If you’re a cook who loves to experiment with different flavors, you may have come across Calabrian chili.
It is a spicy ingredient from the Calabria region of Italy that has become increasingly famous in modern cuisine.
But if you don’t have access to Calabrian chili or need a substitute, this article will show you 12 alternatives that can fill its place.
So, just stay with me with your favorite balcony coffee.
What is Calabrian Chili? What does Calabrian Chili Taste Like?
Calabrian chili is an Italian pepper traditionally grown in Calabria, located in the “toe” of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula.
This fiery chili is often sold in a jar with olive oil and garlic, but it also goes great with recipes like stuffed shells.
The flavor is quite unique, and apart from its spiciness, it has subtle and sweet undertones.
Calabrian chilis are often added to Italian dishes to add heat and depth that gives each dish its own special character.
Even when they are not added directly to a dish, the oil they come in can still be used as an ingredient to give any recipe a Mediterranean twist!
What is Calabrian chili paste made of?
Calabrian chili paste is a traditional condiment from Italy’s Calabria region. It’s made by combining dried and/or fresh hot peppers with olive oil, garlic, and other spices, including peperoncino, oregano, salt, fennel, and basil.
While the exact composition of Calabrian chili paste can vary from one kitchen to another, its signature flavor profile makes it an internationally recognized favorite among food lovers who relish its fiery kick.
What is Calabrian chili used for?
Calabrian chili is a popular spicy ingredient in Italian cooking, used mainly to add heat as well as flavor.
Most commonly found as a form of a paste, it is created using red chili peppers, which are dried and crushed, then mixed with oil and vinegar to create a paste.
This paste is cooked into sauces and marinades, added to pizzas for a kick of spice, or sprinkled over finished dishes for extra flavor.
Beyond its use in Italian recipes, Calabrian chilies can also be used in many Mexican dishes, such as tacos or enchiladas, for an extra layer of heat and depth of flavor.
Whether isolated for its unique piquancy or incorporated into recipes, Calabrian chili is sure to bring an exciting burst of flavorful spiciness to any dish!
Best Calabrian chili substitutes
1. Ancho Chile Peppers
Ancho chile peppers are one of the closest substitutes to Calabrian chilies. They have a mild heat level and a sweet, smoky flavor—similar to that of Calabrian chilies.
Ancho chiles can be found both fresh and dried in many grocery stores, making them an easy-to-find substitution.
Just be sure to adjust the amount used according to their heat level (ancho chiles are much milder than Calabrian chilies).
2. Jalapeño Peppers
Jalapeño peppers are another great option if you’re searching for a substitute for Calabrian chili. They have a moderate heat level and will add some nice flavor to your dish.
Just remember to adjust the amount used according to their heat level (jalapeños are significantly hotter than Calabrian chilies).
You can find jalapeños, both fresh and canned, in most grocery stores, so they should be easy to discover no matter where you live.
Read more: Best Banana pepper substitutes
3. Chipotle Peppers
Chipotle peppers are another great substitute for Calabrian chili because they have similar flavor notes and moderate heat levels.
Chipotles come either dried or canned in adobo sauce; whichever form you choose will work well in your dish.
Just keep in mind that chipotles tend to be spicier than Calabrians, so adjust accordingly if necessary!
4. Chile De Arbol Peppers
Chile de arbol peppers are small but pack quite a punch. They have a smoky, slightly sweet flavor and are very hot.
They are the perfect substitute for calabrian chili peppers because they have a similar heat level and flavor profile.
To use them in place of calabrian chilis, simply grind them into a powder or paste.
This will give your dish the same amount of heat as calabrian chilis but with different flavors.
5. Red Jalapeno Peppers
Red jalapeno peppers are not as spicy as their green counterparts but still bring plenty of heat to any dish.
The red variety has a bit more sweetness than the green chilis, so it’s perfect for dishes where you want some added sweetness without sacrificing too much heat.
Just make sure to adjust your recipe accordingly when using red jalapenos instead of calabrian chilis!
6. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is another great substitute for calabrian chili peppers because it has similar levels of spiciness but different flavors.
Cayenne pepper has more of an herbal taste to it than the smoky sweetness of calabrian chilis, so be sure to adjust your recipe accordingly if you choose this option!
7. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Crushed red pepper flakes are a wonderful way to add heat and flavor to your dish without relying on Calabrian chili.
They are made from dried and crushed cayenne peppers, providing an intense spiciness that is sure to kick up your dish a notch or two.
You can adjust the amount of crushed red pepper flakes depending on how spicy your dish tastes.
8. Aleppo Pepper
This type of pepper originates from the city of Aleppo in Syria and is becoming more popular among chefs looking for alternative ingredients.
It has a moderate heat level, with sweet and smoky notes that make it perfect for adding extra flavor to any dish.
For best results, toast the Aleppo pepper before adding it to your dish, as this will help bring out its unique flavor profile even more.
Paprika is another great way to add subtle heat and bold flavor without relying on Calabrian chili peppers too much.
It has a slightly sweet taste with hints of fruitiness that pairs well with many dishes, making it one of the most versatile spices around!
You can adjust the intensity of paprika depending on how much you use — try using less paprika if you want something milder or vice versa for something spicier!
10. Ancho Chile Powder
Ancho chile powder is produced from dried poblano peppers which gives it an earthy, smoky taste that pairs perfectly with Mexican cuisines such as tacos and burritos!
While not as hot as some other types of chilies, ancho chile powder still provides enough kick due to its robustness, so feel free to experiment with different amounts depending on what kind of spice level you prefer in your dishes!
Read more: Ancho chili powder substitute
11. Habanero Peppers
Last but certainly not least, we have habanero peppers which are known for their extremely high levels of heat (upwards of 50 times hotter than jalapenos).
Habaneros are best used sparingly as even just one small pepper can really bring up the intensity level in any dish — proceed with caution when using these bad boys!
12. Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes are another good option if you want something with more kick than either jalapenos or cayenne pepper but less than actual fresh or dried chilies such as calabrians chilies provide.
Red pepper flakes are usually made from crushed red chili peppers and have a moderate level of spiciness combined with subtle fruity notes.
It adds depth and complexity to dishes without overpowering them like other types of chili peppers might do.
Plus, these flakes are very easy to find in most grocery stores, so they make an excellent substitute when needed.
Wrap up on Calabrian chili substitute
No matter what type of spice or flavor profile you’re looking for, there’s likely an alternative for calabrian chili peppers out there.
From milder options like jalapenos, cayenne pepper, and paprika to heartier options like red pepper flakes, there’s definitely something that can help take your cooking up a notch.
No matter which option you select, remember to adjust amounts according to how much heat or flavor each particular substitution provides.
That way, you’ll get delicious results every time!
FAQs on Calabrian chili substitute
Q1. Can you substitute harissa for Calabrian chili paste?
Harissa and Calabrian chili paste may share similarities in things like ingredients and spicy heat; however, if you’re looking for the classic Calabrian chili taste to add incredible depth to your dish, simply substituting harissa just won’t cut it.
Harissa is a North African condiment made with chilies, garlic, olive oil, caraway seeds, and other spices.
Calabrian chili paste, on the other hand, is made from a specific regional pepper named Tviti di Tropea which gives this popular Italian paste its unique flavor.
Thus, if you’re aiming to capture the ultimate Calabrian flavor, look no further than the real stuff!
Q2. How long do Calabrian chilis last in the fridge?
Calabrian chilis, commonly found in Italian cuisine, have a long shelf life when properly stored. The best way to store them is in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and they should last up to four weeks.
In order to maximize their shelf life, ensure that you are sterilizing the jar before storing them and keeping it away from other fragrant vegetables.
Additionally, it’s important to check on them regularly – if any of the chili peppers darken or start to look dry, it means that they are no longer fitting for eating and must be discarded.
With appropriate storage techniques, Calabrian chilis remain fresh and delicious for up to four weeks in the fridge!