Here are 15 easy ways to substitute for green chiles, whether you need a substitute for the fresh version or canned!
Chile peppers! Some people love them; some people hate them, but they are an important component of many of our favorite dishes. From mild to spicy, these flavorful veggies add depth to soups, sandwiches, salsas, and more.
Green chiles, in particular, are often found in recipes for enchiladas, white chili, and other Mexican and Tex Mex dishes as well as Thai and Indian cuisine.
The term “green chili” is actually a catch-all for multiple varieties of green peppers. If your recipe calls for a specific pepper and you don’t have it on hand or your grocery store is out of stock, there are several easy ways too substitute. You can also make substitutions to control the spice level of your dish.
So, here are several simple ways to substitute for green chiles, fresh or canned.
Common Substitutes for Fresh Green Chiles
Green peppers are typically less spicy than red peppers and the larger the pepper, the more mild the flavor.
These peppers can range from a smokey, medium-hot taste to a bright, hot flavor. Below are several green chili substitutions with information on their level of spice and the dishes they are best suited for.
NOTE: If you want to lower the spice level of a pepper, remove the seeds and ribs before cooking. You can also add dairy like yogurt and sour cream or acids like lime juice, tomato sauce and vinegar.
Banana peppers have a mild, tangy taste, great for making pickles and salsa. They are incredibly easy to grow if you like to garden. Use these to substitute for other green chilis when you want mild heat and don’t mind a bright green color in your dish.
Anaheim peppers are great for grilling, roasting and cooking, but can also be enjoyed raw. They make a great substitution for bell peppers and other green chilis in any of these applications. Their mild heat also makes them perfect for salsas and chili relleno.
Poblano Pepper/Pasilla Pepper
Poblanos are one of the most popular peppers from Mexico. In their dried form, they are also called ancho chilis. Poblanos have a dark green color and mild heat.
Their rich flavor makes them great for stuffed pepper recipes and in soups and stews. These peppers are also packed with vitamins like A and B2, great for your health!
Bell Peppers have a very mild, “grassy” taste and turn sweet when roasted. These green veggies might not work great in salsas, but can substitute well in recipes that call for baked, roasted or grilled green chilis.
Your dish will have less spice as they have no heat, but you can add in some red pepper flakes, chili powder or cayenne pepper to kick it up a notch.
Green Fresno Pepper
Green Fresno peppers are picked before they are fully ripe. When grown to completion, they are red with much more spice. In their immature state, they work really well as a garnish for Mexican dishes and make great pickles.
With their mild heat, they can also be used in salsas, soups, stews, casseroles and any recipe that calls for green chilis.
Jalapenos are a relatively spicy pepper, and for some it may outpace their tolerance level. They are, however, considered medium to mild in heat, especially with their ribs and seeds removed.
Jalapenos are common in salsas, dips, casseroles and more. Jalapenos work well as a substitute for other green chilis when the recipe is meant to be moderately spicy.
Serrano peppers are about 3 times as hot as jalapenos. Use these as a green chili substitute when you want some serious heat in your dish. Serrano peppers work well in salsas, relishes, sauces and to make hot sauce. They also have a great flavor when roasted and can be used as a garnish.
Thai Chili Peppers
Thai chili peppers are pretty darn hot. These are typically used in Thai cuisine, but can be substituted for other green chilis if you’re prepared for a lot of heat and don’t mind their small size.
Typically, green Thai chili peppers are used in soups, curries, and stir fry dishes with meat. They have a subtle flavor, but a pretty big kick of heat!
If you aren’t able to find a fresh vegetable substitute for green chiles, you can always add a kick of heat and flavor by using dried and powdered products. The options below can stand in for green chilis if you don’t mind losing some texture and volume in your dish.
Cayenne pepper is made from dried and ground red chili peppers from the Capsicum annuum family. These chilis have moderate heat, that becomes pretty concentrate when reduced down to a powder. Use in moderation to ensure it doesn’t overpower your dish.
1/8 teaspoon equals about one chopped fresh chili.
Chili powder has a deep, smoky flavor and moderate heat. This popular seasoning is blended from a variety of aromatic and savory spices and the level of heat depends on the amount of cayenne included.
It is often used to make chili recipes (go figure), but is also used to flavor a multitude of Mexican and Tex Mex dishes.
Half a teaspoon equals about one chopped fresh chili.
Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes are made from a mix of peppers from the capsicum annum family like bell peppers, jalapenos and Anaheim peppers. This spice blend has a medium to low heat and can be used to flavor soups, sauces, salsas, casseroles and more if you don’t have any fresh chiles on hand.
One teaspoon of red pepper flakes equals one small chile.
How to Substitute for Canned Green Chiles
If you need a substitute for a can of diced green chilies, you can make your own! All you need is any chili substitute from above that suits your spice level and some salt (though Anaheim chilis are what’s typically used in stores).
A 4 oz can of diced green chiles equals about 4-5 peppers of medium size. Recipe instructions are below:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Wash peppers and pat dry. Cut peppers in half, lengthwise and remove the seeds.
Next, arrange peppers on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Roast peppers in the oven for 15-20 minutes so they have a little bit of charring but aren’t burnt.
Once done, remove the peppers and place them in a medium size bowl. Cover with a lid or towel to allow them to sweat (about 15 minutes). This will loosen up the skins so they can be easily peeled and removed.
After the skins are removed, dice the chili peppers into bite-sized pieces and store in a mason jar for 3-5 days. You can also can your green chiles to preserve them longer or pop them into the freezer in a Ziploc bag.
If you’re in a pinch, you can also substitute a can of green chiles with Salsa verde. Your dish will likely have more heat and liquid content and less texture, so adjust your other flavors and ingredient amounts accordingly.
Recipes with Green Chiles
Here are some simple and delicious recipes that call for green chiles. Use these to test out your homemade canned green chiles or any of the other ways to substitute for green chiles, above!