Green chilies have a place in countless different recipes. Apart from adding spice, they can add a range of other flavors depending on the exact type of green chili you’re using, from sweetness to smokiness.
The spice can vary as well, from very mild to very spicy.
In any case, given that lots of recipes involve green chilies, it’s likely that you’ll need some sooner or later.
It can be frustrating if you don’t have any on hand when that happens, but don’t worry because there are quite a lot of other things you can use instead.
We’ll take you through some of those in this article, so let’s get into it.
1. Jalapeño Peppers
These peppers are very common, and you might even be more likely to have some on hand than standard green peppers. They’re also pretty easy to find at most supermarkets these days.
You can substitute them for most kinds of fresh pepper. Jalapeños are fairly mild, so you may want to use larger amounts if you’re looking for a sizeable kick of spice.
2. Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
This might be your favorite pepper if you’re a huge fan of Mexican food. While they might not seem all that similar to green chilies, chipotles in adobo sauce are a great way to get similar levels of heat.
A good substitution here is two parts chipotle to one part regular bell pepper (or half a jalapeño). Because they’re usually packed in a large amount of liquid, they can be hard to handle without losing much flavor.
So we recommend crushing them with a mortar and pestle or grinding them up yourself before adding to a recipe.
It’s also your call whether you want to include the adobo sauce as well – it adds a wonderful flavor of its own, but you’ll have to decide whether it fits in the dish you’re trying to put together.
If you’ve got paprika lying around, you’ve clearly got enough spices to spare. Paprika comes in sweet, spicy, and smoky varieties, and any of them could work as an alternative to green chilies.
Hot paprika is particularly nice here, given its extra heat.
Just make sure to check your measurement carefully, since it can be tricky to gauge exactly how much powdered paprika to use per green chili.
4. Ground Cayenne Peppers
You can use ground cayenne peppers in many of the same applications as green chilies do, including stuffings and dressings. They’re usually easy to find, and pack a nice hit of spice.
Remember though that they’re hotter than green chilies, so adjust accordingly.
They’re also not as versatile by themselves; you won’t simply be able to substitute cayennes for chilies in any recipe.
However if you have something like garlic powder on hand, you can combine both of their flavors for a sort of chili-garlic combination (this will probably make people wonder what kind of chili was used to start with!).
5. Crushed Garlic Cloves
Garlic cloves are pretty versatile, and while they’re definitely milder than green chilies, a handful of crushed or minced garlic will go a long way toward giving dishes like chicken soup a little zing.
If you prefer less garlicky dishes, just keep in mind that garlic can easily overpower other tastes besides its own. Try to play around with it until you find a balance between the different spices you already have on hand.
6. Roasted Red Pepper Flakes
Roasting peppers brings out a lot more flavor than boiling does. And while roasted red peppers aren’t nearly as hot as green chilies, they can add a pleasant texture and depth to almost any dish.
You’ll need roughly twice as many of these as raw chilies for an equivalent amount of heat. Add them at the end of cooking, when the rest of the dish has finished simmering.
7. Green Bell Peppers
Green bell peppers are another option worth exploring. They provide a bit more color than some other options, which makes them look prettier — and honestly, they taste delicious too!
As with green chilies, you can use a smaller quantity of bell peppers to equal a larger quantity of chilies, or vice versa.
Use whatever looks best, or whatever you have on hand. Bell peppers, of course, do not bring any spice to the dish, but if you want that, then you might be able to add some chili powder alongside them.
8. Bird’s Eye Chiles
Another variety of chili that’s common in Thailand, bird’s eye chiles are pretty different from other types of chiles. They pack quite a lot more spice than many other chiles, so be careful.
Don’t worry about overdoing it, however: there’s no real “sweet spot” where it gets too hot. The secret is to choose a sauce that complements the spice profile of the chili well.
For example, this one goes great with creamy sauces, such as pesto, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, honey mustard, or barbecue sauce.
Habanero peppers don’t tend to grow outside tropical climates. But if you live somewhere close enough to Mexico and Central America, you might just stumble across some habaneros growing wild.
These spicy fruits are similar in taste to jalapeños, and while they’re certainly much spicier than most non-spicy foods, a small pinch will give your dish a nice kick without making everything else overly sweet.
They’re also a lot spicier (we’ll say it again – a lot) than jalapeños, so be careful when you add them into a dish.
10. Banana Peppers
Banana peppers come in a wide range of colors, though in maturity they generally settle on yellow, hence the name. They’re relatively mild and flavorful, so they work well in a wide variety of cuisines.
Use them whole or cut into strips for salads or appetizers, or finely diced for soups, stir fries, etc.
They’re a lot sweeter than most other kinds of pepper, so factor that in when you include it in a dish. They’re not sugary sweet, but it is something you’ll notice when you eat them.
11. Serrano Hot Peppers
Serranos are among the hottest peppers we’ve talked about here. A single serrano pepper contains about 150 times as much capsaicin as a medium-sized jalapeño.
That means that even half a teaspoon adds up to a huge dose of capsaicin, more than enough to make anyone cringe.
So if you really want to amp up the heat, consider using serranos instead of jalapeños or green chiles.
12. Anaheim Peppers
Anaheim peppers have a mild flavor and aren’t too spicy, so they can make an excellent substitute for green peppers in some dishes.
You could also try substituting these for the red cherry peppers used in Cajun/Creole cooking, and vice versa.
In general, the flavors play nicely together and they go well with everything from casseroles to stews and roasted vegetables.
13. Poblano Peppers
Poblanos are full-flavored and quite tasty, especially when roasted or grilled. They’re fairly mild and are often used like bell peppers in Mexican cuisine.
Depending on personal preference and what kind of food you’re serving, you might find poblanos to be very suitable for your needs.
14. Hot Sauce
There are many different kinds of hot sauce, of course, but a lot of them can be good substitutes for green chilies in certain dishes.
We’re only talking about hot sauce here because our ultimate goal is to bring out more of the fiery flavors in any dish, so that includes anything spicy.
Just remember that there’s a fine line between being able to tolerate things a little hotter and getting completely burned by the end. It’s important to keep that in mind before adding any type of heat to a dish.
15. Green Fresno Pepper
If you’re looking for an unusual way to spice up your meals, look no further than this one! Green Fresnos are extremely sweet and tart and come from California.
While their flavor profile doesn’t lend itself to all types of dishes, they do make a great addition to tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chili, salsa, guacamole, dips, spreads, etc.
The key is to try a few different varieties and see which ones suit you best.
16. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
A staple ingredient found in just about every grocery store, crushed red pepper flakes contain a good combo of heat and sweetness.
While this may sound odd at first, once you start experimenting with this type of flake, you may find yourself craving it in a number of ways.
Try sprinkling them on chicken or fish for a kick or topping off a salad or pasta with these guys for a nice burst of spice. Be sure to get the highest quality possible, since otherwise, the flavor will suffer.
The heat and flavor makes it a suitable substitute for green chilies in a lot of cases.
For those who love their food spicy, don’t shy away from the other options listed above—they’re all fantastic alternatives to those infamous green chilies.
But if you prefer to temper down the spiciness level and opt for something more bland, then this list still has plenty to offer.
Even though there are a ton of other awesome peppers out there, these fifteen should certainly help you get started on your journey towards becoming a chili connoisseur.