Can You Substitute Jalapenos for Green Chilies?

If you’re a spicy food lover, you probably seek ways to make food hotter when it doesn’t have enough kick. One swap you may be considering is using jalapenos instead of green chilies in a recipe. But does this substitute work?

You can substitute jalapenos for green chilies, although you should be aware that this switch will make the recipe much spicier. This substitute works best in recipes that are meant to be spicy.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss why jalapenos work as a substitute for green chilies, some health benefits of consuming jalapenos, other alternatives for green chilies, and recipes that use green chilies that could benefit from the use of jalapenos. If you’re a spicy food lover and want to know how to incorporate more jalapenos into your diet, this article is for you.

Can You Use Jalapenos Instead of Green Chilies in a Recipe?

Jalapenos can be used instead of green chilies in a recipe. This switch works best in recipes that are meant to be spicy, as jalapenos are spicier than green chilies.

If you don’t like the taste of green chilies or don’t have any on hand, jalapenos make a great substitute—but only if you like spice.

A pepper’s heat level is measured on the Scoville scale in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Hot peppers have high numbers and mild peppers, like bell peppers, have low numbers. A mild pepper is anywhere between 100 and 2,500 on the scale.

Green chilies range from 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale, so they are generally considered milder peppers. On the other hand, jalapenos are between 5,000 and 15,000 SHU. So, if you are going to substitute jalapenos for green chilies, you should be aware that this will make the dish spicier. If you like it hot, this is a good thing!

If you don’t want to overwhelm the dish with spice, you could still use jalapenos; simply use less than the number of green chilies the recipe calls for. You can also remove the seeds before cooking, which will lower the spice level of the jalapeno.

Jalapenos are typically used fresh, but they still taste good when cooked, so don’t shy away from cooking them if the recipe calls for it.

Health Benefits of Jalapenos

You’ll also gain various health benefits by opting for jalapenos. These peppers are low in calories, but they contain significant amounts of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and manganese.

If you’re looking to lose a little weight, jalapenos can help! These peppers have been shown to boost your metabolism, increase fat burn, and reduce your appetite due to the capsaicin and capsaicinoids within them.

Capsaicin also stops the growth of some cancer cells and slows the formation of blood vessels around cancer tumors when consumed in high doses.

Finally, compounds found in jalapenos slow the growth of foodborne bacteria and yeasts, which prevents food poisoning and other infections.

Other Substitutes for Green Chilies

If you need a substitute for green chilies and you aren’t sold on the jalapeno idea, here are some other options:

  • Banana peppers. These peppers are easy to find in most supermarkets, and they aren’t too spicy, so they make for a good substitute if you’re trying to tone down a recipe. Their tangy and sweet taste is delicious in salsa.
  • Cayenne peppers. This substitute is only for the brave! This is a spicier alternative to green chilies (they range from 30,000 to 50,000 SHU), so use a smaller amount than the number of green chilies you’d use. Cayenne peppers are often dried or powdered, but you can find them fresh to use in recipes.
  • Anaheim peppers. If you’re looking to closely replicate green chilies in flavor and appearance, anaheim peppers are a great choice. These peppers, also called California and New Mexico peppers, are around the low to mild heat range, and they look just like green chilies. They are also mild enough to be the main ingredient of a recipe without cutting back on the amount used.
  • Poblano peppers. These peppers have a smoky flavor similar to the flavor of green chilies, but they are a bit hotter. They are best when they are roasted. These peppers are large, so they work well for stuffed pepper recipes.
  • Bell peppers. Bell peppers are not spicy, so they won’t work well in recipes meant to bring the heat. However, if you have a recipe that calls for baked, roasted, or grilled green chilies, you can use bell peppers instead for a sweeter, less spicy alternative.
  • Serrano peppers. Are you a serious heat lover? Are jalapenos not hot enough for you? Serrano peppers may be the answer. These peppers are three times hotter than jalapenos, so you should only use them in recipes that are supposed to be spicy, such as salsas and hot sauces.

If you don’t have green chilies on hand, or if you’re trying to make a recipe different, you have plenty of pepper options to choose from!

Best Green Chile Recipes To Substitute With Jalapenos

Green chile salsa
Green chile salsa

Here are some common dishes that use green chilies that would taste just as or more delicious with jalapenos:

  • Green chile macaroni and cheese. Green chilies bring a smoky taste to macaroni and cheese, but jalapenos will work just as well if you like your cheese with more spice.
  • Cheesy green chile dip. I like my dips to be spicy. If you feel similarly, jalapenos will work great in any cheesy dip that calls for green chilies.
  • Green chile salsa. Salsas are meant to be spicy! Many salsa recipes call for green chilies, but you could easily use jalapenos instead.
  • Guacamole with green chiles. Adding green chilies to guacamole gives it a zesty flavor, but you can take that zest up a notch with jalapenos.

You can use jalapenos in any green chile recipe, so this list is just the tip of the iceberg!   


If you want to add a bit of heat to a recipe that calls for green chilies, you can use jalapenos instead; just be prepared for the extra spice they’ll provide. If you don’t have green chilies or jalapenos on hand, you can use several different peppers as an alternative, including banana, cayenne, anaheim, and poblano peppers.


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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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