9 Best Substitute For Green Chilies

Green Chilies Substitute

Navigating through the world of flavors and spices, one often encounters the fiery delight of green chilies. These vibrant chilies, harvested before their complete ripening, are fundamental in many cuisines around the globe, bringing a unique blend of heat, flavor, and brightness to dishes. However, what happens when this crucial ingredient is not at hand, or the level of spiciness needs to be tweaked for certain taste buds? It becomes essential to find worthy substitutes that can deliver on all fronts.

This guide brings forward the best substitutes for green chilies, each offering a distinct balance of flavor and heat. From the milder bell peppers and banana peppers to the intense heat of habanero peppers or cayenne pepper, these substitutes ensure your dishes don’t lack that all-important kick. Moreover, it’s not just about replacing like-for-like heat; these alternatives also provide exciting flavors, making your culinary journey as enticing as ever. Let’s explore these vibrant alternatives and learn how to use them effectively in your cooking.

What are Green Chilies?

Green chilies refer to a broad category of chili peppers that are harvested before they fully ripen. They are a quintessential ingredient in many cuisines around the world, such as Mexican, Thai, Indian, and more. The ‘green’ aspect refers not only to their color but also to their flavor, which is typically more vegetal and less sweet than their mature, red counterparts. Green chilies can vary in heat levels, ranging from mildly hot to extremely fiery, making them a versatile ingredient in various dishes.

A Quick Pepper Pallette – Substitutes For Green Chilies

  • Bell Peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Serrano Peppers
  • Banana Peppers
  • Anaheim Peppers
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Habanero Peppers
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Best Substitutes For Green Chilies

Below, you will find an in-depth exploration of the substitutes for green chilies. Each substitute has its unique characteristics and best uses, so read on to decide which would be the most suitable for your culinary needs.

Bell Peppers

The first in line in our quest to find substitutes for green chilies are bell peppers. These are an excellent substitute, particularly for those who prefer a mild taste. Bell peppers, especially the green variety, have a similar crisp texture and bright, vegetal flavor that closely mimics green chilies.

In terms of heat, bell peppers are significantly milder. They register a perfect zero on the Scoville scale, the scale used to measure the spiciness of peppers. This makes them perfect for those who are sensitive to capsaicin, the chemical compound that gives chilies their heat.

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When it comes to using bell peppers as a substitute, they are as versatile as green chilies. You can dice them and add them to salsas, slice them for stir-fries, or roast them for a smoky flavor. The one thing to remember is that they might not provide the heat you are used to from green chilies. So, if you want to add a little heat, consider combining them with a hotter chili or a bit of hot sauce.


Next up are Jalapenos, a type of chili that originates from Mexico. They are larger and generally milder than many other chili varieties, but they can still pack a punch. Jalapenos are a great substitute for green chilies if you want to maintain some level of heat in your dish.

Jalapenos have a Scoville rating of 2,500 to 8,000, indicating a mild to moderate heat level. This heat can vary, however, depending on the specific pepper and how it’s prepared. For instance, removing the seeds and membranes from the jalapenos can reduce their heat.

When it comes to using Jalapenos as a substitute for green chilies, they are extremely versatile. They can be diced and used in salsas, sliced for garnishing, pickled for extra tanginess, or even stuffed and baked for a delicious appetizer. Their thick flesh and heat make them an excellent addition to a wide variety of dishes.

Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are a more heated substitute for green chilies. Originating from the mountainous regions of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo, Serrano peppers offer a crisp, fresh flavor with a notably spicy kick.

These peppers are smaller than jalapenos but pack a much greater heat, with a Scoville rating between 10,000 and 23,000. This makes them a good substitute if you’re looking to maintain the heat level of your dish when you don’t have green chilies on hand.

When using Serrano peppers, remember that they’re significantly hotter than most green chilies. They can be used similarly to other peppers, in salsas, stir-fries, and other dishes. However, due to their heat, they should be used sparingly and with caution.

Banana Peppers

Banana peppers, named for their long, curved shape and yellow color, are another excellent substitute for green chilies. They are mild peppers that offer a sweet, tangy taste that can add a different dimension to your dishes.

On the Scoville scale, banana peppers range from 0 to 500, making them a perfect choice for those who prefer milder flavors. They are often pickled and used in sandwiches, salads, or pizzas. Their sweet and tangy flavor also makes them an excellent addition to salsas and sauces, where they can add a bit of zest without overwhelming heat.

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When using banana peppers, keep in mind their unique flavor profile. While they won’t offer the heat of green chilies, they can add an interesting twist to your dishes with their tanginess.

Anaheim Peppers

Anaheim peppers, also known as California chili or Magdalena, offer a moderate heat level and a sweet, crisp flavor. They’re named after the city of Anaheim in California, where they were popularly grown.

Anaheim peppers offer a heat level of 500 to 2,500 on the Scoville scale. They’re a good choice if you’re looking for a moderate level of heat without the intense burn that some other chili varieties provide.

These peppers are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. They can be roasted and peeled, then added to soups, stews, or casseroles. They’re also excellent for stuffing due to their size, making them a popular choice for dishes like chili rellenos.

Poblano Peppers

If you are looking for a chili that is mildly hot and has a distinctive flavor, then poblano peppers are a great substitute for green chilies. These are larger, darker-colored peppers that offer a rich and somewhat earthy flavor.

Poblano peppers score between 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat units, which makes them milder than most green chilies. They are versatile and can be used in a range of dishes, including soups, stews, and sauces.

Roasting poblano peppers enhance their flavor, making them an excellent choice for recipes that call for green chilies. However, due to their size, they are also perfect for stuffing, as in the classic dish chiles rellenos.

Cayenne Pepper

If you’re out of green chilies and don’t have any fresh peppers on hand, cayenne pepper, a ground spice, can serve as a useful substitute. Cayenne pepper is made from dried and ground chili peppers, and it can add a significant amount of heat to your dishes.

Cayenne pepper has a Scoville rating of 30,000 to 50,000 units, making it significantly hotter than most green chilies. Therefore, you should use it sparingly, especially if you or your guests are sensitive to spicy foods.

Cayenne pepper can be added directly to recipes in small amounts to add heat without significantly changing the overall flavor profile of the dish. It’s a versatile spice that can be used in nearly any dish that calls for green chilies, from soups and stews to marinades and sauces.

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Habanero Peppers

For those who enjoy a serious kick, habanero peppers are a fiery substitute for green chilies. Originating from the Amazon region and now widely grown in Mexico, these peppers are small but pack a serious punch in terms of heat.

On the Scoville scale, habaneros range from 100,000 to 350,000 units, making them one of the hottest peppers available. They offer a fruity, citrus-like flavor and an intense, lingering heat.

Habaneros can be used in any dish where you’d use green chilies, but caution is advised due to their high heat level. They work exceptionally well in salsas, marinades, and hot sauces, where their heat and unique flavor can truly shine.

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed red pepper flakes, commonly used as a pizza topping, can also be used as a substitute for green chilies in certain dishes. This mix usually contains a variety of peppers, including cayenne, which lends a universal heat that works in a wide array of recipes.

Crushed red pepper flakes can range from 15,000 to 45,000 on the Scoville scale, depending on the mix. They can provide a nice heat to dishes, but they lack the fresh, bright flavor that green chilies or fresh pepper substitutes can provide.

This substitute is best used in dishes that require heat more than the specific flavor of green chilies. Sprinkle them into soups, stews, or pasta dishes as needed to reach your desired level of heat.

Substitutes for Green Chilies: Nutritional Profile

Here’s a brief look at the nutritional profile for ¼ cup of some of these green chili substitutes:

SubstituteGlutenCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Bell PeppersGluten-free1503.61.20.7
Serrano PeppersGluten-free3207.62.81.6
Banana PeppersGluten-free902.20.90.4
Anaheim PeppersGluten-free2004.81.61
Poblano PeppersGluten-free13031.10.5
Cayenne PepperGluten-free17131.40.6
Habanero PeppersGluten-free1503.71.30.6
Crushed Red Pepper FlakesGluten-free15131.60.6

(Note: This table presents an average nutritional profile. Actual values can vary.)

Final Thoughts

Finding substitutes for green chilies doesn’t have to be a daunting task. As you can see, there are numerous options available, each with its own unique flavor profile and heat level. Whether you’re looking for a similar heat, a milder option, or even a fiercer kick, this guide offers suitable options to keep your dishes flavorful and exciting.

Remember, though, that the heat of a chili is not just about Scoville units. It’s about the balance of flavors in your dish. So, feel free to experiment and find what works best for you and your palate. With a bit of creativity and experimentation, you’ll find that the world of chilies – and their substitutes – is as diverse and colorful as the cuisines they flavor. Happy cooking!

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