Chili de arbol is an incredibly popular Mexican pepper, best known in powdered form. Although it is incredibly widespread in Mexican cuisine, it is only slowly making its way around the world.

If you are looking for a substitute for arbol chili, we have what you need. Fortunately, this chili variety is very similar to other cheaper varieties in the United States. In this article we present some alternatives to Chili de Arbol in the kitchen.

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Arbol peppers from Chile (fresh).

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1. Cayenne pepper

Since arbol chili is often used in dried and powdered form, the easiest alternative is probably cayenne pepper powder. This herb, used to season dishes, is a perfect substitute for Arbol Chile.

Homemade cayenne pepper powder.

Cayenne pepper not only has a similar shape and color, but also has the same heat rating as the arbol chili pepper. With a Scoville rating of about 50,000 SHU, cayenne pepper brings the same level of heat to your kitchen.

Cayenne is also a very productive plant that can easily be grown in a container. For more information on growing peppers in pots, click here.

2. Serrano pepper

Serrano peppers are an excellent alternative to Arbol Chile. Although they are usually marketed as green, Serrano peppers actually ripen until they turn bright red, like a tree.

Serrano peppers are slightly less spicy, but have a delicious flavor and a relatively thin wall compared to jalapenos. You can dry the serranos yourself with a dehydrator or in the oven, or you can use them fresh.

Serrano pepper.

Learn more about Serrano peppers.

3. Jalapeño

If neither of the first two peppers is available, try searching the market for other fresh peppers. Jalapenos would also work, but they are less spicy and have thicker flesh than arbol peppers.

Chilli Japonese is a similar type of pepper that is usually sold fully dried. You can also find other types of dried peppers, especially during harvest time.

Remember, arbol chili is usually used to add heat and maybe a touch of red. The flavor is not very pronounced, so any thin-skinned pepper would be a good alternative.

4. Home-made paprika

If you have fresh pepper but need powder, try it yourself! The process takes time, but it’s super easy. The aim is to extract all the moisture from the fresh pepper and grind it into flakes or fine powder.

Homemade paprika.

Tip: Always use respiratory protection when grinding chilli. Powder with added capsaicin can enter the lungs and cause severe irritation!

Learn how to dehydrate peppers to powder here.

5. Paprika

If you want the mild flavor and color of dried arbol chili, but without the heat, you can use chilies as a substitute. Paprika is really just dried and powdered red pepper.

This spice is delicious and reminiscent of arbol chili, but does not impart a sharp taste. We recommend using half paprika and half hot paprika to reduce the sharpness.

If you want to add a little smoke flavor to your meal, you can use smoked paprika. Instead of just dehydrating the red peppers, they are smoked to give them a strong, rich flavor – highly recommended!

6. Pepper flakes

In some countries, chili flakes are much more common than powder. Italian chili flakes are often used for pizzas and pastas, but can also be used as an alternative to arbol chili pepper.

One of the disadvantages of chili flakes is their large size. It’s the large chunks of pepper that can give an undesirable texture to your food. Because the pepper used is very fine, the skin can be hard.

Tip: Try grinding the chili flakes further in your food processor or spice grinder to get a finer powder. Put the mask on!

7. Paprika

If you need fresh peppers, but don’t want arbol chili or cayenne pepper, you can use bell peppers instead. The peppers are big and thick, so the texture will be different, but the flavor should match what you can cook.

Besides peppers, there are many other types of peppers that are not hot. Among the most popular varieties are Mini Candy, Cubanel, Poblano (soft fire), Sweet Banana and Jimmy Nardello.

8. Gochugaru

These chili flakes are known as Korean hot dried chili pepper, which is very popular. They are widely used in Korean cuisine, but could also be an alternative to arbol chili. In some parts of the world, however, Gochugaru is not so easy to find.

9. Mirasol (Guajillo) Chile

If you can find dried guajillo peppers, they are also suitable as an alternative to arbol chili. The Mirasol chili is less spicy than the Chili de Arbols, but it has a special flavor. They are very popular in Mexico and should be easy to find on the market.

I hope this article has helped you find the perfect arbol chili substitute for your meal. If you want more than you need, you can try growing them yourself, especially if you live in a warm climate!

frequently asked questions

What can I use instead of Chili de Arbol?

Is cayenne pepper the same as arbol chili?

Similar in shape and size to its hotter cousin, the cayenne pepper, the arbol chile is long and pointed, up to two and a half inches. It can be used in both fresh and dry conditions.

Is chile ancho the same as chile guajillo?

Yes, you can use anchovies instead of guajillo peppers in any recipe, even though the flavors are not the same. Anchovies have a more earthy and darker flavor, while guajillas are slightly fruity with a hint of green tea.

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