8 Best Calabrian Peppers Substitute

Calabrian peppers substitute can be chosen from a variety of options: anaheim peppers, jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, serrano peppers, and many others. Calabrian chili pepper is a medium heat pepper (25,000 -40,000 Scoville heat units).

This pepper has a fruity, mildly smoky taste, with a hint of salty. It is used in Italian cuisine and other spicy food dishes. Calabrian chilies are often crushed into chili flakes or made into a Calabrian chili paste.

To learn more about finding a good Calabrian chili substitute, keep reading this article. Here, we listed the best substitutes for Calabrian chili.

Calabrian Peppers Substitute

Since Calabrian peppers are moderately hot peppers, when looking for a good substitute you need to either find a pepper with a similar heat level, or you’ll need to adjust the recipe.

For example, if you are substituting Calabrian pepper with a milder chili, you will need to use more of that chili to achieve the same heat level. Or, if you are replacing Calabrian pepper with a hotter pepper, make sure to use smaller amounts to avoid making your meal too hot.

Calabrian Peppers Substitute pin

1. Anaheim pepper

Anaheim peppers originally come from New Mexico, and they can be found fresh or pickled. They are much milder than Calabrian chilis, so you will need to use more Anaheim peppers to achieve the same heat as with Calabrian peppers.

2. Serrano pepper

Another Mexican pepper, often gets confused with jalapenos, but this pepper is much smaller. Serrano peppers are a great substitute for Calabrian chili peppers, with an earthy and spicy flavor. Still, they are a bit milder than Calabrian chilis, so you will need to use more to achieve the same heat levels.

3. Fresno pepper

These peppers are also often confused with jalapenos, but they are hotter. Red Fresno peppers are especially good in replacing Calabrian peppers because they have the same fruity taste.

4. Poblano pepper

A very fleshy pepper, Poblano is a good Calabrian substitute, but you will need to use more of it to replace the Calabrian, because Poblano is not as nearly as hot as Calabrian pepper.

5. Red pepper flakes

Crushed red pepper flakes are a great alternative to Calabrian chili because they can be found everywhere. They might not bring sweetness and freshness to the dish as Calabrian chili does, but they bring heat and spiciness. When mixed with olive oil, red pepper flakes are a good Calabrian chili paste substitute.

6. Cayenne pepper

This pepper is slightly hotter than Calabrian chili. It has a mildly fruity flavor profile. When used as a Calabrian substitute, a lesser amount of Cayenne pepper flakes is needed to achieve the same heat level.

7. Jalapeno pepper

Jalapeno peppers are not as nearly as hot as Calabrian chilies, and they have a different, more fresh flavor in comparison to the smokey and fruity Calabrian flavor. However, they can still be used instead of Calabrian chilies, only in larger quantities.

8. Habanero pepper

Much hotter than Calabrian chili, Habanero pepper has a fruity, sweet, and a little bit of pungent flavor. That’s why you only need small amounts of habanero peppers to substitute for Calabrian chili.

Calabrian Chilies Substitute

Another good substitute for Calabrian chilies or Calabrian chili paste is a store-bought or homemade hot sauce. Some of the best hot sauces to replace Calabrian chili are:

  1. Harissa – A hot chili paste made of New Mexico and Guajillo peppers. It has a moderately hot taste and goes well with stews, meat dishes, pizza, eggs, and sandwiches.
  2. Sriracha – A hot chili sauce with a sweet and tangy taste, and it is made of chilies, sugar, and garlic. It’s a great substitute for Calabrian chili paste, as it has the same heat level and similar flavor.
  3. Sambal Oelek – An Asian paste made of chili peppers, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Great for meat dishes, pizza, sandwiches, but also as a dipping sauce or spread.

Calabrian Peppers Alternative

Another great alternative to Calabrian chili pepper is Thai chili pepper. These peppers are also known as Thai miniatures and bird’s beak chiles because of their small size. However, don’t let their appearance fool you, they are more than 2 times hotter than Calabrian chili peppers!

Thai chili pepper has a fruity and spicy flavor, which means only a pinch of these peppers will be enough to replace all the flavor and heat of Calabrian chili.

Calabrian Pepper Powder Substitute

Calabrian chili pepper can be ground into pepper flakes and powder which can be later used to add heat to your meals. However, if you don’t have any Calabrian chili powder, you can grind Serrano pepper flakes, Fresno pepper flakes, or red pepper flakes.

What Is A Good Substitute For Calabrian Peppers?

For those who like eating chili peppers, but can’t stand too much heat, there are milder options out there that can nicely replace Calabrian chili.

  1. Cascabel chili – Also called rattle chili, this pepper is not spicy, it has a mild heat that adds heat and depth to your meal.
  2. Aleppo pepper – A bit hotter than Cascabel chili, Aleppo pepper is still considered mild when compared to Calabrian chili or Cayenne pepper. It has a sweet and smokey flavor.
  3. Shishito pepper – Small and mild peppers originally from Japan. They have a sweet and slightly smokey flavor.

What Do Calabrian Peppers Taste Like?

Calabrian peppers have a spicy, sweet, fruity, and slightly salty flavor. Another flavor note that can be observed when eating Calabrian chili peppers is smokey flavor, especially when you roast or grill these peppers.


Now you know which peppers would be a good Calabrian peppers substitute. Our top choices are Serrano pepper, Fresno pepper, and Cayenne pepper, but you can also use hot sauces, such as Harissa, Sriracha, and Sambal Oelek.

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