Running out of jalapenos or running low on other chili peppers and plan on substituting? This article will help you out!
Jalapeno can substitute the milder and moderately hot peppers such as Anaheim, Poblano, Rocotillo, Hungarian, Serrano, Cayenne Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper Powder and vice-versa, to reach an approximate Scoville Heat Units (SHU) which is the unit of heat.
Does it work though? Discover the answer below!
How Many Jalapenos Are Equal to Other Peppers?
The heat that chili peppers are measured by Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The higher the number, the hotter it is.
So, before we could work out how many jalapenos will equal some of the chili peppers available on the market, let’s first see how much SHU these peppers have on the table below, from lowest to highest
|Type of Chili Pepper||Scoville Heat Units (SHU).|
|Scotch Bonnet Pepper||100,000–350,000|
|Red Savina Habanero||350,000–577,000|
It is also important to note that factors such as the type of soil, temperature, and location of the chili peppers where they are planted can affect their heat (source: National Institute of Standards and Technology US. Department of Commerce).
Since we have already established this, let’s find out how many jalapenos you need for each of the chili peppers above based on their SHU units starting with Anaheim:
|Type of Chili Pepper||Pieces of Jalapenos|
|Anaheim||1/8 to ¼|
|Rocotillo||1/5 to 1|
|Hungarian||1 ¼ to 2|
|Serrano||3 to 4|
|Cayenne Pepper||6 ¼ to 12|
|Thai||12 ½ to 20|
|Habanero||40 to 43 ¾|
|Scotch Bonnet Pepper||40 to 43 ¾|
|Red Savina Habanero||72 to 140|
|Ghost Pepper||130 to 342|
|Trinidad Scorpion||250 to 480|
|Carolina Reaper||287 ½ to 600|
|Dragon’s Breath||312 ½ to 1,000|
|Pepper X||397 ½ to 1,272|
Realistically, we think that you can only substitute jalapenos with milder or moderately hot chili peppers namely Anaheim, Poblano, Rocotillo, Hungarian, Serrano, and Cayenne Pepper, and vice-versa if we talk about the heat.
However, we also have to remember that each chili pepper has its own unique taste and aroma. If, for example, your recipe calls for Thai chilis and you only have jalapenos, substituting it with jalapeno might change the overall taste of the recipe.
If you noticed, for hot chili peppers, you need hundreds of jalapenos to match their heat. SHU measures the concentration of capsaicinoids or capsaicin.
Capsaicin is what makes jalapenos hot or spicy to the taste. However, unlike what many people believe, the seeds don’t make the jalapeno peppers hot or spicy.
Capsaicin is not produced in the seeds. Rather, the capsaicin glands are the ones that make them. They are in between the placenta of the jalapeno pepper and the endocarp (the part that surrounds the seeds) (source: Food Source Information Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence).
Are you curious about eating jalapeno seeds and the potential outcomes? You’ll find valuable insights in my guide, which specifically addresses this topic and answers your exact question!
The other compound that gives jalapenos their heat whether the mild or moderately mild varieties is oleoresin (source: Ciência e Técnica Vitivinícola). Oleoresin is what pepper sprays have (source: Journal of the American Optometric Association).
Did you know? Birds can’t feel the “burn” when they eat chili peppers. Only mammals do. This is because birds are meant to scatter the seeds while we react to it as a stimulus like we would a threat (source: University of Michigan Health Services).
If the recipe doesn’t call for too much heat or spiciness, jalapenos can be used in times of dire need. It can substitute or be substituted by Anaheim, Poblano, Rocotillo, Hungarian, Serrano, and Cayenne Pepper based on SHU units.
Others you can substitute with jalapenos are Cayenne Pepper Powder. One jalapeno would give the same heat level as ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder. Smoked paprika powder is also compared to the flavor, not the heat, of jalapenos.
Jalapeno peppers will work as a substitute for mild to moderately hot chili peppers but not hot ones. We hope this helps as a useful guide to your chili pepper substituting journey!