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18 Hottest Jalapeno Substitute That Will Numb Your Taste Buds

Jalapeno peppers have a bright flavor and are used in a wide variety of recipes. It can be used as a topping in drinks and also in the most classic fresh salsa and guacamole.

With all the different varieties of peppers, there are a few good ones that you can use as a substitute for jalapeño peppers. 

You can take a look at the list we have come up with.

  1. Poblano Pepper
  2. Serrano Pepper
  3. Fresno Pepper
  4. Anaheim Pepper
  5. Banana Pepper
  6. Bell Pepper
  7. Habanero Pepper
  8. Cubanelle Pepper
  9. Fresh Cayenne Pepper

Let’s take a look at each of them. But first, let’s understand a bit more about this spicy ingredient.

18 Best Substitute For Jalapeno

Jalapeno Substitute 

Jalapeño (ha-la-PEEN-yo) peppers belong to the family of capsicum annum, a species of the plant genus Capsicum. Capsicum is abundant in southern North America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. [Source]

It is quite common to see farmers of jalapeños in California and throughout the American Southwest. 

It is grassier than other kinds of pepper. Most of these peppers are colored deep green, although there are red, purple, and other colors when they ripen. They typically grow from 2 to 3 inches long. [Source]

The heat range of jalapeños ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units, which is almost similar to the heat range of Fresno peppers, which is at 2,500-10,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). But jalapeño peppers are not as hot as cayenne peppers, which are at 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. [Source]

We recommend poblano peppers as one of the best jalapenos as they are also moderately spicy

Poblano Pepper

poblano peppers

Poblano peppers are moderately spicy and an ideal substitute for jalapeño peppers. They have 1000-1,500 SHU. They have a dark green color.

You can use them in curry dishes and soups. There are a lot of things that you can do with poblano peppers – fried, stuffed, grilled, or charred – they have thick skin that can withstand high temperatures and extended cooking times.

If you want to get the level of heat of jalapeños, but you don’t want to make the dish extremely spicy, add gradually while cooking. You can adjust according to your preference. You use poblano peppers instead of jalapeños in your grilled, stuffed, or fried dishes.

Serrano Pepper

Serrano peppers add more heat to your dishes without altering the taste and flavor. They have the same flavor as jalapeño peppers, only hotter, registering 10,000-30,000 SHU. They are named after the mountain edges in Mexico.

Unripe serrano peppers are green, and they turn into dark red or brown as they ripen. The right technique is to cook them first, then remove the skin, before adding them to your dishes.

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Serrano peppers are digested easily because they have thin skin. You can add them to your salads and salsa recipes.

Fresno Pepper

Fresno Pepper

Fresno peppers almost have the same heat level as jalapeño, only with a slightly different flavor. It has a smoky flavor, fruity aroma, and crispy texture. You can use them in recipes where the taste of the jalapeños can be changed without affecting the overall flavor of the dish.

Green Fresno peppers are less spicy and have an earthier flavor. Ripe Fresno peppers are often mistaken for red jalapeños.

Fresno has a maximum heat index of 10,000 SHU. The ideal substitution ratio is 1:1.

Anaheim Pepper

Anaheim peppers have a fruity, peppery flavor. They are crunchy when raw. When cooked they develop a smoky, tart flavor.

They have thick walls, making them ideal for stuffing. Anaheim belongs to the group of peppers with moderate heat, having a heat index of 500-2,500 SHU.

They are ideal substitutes for jalapeños in soups, stews, and enchiladas. They have the same green hue as jalapeños. The ideal ratio is 1:1.

Banana Pepper

Banana Peppers

Banana peppers are one of the non-spicy alternatives to jalapeño peppers. Also called yellow wax pepper, they are one of the mildest peppers available. Unripe banana peppers are green in color, and they turn yellow when ripe.

Their heat level ranges from 0 to 50 SHU. You can use them as jalapeño substitutes in recipes where tanginess and intense heat are not a requirement. Examples are fritters, pizza toppings, soups, and garnishes, among others.

Bell Pepper

Another non-spicy substitute for jalapeño peppers is bell peppers. They are not as spicy as jalapeños, but they can provide the same texture to your dishes.

They actually have a score of zero units on the Scoville scale. They’re the mildest alternative to jalapeño. They have a sweet, roasted flavor.

You can stuff them, grill, or roast them, and they’ll still have the same crunchy texture of jalapeños. You can also add them as toppings to your pizza or add to your sandwiches.

A roasted bell pepper drizzled with olive oil serves well on top of a dry bruschetta. However, they are not ideal to use in salads or salsa to replace jalapeños.

Habanero Pepper

Habanero Pepper

Habanero peppers are extremely hot, registering 300,000 to 445,000 SHU. They come in bright green or orange in color.

Habanero peppers are the perfect substitute for jalapeño peppers in fruit-based sauces, salsas, and nachos. They have a tropical and fruity flavor.

Being more than 70 times spicier than jalapeños, they will be a good addition to dishes that you want to be spicier.

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Our recommendation is to use only a small amount of habaneros in your recipe, depending on the level of heat you want to give your dishes. Removing the seeds and membranes make them a little milder.

Cubanelle Pepper

Cubanelle peppers are also called Cuban peppers. They are a sweeter alternative to jalapeños. They are usually light yellow or green, but when ripe they turn red. They have a heat level of 1,000 SHU.

They will make a good substitution in salads of mixed greens, and you can also use them as pizza toppings. Cubanelle peppers are more slender than jalapeño peppers, and they make a great addition to your stuffing for meat or to any vegetable dish.

Fresh Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne peppers are easily identified by their brilliantly red color and curled tip. Raw cayenne peppers are a good substitute for jalapeños. They have a heat level higher than jalapeños, getting a reading of 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville scale. For every 1 part of jalapeño pepper in your recipe, use ½ part of fresh cayenne pepper.

When cooked, it becomes spicier. It has a sweet, smoky flavor. Add them to your salsa to add a crunchy element. You can also add them to your enchilada sauces, stew recipes, and flavor rubs.

Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cayenne pepper powder has a heat reading of 50,000 SHU, making it roughly 12 times hotter than jalapeños. If you can tolerate heat in your dishes, you can add this powder to many recipes.

Our recommendation is to use ½ tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder for every 1 jalapeño pepper in the recipe. You can increase the amount if you want your food spicier. The key is to add gradually.

For added texture, you can mix bell peppers with cayenne pepper powder in your recipes.

Green Chillies

Green Chillies

Green chillies also make a good replacement for jalapeños if you run out of the ingredient. They have a similar chili-like flavor and aroma, and appealing green color.

Chili Powder

Chile or chili powder is another fiery replacement for jalapeño pepper when making sauces, stews, and soups. However, do not add them to your salads or use them as toppings in your pizzas.

Smoked Paprika Powder


Smoked paprika has a heat level score of 25 to 1,000 SHU. It is a mix of different kinds of dried peppers. The paprika powder adds a soft and sweet red pepper flavor and color to your dishes.

You can add them to your hot sauces and salsas. You can also sprinkle it over spiced eggs or use it to enhance meat rubs.

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Hot Sauce

Hot sauce or more popularly known as Tabasco sauce is a combination of Tabasco pepper, salt, and vinegar. It is an excellent replacement for jalapeños in recipes where it is used as a wet flavoring.

Hot sauces have the same warmth profile as jalapeños and their flavors are almost the same.

You can add hot sauce to your salsas or add a few drops to your pizza to make it spicy. Mix hot sauce with other milder peppers like Anaheim peppers or bell peppers for a spicier flavor in your dishes than jalapeño peppers.

Pickled Jalapenos


If your local supermarket doesn’t have fresh jalapeños, you might be able to find pickled jalapeños, which can also be a good substitute. For one, it minimizes your prep time when cooking.

Pickled jalapeños leave a tangy and vinegary flavor to your dishes. The earthy green flavor of fresh jalapeños is replaced with a sharp taste when they are pickled.

These are milder than the fresh variety since they are diced before adding the pickling solution, which essentially dissolves the capsaicin. They have a score of 2,500-5,000 SHU. You can add them to your salads, salsas, nachos, and sandwiches, and use them as toppings on your pizza.

When using pickled jalapeños, be careful when adding salt to your dish.

Red Pepper Flakes

You might have red pepper flakes in your pantry, but did you know that you can also use them as a substitute for jalapeño peppers? People who love their meals spicier, add red pepper flakes to their food. They have a heat level of 30,000-35,000 SHU.

It is best to start with 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, then add according to the level of spiciness you can tolerate. You can also use ½ part of red pepper flakes for every 1 part of jalapeño peppers in your recipe.



If you are looking for a milder substitute for jalapeño peppers, you can try pepperoncini. They have a heat level reading of 100-600 SHU.

Though they are commonly used in the United States, they are also called Tuscan peppers and are a staple in Italian cuisine.

They are readily available fresh or in pickled jars in supermarkets.

Sichuan Pepper

If you are one of those people who experience a few ill effects from eating dishes with jalapeño peppers, like upset stomach, you might want to try Sichuan pepper.

This is a Chinese flower pepper and is usually used for its medicinal properties for stomach upset. Try preparing Sichuan pepper chicken noodles at home and you might like this alternative.