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What Is The Best Substitute For Jalapeno? Here Are The Top 10

The best substitute for Jalapeno: Fresno, Serrano, Anaheim, Cayenne powder, etc. Each pepper will vary greatly in its spicy level and the initial taste.

What Is The Best Substitute For Jalapeno Here Are The Top 10


Jalapeno is an indispensable ingredient in salsas; it adds a strong flavor to the food and pushes up the smell. Imagine that you are making the salsas in joyfulness, and suddenly you find that the Jalapeno is over. In this situation, a substitute for Jalapeno is very urgent.

Or if you (or you children) can’t stand its heat, what can you do? We will give out a list of suggestions that assists you in finding the best alternative for your meal.

What Part Of The Jalapeno Is Spicy? 

As a matter of fact, pepper consists of a chemical substance called Capsaicin – which causes the spiciness in this fruit. Capsaicin is largely accumulated in the seeds and the stalks. Under normal conditions, the substance exists in the form of oil and is water-resistant. That is why it is no use drinking a lot of water when digesting a piece of fiery chili. 

Additionally, the proportion of this natural substance is measured in SHU ( Scoville Heat Unit ). The Jalapeno is ranked between 2,500 and 8,000 SHU, which is quite high. If super spicy food is not your favorite, here is the alternative list, including the less spicy substitute for Jalapeno.

Best Substitute For Jalapeno Pepper – 10 Ideas

1. Fresno pepper

Fresno pepper is regarded as the most similar substitute for Jalapeno. In terms of appearance, the Fresno is a little bigger than the Jalapeno; it has a conical shape of 2-3 inches in length and 3 inches in width. The most apparent difference between the two chilies is the texture; the Fresno is thinner than the Jalapeno.

Besides, this chili is tastier and fruitier than the Jalapeno. When it comes to the spiciness, Fresno is slightly hotter than the other as its SHU ranges from 2,500 – to 10,000.

Similar to the Jalapeno, Fresno provides you with great sources of vitamin B, vitamin C, and magnesium, which in return help reduce cholesterol. This sub is usually mixed in ceviche, salsa, or even eaten with white rice. If it is not available in your kitchen, you can use the Fresno chili substitute that has the equivalent SHU value.

Fresno pepper

2. Serrano Peppers

This is also one of the closest substitutes for Jalapeno peppers. The biggest difference lies in its appearance; Serrano will remain green for the whole process of its lifetime. Moreover, its wall is also thinner than the Jalapeno.

In comparison with the Jalapeno, Serrano is in a higher level of spiciness. Its SHU falls between 10,000 – to 23,000, nearly four times compared to the Jalapeno. 

Not only does the Serrano bring about the premium chili flavor, but it also has a lot of health benefits. In 105 mg powder, nearly 51% is vitamin C, 31% is vitamin B6, and other minerals such as copper and potassium. Those nutrients help ease the pain and prevent cancer. Serrano will be best served with salsas and sauces.

Serrano Peppers

3. Anaheim Pepper

Another great stand-in on this list is the Anaheim pepper. This plant is partly different from the Jalapeno both in terms of appearance and smell. Unlike Fresno, Anaheim’s texture is thicker and crispier with a sweeter tone than the Jalapeno.

Besides, its heat is not as high as the Jalapeno because it is ranked only 500-2,500 SHU. If you first practice eating chili, Anaheim could be a good start. 

According to the nutrition facts, 86% of Anaheim is vitamin C, 4,7% is vitamin A, and 4% is dietary fiber. You can improve your metabolism and potassium thanks to this nutritious fruit. In addition, Anaheim can be mixed in salsa, nachos, and soups.

Anaheim Pepper

4. Poblano Pepper

Poblano is also a mild alternative to the Jalapeno pepper. Its external outgoing is very distinctive from other chilies. The Poblano’s heart shape is so big that we can put rice or cheese on it.

Furthermore, the Poblano is smokier and milder than the Jalapeno, with a SHU level of 1,000 – 1,500. In 150 grams of Poblano, there are 7 gram of carbs, 134% of the daily value of vitamin C and 6% of the recommended daily intake of Potassium. These nutrients can ease the pain and improve the immune system properly.

To have the best flavor, it can be served with rice or grated cheddar.

Poblano Pepper

5. Cayenne Pepper Powder

If you are in a hurry, but your fridge is out of Jalapeno, cayenne pepper powder will be an instant substitute for Jalapeno powder. This powder is grilled from the red chilies called Cayenne; it is used as a seasoning for spicy dishes. 

However, you will miss the natural crispy texture when utilizing this powder. Cayenne powder is extremely high in SHU, ranging from 30,000 to 50,000, increasing nearly tenfold, compared to the Jalapeno. 

Besides its excessive heat, Cayenne is also rich in carbs and vitamins A and B6. A high proportion of carbs can moderate blood pressure and improve digestion. Moreover, Cayenne powder is in tune with many dishes, from Mexican to Indian cuisines. It can heat the fried chicken, enchilada sauce, or mac n’ cheese.

Cayenne Pepper Powder

6. Bell Peppers

Here comes a special alternative for Jalapeno due to its sweet and non-spicy flavor. Some people may not consider it on the list, but it will be an ideal solution for anyone that doesn’t like spicy food. 

As the name illustrates, the bell pepper looks like a big green bell, and it will turn yellow and red when it ripes. Bell pepper shares the crunchiness and thick texture with the Jalapeno, but its SHU is nearly zero.

This bell-shaped fruit is made up mainly of carbs (including glucose and fructose) and water; that is the reason why it tastes sweet and crunchy. Eating bell pepper will activate the antioxidants and brighten your eyes.

Bell peppers can be an ingredient for various cuisines such as roasted tomato soup, sausage, and pepper soup with its mild heat.

Bell Peppers

7. Hot Sauce

The most convenient substitute for Jalapeno sauce belongs to hot sauce. It is made from various kinds of peppers in combination with salts and other ingredients, and you can even make it at home. Nevertheless, hot sauce is not as spicy as the Jalapeno; its SHU is about 1,000 – 2,500 points.

Hot sauce can still leverage the flavor of the food, but it can not spark up the crunchiness and the smokiness like the Jalapeno. Compared with Jalapeno sauce, hot sauce can serve more dishes, from stir-fry to pasta. Though it has endured several processes to become “sauce”, it still lends your dish a touch of vitamin C and A.

Hot Sauce

8. Smoked Paprika Powder

If you prefer a lower hot level, the smoked paprika powder will meet your expectations. Paprika is indeed a spice grounded from many types of chilies. Despite its chili origin, Paprika is not as peppery as the Jalapeno, but its smokiness can push up your flavor. 

The Scoville Heat Unit of this mixed powder is never higher than 500 points. Consequently, anyone with a preference for tasting the mild fieriness can take this powder into account.

Moreover, Paprika consists of a large amount of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Eating food with Paprika can help lose weight, relieve pain, and prevent cancer.

Smoked Paprika Powder

9. Habanero Pepper

To add more color shades and a hot kick to your meal, consider Habanero as an ideal replacement for Jalapeno. Unlike other peppers, Habanero doesn’t turn into red; it turns into a lovely and eye-catching orange. Another feature that distinguishes Habanero from Jalapeno is that Habanero has a tropical flavor. 

Interestingly, Habanero is 70 times spicier than Jalapeno because its SHU is 30,000 – 45,000. Furthermore, Habanero is rich in sugar, fiber, and protein; these minerals, in collaboration with high Capsaicin, help reduce the risk of respiratory disease as well as heart disease.

Habanero can replace Jalapeno in nachos, fruity sauces, or salsas.

Habanero Pepper

10. Cubanelle Peppers

This is another non-spicy substitution for Jalapeno. Cubanelle, or called Cuban, is thinner than the bell pepper but bigger than the Jalapeno. Its appearance resembles a banana with a long and curved shape (about 6-inch length and 2-inch width). This fruit is the best fit for people who love non-spicy dishes.

Carb and protein are the two macro ingredients in Cuban pepper; they are in function to boost the immune system and produce energy. 

We could try on Italian Stuffed Cubanelle or poached egg with Cuban pepper. With a mild profile, tossing it in salads can be a great addition for a crunchy boost. Also, thanks to its big cavity, you can try some stuffed recipes.

Cubanelle Peppers

Which Is Hotter: Serrano Or Jalapeno? 

In general, both Serrano and Jalapeno are great ingredients to leverage your dishes. Nevertheless, if we take a look into their appearance and characteristics, we will figure out some distinctions and similarities between the two:

Criteria Serrano Jalapeno
Appearance Serrano is smaller than the Jalapeno. It is averagely 1-4 inches in length and ½ inches in width.  Jalapeno is much bigger and longer. It is 6 inches in length and 1 inch in width.
Taste The Serrano tastes grassy and earthy Jalapeno tastes fruity and less grassy
Longevity If put in the fridge, it lasts for one week and stays for 12 months in the freezer. Stay up to one week in the fridge and stay up to 12 months in the freezer.
Spiciness Although Serrano is smaller, it is much hotter than the Jalapeno, with 10,000-20,000 SHU. Jalapeno has a normal level of spiciness, with 4,000-10,000 SHU.
Cost Serrano is more difficult to find in the supermarket, so its price is higher. Jalapeno is available in every marketplace at a reasonable price.

To sum up, it is hard to compare the deliciousness of the two chilies. Jalapeno is the most suitable for people who want medium heat. At the same time, Serrano can serve people with higher demand for spiciness. The choice depends on individual preference.


What Spice Can I Substitute For Jalapeno?

Assuming that you are in the mood to cook spicy soup but your kitchen is out of Jalapeno, here are some alternatives that you can choose from your fridge:

Ancho powder and black pepper: Both of these ingredients serve as a source of heat, and they are pure as they are not mixed with other substances. 

Cumin: This is a spicy powder grained from the cumin plant- the plant that originated in Iran – Turanian Region. Two spoons of cumin equal one spoon of Jalapeno.

Garlic powder: Although garlic is not as tasty as chili powder, it can still bring spiciness to your dishes.

What Can I Substitute For Fry Seasoning?

Fry seasoning is a mixture of various spices, including black pepper, garlic powder, Cayenne, basil, parsley, etc. This mixture is essential in making french fry since it brings up the flavor of the potatoes. 

In case you don’t have enough time to make fry seasoning, you can utilize seasoned salts. You had better use the french fry with ketchup or chili sauce.


In conclusion, there are many options when finding a substitute for Jalapeno. Based on each heat level, users can choose the alternative ingredient that fits their needs. For example, if you are a spicy food lover, you can choose Fresno and Serrano. In case you are looking for a mild pepper, Cubanelle and Paprika are the optimal choices.

For most people, including me, they will go for Fresno for the closest taste and spiciness as Jalapeno.

No matter what you choose, eating chili can be beneficial for your health in the long term. It helps reduce stress and ease pain and many other diseases. However, overeating can cause gastric ulcers. Therefore, you should eat a moderate amount of chili per week. 

If you have any extra options for this list, please leave them in the comment section below!

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Anya Kaats

Hi! I’m Anya, a San Diego-based Holistic Health Coach and Marketing Consultant on a mission to share good food, health & happiness with as many people as possible. I am a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and have worked in the natural & organic products industry for my entire professional career with companies such as Suja Juice, Brad’s Raw Foods, and Mamma Chia. While my life may be totally consumed with healthy food now, nutrition wasn’t always a passion of mine.