Only the people who are fond of cooking know there is much more to red chilies than the spiciness. Barring the people who can’t handle the heat, red chilies are a staple in almost everyone’s cuisine. It adds an array of flavors like sweet, earthy, smoky, and fruity to the recipe, depending on your recipe.
But what if you want to recreate a hot, tempting, and spicy dish but can’t seem to find any red chilies in the house? In such scenarios, you can resort to other options like Serrano Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Jalapeño Pepper, etc.
Even if you do not have any of them, we have explained several other options in the following article, at least one of which would be available.
Top 7 Best Substitutes For Red Chili (Alternatives That You Will Love)
Finding red chili substitutes isn’t tricky. The challenging part is to recreate the same taste, something that can be achieved by deciding the required proportion.
To help you through the same, we have explained the substitutes along with a few tips to add the said replacements.
1. Serrano Pepper
Serrano pepper is nothing short of a hero ingredient in Mexican cuisine. This type of chili pepper originates from the mountainous regions of Mexico.
Serrano peppers are harvested while they are green, so they might not add that red pop of color like a red chili. However, its hot and spicy taste certainly makes up for it.
Don’t take it lightly when somebody calls Serrano pepper “too hot.” If we consider the Scoville scale, Serrano pepper stands at 10000-23000 units, making them at least 3x hotter than Jalapeño pepper.
While it is not the hottest pepper, you must use it sparingly, especially while using it as a condiment. You can also chop them raw and add them to your recipes to increase the spiciness quotient.
2. Cayenne Pepper
If you do not prefer the smokey or earthy flavor provided by Serrano peppers, we suggest using Cayenne peppers as a red chili substitute.
This type of pepper is red with a curved tip. They are either used in their whole or powdered form.
In terms of spiciness, they stand at 30000-50000 Scoville units, making them quite spicy. At the same time, they must be added in moderation to avoid making your dish too hot to consume.
You can add them to soups, stews, egg salads, hummus, quiches, etc. You can also spice up your drinks with a dash of Cayenne peppers.
3. Jalapeño Pepper
If you want a hint of spiciness in your dish without making it too hot, you can use Jalapeño pepper instead of red chili.
Jalapeño peppers are long with smooth flesh. While most of them are harvested while green, you’ll also find variations in terms of colors like orange, red, yellow, etc.
As compared to Serrano peppers, they are quite mild, with only 4,000 to 8,500 Scoville units. But you can also find several varieties that aren’t hot.
You can use Jalapeño peppers to prepare pickles, stuffed jalapeños, Armadillo eggs, etc. People also add them to their drinks for a thrilling refreshment.
4. Tien Tsin Chili
Tien Tsin Chili comes from China, and they are heavily used in the preparation of Kung Pao chicken. While they look very similar to Cayenne peppers, you can differentiate between them since the former are more slender.
With 50,000 – 75,000 Scoville heat units, they are meant to be consumed in proportion unless you want to sweat profusely.
Add them in light amounts to your dishes to get their pungent and musty taste with a spicy fragrance.
While people add them to infuse vodka or make chili oils, you can add them to your regular dish to add a level of spiciness.
5. Pequin Chili Peppers
Pequin chili peppers are red with green leaves. They are quite small, never exceeding the length of 2cms. Similar to other red chili substitutes mentioned above, Pequin chili peppers stand at 30000-60000 Scoville units, making them one of the hotter options.
They have a smoky and citrusy taste with hints of nutty flavor. You can use them in salsa, stew, shrimp, and lobster dishes. They work well with simmering, stir-frying, as well as sautéing.
Wait, how can pepper substitute red chilies? They are neither spicy nor do they contain capsaicin compounds?
Be that as it may, you can use them as a replacement if you want a subtle hot taste without any overbearing spiciness.
Pepper fruits are native to tropical America and are used widely across the globe. They come in various sizes and shapes, ranging from thin tabasco peppers to large bell peppers.
Since they do not have capsaicin, they have 0 Scoville heat units. Nevertheless, you can roast, stuff, or sautee them. Its rich grassy flavor and crunchy texture will enhance the flavor and consistency of your dish.
7. Fresnos Chile
Fresnos Chile is milder than jalapeño pepper, making it a reliable substitute for people who want to dip their toes in the water without any consequences. Even their taste is similar to jalapeño but slightly less hot.
Since they have a low SHU., i.e., 2500-10000, you can easily add them to a variety of dishes like salsa, chutneys, sauces, stews, casseroles, etc.
Moreover, you can add them as toppings for burgers, tacos, hot dogs, etc.
Ways to Store Red Chili
If you want your dish to taste the same, we wouldn’t really recommend substituting your red chilies with something else.
Instead, to avoid such circumstances in the future, it is best to buy red chilies in bulk and store them in the following manner:
- Keep the red chilies unwashed and wrap them in a plastic bag or paper towel. Place them in the refrigerator. This will help them last for a week.
- If you have peeled chilies, you can place them in the freezer. This will preserve them for 6 months.
- Grounding dried chilies will preserve them in an airtight container for one year.
- Pickled or canned red chilies will last for two years.
Q. Are red chilies healthy?
Red chilies are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin A, dietary fiber, and iron. When taken in moderation, it helps with heart issues and nausea. Moreover, they also promote weight loss.
Q. What happens when we eat red chilies every day?
Even though red chilies are beneficial to health, we do not suggest eating them every day. It might cause issues like abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, burning sensation in the gut, etc. It is best to either consume them in moderation or sparingly.
Read more: Does Chili Paste Go Bad?
As we mentioned earlier, you might not get the exact level of spiciness of red chilies from any of its substitutes, but you can get something similar. Our favorites are Serrano peppers and Cayenne peppers.
However, we’d suggest considering the Scoville scale units before taking the final call. You wouldn’t want to have a burning sensation after every bite, would you?
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.