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12 Most Similar Substitutes for Poblano Peppers

The most similar substitutes for Poblano peppers include sweet bell peppers and various hot chili peppers. The hot alternatives include Guajillo, Mulato Isleno, Ancho Chilis, Jalapeño, Chipotle, Serrano, Banana, Anaheim, Pepperoncini, and Cubanelle peppers.

Keep reading to learn about the characteristics of different types of chili peppers. Knowing what makes each pepper unique will make choosing a suitable substitute for your dish easier. When selecting the Poblano replacement, we will consider the peppers’ size and texture, but also the spice of the peppers.

Several green poblano peppers

1. Bell Peppers

The bell pepper is a sweet type of pepper. It has 0 SHU (Scoville Heat Units), meaning it does not contain capsaicin, a chemical ingredient that makes peppers hot. Although you may miss the heat and extra spice in your dish, you will not miss out on flavor. 

Bell peppers have the same earthy flavor as Poblanos. Add a sprinkle of chili pepper or hot paprika to add more spice to your recipe.

What makes these two peppers similar are their big cavities that you can easily stuff with anything from bacon and cheese to rice. Moreover, they have thick walls that allow the stuffing and roasting of the pepper.

Different varieties, including green, yellow, and red bell peppers, feature different colors when ripe. The green ones are slightly more bitter than the others but are still considered sweet. Red and yellow bell peppers are sweeter. The best Poblano alternative might be the green bell pepper because of its color and lack of sweetness.

2. Guajillo Peppers

The Guajillo pepper is a red-colored dried chili. It contains about 8,000 SHU, which makes it much hotter than the Poblano pepper. They can still be a suitable replacement in the right recipe.

The Guajillo has a relatively thin skin, making it difficult to stuff. However, if you need Poblanos to make salsa or sauce, Guajillos are the peppers for you. Use them as they are, dried and powdered, to add a spicy kick to your dish.

You can rehydrate Guajillos by soaking them in hot water for several hours or boiling them for a few minutes. When rehydrated, chop or blend the pepper and use it in sauce or soup.

Several guajillo peppers

Compared to Poblano peppers, Guajillos are four times spicier. So, if you want to use them as a replacement, you should reduce the quantity. Also, remove the seeds since they carry most of the heat.

3. Mulato Isleno

If you don’t mind using dried chili peppers, your ideal replacement might be Mulato Isleno. In the green stage, Mulato peppers are almost indistinguishable from Poblanos. They are green and shiny with deep cavities.

When fully ripened and dried, the color is usually chocolate brown, and the skin is wrinkled. Mulato peppers are slightly sweet and smokey. The chocolate color is also reflected in the taste, as one can sense some licorice flavor.

You can use this dried chili for making salsa, stuffing, or even making sauce. Remove all excess moisture if you want to make powdered chili using Mulato peppers. Although they are already dried, toast them for a while to get thoroughly dried flakes.

4. Ancho Chilis

Ancho chilis are dried Poblanos. Compared to Mulato chilis, the Anchos are less ripe, and their color is lighter. If you don’t mind a smoky flavor, you can use them as a replacement. The dish may taste earthier, but still delicious.

To use them in your recipe, you should soak them in hot water to rehydrate them. Remove the seeds and discard the skin. You can then cut or blend them to make a mildly spicy sauce.

5. Jalapeño Pepper

Jalapeño peppers are medium-sized peppers. They range from sweet and mild to very hot. The average is around 10,000 SHU, which generally places them in the medium-hot peppers group. 

This chili pepper has a grassy, fresh flavor compared to Poblanos’s rich, earthy taste. The spiciness makes up for the lightness in flavor. Just like Poblanos, they have thick walls, so it is possible to use them for stuffing after cutting them in half.

It is the perfect Poblano replacement in salsas and sauces. Chop your jalapenos and mix them with various vegetables to create a spicy salad. You can also try pickled jalapenos for extra flavor.

6. Chipotle

Chipotle is a dried Jalapeño pepper. Jalapenos have little fleshy insides, so they are not usually sun-dried. Instead, the drying process includes smoking, giving them a unique and instantly recognizable taste. They can be brown or black, depending on what color the Jalapenos were when dried.


Chipotle peppers are higher on the Scoville Heat Scale than Poblanos with 8,000 SHU. Considering the heat, you should use three times less Chipotle in your recipe than you would use Poblano peppers. A single pod is enough to spice up your meal. 

7. Serrano Pepper

Serrano peppers are slim with cylindrical pods. The color is usually green. Only when fully mature does the color become red. Serrano peppers are much hotter than Poblanos. The SHU goes over 20,000 SHU.

This chili pepper is among the most used ones in Mexico. Serrano peppers are a popular ingredient in making salads or pesto. However, they taste best when eaten raw and fresh.

Serranos are a small type of pepper. Therefore, if you need to replace Poblanos in recipes that require stuffing, there are better options than this pepper.

8. Banana Peppers

As the name suggests, banana peppers have a close resemblance to bananas. They are long, shiny, and yellow. When mature, they turn bright red. However, they are commonly eaten during their yellow stage.

There are sweet and hot varieties; the hot pepper is known as Hungarian Wax. Banana peppers are less hot than Poblanos, with a slightly tangy flavor. However, that could be enough to add spice to your meal.

In cooking, people often use banana peppers that have been pickled. They can also be chopped fresh and used in salads or as filling. Their size allows them to be stuffed, making them an excellent Poblano replacement.

9. Anaheim Peppers

Pile of green Anaheim chile peppers on a white background

Anaheim peppers are mildly hot chili peppers containing 2,500 SHU. Their taste resembles Poblanos; however, Anaheim peppers are slightly sweeter.

In their unripe stage, they are smooth and light green. When dried, they turn brownish-red. Anaheim peppers are long and slim, with thick walls and large cavities that make them excellent for stuffing. They are a great substitute for Poblanos in chile relleno recipes.

When dried, you should rehydrate them. The method for rehydration includes rinsing the pods in cold water and removing the seeds. Then soak the pods for at least 30 minutes. They can then be blended and included in your recipe.

10. Pepperoncini

Pepperoncini are mild chili peppers with 900 SHU. They cause a slight tingling in the mouth rather than a burning sensation, and their flavor is slightly sweet and vinegary. Pepperoncini are relatively small and can grow up to 3 inches (7 cm) in length.

People most commonly eat them pickled, although some individuals prefer them fresh. Pepperoncini add a crunchy texture to food. You can use them as a pizza topping. Moreover, you can slice or chop them to make salsa or salad or to add spice to your sandwich. Feel free to experiment with this type of pepper. 

11. Cubanelle

Cubanelles are mild peppers, also known as Italian frying peppers. On the Scoville Heat Scale, they measure less than 1,000 SHU. They are green when unripe, which makes them similar to Poblanos.

Cubanelle peppers are large with a similar shape to Poblanos. Although the walls of Cubanelle peppers are slightly thinner than Poblanos or bell peppers, they are still great for stuffing. Always bake your stuffed peppers for at least 15 minutes to make the pepper more tender and to melt the topping. You can also use them in salsa recipes or guacamole.

12. Chilaca Pepper

The Chilaca pepper is a long and narrow chili pepper. It is the name used to describe the fresh pepper, which is used fresh in salads and various salsas. It has a deep brown color that stems from the combination of green and red which exist simultaneously in the plant.

The more commonly used version of Chilaca is the Pasilla, a dried form of this pepper. You can use it to make salsas or moles. It is a mildly hot chili pepper with around 2,000 SHU.

Chilacas are often confused with Poblanos, and you might find their names used interchangeably in different markets. The reason could be the similar dark color of the pepper when dried or their similar length.

What Pepper Looks Like Poblano?

The pepper that looks the most like Poblanos is the Anaheim pepper. Poblano peppers are deep green and smooth peppers. Anaheim peppers are slightly lighter and longer than Poblanos. Both types are recognizable for their size and big cavities.  

Other peppers that look like Poblanos are bell peppers, jalapenos, and Mulato Isleno peppers. All the types mentioned above are green and smooth. Some are longer than others, but you can use all of them in some capacity to replace Poblanos.

Can I Substitute Green Chilies for Poblano Peppers?

You can substitute green chilies for Poblano peppers since Poblanos are a type of green chili. You can also use green chilies Anaheim, Jalapenos, Serrano, or Habanero. Some peppers are spicier than others, so you can adjust the number of peppers you use.

Green chilies are hot peppers in their immature stage. However, they differ in size, thickness, and hotness. For example, Poblanos are great for stuffing, whereas jalapenos are better chopped in sauces. Moreover, Poblanos are the mildest in heat, whereas Habaneros are notorious for their spiciness.

 Is Jalapeno Similar to Poblano?

Jalapenos are similar to Poblanos and belong to the same Capsicum annuum species of peppers. Jalapenos and Poblanos are chili peppers usually eaten in their green stage. Poblanos have a rich, earthy flavor, whereas jalapenos are grassy and fresh.

The difference is also noticeable in their size. Poblanos are long and wide peppers. Due to its size and thickness, the Poblano pepper is often stuffed. It also mixes well in soup, sauce, or tortilla stuffing. Jalapenos are thin and long. They have little meat and are best used in salsas.

In terms of heat, they are on different levels of the Scoville Heat Unit System. Jalapenos are much hotter than Poblanos. Poblano peppers have a mild level of spiciness with 2,000 SHU compared to Jalapenos’ 10,000 SHU. However, both chilis will add a desired kick to your meal to different extents.

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