Chile de Arbol is often the first choice when creating traditional Mexican dishes.
However, if you can’t get it or are intolerant, there are still plenty of ways to bring that unique South American flair into your kitchen.
In this blog post, we’ll uncover some tasty and creative substitutes for chile de arbol that offer similar flavor profiles with milder heat levels.
What Is Chile De Arbol?
Chile de Arbol is a dried red pepper native to Mexico. It has a bright, fruity flavor and a heat level that ranges from mild to very hot.
This type of chili pepper is often used as an ingredient in Mexican cuisine, where it lends its unique flavor to dishes like salsa, tacos, soups, and other traditional recipes.
It is also used in sauces and as a garnish for tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, and other Mexican dishes.
Chile de Arbol can also be used to make a hot sauce or added to soups and stews for added heat.
This fiery chili pepper has become increasingly popular in North America and is easily found in supermarkets, specialty stores, and online.
When using chile de Arbol in cooking, consider the amount of chili pepper used on the desired level of heat.
It can be added whole, crushed, or ground into a powder.
The seeds and veins should also be removed for milder dishes as they contribute to the pepper’s heat.
Substitutes For Chile De Arbol
If you can’t find chile de arbol in your local grocery store or specialty market, there are several alternatives available:
Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper in the Capsicum annuum family.
It has a moderate to high heat level, ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
Cayenne pepper is longer and more slender than many other chili peppers, ranging from 1 to 5 inches long.
It has thin walls and is usually bright red in color when ripe.
It’s also much easier to find in stores compared to chile de arbol, which makes it a more accessible option.
Additionally, cayenne pepper is widely used in many cuisines and can be found in numerous recipes worldwide.
This makes it easy to incorporate into any dish or recipe.
Serrano pepper is a chili pepper that originated in the mountainous regions of Puebla and Hidalgo Mexican states.
It belongs to the species Capsicum annuum, including jalapeños and cayenne peppers.
Serranos are usually about 2-3 inches long, wrinkled, and deep green color, but they can also be red or yellow.
They have thin skin and are generally quite spicy, ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville scale.
They are great in salsas, chilis, marinades, and sauces. They can also add a kick of heat to stews, soups, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, and more.
The serranos are believed to be slightly less spicy than Chile de Arbol, but they still provide enough heat for many dishes.
They can be used to replace the chiles in recipes, or they can also be added to create an additional layer of flavor.
Bell Pepper is a type of sweet pepper with very mild heat compared to other peppers.
It is often used as a recipe substitute for Chile De Arbol because it provides the same flavor without overpowering spiciness.
Bell Pepper can range from mild to sweet depending on its ripe. The longer it takes for the pepper to ripen, the sweeter it will be.
It can also be cooked in various ways, including roasting, baking, or stewing.
Bell Pepper is a good way to add flavor to dishes without having too much heat.
Additionally, its vibrant color adds a nice visual element to many dishes.
By substituting bell pepper for Chile De Arbol, you can ensure your dish will have flavor and visual appeal without being too spicy.
The Guajillo chile is a red-colored, medium-sized pepper with mild to moderate heat. It ranges between 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
When dried, the peppers are typically four to five inches long with a deep red color and wrinkled skin.
The flavor of the Guajillo pepper is distinct, with notes of earthiness and berry-like sweetness.
The Guajillo chile has a significantly milder heat than the Chile De Arbol pepper (heat level between 15,000 – 30,000 SHU)
This makes the Guajillo pepper an ideal substitute for dishes that require a milder heat level.
The earthy and sweet flavor of the Guajillo still gives dishes a unique flavor without too much spiciness.
Additionally, as its flavor is still quite different from most other peppers, it can add depth and variety to dishes without the extreme heat of the Chile De Arbol.
Gochugaru, or Korean red pepper flakes, is a chili pepper used in Korean cuisine.
Gochugaru is made by drying and then crushing red pepper pods that are grown specifically for making the powder.
It has a bright orange-red color and a smoky heat level ranging from mild to spicy.
When used in cooking, Gochugaru adds a smoky spiciness to kimchi, soups and stews.
It can also be used to make sauces for grilled meats, as well as in marinades and pickled vegetables.
The smokiness of the Gochugaru also adds an extra layer of depth to dishes that are not present with Chile De Arbol.
Additionally, Gochugaru is more widely available and can be found in most grocery stores.
It is also an affordable alternative to Chile De Arbol, making it a great option for cooks looking to add some heat to their dishes on a budget.
Jalapenos are a type of chili pepper that is commonly used in Mexican cuisine.
They typically measure between 2,500 and 8,000 on the Scoville scale.
Jalapenos come in a variety of colors which gives dishes more visual appeal.
In addition to adding flavor, jalapenos provide numerous health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and aiding digestion.
They are versatile and can be used in various dishes, from appetizers to main courses.
Thus, jalapenos are a great alternative for Chile De Arbol when unavailable.
What Kind Of Pepper Is Similar To Chile De Arbol?
The chile de árbol is a small, potent Mexican pepper that looks like a thinner, longer cayenne pepper.
Its heat level is 15,000 – 30,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), making it much hotter than a jalapeño.
If you’re looking for a pepper with similar heat, try the pequin peppers.
Is Cayenne Similar To Chile De Arbol?
No, cayenne and chile de arbol are two different types of peppers.
Cayenne pepper is a Capsicum annuum that ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units (SHU).
Chile de Arbol is a type of chili pepper that falls between 15,000 to 30,000 SHU.
Cayenne pepper has a bright, sharp flavor while chile de arbol tends to have a more earthy flavor.
Is Guajillo Similar To Chile De Arbol?
No, guajillo is not similar to chile de arbol.
Guajillo peppers are dark red in color and have a mild, sweet flavor with hints of berries and tobacco.
They range from 2,500 to 5,000 on the Scoville heat scale.
Chile de Arbol is a popular pepper used in many Latin American dishes.
Its unique flavor and relatively high heat level make it a great choice for adding spice to dishes.
Fortunately, several options to substitute for chile de arbol are available for something similar yet milder, such as cayenne pepper, serrano pepper, bell peppers, guajillo, gochugaru, and jalapenos.
Each pepper has a unique flavor and heat level that can add personality to dishes in the absence of Chile de Arbol.
Ultimately, choosing the right pepper for a recipe will depend on the desired heat level and flavor profile the chef desires.