Canned Jalapenos

Best Substitutes for Pickled Jalapenos

If a recipe calls for pickled jalapenos but you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry – you have plenty of flavorful options! While no substitute can exactly match pickled jalapenos’ unique tangy heat, several alternatives come close enough to work in a pinch.

Some easy-to-find stand-ins include:

  • Canned pickled jalapenos for their similar briny taste and texture
  • Chipotles in adobo sauce for smoky spiciness and convenience
  • Quick pickled fresh jalapenos when raw peppers are in season
  • Other pickled peppers like banana peppers or giardiniera veggie mixes
  • Hot sauces like Cholula and Tapatio to add acidic heat

With the right substitute, you can mimic the flavor of pickled jalapenos in everything from nachos to tacos. The rest of this article explores pickled jalapeno alternatives in detail, so you’ll know exactly what to use the next time a recipe calls for them.

Canned Jalapenos

Canned jalapenos make the easiest direct substitute for pickled ones. They have a similar briny, vinegary flavor and soft texture. Plus, they’re pre-sliced and ready to use straight from the can.

When selecting canned pickled jalapenos:

  • Seek out refrigerated options for optimal freshness and texture.
  • Choose whole pickled jalapenos to get intact pepper rings. Diced work for recipes where appearance doesn’t matter.
  • Look for added spices like garlic, onion, and carrot slivers for extra flavor.
  • Try store brands first for the best value. Ortega and San Marcos are top rated name brands.
  • Use a 1:1 ratio to replace pickled for canned jalapenos in recipes.

Canned pickled jalapenos have a shelf life of 12-18 months. Refrigerate after opening and use within 4-6 weeks.

The Best Canned Jalapenos to Substitute Fresh Jalapenos

Choosing a suitable canned substitute for fresh jalapenos will depend on what you want your jalapenos to contribute to the dish, their availability, and what they bring to the table uniquely. We’ve selected three of many options and have provided the necessary information to assist you in making an informed decision.

Rank #1: San Marcos Whole Jalapeno Peppers

San Marcos Whole Jalapenos, 6 Lb, 97 oz, Carefully handpicked Whole Jalapeños Peppers
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These are whole jalapeno peppers pickled in vinegar with sliced onions and carrots. These canned jalapenos have a crunch like fresh jalapenos, which is rare. It also imparts a nice salty and vinegary flavor to whatever dish you intend to prepare.

They are an excellent choice in terms of spiciness, flavor, and hotness when compared to fresh ones. It has been reviewed to be spicier and hotter than most canned jalapenos. So, if you want to keep the heat and spiciness of your dish, this can come in very handy.

The onions and carrots can be picked out of the can and subsequently used as desired. They’re cheap and widely available in stores and online.

It has also been called the best-tasting canned jalapeno option, and should be tried by all jalapeno enthusiasts. Imagine getting the best of jalapenos and more!

Another great thing is the wholeness of the jalapenos, which allows you to easily adhere to the recipes and gauge the hotness. The San Marcos Whole Jalapeno Peppers have also been said to be the best canned jalapeno in terms of taste.

Rank #2: La Costena’s Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

La Costeña Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, 12-Ounce Can (Pack of 3)
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Chipotle peppers are jalapenos that have undergone a slow smoking process. Unlike fresh jalapenos, these are picked when red. This might not make them hotter, but it does make them more spicy. The smoking process adds a smoky flavor to their naturally bright, grassy taste.

The smoked jalapeno flavor is made even more magical by the adobo sauce. It’s made with tomatoes, onions, and paprika, and it gives any dish a little more flavor and life. Chipotles in adobo sauce can be cooked and added just like fresh jalapenos.

It’s a great alternative to fresh ones because it’s cheap and widely available. It essentially replicates the flavor of fresh jalapenos. Since there are typically 8–10 whole chipotle peppers inside, it would be simple to replicate the fresh jalapeno recipe. Adobo sauce can add flavor to other foods, especially chicken.

Rank #3: Ortega’s Diced Jalapenos

Ortega Peppers, Diced Jalapenos, Hot, 4 Ounce (Pack of 24)
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The Ortega Diced jalapeno peppers are ready-to-use at all times and are quick to incorporate into any dish because they are skin-free, nicely roasted, and diced.

They may not be suitable for use in recipes because they are not whole, but they are a great substitute in situations where whole jalapenos cannot be found. 

These canned jalapenos are mildly flavored and have a great taste that is not overpowered by vinegar, making them a good choice for people who don’t like the taste of vinegar.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Smoked dried jalapenos, known as chipotle peppers, are another excellent substitute for pickled jalapenos. Their adobo sauce amps up the flavor.

Chipotles in adobo deliver more heat than pickled jalapenos, so use 3⁄4 of the amount called for. Their smoky taste also adds deep flavor notes.

Look for chipotles packed in a tomato-based sauce. The smooth adobo complements the pickled pepper flavor.

Use chipotles in adobo to:

  • Liven up tacos, enchiladas, nachos, and quesadillas
  • Make spicy mayo, dressings, or cream sauces
  • Punch up chili, soups, stews, and braises
  • Marinate or season meat before cooking

Quick Pickled Fresh Jalapenos

When fresh jalapenos are in season, transform them into quick pickled peppers. This homemade version lets you personalize the flavor.

To quick pickle fresh jalapenos:

  • Slice jalapenos into rings, leaving seeds intact for heat.
  • Heat a vinegar brine with spices like garlic, mustard seed, and black peppercorns.
  • Pour brine over jalapenos in a Mason jar. Cover and refrigerate, allowing them to pickle for at least 2 days.
  • Use within 4 weeks. Substitute for store bought in a 1:1 ratio.

With this easy method, you can enjoy pickled jalapeno flavor any time fresh peppers are available.

Other Pickled Peppers

Beyond jalapenos, various pickled peppers work well as substitutes. Good options include:

Pickled Banana Peppers – Mildly spicy with a tangy vinegar taste. Use for sandwiches and pizza.

Pickled Fresno Chilies – Bigger in size than jalapenos with similar heat. Swap in salsas and guacamole.

Pickled Cherry Bomb Peppers – Round shape and bright red color. Beautiful garnish for taco bars.

Giardiniera Vegetable Mix – Assorted pickled veggies like cauliflower, carrots, and peppers. Adds crunch.

Peppadew Peppers – Sweet and mildly spicy pickled South African peppers. Low heat alternative.

Sport Peppers – Small, tangy pickled chili peppers. Nice for pizza, subs, and antipasto.

Each brings unique flavors, so sample a few to find your favorite pickled pepper match.

Hot Sauces and Condiments

When you’re in a pinch, use hot sauces and spicy condiments to mimic pickled jalapeno taste:

  • Cholula – Tangy flavor and mild heat, excellent on eggs and tacos.
  • Tapatio – Bright chili flavor with solid spice, nice on just about everything.
  • Texas Pete – Mild cayenne pepper sauce. Good for dipping sauces and dressings.
  • Sriracha – Garlicky with slow building heat, great in Asian and Mexican dishes.
  • Horseradish Sauce – Zesty and extremely spicy, perfect for sandwiches or cocktails sauces.

Start with a small amount of hot sauce and add more to reach desired spice level.

How Much Substitute for Pickled Jalapenos?

Use a 1:1 ratio when swapping most alternatives for pickled jalapenos. For spicier options like chipotle peppers in adobo or fresh quick pickled jalapenos, start with 3⁄4 of the amount and adjust to taste.


With pickled jalapenos’ unique blend of heat, acidity, and crunch, finding a perfect stand-in can be tricky. But alternatives like canned pickled jalapenos, chipotles in adobo, and quick pickled fresh peppers capture the flavor well.

Other substitutes like pickled banana peppers, hot sauces, and giardiniera mixes offer their own perks. Keep these flavorful substitutions on hand, and you’ll never miss the pickled jalapenos!

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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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