around 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide and 3-5 inches (8-12 cm) long. Although slightly spicier at 2,500 to 5,000 on the Scoville heat scale, guajillo peppers are another great substitute for Anaheim peppers because they have a similarly sweet, smoky, and tangy flavor.
Guajillos are usually sold dried for use in Mexican cuisine. They can efficiently be rehydrated as replacements for Anaheim peppers in any recipe. Dried guajillos can also be crushed and used as a seasoning.
4. Shishito Peppers
Shishito peppers are a small, bright green variety with slightly wrinkled flesh. They grow to about 2 inches (5 cm) long and ½ inch (1.3 cm) wide. They are usually sold in Asian grocery stores and used in Japanese cuisine.
Shishito peppers have a similarly sweet, tangy, and smoky flavor profile to Anaheim peppers. They are very mildly spicy when green, reaching only 50-200 on the Scoville scale. However, ripe shishitos can be much spicier! They are also sweeter than Anaheim peppers.
5. Cubanelle Peppers
Cubanelle peppers are similar in appearance to banana peppers or elongated bell pepper. They have a bright yellow-green color and thin skin. The flavor of a cubanelle is sweet, with mild to moderate heat at 0-1,000 on the Scoville scale.
They are usually sold green and unripe but turn red/orange when ripe. These make an excellent substitute for Anaheim peppers because of their mild spice level and sweetness. However, they are a little sweeter than Anaheim peppers and don’t have the same smoky/tanginess. Roasting them will add some smokey flavor.
6. Jalapeno Peppers
Jalapeno peppers are dark green peppers with a conical shape and thick, shiny flesh. They grow about 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) in length and about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.
Jalapenos are an excellent substitute for Anaheim peppers if you like extra heat. In fact, Anaheim peppers are a type of jalapeno! However, jalapenos rate 2,500-5,000 on the Scoville heat scale, and they don’t share Anaheim’s mildly sweet and tangy flavor. They do produce a similar smoky flavor when roasted.
7. Fresno Peppers
Fresno peppers have a similar shape and size to jalapenos but are a bit wider at the top and have bright red, green, or orange flesh. The skin is thick, glossy, and waxy in texture.
Fresno peppers are another spicy alternative to the Anaheim pepper. They rate 2,500 to 10,000 Scoville heat units. However, they have a fruity, sweet flavor and become smoky when cooked. This makes them an excellent replacement for Anaheim peppers for those who prefer moderate to high spice.
8. Hungarian Wax Chili Peppers
Hungarian wax peppers are often confused with banana peppers, as they look the same. They are thin, elongated, and conical in shape with a creamy yellow color.
However, they are much spicier than banana peppers and Anaheim peppers. In fact, they rate 1,000-15,000 Scoville heat units. They are also sweet and tangy, similar to Anaheim peppers, making them another good substitute. However, they lack the signature smoky flavor of Anaheim.
9. Hatch Chili Peppers
Hatch chili peppers are a medium to large variety with bright green flesh and a flattened conical shape with rounded vertical ridges. They grow 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) in length and 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) wide.
Hatch chilis are another spicier alternative to Anaheim peppers. They rate 1,000-8,000 on the Scoville heat scale and have a similarly sweet, smoky flavor. However, there are wide varieties of hatch chili peppers with varying levels of spiciness. Some hatch chilies may rate even higher than 8,000 on the Scoville scale, but their flavors are all similar.
The New Mexico green chili, also known as the Sante Fe green chili, is one popular variety of hatch chili that makes an excellent substitute for Anaheim peppers.
10. Serrano Peppers
Serrano peppers look like miniature jalapenos but with narrower tops. Glossy and dark green in color, they grow to only 1-4 inches (2.5-10 cm) long and ½ inch (1.3 cm) wide. They are widest in the middle of the body and taper slightly at both ends.
Serranos have a similar taste profile to jalapenos but are much spicier. When roasted, they become richer and produce a smoky, earthy flavor comparable to Anaheim peppers. However, they are not sweet and rate 10,000 – 23,000 SDU. In short, these peppers made an excellent substitute for Anaheims, but they are not for the faint of heart!
11. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are large, fat, heart-shaped peppers with several rounded vertical ridges. They come in green, yellow, orange, and red varieties, most commonly. The green version is unripe, while other colors are different varieties of ripe bell peppers.
Bell peppers are a suitable replacement for Anaheim peppers if you want no heat. They have a similar sweet and tangy flavor but rate 0 SDU. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers mimic the flavor of Anaheim peppers best as they are sweeter. When roasted, they take on the smokiness typical to Anaheims.
Are Poblano and Anaheim Peppers the Same?
Poblano and Anaheim peppers are similar in flavor and spice level, but they are different peppers. Anaheim peppers have mild to medium heat at 500-1000 SDU, while poblanos are slightly spicier at 1,000-2,000 SDU. Both have a similar mildly sweet, tangy, and smoky flavor.
These two peppers also look quite different. Anaheims are longer, thinner peppers with a light green color. Poblanos are short and fat, with a medium to dark green color. Poblanos are also typically sweeter than Anaheims.
Are Anaheim Peppers the Same As Jalapenos?
Anaheim peppers are not the same as jalapenos. However, they are in the same family. Jalapenos are considerably spicier at 2,500-5,000 SDU compared to Anaheims, which rate 500-1,000 SDU. Jalapenos are smaller and have a brighter, greener flavor with no sweetness or tang like Anaheims.
Anaheim peppers are a type of jalapeno, but they are larger. Anaheim’s can grow to be around 8 inches (20 cm) long, while jalapenos are usually 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) at most. Both peppers are great for salsa, roasting, and stuffing.
Can You Substitute Jalapenos for Anaheim Peppers?
You can substitute jalapenos for Anaheim peppers, but the dish will taste a little bit different because of it. Jalapenos are considerably spicier than Anaheims and also have a brighter, more vegetable taste. Anaheims are less than half as spicy and have a mildly sweet, smoky, tangy flavor.
However, roasting jalapenos is an excellent way to bring out an earthy, smoky flavor and make them taste more like Anaheim peppers.
Anaheim Pepper vs. Cubanelle
Anaheim peppers are not as sweet as cubanelle peppers, but they are otherwise very similar in flavor. Both peppers rate 500-1,000 on the Scoville heat scale. Cubanelles will take on a smoky flavor like Anaheims when roasted and therefore provide almost identical flavor to most recipes.
Both peppers have thin walls and a light, crunchy texture. Both are commonly used in Latin American cuisine. They can be stuffed, but cubanelles are popular as frying peppers in Italian cuisine, similar to the banana pepper.
What Is the Best Dried Anaheim Pepper Substitute?
The best dried Anaheim pepper substitutes are New Mexico green chiles (a.k.a. Santa Fe green chilies), fire-roasted canned green chiles, or poblano peppers. All three have similar levels of heat, sweetness, and smoky flavor. However, New Mexico green chilies are a bit spicier.
Anaheim peppers are usually dried after fully ripening, so they have a more robust flavor than fresh green Anaheims. However, the flavor is still mildly sweet, moderately spicy, smoky, and tangy. Dried peppers, including Anaheims, have slightly higher spice levels than their fresh counterparts. Therefore, choosing a spicier alternative pepper will more closely match the dried Anaheim flavor.
New Mexico green chili (a.k.a. Santa Fe green chili) is a variety of hatch chili pepper. It makes a suitable replacement for dried Anaheims if you want more spice. They have a robust flavor that is slightly sweet, tangy, and smoky similar to an Anaheim, and a spice level that can be the same or up to twice the heat. They are commonly available in their dried form at most grocery stores.
Because dried anaheims are frequently rehydrated before being added to salsas, sauces, and stews, they have a similar texture to canned chiles. Fire-roasted canned green chilies are, therefore, an excellent alternative. They also have a comparable smoky, tangy flavor to Anaheim peppers. Canned green chilies are usually mild on the spice scale, with a slight sweetness and smokiness.
Poblano peppers are always an excellent replacement for Anaheims because of their very similar spice level and flavor profile. However, dried poblanos are allowed to ripen fully before drying, at which point they are known as Anchos. Anchos look significantly different from the fresh variety and are also much sweeter. They have a deep red-brown color that turns almost black when dried, while fresh poblanos are dark green.
Note: Dried peppers can be rehydrated by soaking them in water for 30 minutes. When purchasing them, look for peppers with a little bend and flex. Avoid those that are crisp and crumbly to the touch, and they are typically old. They may have an unpleasantly bitter flavor as a result.
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Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
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With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.