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The 5 Best Substitutes for Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers are medium-sized peppers that grow in Mexico.

They have a unique smoky flavor and are often used in Mexican cuisine.

The peppers are dark green, turning a bright red color when they ripen.

When a poblano pepper is dried, it becomes an ancho pepper.

Poblano peppers can be difficult to find outside Mexico, so it is important to consider alternatives for this ingredient when cooking.

Several options are available that produce similar flavors, with some being better than others depending on your dish.

This chili pepper is known for its smoky flavor, so it’s important to consider that when looking at substitutes.

If you want an ingredient that adds heat to your dish, you will need to choose something else.

What is Poblano Pepper?

what is poblano pepper

Poblano peppers are mild chilies that are typically used in Mexican cuisine.

These peppers are about four inches long and roughly two inches wide, with a narrow neck and dark green to blackish-green skin.

The pepper is native to the Mexican state of Puebla, where it grows in abundance.

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Poblano peppers are available throughout the year in most American supermarkets, but they are typically most abundant during the autumn and winter months.

The poblano pepper has a smooth texture and sweet taste, often roasted, sautéed, stuffed, or baked.

The pepper is frequently used in traditional Mexican recipes such as Chiles Rellenos and mole.

Once dried, poblano peppers take on a wrinkled and shriveled appearance, making the skin quite dark.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Poblano Pepper

If you’re looking for a substitute for poblano peppers, here are five options we recommend:

1 – Habanero Powder

habanero powder

The next substitute you can use is raw habanero powder.

We recommend this option because you may find it in most stores, which is not true for all of the suggestions on this list.

This powder is made by grinding dried habanero peppers and is typically used in Mexican cuisine.

The most popular use for this powder is in salsa.

Not only will it add heat to your dish, but it also has a distinctive citrus flavor that compliments the other flavors in your meal.

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We recommend adding it near the end of cooking time so you can enjoy the heat and taste without having it affect the texture of your food.

2 – Serrano Pepper

serrano pepper

The next substitute for poblano pepper is the serrano pepper.

This chili has a similar flavor to the poblano, but it is an entirely different plant species.

It’s typically grown in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacan, but it also grows in Texas, which is convenient if you’re missing your local ingredients.

The serrano pepper is typically about two inches long and one inch wide.

It has thin green skin, but it may also have shades of red or yellow.

If you’re looking to add heat to your dish, this pepper is the way to go.

It’s slightly spicier than a jalapeno pepper.

One downside is that it’s a little bitter, which is why you may want to remove the seeds before using this pepper in your meal.

3 – Ancho Chile Powder

ancho chile powder

Another great substitute for poblano peppers is chile powder.

We recommend using ancho chili powder, which comes from dried poblano peppers smoked and then dried.

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It’s typically mild but very flavorful, so it can add a lot of taste to your dish without being overwhelming.

You may notice this powder because it takes on a deep red color compared to the bright green of fresh poblanos.

Ancho chili powder can be used in various recipes and dishes, including soups, sauces, and marinades.

4 – Banana Pepper

banana pepper

Of course, we can’t forget about the banana pepper.

This is a great substitute because it’s available in both fresh and dried form, so you’ll have many options to choose from.

Fresh banana peppers are much milder than dried ones, so we recommend using the dried variety if you’re looking for a little extra kick.

If you’re looking to use this pepper in your dish, it’s important to note that the seeds are very spicy.

So if you want a little extra kick without too much heat, remove the seeds before cooking.

5 – Anaheim Pepper

anaheim pepper

Last but not least, we recommend using Anaheim peppers as a substitute for poblano pepper.

This is another chili that’s widely available and has a very similar flavor to the poblano pepper.

Anaheim peppers are typically long and thin, with smooth skin in shades of green or red.

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These peppers are milder than the serrano pepper, but they still pack a good amount of heat.

When shopping for fresh Anaheim peppers, you may find them labeled as ‘California chili’, another name for this particular type of pepper.


Poblano peppers are a staple in many Mexican dishes, so it’s important to know how to substitute them when needed.

If you can’t find poblano peppers at your local grocery store or farmer’s market, these five alternatives will give you a similar result without sacrificing flavor.

Each of these peppers has a distinct flavor, so you’ll have to experiment to find the right one for your recipe.

You can also use various combinations of them to achieve the perfect taste.

If using fresh peppers, be sure to remove the seeds before cooking, so you don’t overload your dish with too much heat.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Poblano Peppers

The 5 Best Substitutes for Poblano Peppers
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Habanero Powder
  • Serrano Pepper
  • Ancho Chile Powder
  • Banana Pepper
  • Anaheim Pepper


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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