3 Peppers Similar to Poblanos (Substitutes and Alternatives)

Poblano peppers are very popular in Mexican cuisine, but they’re not always available. What are some peppers similar to poblanos?

Acceptable substitutes for poblano peppers include Anaheim peppers, jalapeños, and bell peppers. Anaheim peppers are similarly spicy and have a smoky flavor, although they have more sweetness. Jalapeños and poblanos have a similar level of spice, but very different flavor profiles. Bell peppers don’t have much in common but are a good standby.

Keep reading to learn more about which peppers can be best used as a substitute for poblanos.

3 best substitutes and alternatives for poblano peppers

Poblano peppers are common in Mexican cuisine because of their deep, earthy flavor and are a favorite among gardeners because they’re easy to grow and yield a bountiful harvest, but they may not be available. In that case, you might be looking for some other pepper options.

The three best substitutes and alternatives for poblano peppers are:

  • Anaheim peppers
  • Jalapeño peppers
  • Bell peppers

For reference, here’s some basic info about these popular peppers:

  • Heat – 1,000-2,000 SHU
  • Flavor profile – Deep, dark, smoky
  • Cost and availability – Poblanos are relatively inexpensive and available at many grocery stores

Keep reading for a quick overview of each pepper and a comparison against the poblano’s primary characteristics.

Anaheim peppers

Anaheim peppers are a cultivar of “New Mexico No. 9” and are popularly grown in the New Mexico region. Their seeds were brought from New Mexico to a region in California called Anaheim in 1894, hence their name. It’s worth keeping in mind that the California variety of this pepper isn’t as spicy as the New Mexican version (also simply called chiles).

How are Anaheim peppers similar to poblanos?

Anaheim peppers are the closest substitute for poblano peppers due to their similar level of heat and smoky flavor. However, they also have an element of sweetness that poblanos lack. Their overall shape may make them inappropriate for certain recipes, especially stuffed peppers. Key characteristics of this pepper include:

  • Heat – 1,000-5,000 SHU
  • Flavor profile – Sweet, smoky
  • Cost and availability – A bit difficult to find, leading to a higher price

Anaheim peppers may be harder to find than poblanos, but it’s still worth checking out this article to find out what they have in common!

Jalapeño peppers

Jalapeños are a famous pepper traditionally used in Mexican cuisine. They are now popular worldwide due to their sweetness and relatively mild heat. Even if you’re not a fan of hot-hot peppers, most people can handle a jalapeño.

How are jalapeño peppers similar to poblanos?

Jalapeños are a fairly good substitute for poblanos because of the overlap in heat level. However, some jalapeños may be significantly hotter than any poblano. While jalapeños and poblanos are both well-loved for their flavor, they have very little in common taste-wise. Here are some of the important characteristics of jalapeños:

  • Heat – 2,000-8,000 SHU
  • Flavor profile – Sweet and bright
  • Cost and availability – Jalapeños are easy to find both fresh and pickled, and cheap due to availability

Want to know more about how jalapenos compare to poblano peppers? Check out this article!

Bell peppers

Bell peppers are your “standard” peppers. They come in green, yellow, orange, and red. 

People love bell peppers both cooked or raw on a salad or with hummus!

How are bell peppers similar to poblanos?

Bell peppers are not particularly similar to poblanos, but they are often used as an alternative due to their availability, enjoyable flavor, and lack of heat. Here are the primary characteristics of the common bell pepper:

  • Heat – 0 SHU
  • Flavor profile – Sweet, crunchy
  • Cost and availability – Cheap, easily available

They may not be as spicy, but check out this article to find out what bell peppers have in common with our belowed poblano.