Outstanding Calabrian Chili Substitutes To Try

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You are in the pantry, and you have realized you are out of Calabrian chilies, and it can be tough to find a substitute that will give your dish the same flavor. However, by considering a few factors, you can easily find a chili that will come close to replicating the flavor of Calabrian chilies. In this article, we’ll discuss what to look for when choosing a chili substitute and provide some recommendations for Calabrian Chili Substitutes. So, without further ado, let’s get cooking!

What does Calabrian chili taste like?

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand what Calabrian chilis taste like so we can find the closest replacement for them!

Calabrian chili is a type of chili pepper grown in the Calabrian region of Italy. It is commonly used in Italian cuisine. The peppers are small and hot, with a deeply rooted, smoky, yet fruity flavor. You can usually purchase them dried, pickled like a relish, or in a paste form in olive oil.

They are typically used in dishes such as pasta all’arrabbiata and pizza alla diavola, where their bold flavor helps to offset the richness of the sauce or cheese.

Calabrian chili is also often used as a condiment, adding a spicy kick to sandwiches and salads. While the peppers are widely available in grocery stores, they can also be easily grown at home by picking up some seeds!

How Hot Are Calabrian Chilis?

When finding a substitute for Calabrian Chilis, it’s also important to understand the heat or spice level of this lovely pepper.

These tiny peppers are typically about 1-3 inches long and have a bright red color. They are also very spicy, with a Scoville rating of 25,000-40,000 units. When used in cooking, they can add a significant amount of heat to dishes. For this reason, they are often used sparingly and are usually chopped or minced before being added to food.

Now that we have covered some important characteristics, it’s time to get to the alternatives!

Substitutes for Calabrian Chili

Calabrian Chili Substitutes

Most of the chili peppers below are not as spicy as a Calabrian chili. But that’s ok you can increase the heat by adding more peppers! These options are also good since some might want a milder version.

Anaheim Pepper

500 to 2,500 Scoville Heat Units

Anaheim peppers are a great substitute for Calabrian chilies.

They are a type of chili pepper with a mild to medium level of heat. They are commonly used in Mexican and Southwestern dishes and can be found fresh, canned, or dried. Anaheim peppers are long and slender, with a smooth, fleshy texture.

The skin is thin and glossy, ranging in color from green to red. When used fresh, Anaheim peppers have a sweet flavor with hints of tanginess. This helps complement the fruity flavor of Calabrian chilis. When canned or dried, they take on a smoky taste.

Serrano Peppers

10,000 to 25,000 Scoville Heat Units

If you’re looking for a pepper with a little more heat, like the Calabrian chili, then serrano peppers are a good option. Like Anaheim peppers, they can be found at most grocery stores. Serrano peppers are a type of chili pepper that originated in the mountains of Mexico.

They are typically green when immature and turn red, orange, or yellow when they are ripe. Serrano peppers are known for their sharp, bright flavor and are often used in Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. They can also be pickled or used fresh.


1,500 Scoville Heat Units

Poblano peppers are another good substitute for Calabrian chilies. But they are extremely gentle on the heat level. They are like a green bell pepper but with a little more zing! This is a good substitute for children or for those who can’t handle a lot of heat. You can always pare this pepper with a slightly hotter one like serrano to help build on flavors.

Poblano peppers are a type of chili pepper that is typically used in Mexican cooking. They are mild to medium-hot chili pepper with a deep, earthy flavor. Poblano peppers are typically harvested while they are still green, but they can also be left on the plant to ripen and turn red, orange, or brown.

When dried, poblano peppers are known as ancho peppers, and they have a sweet, almost chocolatey flavor.

Fresno Chili

2,500 – 10,000 Scoville Heat Units

Fresno chilies are a great option for substitutes for Calabrian chilis. Fresno chilis are a type of chili pepper that was originally cultivated in the Fresno, California, area. The peppers are typically small and range in color from green to red. They have a mild to moderate level of heat, with most varieties falling somewhere on the lower end of the Scoville scale. They have a similar flavor profile. by both being fruity and smoky. The big difference is in the heat scale that I mentioned earlier. Fresno chilis are much milder than Calabrians.

Red Pepper Flakes

15,000 – 35,000 Scoville Heat Units

If you’re looking for more flavor than heat, red pepper flakes are a great option. They’ll add a nice bit of spice to your dish without being too overwhelming. Another great plus for red pepper flakes is that they are most likely in your spice rack! Making it a sure substitute in a pinch.

Red pepper flakes are a form of crushed red pepper. They are made from dried and crushed red chili peppers, also known as cayenne peppers. The flakes can range in heat from mild to very hot, depending on the type of chili pepper used and the number of seeds present.

Red pepper flakes are commonly used as a spice or condiment, and they can be added to a wide variety of dishes. For example, they are often sprinkled on pizza or pasta, added to soups or stews, or used to make spicy rubs for meat.

Because these are dried and have more of spice, they might not work for your recipe when it needs the full body of a pepper. But if the recipe can be manipulated and a dry spice like red pepper flakes work then, I say go for it. It will give you the heat you need in that dish.

Calabrian chili replacement infograph

My Final Thoughts on Calabrian Chili Substitutes

There are plenty of substitutes for Calabrian chilies if you can’t find them at your local grocery store. Anaheim peppers, serrano peppers, poblano peppers, and Fresno chilies are all great options. If you’re looking for more heat than flavor, then red pepper flakes are also a good option. With so many options, there’s no excuse not to enjoy your favorite dishes! Happy cooking!

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