Skip to Content

Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Red Chili Peppers

Ever been halfway through whipping up your favorite spicy dish and realized you’re fresh out of red chili peppers?

Yeah, it happens to the best of us.

Not everyone has a magic pantry with every ingredient under the sun. Good news, though!

There are some pretty awesome stand-ins that can save your dish without skipping a beat.

In this guide, we’ll share the top 5 substitutes for red chili peppers that keep the heat alive and add their unique twist.

Keep reading to find out how to keep your dishes fiery and full of flavor, even when the original star player is missing from your kitchen lineup.

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Red Chili Peppers

If you’re looking for a substitute for red chili peppers, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Here are the five best substitutes for red chili peppers:

1 – Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are a beloved staple of Mexican cuisine and have become increasingly popular in American cooking as well.

If you’re looking for an interesting way to add some complexity to your recipes, jalapenos are a great option.

They have an intense spicy flavor that starts out mild at the beginning but quickly accelerates to medium or even hot levels.

Their thin flesh has a crunch to it, making them incredibly versatile – you can eat them raw or cooked for dynamic flavor additions.

If you don’t have access to jalapenos, you can substitute red chilies instead – simply slice and mix them into your recipes for similar taste results.

For the adventurous eater out there, jalapeno peppers will provide all the flavor and spice you need.

2 – Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper that has a powerful, spicy taste and packs a strong punch of heat.

It originated in South America, though it is most commonly used in Asian cooking.

Depending on the variety and maturity, cayenne peppers can range from mild-moderate to very hot in terms of spiciness.

The peppers are typically long and slender with an oblong shape, but they also come in various sizes as well as colors – ranging from green to yellow and then later turning red.

Cayenne pepper is often used to add complexity to dishes, as its flavor profile includes both sweet notes and heat in one ingredient.

It’s no surprise that this unique flavor makes it easy to substitute for traditional red chili peppers when cooking; just keep in mind that cayenne peppers tend to be hotter than their less intense brethren.

3 – Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a versatile vegetables, with colors ranging from classic green to bold red and yellow.

Their unique flavor lends itself to a variety of dishes; it has a sweet taste with a slight peppery spice underneath.

The texture is slightly crunchy and firm, adding an extra burst of flavor to any meal.

If you can’t find red chili peppers for recipes like tacos or burritos, bell peppers make an optimal substitution.

They won’t add quite the same kick as traditional red chilies, but their flavor will help bring the dish together, and their color adds a nice visual contrast between salsas and meats.

Bell peppers are definitely worth experimenting with.

4 – Pasilla Peppers

Pasilla peppers are an integral part of Mexican cuisine, often used to enhance the flavor and texture of traditional dishes.

These peppers give a smoky-sweet flavor that is slightly earthy and very flavorful.

Pasilla peppers are mild in heat but still pack a bit of punch.

The thin-walled pod has wrinkled skin that ranges from blackish-brown to deep dark brown when it’s dried, making it almost black.

While pasilla peppers are quite unique, they can be substituted for red chili pepper when needed for recipes.

When using as a substitute for red Chili pepper, you may need to add more than called for because pasillas have less heat in comparison – making them the perfect substitution if you want some heat without too much fire.

5 – Ancho Peppers

Ancho chilies, which are dried Poblano peppers, make an excellent addition to many Mexican and Southwestern dishes.

They have a slightly smoky flavor with only a moderate amount of heat.

In comparison, the texture is quite leathery and smooth.

To substitute ancho chilies for red chili peppers, you would need to use four times as much ancho pepper as red chili peppers, as they aren’t as hot.

Once reconstituted by soaking them in warm water, they can be ground or pureed into a paste-like consistency and easily add that smoky flavor to your homemade dish.

The 5 BEST Substitutes for Red Chili Peppers

Out of red chili peppers? Discover the top five substitutes that can provide the same level of heat and flavor to spice up your culinary creations.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Bell Peppers
  • Pasilla Peppers
  • Ancho Peppers


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Red Chili Peppers
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating