What Is a Good Substitute for Calabrian Chili? (UPDATED)

image of What Taste similar to Calabrian Chili

Do you love adding some spicy kick to your food? We sure do! Imagine the amazing taste and heat that peppers bring to our meals.

Among all the different types of peppers, there’s one that everyone loves: the Calabrian chili. It has become super popular and people all around the world can’t get enough of it.

But here’s the thing: it can be hard to find Calabrian chili in the grocery stores. And what if you’re cooking something and you realize you don’t have any? So, what is a good substitute for calabrian chili?

Don’t worry! We have a great solution: a substitute for the Calabrian chili.

Imagine having a list of other things you can use instead of the Calabrian chili. It will save the day!

So, If you want to explore different spicy flavors and need a replacement for the Calabrian chili, just keep reading. Your taste buds are in for a treat!

When it comes to finding a good substitute for Calabrian chili, it’s essential to understand the unique characteristics of this particular chili pepper.

Before we delve into what Calabrian Chili substitute for using, let’s first tackle what it is.

What’s Calabrian Chili Anyway?

Calabrian chili, also known as Calabrese chili or peperoncino, is a variety of chili pepper originating from the Calabria region in southern Italy. As such, it’s very popular in Italian cuisine, where you can find it in many of its dishes. 

This pepper boasts rich red color and fruity flavor, making it highly versatile with adequate heat for those who love spicy food. (*)

Fun fact:

 Calabrian chili is sometimes called the pepperoncino, measuring about 25,000-40,000 SHU. It’s so popular in its native region that it has its annual festival!

Calabrian peppers have a rusty appearance, growing on vines. They would hang on the vines until growing and maturing, aged for as long as possible. 

The aging process will give these peppers a fruity, tangy flavor and more intense spice.

What Is A Good Substitute For Calabrian Chili?

There are various reasons why you may need a substitute for Calabrian chili, may it be from its non-availability or taste preference since the Calabrian pepper may be too spicy. 

Whatever the case may be, you can use any of these peppers and ingredients as a Calabrian chili replacement:

1. Chili Flakes

One of the most popular alternatives for pepper variants is red chili flakes and crushed red pepper.

It’s a well-known substitute for Calabrian chili because of its similar flavor.

Chili flakes are essentially dried and crushed chili you can easily find in your local grocery store.

Calabrian chilies are usually added to recipes to provide spiciness, juiciness, and saltiness to recipes. Because chili flakes are dried, they don’t have the juiciness you need, but the spicy and salty flavor is similar to Calabrian chili.

You can add an equal amount of chili flakes as you would with Calabrian chili, adjusting the amount according to your heat tolerance and desire.

You can also add chili flakes while you cook or after!

Pro Tip:

There are various chili flakes to choose from made of different peppers like ancho, Anaheim, pasilla, and jalapeno chilies. There are also other additives and spices, such as cumin, garlic, oregano, salt, sugar, and the like.

2. Serrano Pepper

image of serrano peppers

Another excellent Calabrian chili alternative is the Serrano pepper, which originates from Mexico.

We consider serrano pepper a medium-heat pepper like the Calabrian chili, so you can use equal amounts to get the desired heat level. Because of its appearance, you may mistake serrano pepper for the jalapeno, but they have a different shape!

Serrano peppers are readily available like jalapenos, though. Moreover, Serrano peppers have an earthy and spicy flavor tasting great when roasted.

Serrano peppers have a similar flavor to Calabrian chili, but they don’t dry as nicely. Because of that, this replacement is best suited for salsas, garnishes, or relishes.

3. Korean Gochugaru

If you’re looking for a substitute to use in Korean or other Asian recipes that call for Calabrian chili, gochugaru can be a suitable option.

Gochugaru is a coarse Korean red pepper powder known for its vibrant color, medium heat, and slight sweetness.

It doesn’t have the same smoky flavor as Calabrian chili, but it can add a unique taste to your dishes.

Other Substitutes For Calabrian Chili To Try

4. Anaheim Pepper

image of Anaheim Peppers

The Anaheim pepper originates from New Mexico and is very easy to find.

They are named such because they were brought to Anaheim, California, during the early 1900s, gaining popularity there.

Fun fact: Anaheim chili is also called the Hatch Chili Pepper or New Mexico Chili.

While this is a decent Calabrian replacement, Anaheim peppers aren’t too spicy.

They have a similar texture, but you’ll need more Anaheim peppers if you want the same spice level as Calabrian chili. While you can use Anaheim peppers when red, most people use this substitute when they are green.

5. Habanero Pepper

The Habanero Pepper is a popular variant, and you’ve probably heard of it, too! Not only are habaneros readily available, but it’s also the spiciest pepper from the Chilean pepper family. It measures 100,000-350,000 SHUs!

These peppers are a bit spicier than Calabrian chili, but they make an excellent substitute if you use proper amounts. You may want to add less first, taste-testing, and add more as you please. Expect a bit of fruity, citrus flavor notes with a gentle floral aroma.

Fun fact: Habanero and Calabrian chili contain capsaicin, a chemical triggering the burning sensation in our mouths when consuming them. Talk about packing the heat! (*)

Habanero peppers are divided into various groups, such as the lightest white habanero, Fatali yellow chili, and the chocolate habanero, the hottest one!

We like habanero not just cause of its hotness but because it has a lot of vitamins and trace elements. That said, avoid eating too many spicy peppers like these as they can cause stomach issues.

6. Fresno Pepper

Like Serrano, Fresno peppers are also mistaken for jalapenos, but these are much hotter, with the red ones being hotter than the green. These are an excellent substitute for Calabrian chili because you get a similar fruity flavor.

We highly recommend using red Fresno peppers over the green ones for more spice and authentic flavor.

7. Poblano Pepper

This is another Mexican pepper with mild heat levels. The red version is hotter than the green one, though!

Poblano peppers are fleshy and versatile; both fresh and dried forms are readily available in stores. Since these peppers are less spicy than the Calabrian chili, you may need to add more to get the desired heat level.

Fun fact: When Poblano peppers are dried, they are called Ancho peppers!

8. Hot Sauce

We only recommend using hot sauce when in a pinch because they have a different consistency than Calabrian chili.

This is a versatile and spicy ingredient you can easily find in grocery stores. There are many hot sauces to choose from made of different peppers and other ingredients to add flavor, sweetness, and smokiness.

You can easily find a hot sauce with a similar flavor and spice level as the Calabrian chili or experiment with other brands for that unique kick. If you need a replacement for fresh Calabrian chili, you can always opt for Calabrian chili paste for its flavor.

While it’s a different consistency, you most likely won’t have to worry about it altering your dish unless you are adding more than a spoonful.

You can make the sauce thicker with a bit of paprika or favored seasonings, though!

Frequently Asked Questions

If you want to learn more about Calabrian chili, we answer insightful questions below!

  • Fun fact: If you get your hands on fresh Calabrian chili, you can either use them raw or dried. Let your chilis dry for a few days, hanging them on a clothespin.

Wrapping It Up

When you’re looking for a substitute for Calabrian chili, we can’t say for sure what’s the best for you. It depends on your recipe and personal taste.

But when it comes to flavor, we believe that the closest alternative is chili flakes, as they have similar spice and versatility. Plus, they are readily available in stores!

Of course, you can use another Calabrian alternative, whether Anaheim peppers or the hot sauce you have in the kitchen.

Good luck, and hopefully, you achieve the kick you want in your recipe!

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