Anaheim peppers are a popular pepper today and used in a variety of dishes. However, if you find yourself out and needing them to finish your recipe or if you just want to bring up or down the heat, we have 10 great substitutes for you.
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What are Anaheim Peppers?
Anaheim Peppers have a mild flavor, with a Scoville heat unit (SHU) rating of about 500 to 2,500. While mild as far as peppers go, they can still pack a bit of a punch with a spicier Anaheim having similar heat to a mild jalapeño. Typically measuring 6 to 10 inches long, they have a green color when unripe and turn red when fully ripe. However, their green unripened state is the most commonly used in cooking as they lose some of their sweetness when fully ripe.
Native to New Mexico, Anaheim peppers got their name from the city of Anaheim, California where they became widely popular. Other names for these chiles include New Mexico Peppers and California chilies.
How are Anaheim Peppers Commonly Used?
Anaheim peppers are often roasted and used to add flavor and a little heat to dishes or stuffed and used in a Mexican chiles rellenos dish. They are also a common ingredient in sauces, salsas, and stews. These are also a popular pepper for canning and are even sold in stores in both canned and fresh form.
Substitutes for Anaheim Peppers
1. Poblano Peppers
Poblano peppers stand out as the top substitute for Anaheim peppers due to their similarities in size, shape, and texture. They have a heat range of 1,000 to 1,500 on the SHU scale, which is comparable to Anaheims. They can also be a little sweeter as well.
If you are trying to match flavor and heat, I think poblanos are the best choice. This is especially the case in dishes like stuffed peppers or roasted peppers.
You can use them as a 1:1 substitute in any recipe that calls for Anaheim peppers.
2. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers work as a substitute for Anaheim peppers if you want to reduce the heat in a dish or sauce. Having a SHU rating of 0, bell peppers are considered sweet peppers.
They have a similar taste, size and texture which makes them a great alternative for any recipe. Growing up I always associated stuffed peppers with bell peppers rather than Anaheims or Poblanos because a family with young kids liked the pepper taste but not so much the spice.
If you want to match the heat of Anaheim peppers, you can add a dash of chili powder or any of the other spicier alternatives below. Just be sure to add in small amounts and taste as you go as to not overwhelm the dish.
3. Shishito Peppers
Shishito peppers are mild chili peppers that are frequently used in East Asian cooking. They are small, green peppers that you can easily use as an alternative to Anaheim peppers. Their thicker skin also makes it an alternative to grilled, roasted, or even stuffed peppers. However, they are smaller than Anaheims so you will need to take that into consideration.
They have a SHU range of 50 to 200, which is very mild but a step up from bell peppers. As with bell peppers, you can add chili powder or mix with other peppers to make the dish a little spicier.
4. Cubanelle Peppers
Cubanelle peppers are sweet with a light green color and mild flavor. They’re comparable to Anaheim peppers in size, shape, and texture. Because of their size and mild heat profile, they can be roasted and stuffed in addition to diced and cooked into dishes.
They have a SHU range of 500 to 1,000, which makes Anaheim peppers a little spicier but comparable. I would substitute on a 1:1 ratio.
5. Chilaca Peppers
The Chilaca pepper has a dark green color and tangy flavor that becomes sweeter as it ripens. It’s a good substitute for Anaheim peppers due to its comparable heat.
It has a SHU range of 1,000 to 2,500 which makes them very similar to Anaheim peppers from a heat perspective.
You can use Chilaca peppers as a direct 1:1 substitute for Anaheim peppers in most recipes. However, in my opinion they are a little small to roast on the grill or used in stuffed peppers. If you need to roast, I would roast in the oven.
6. Jalapeño Peppers
Jalapeño peppers make a good substitute in moderation as it has similar color and taste to Anaheim peppers but does pack more of a punch when it comes to heat.
They have a SHU range of 2,500 to 8,000. So while a mild jalapeño could have similar heat to a spicy Anaheim, a spicy jalapeño would be considerably hotter. Jalapeños could be a good way to add heat to your salsa or dish if that’s your goal.
To keep the heat comparable, I would use half the amount of diced jalapeños as the amount of diced or cut Anaheims called for in a recipe, frequently tasting and adding more as needed.
7. Fresno Peppers
Fresno peppers are red spicy peppers that closely resemble ripe, red jalapeños. They have a heat intensity between 2,500 to 10,000 SHU, which is quite a bit hotter than Anaheim peppers.
Like jalapeños, I would start by substituting with a 1:2 ratio, tasting and adding more as necessary. If you want more texture but not so much the heat, you can mix with a less spicy alternative, such as bell peppers.
8. Guajillo Peppers
Guajillo peppers, or guajillo chiles, are dried chili peppers made using mirasol chiles. Guajillo chiles are most commonly used as a base for sauces and salsas. I think they work best as an Anaheim pepper substitute in those types of recipes.
As they are sold in dried form, guajillo chiles don’t work for stuffed or roasted pepper recipes. They’re also a bit spicier than Anaheim peppers, with a SHU rating of 2,500 to 5,000 units. When using as an Anaheim pepper alternative, you may want to start with a smaller amount of guajillo peppers at first, tasting frequently and add more as necessary.
9. Serrano Peppers
Serrano peppers are the spiciest option we have on our list with a SHU range of 10,000 to 23,000. They’re green and slender, having the appearance of a thinner and slightly longer jalapeño.
Since Serranos are considerably hotter than Anaheim peppers, I would recommend either using a very small amount at first or mixing with less spicy ingredients such as celery or bell peppers.
This would a good way to increase the heat of the dish if you desire, however, I would be careful adding small amounts at a time.
10. Hungarian Wax Peppers
Hungarian wax peppers are slimmer and hotter than Anaheim peppers, especially when using red Hungarian wax peppers. These peppers have a SHU range of 5,000 to 15,000.
These are often mistaken for banana peppers because they look very similar. However, if you accidentally eat one thinking it’s a banana pepper you will quickly realize your mistake as they are quite a bit more spicy.
You can cook Hungarian wax peppers in a variety of ways, including roasting, frying, and pickling. They work well in most recipes where you would use Anaheim peppers, but given their shape and size, these would not be ideal for stuffed peppers.
If you want to match the heat of Anaheim peppers, I would start with less and add to taste. Like several of the other spicier options, you can always mix with a less spicy ingredients to cut down on the heat but retain the texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Red or Green Anaheim Peppers Hotter?
Red Anaheim peppers are hotter as they contain more capsaicin, which is the compound that gives peppers their spiciness. As the pepper ripens, it stores more capsaicin.
What Is Another Name for Anaheim Peppers?
Anaheim peppers are sometimes sold under other names, including New Mexico peppers and California chili peppers. These peppers were originally from New Mexico, but became popular after being brought to Anaheim, California, hence the name Anaheim Peppers.
Final Thoughts on Anaheim Peppers Substitutes
Luckily, there are a lot of great substitutes for Anaheim peppers. The best one for you depends on how you want to use it and what you are hoping to achieve with your dish. If you want to keep the flavor but reduce or eliminate the heat, bell peppers will be your best bet. If you are looking to increase the heat, any of the spicier peppers listed above will work great. I hope you find this list helpful!
For more great substitutes check out the following articles:
Top 10 Cayenne Pepper Substitutes