7 Best Jalapeño Substitutes

The best jalapeño substitutes to use in appetizers and dinner dishes. From serrano peppers to cayenne powder, these are the best jalapeño alternatives to use today.

pickled chopped jalapeno peppers

Are you in the mood for some spicy goodness but you’ve run out of jalapenos? If you are, then you’re probably asking yourself, what can I use as a jalapeno pepper substitute?

Originating in Mexico, jalapenos are some of the most popular peppers out there.

These peppers are green and are typically two to three inches in length. At 5,000 on the Scoville scale, jalapenos are quite spicy to the uninitiated taste buds. However, their level of spiciness is average to the experienced spiciness aficionado.

Jalapenos are used in a variety of recipes. These include salads, soups, salsas, and even pizza toppings.

There are many alternatives to jalapeno peppers that range from fresh peppers to powders, to hot sauce. They include cayenne pepper powder, serrano peppers, bell peppers, Anaheim peppers, Fresno peppers, and smoked paprika powder.

Read on to find out more about each of these jalapeno pepper alternatives. 

Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cayenne Pepper

If your fridge has no peppers in it, jalapeno or otherwise, then cayenne pepper powder is a great substitute to use.

This zesty powder is very well-suited for adding the dose of spiciness you need to your recipe. 

In fact, cayenne peppers pack significantly more heat than jalapenos. Therefore, you should be careful when deciding on how much to add. 

The general rule of thumb is to use half a tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder for every jalapeno you would usually add to your recipe.

However, the fact that this pepper is powdered has its limitations. It simply isn’t an effective substitute for jalapenos in recipes that rely on the crunchy texture of chopped jalapenos.

Serrano Peppers

serrano peppers

Another substitute that’s commonly used to replace jalapenos is serrano peppers.

These peppers are highly similar to jalapenos in terms of color and shape, but there are also significant differences between them. Serrano peppers are longer and slimmer than jalapenos, and, most importantly, they pack a whole lot more heat.

You can control the level of spiciness by removing the rib and pith of your serranos.

Even better, serrano peppers are just as delightfully crunchy as jalapenos. This makes them the perfect substitute for recipes that include chopped jalapenos. 

The optimum rate of substitution is one serrano pepper for every two jalapenos.

Bell Peppers

chopped green bell peppers

Have you ever found a recipe that you’re itching to try, but you can’t deal with the spicy jalapenos it includes? Well, you can still enjoy that delicious recipe by replacing the jalapenos with bell peppers.

The mildness of bell peppers combined with their tasty crunchiness makes them a welcome addition to recipes such as that of quesadillas.

Bell peppers come in many colors, and each color has a unique taste. 

Red and yellow bell peppers have a sweet flavor. On the other hand, green bell peppers are closer to jalapenos in taste. Therefore, you should opt for green bell peppers as a substitute.

Since bell peppers are considerably larger than jalapenos, you should add half a bell pepper for every whole jalapeno you’d normally use.

Anaheim Peppers

green anaheim peppers

If you’re looking for a considerably less spicy alternative to jalapenos, then Anaheim peppers are an excellent choice.

These peppers offer a rather sweeter flavor than their jalapeno counterparts. This means that Anaheim peppers can be used to make milder, sweeter salsa. 

Another difference between jalapenos and Anaheim peppers is that the latter is quite larger than the former. That’ll come in handy when you’re making stuffed peppers because Anaheim peppers will be easier to handle.

Thanks to their crunchy texture, Anaheim peppers also work like a charm in recipes that would typically include chopped jalapenos, such as spicy grilled cheese sandwiches. 

These peppers are a few inches longer than jalapenos. So, you should add one Anaheim pepper for every one and a half jalapenos.

Hot Sauce

hot sauce bottle

Hot sauce makes for a great alternative for jalapenos when you’re in a pinch.

Since it’s a liquid, hot sauce isn’t the best substitute to use in recipes with chopped peppers. However, it’ll do just fine if you’re simply looking for a way to spice up your food a bit.

You should also note that not all types of hot sauce are created equal. 

Different hot sauces are made using different base ingredients. If you want to get a flavor that doesn’t stray too far from what jalapenos would give you, you should use jalapeno-based hot sauce.

Fresno Peppers

red organic fresno peppers

Fresno peppers are yet another excellent substitute for jalapenos, as these two peppers are similar in shape and size. However, there are plenty of differences between them, too.

For starters, Fresno peppers are significantly spicier than jalapenos. In addition to this, they have a crunchier texture and a distinct fruity flavor. 

The extra heat packed by Fresno peppers means that you should use one for every two jalapenos to maintain the same level of spiciness. 

The main difference between these two peppers is their color. Fresnos are bright red, while jalapenos are green. This means that using Fresno peppers instead of jalapenos could help you add a pop of color to your dishes.

Smoked Paprika Powder

smoked paprika

Cayenne pepper powder isn’t the only powdered alternative that you can use in place of jalapenos. Smoked paprika powder is also a viable option.

Unlike cayenne pepper powder, smoked paprika isn’t that spicy. However, it makes up for what it lacks in heat with the boost of color and flavor that it contributes to your recipe.

Another amazing feature of smoked paprika powder is the scintillating smell that it gives off. 

Generally, smoked paprika powder is great for making salsas and sauces. It can also be used as a topping for fried rice and seafood to give them an extra layer of flavor. 

Just add one tablespoon of powder for every jalapeno and you’re good to go.

How to Prepare Jalapeno Peppers Before Cooking

If you have some jalapeno peppers to spare, you’re going to want to know the right way to prepare them.

The first thing you should do is cut off the stems of your jalapenos.

Next, grab a knife and cut your jalapeno vertically in half, and get rid of the seeds by scraping them off with a spoon. You can also cut your jalapeno around the seeds, but this may lead to more wastage.

After you’ve removed the seeds, lay your jalapenos on a cutting board and slice them into sticks. You can then dice your jalapeno by clustering the sticks together and chopping them horizontally.

How to Store Jalapeno Peppers

You may also be wondering what the best storage method for jalapenos is. 

These are the ones we recommend:

In the Fridge

You can store jalapenos in your fridge and have them stay good for a week or so. If you’re going to refrigerate your jalapenos whole, put them in a sealed paper bag and place them in your fridge drawer.

Diced jalapenos should be kept in an airtight container. Make sure to wrap them in a paper towel inside the container.

In the Freezer

If you’re looking to store your jalapenos for an extended period, then freezing them is one way to go.

Jalapenos frozen in a resealable freezer bag will last forever. However, you’ll notice a dip in their quality after ten months or so.

As Pickled Jalapenos

Another great option for long-term jalapeno storage is to pickle them. Pickled jalapenos can last for up to two years. 

For that to happen, you need to store them in a tightly sealed glass jar and keep them in the fridge.

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