When you’re looking for substitutes for green chilies, your first thought should be: what types of chili peppers are sold where I live?
If you can find any variety of fresh chilis and you also know that you can handle their heat, then that’s what you can use as substitutes.
All in all, chilis can definitely taste different but the first thing we should be concerned is their spice level.
If they’re too hot for our palates, those tiny peppers could be tasting like the best thing ever but it wouldn’t matter if we couldn’t stand the heat.
If you don’t like heat much at all, then you could go for varieties that are very mild: Anaheim, banana peppers, pepperoncini, cubanelle, etc.
On the other hand, if none of those are available, just use bell peppers. Bell peppers of all colors are the best substitutes for green chilies if you don’t want any heat.
If you want a bit of heat, you can use bell peppers together with hot paprika, chili flakes, smoked paprika made from spicy peppers, hot sauces.
As you can see, there are plenty substitutes for green chilis that you can try. It all depends on what’s available where you live and how much heat you can handle in your food.
Table of Contents
16 Substitutes Green Chilies: the Most Popular Varieties
Let’s delve into the fascinating world of green chilies so that you understand how many options there really are.
If you love spicy food, check out my recommendations for the spiciest instant ramen noodles.
1. Indian green chili
It is moderately hot. It has around 25,000 – 100,000 Scoville Units.
When you’re thinking of green chilies, I’m pretty sure that this variety is the one that springs to your mind. Or maybe you’re thinking of the Thai variety.
There are many varieties but I’m not going into all that because it will be just too much information.
The classic Indian green chile that we find in the supermarkets is long and with a very slim body. They look delicate but also promise delicious experiences.
We can consider them moderately hot but the level can vary quite a lot. I wouldn’t recommend them for those looking for only a whiff of spiciness.
If you can’t find these long, thin ones, below you have options for other varieties of the same color.
2. Green Thai chili
They have a moderate to hot level of spice, ranging 50,000-100,000 SHU on the Scoville scale.
This variety varies in size and shape. Generally, they’re small and slender. Besides, the Indian this might be the other chili pepper that springs to mind.
We could say that the average Thai pepper is about 15 times hotter than the average jalapeño.
That’s quite the difference.
I will admit that it’s a bit too much for me.
They rank from 500 to 1,000 SHU on the Scoville Scale. Extremely mild, I would say.
This is also called the California chile. It grows to a length of approximately 7 inches.
The amazing thing about this variety is that it’s really tame so it can suit a lot of tastes. Unless you’re a serious lover of very spicy food.
The Anaheim is mild both in spiciness and taste.
You can find them fresh and canned under the label green chilies.
Jalapeño measure 2,500–8,000 on the Scoville scale. Moderately spicy for the average consumer.
It can be just a bit hot for someone who has milder tastes but I think that you can easily get used to it.
This variety is incredibly popular around the world because it’s just so tasty and flavorful.
Jalapeño can be considered a green chile but, if you want, you can also regard it as one of the best substitutes for green chilies. That flavor is delicious.
Jalapeños only grow about 3 inches long, while green chilies are quite long, growing to 6 inches long or more. That’s about the only major difference between what we imagine as the classic green variety.
Jalapeño are harvested green but if left to ripe on the plant, they will turn red.
You can buy them fresh, pickled, canned or even frozen. I absolutely prefer the fresh ones, even if they’re a bit expensive.
Serrano come in at 10,000-20,000 SHUs on the Scoville Scale.
If you want a variety that’s up to 5 times hotter than the average Jalapeño, this can be a perfect choice.
It can be hot but it has become popular due to its lovely flavor.
The Serrano is a green chile that only grows 2 inches long.
You can buy it fresh or canned.
6. New Mexico chile
At 800-1,400 SHU, the New Mexico variety is absolutely mild, just a bit above the Anaheim.
This variety is also known under the name Hatch green chile.
They’re not too hot, about the same as Anaheim. They’re described as offering a perfect balance of heat and sweet.
You can easily find them fresh or canned.
7. Cayenne peppers
These are usually red and not green so that’s a change of color in regards to substitutes for green chilis.
However, you should be aware of the fact that they spice level is nothing to mess around with.
Cayenne scores 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale.
That’s not something that many people can handle, considering that a top level cayenne can be 10 times hotter than the average jalapeno.
Their taste is hot and a little fruity.
Cayenne is a thin chili pepper, green to red in color, about 2 to 5 inches long.
Substitutes for Green Chilies: Little to No Heat
I use whatever chilies I have on hand: red, green, yellow or even purple if I’m lucky enough to get my hands on some of them.
Most of the time when I’m cooking with chilies, I’m not actually concerned with the color of these fruits. I’m more concerned with matching the spice level that everyone in my family can withstand.
When we’re cooking with these fruits (or you can call them vegetables if you want, just as we do with tomatoes) that can cause discomfort or even pain we must be aware of our limits in handling the spiciness.
Thus, most of the time, the substitutes for green chilies are whatever chilies I have on hand. I always have more than enough, I’m fascinated about buying a few every time I go out shopping.
If I notice that they’re starting to wilt in the fridge, I roast them or grill them and they’ll last a long time.
Now, let’s see which are the substitutes for green chilies that have no heat.
8. Bell peppers
If you can’t handle the heat at all, one of the best substitutes for green chilies is bell peppers.
Just use green bell peppers instead and that’s it. The food won’t be spicy at all.
I have to tell you that all kinds of chilies work for me. I love them in all sizes, shapes, and colors.
There are some recipes that only need green chilies, one of the most famous being the green Thai curry. In that recipe you have to use the green ones, otherwise the green in green Thai curry won’t be valid.
Or you can use green bell peppers and still get the color.
9. Banana pepper
This variety is situated at 100 to 500 SHUs on the Scoville Scale. That’s extremely low.
The other perfect substitute for green chili is a banana pepper.
It’s possible that some banana peppers have no heat at all. Or if they have, they’re extremely mild. Anyone can handle this variety.
It’s 5 times milder than the mildest jalapeño.
They are mostly considered to have a bright yellow color, hence the name, but they can change to green, red or orange as they ripen.
Cubanelle are not exactly without any heat but there are so mild that there’s not much there. In my opinion, they should definitely classify as almost no heat.
They score about 100 – 1,000 SHU on the Scoville Scale. That’s how absolutely mild they are.
However, what I love about cubanelle is their sweet flavor. That’s what makes these peppers so delicious.
They also resemble a slimmer green bell pepper.
They’re amazing if you want to make peppers wrapped in bacon but you don’t want to use either serrano nor jalapeno because they pack too much heat.
11. Pepperoncini (pickled green chilis substitute)
Usually, pepperoncini are used as pickled peppers. Thus, if you don’t want to use pickled jalapeno peppers or any other variety because they’re too hot, pepperoncini can make awesome substitutes for green chilis.
This is another chili variety that packs basically no heat, at the same level as a banana pepper.
That’s why pepperoncini and banana peppers are used interchangeably.
Other Substitutes for Green Chilies
What do other substitutes for green chilies include? Here, we’ll talk about chili powder, chili flakes, paprika or hot sauces.
12. Chili flakes
I love chili flakes and I use them often. You can also find chili flakes under the names red pepper flakes or crushed pepper.
They’re perfect for barbecue spice rubs, added to curries, stews, soups, and casseroles.
You can even add them to your pizza, either before or once it’s out of the oven.
This is my go-to substitute for green chilies. I just love their flavor and they work perfectly with many cuisines around the world.
The ingredient should be only one: crushed red pepper.
13. Hot sauces
If you pick the right one, hot sauces can be one of the best substitutes.
You can go for green or red hot sauces.
Sriracha and Tabasco are two of the most popular but there’s an entire universe of hot sauces to explore, each with its own interesting combination of ingredients.
14. Chili powder
I recommend getting a chili powder that contains only red chili as an ingredient. The chili is ground to a fine powder that resembles paprika.
The difference between the two is that paprika is sweeter. If you can’t find the powder then go for hot paprika, it’s really good.
Some powders will be a combination of ground dried chiles and other spices (cumin, oregano, salt, peppercorn).
15. Hot paprika
Hot paprika is fruity and a bit bitter. It can color a dish with its intense deep red color.
But it can also add a needed sweetness to many dishes. I love cooking with hot paprika.
If you don’t care about having the texture of green chilis in your dishes, you can definitely use hot paprika as one of the cheapest substitutes for green chilis.
16. Smoked paprika
If you’re making heavier dishes, like baked beans, I absolutely recommended adding smoked paprika.
It can be either spicy or non-spicy, depending on the type of peppers that have been smoked before being ground into a smoked delicious powder that can make everything taste more intense.
Smoked paprika is used in a lot of spice mixes. That should tell you just how essential it is in the making of a variety of dishes, vegetarian or not.
One thing you must pay attention to is that you need to be high-quality smoked paprika.
It is made from is made from peppers that are smoked and dried over oak fires. If it’s done right, it has a has a richer, heavier flavor that creates depths of flavor for whatever you’re cooking.
The heat level of smoked paprika can go up to 33k Scoville Heat units but it ranges from manufacturer to manufacturer.
As you can see, there are so many substitutes for green chilies that it might seem overwhelming but if you don’t want to go shopping for fresh produce often, then choose either canned green chilis or choose to use them in the form of flakes, powder or as hot sauces.