Can You Substitute Jalapenos for Green Chilies

Can You Substitute Jalapenos for Green Chilies?

If you love spicy foods, you’ve probably wondered if you can use jalapenos instead of green chilies in your favorite southwestern recipes. The short answer is yes, you absolutely can substitute jalapenos for green chilies!

However, there are a few important things to keep in mind with this swap:

  • Jalapenos are significantly spicier than green chilies, so the dish will end up hotter than intended. You’ll need to adjust the amount and manage the heat level.
  • Despite being spicier, jalapenos offer some great health benefits from nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and metabolism-boosting capsaicin.
  • Other substitute options exist too like poblano, banana, or bell peppers depending on your ideal spice level.
  • Certain recipes like salsas, dips, stuffed peppers, and spicy mac and cheese work perfectly with added jalapeno heat.

The rest of this article will explore how to properly substitute jalapenos for green chilies, from comparing heat levels to getting the most out of jalapenos’ flavor and health benefits. Follow these tips and you can successfully transform any green chile recipe with the amazing jalapeno!

Heat Comparison: Jalapenos vs Green Chilies

The biggest consideration when substituting jalapenos for green chilies is the difference in heat levels.

Green chilies range from 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale, meaning they fall on the milder end of the spicy pepper spectrum. Jalapenos, on the other hand, measure 5,000 to 15,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), making them significantly spicier.

So if you swap jalapenos for green chilies in a recipe, be prepared for some serious heat! The dish will likely end up spicier than the original recipe intended.

Tips for Using Jalapenos Instead of Green Chilies

That said, jalapenos can work as green chile substitutes in the right scenarios. Here are some tips:

  • Use less jalapenos than green chilies. Start with half the amount of jalapenos the recipe calls for in green chilies. You can always add more later if needed.
  • Remove the seeds and membranes. Much of the heat is contained in the inner seeds and membranes. Scrape these out before cooking to tame the heat level.
  • Add other ingredients to balance the spice. Extra cheese, cream, or other cooling ingredients help offset the jalapeno’s intensity.
  • Opt for pickled jalapenos. Pickled jalapenos are milder than fresh ones. Just drain well before using in place of green chilies.
  • Stick to spicy recipes. Jalapeno substitutes work best in dishes meant to be hot and spicy, like chili, salsa, or spicy dips.

As long as you account for the extra spice, jalapenos can stand in for green chilies when used carefully.

Health Benefits of Eating Jalapenos

Beyond heat, swapping in jalapenos brings some nice health bonuses. These spicy peppers contain:

  • Vitamin C: Important for immune function and collagen production. Just one jalapeno provides 10% of your daily vitamin C needs.
  • Vitamin A: This antioxidant supports eye and skin health. Jalapenos have 10% of the recommended daily vitamin A.
  • Vitamin B6: Plays a role in over 100 enzyme reactions in the body. Jalapenos contain 4% of the daily value.
  • Fiber: Helps improve digestive health and lower cholesterol. You’ll get 1 gram of fiber per pepper.
  • Capsaicin: This compound gives jalapenos their heat and offers antibacterial effects, potential cancer prevention, and increased fat burn.

So by using jalapenos in place of green chilies, you get all these important nutrients and health-boosting plant compounds. It’s a win-win substitution if you can handle the spice!

Other Potential Substitutes for Green Chilies

If jalapenos sound too hot, consider these milder alternatives:

Poblano Peppers

Poblanos have a subtly sweet, smoky flavor similar to green chilies. They are larger in size but lower on the Scoville scale. Simply roast them until charred, then peel off the skin before chopping and adding to recipes.

Anaheim Peppers

Also known as New Mexico or California chilies, these mildly spicy peppers look nearly identical to green chilies. Anaheims measure 500 to 2,500 SHU, so they make the perfect stand-in without altering the heat level.

Banana Peppers

While not quite as flavored, banana peppers match the mild heat of green chilies at 500-1,500 SHU. They have a sweet, tangy taste that works well in salsas. Banana peppers are easy to find at most grocery stores too.

Bell Peppers

For recipes using roasted or grilled green chilies, opt for bell peppers. While they lack any spice, their crisp texture and subtle sweetness mirrors the flavor brought by charring green chilies. Use green, red, orange or yellow bells.

Serrano Peppers

On the flip side, serranos are a great alternative if you want something spicier than jalapenos. They hit 10,000 to 25,000 SHU, making them up to three times hotter! Use about 1/4 the amount of serranos as you would jalapenos for a similar heat level.

Best Recipes for Jalapeno Substitutes

Wondering which recipes work well when subbing jalapenos for green chilies? Here are some delicious options to try:

Spicy Green Chile Salsa

Jalapenos really shine in salsas. Their flavor pairs perfectly with tomato, onion, garlic, lime, and cilantro. Just remove the seeds first if you want a milder heat.

Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

The subtle smoky taste of green chilies makes standard mac and cheese next level. But spicy jalapeno mac and cheese is hard to beat! Mix in chopped jalapenos or add slices on top.

Cheesy Jalapeno Dip

For a super bowl worthy dip, blend cream cheese, sour cream, cheese, and a couple jalapenos. You’ll get the cool, creamy base with a killer spicy kick. Serve with tortilla chips.

Jalapeno Guacamole

Adding green chilies gives guacamole an extra zing. Swap those out for a few diced jalapenos to really turn up the heat in this avocado dip. Spice loving guests will thank you.

Stuffed Jalapenos

For an appetizer, stuff halved and seeded jalapenos with creamy cheese mixes. Cover in breadcrumbs and bake until the peppers soften. The cheesy interior balances the jalapeno’s heat perfectly.

Jalapeno Cornbread

Mix diced jalapenos into corn muffin batter or cornbread for a kick of heat. You can also toss the peppers with butter and herbs, then spread on top of baked cornbread for a quick flavor boost.

Jalapeno Poppers

No list of recipes would be complete without classic jalapeno poppers. Stuff jalapenos with cream cheese, wrap in bacon, and grill or bake until the peppers soften and bacon crisps.

Feel free to get creative and add jalapenos to any dish that traditionally uses green chilies. Just remember to taste and adjust spice levels as needed.


While jalapenos are spicier than green chilies, they can be used as substitutes in the right recipes. Just opt for fewer jalapenos, remove the seeds and membranes, and incorporate cooling ingredients to help balance their heat. Plus, you’ll get great health benefits from the vitamin C, vitamin A, and capsaicin in jalapenos.

Beyond jalapenos, consider milder alternatives like poblanos, anaheims, banana peppers, or bell peppers depending on your taste preferences. And stick to inherently spicy recipes like salsa, mac and cheese, dips, stuffed peppers, and cornbread where jalapenos can really shine.

So next time a recipe calls for green chilies and you only have jalapenos on hand, go for it! With a few tweaks, you can transform a mild dish into a spicy sensation.

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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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