7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

Poblano peppers are smaller and very smokey peppers that are often used for cooking in Mexican dishes. This is a pepper that is not often found outside Mexico, which makes them very sought-after in other parts of the world.

If you are struggling to find a poblano pepper, then you have probably started thinking about some suitable replacements. Luckily, there are plenty that you can find out there, both in terms of flavor, texture and ease with which you can cook them.

So where can you find great substitutes for poblano peppers? How spicy do they need to be? How many will you have to add or subtract for your recipe? Well, we have compiled a list of some of the best poblano pepper alternatives that will work well in your recipe.

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

Poblano Peppers – The Lowdown

This is a small type of pepper, often around 2 inches wide and 4 inches long. It is often used in a lot of Mexican cuisines and is not that spicy.

This type of pepper can be bought throughout the year in some larger American supermarkets, but if you are going to be shopping for this one in a whole foods market, then you will need to go looking around autumn and winter.

This pepper has a very smooth texture like a lot of other peppers. It will develop a very sweet taste when it is cooked. It can be grilled, roasted, boiled or stuffed with rice or pasta. This pepper can also be dried, at which point it becomes much darker and more shriveled.

However, as we have mentioned above, this pepper is quite region specific, and it might be hard to get some authentic poblano peppers for your recipe. This is why it will be useful to gather some substitutes. Here are just a few that you can get for your next recipe.

Best Poblano Pepper Substitutes

1. Habanero Powder

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

This first option is great simply because this pepper powder is so widely available. It is made from grinding up Habanero peppers, which are very spicy and will help you to liven up any dish.

This is very hot and is used in salsas, having a particularly citrusy aftertaste. This also has the same subtle spice levels as poblano peppers, which is why it is often added to various milder Mexican dishes such as tacos and quesadillas.

2. Serrano Pepper

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

This next pepper is serrano, which is another greenish pepper that is very thin, measuring about 4 inches wide and 2 inches in diameter. If you like your dish with plenty of heat, then adding this pepper will certainly spice things up a little, as it is much hotter than jalapenos.

However, one of the drawbacks of this pepper is that it has a touch of bitterness to it, which is why it is important to make sure that you scrape out the seeds before use, as this will reduce the flavor to manageable levels.

3. Ancho Chili Powder

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

So, this is basically poblano peppers dried out until they no longer resemble the original. The fact that they’ve been dried out means that they have far less heat and a lot more flavor. This is great for adding those earthy tones to your dish.

This pepper will usually be a very dark red in contrast to the light green that you would get from a ripe poblano pepper. This type of pepper can be used in many dishes including soups and marinades, as it will not overwhelm the flavor of your original dish.

4. Banana Pepper

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

This type of pepper is extremely mild and has lush fruity overtones that will not overwhelm the flavor of your meal. This pepper is very spicy, especially when you leave the seeds in. If you want something with a little kick but not too much spice, then scrape the seeds out beforehand.

You can always dry these peppers out if you want to reduce the spiciness even further. These peppers are very pliable and you can use them in a whole host of recipes, including salads, soups and stews.

5. Anaheim Pepper

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

This is another pepper that superficially looks very similar to the poblano, being very long and having a narrower diameter. This is a very smooth pepper that you can roast or grill, giving it those distinctive brown grill marks that you would more commonly find on meat.

This pepper is a very mild one, which is ideal if you do not want your food to get too spicy. These are also called ‘California peppers’, so you might need to keep an eye out for these when you are at your local whole foods market.

6. Bell Pepper

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

This next pepper is not spicy at all, so if you really want to make a milder dish that still includes pepper, then swap out your poblano with bell pepper.

These peppers come in a variety of different colors, each one possessing a slightly different flavor from the last one. For example, yellow bell peppers are very sweet, whereas green bell peppers are more earthy.

These peppers are very thick, which makes them perfect for stuffing. You can fill them up with steaming hot rice or pasta if you want. You can also eat them raw if you make sure to scrape the seeds out first.

7. Cubanelle Peppers

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

Finally, we have a pepper that is light on the tongue and will not overwhelm your palate with too much spice. They are slightly thinner than poblano peppers, which might make them tricky to stuff.

However, you can still slice bell peppers up and add them to any salsa or taco dish that you want.

This is also a pepper that can be enjoyed raw or cooked. It is much longer than a poblano, coming in a green color when it is young before ripening into a deep and rich red color. These can measure anywhere between 100 and 1000 on the Scoville scale.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Poblano Peppers Very Spicy?

This pepper is considered very mild and appears quite low on the Scoville scale. It is perfect for anyone who likes a bit of a kick to their food but does not want it to be overwhelmed with a spicey aftertaste.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Poblano Peppers?

This pepper has been shown to decrease pain and inflammation in the joints. It also has very high levels of vitamins A and C, which makes them great for eye and skin health.

What Is The Flavor Profile Of Poblano Peppers?

This pepper has been described as having a very smoky flavor with hints of sweetness and fruitiness. They are very rich in color, which makes them great for adding to plain-looking dishes.


We hope that our guide to poblano peppers substitutes has helped you decide which is the best one for your dish. 

This is a very mild pepper, so you can either add something more spicy to your recipe or you can opt for something even milder, such as a bell pepper. All of the peppers listed above are also more widely available than poblano peppers.

7 Poblano Pepper Substitutes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


Prep time


Cooking time






  • Habanero Powder

  • Serrano Pepper

  • Ancho Chili Powder

  • Banana Pepper

  • Anaheim Pepper

  • Bell Pepper

  • Cubanelle Peppers


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy

Recipe Video

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