Can You Substitute Jalapenos For Green Chilies?

can you substitute jalapenos for green chilies
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Can You Substitute Jalapenos for Green Chilies

For everyone who loves spicy food, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that jalapenos and green chilies are probably the most important ingredients in their kitchens! Jalapenos and green chilies may both be green, but their size and heat are pretty different.

Many people wonder, “Can you substitute jalapenos for green chilies?” So, let’s check out the details!

Can You Substitute Jalapenos For Green Chilies?

Comparing the heat

Both chilies and jalapenos are considered hot peppers in terms of heat units, unlike bell peppers which have zero heat units. We’re going to look at something called the Scoville scale to compare the two in terms of heat.

Of course, you could go ahead and taste the peppers to see if they are similar, but this could end up with you running for a glass of cold milk and a tissue! The Scoville scale measures pepper heat in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The higher the number, the hotter the pepper.

Mild ranges from 100 to 2 500 SHU. Medium is between 2 500 and 30 000 SHU. Hot is between 100 000 and 300 000 SHU. Lastly, there’s Extremely Hot (for the truly brave among us) which is above 300 000 SHU. Where do our two peppers fall on here?

Green jalapeno hot pepper in wooden plate closeup
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Green chilis range between 2 500 and 8 000 SHU. Jalapenos are between 5 000 to 15 000. As you can see, jalapenos are much hotter so we wouldn’t recommend substituting them for chilis in a recipe.

You may be wondering why there’s such a wide variety of heat in one type of pepper. This is because various factors affect the heat such as growing conditions (drought conditions concentrate the flavor), soil, variety, degree of ripeness, and more.

If you need something with a milder flavor for substituting, it’s best to go for poblano peppers (1 500-2 500 SHU), banana peppers (0-500 SHU), or Anaheim peppers (500 to 1000 SHU).

On the other hand, if you want to add a pinch of spice rather than overwhelming the dish, it’s best to go for pasilla peppers (1000 to 2500 SHU). All in all, you can only add a smaller quantity of jalapenos if you want to substitute them for green chilies.

Pickled sliced green jalapeno peppers on black board background
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Comparing the size

Size is the second difference between jalapenos and green chilies. While green chilies are usually six inches long with a block-like shape narrowing down at the end, jalapenos are small and are two to three inches in length. Also, the shape of jalapenos tends to be narrow.

Comparing the color

Green chilies usually remain on the vine until they are picked. In some cases, they are allowed to ripen and become red. Jalapenos are harvested as soon as they get firm and green.

They aren’t left to ripen. Also, jalapenos are harvested by machines, while green chilies are hand-picked.

Jalapeno hot peppers on plant
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The bottom line

The final take on this is that substituting jalapenos for green chilies is very challenging. This is because the green chilies are milder in terms of heat units and flavor while jalapenos are hotter. For the most part, the substitution isn’t suggested.

However, in emergencies, you can use jalapenos to replace green chilies – just use a much smaller quantity. Smaller peppers tend to be spicier as the flavor is more concentrated so if you’re going to substitute, choose bigger jalapenos.

Raw green Organic Jalapeno Peppers Ready to Cook
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That’s a wrap for today – we’d be interested to hear your comments on this subject!

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