As a chef and experienced home cook, I understand how important it is to have the right ingredients in your pantry.
One such ingredient that adds a burst of heat and flavor to various dishes is the chile de arbol.
These small and fiery red peppers are beloved in Mexican cuisine for their intense heat and smoky flavor.
However, at times, you may not have it on hand or may need an alternative due to dietary restrictions or personal preferences.
This is why I have compiled a list of 18 quick chile de arbol substitutes and the ratio for the perfect heat. So, let’s dive in!
In short, " What can I use instead of chile de arbol?" Cayenne Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Thai Chiles, Guajillo Pepper, Ancho Chiles, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, Aleppo Pepper, Jalapenos, Serrano Peppers, Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes, Thai Bird's Eye Chilies, Crushed Aleppo Pepper, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, Korean Red Pepper Flakes, Sichuan Peppercorns, Habanero Peppers, Crushed Red Pepper, and Smoked Paprika Mix.
What is chile de arbol, and what does chile de arbol taste like?
Chile de arbol is a kind of chili pepper that originated in Mexico. It has a bright red color and a thin, curved shape.
The flavor of chile de arbol peppers is quite spicy and intense, with a sharp heat that lingers on the tongue for some time after consumption.
So if you’re searching for a delicious and brightly colored chili pepper to add some extra zest to your cuisine, chile de arbol is definitely worth trying out!
What are the Uses of chile de Arbol?
They are often used to bring an extra kick of heat to dishes.
When dried, they can be crushed into flakes or ground into powder to season foods like tacos, soups, salsas, and sauces.
Chile de arbol may also be pickled or used fresh in salads and other recipes.
When cooked slowly over low heat for extended periods of time, these peppers will develop deep yet fruity flavors without losing their signature fire-like heat.
Overall, chile de arbol has a unique flavor that is both spicy and complex.
Moreover, the small size of the chile de arbol pepper makes it an ideal choice for adding just the right amount of spice to dishes without overpowering them.
Its vibrant red color also adds an attractive touch when added as a garnish or topping on Mexican-style recipes.
When cooked in oil, they will turn even brighter shades of orange and red, making for a beautiful presentation.
Great chile de arbol substitutes
1. Cayenne Pepper
Try Cayenne pepper as a perfect substitute for chile de arbol, as it has a similar heat profile.
Ratio: Use ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper per chile de arbol in your recipe.
2. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Crushed red pepper flakes can also be used as a quick alternative to chile de arbol. However, they are not as hot.
Ratio: Use one teaspoon of crushed red pepper per chile de arbol to get the perfect heat.
3. Thai Chiles
Thai chiles have a similar heat profile to chile de arbol and are an ideal alternative. Use one Thai chile per chile de arbol in your recipe.
4. Guajillo Pepper
To get the desired heat, you can use Guajillo pepper as a chile de arbol substitute.
Ratio: Use two Guajillo peppers per chile de arbol in your recipe.
5. Ancho Chiles
Ancho chiles have a smoky flavor and are a perfect substitute for chile de arbol.
Ratio: Use two Ancho chiles per chile de arbol to get the right heat profile.
6. Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are a pantry staple and a quick replacement for chile de arbol.
Ratio: Use two tablespoons of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce per chile de arbol in your recipe.
7. Aleppo Pepper
If you prefer a milder heat profile, you can use Aleppo pepper as a chile de arbol substitute.
Ratio: Use two teaspoons of Aleppo pepper per chile de arbol.
Jalapenos are a household staple and an excellent alternative to chile de arbol.
Ratio: Use one and a half jalapenos per chile de arbol in your recipe.
9. Serrano Peppers
I tried Serrano peppers many times, and they have a similar heat profile to chile de arbol and are an excellent substitute.
Ratio: Use one and a half Serrano peppers per chile de arbol.
If you’re looking for a mild chile de arbol substitute, you can use paprika.
Ratio: Use two teaspoons of paprika per chile de arbol.
11. Red Pepper Flakes
Red pepper flakes are a convenient and affordable substitute for chile de arbol.
Ratio: Use twice as many red pepper flakes as you would chile de arbol to get a similar level of heat.
12. Thai Bird’s Eye Chilies
Thai bird’s eye chilies are another small and spicy pepper that can be used as a chile de arbol substitute.
Ratio: Use half as much Thai bird's eye chilies as you would chile de arbol to get a similar level of heat.
13. Crushed Aleppo Pepper
Crushed Aleppo pepper is a Syrian spice that has a similar smoky and fruity taste as chile de arbol.
Ratio: Use the same amount of crushed Aleppo pepper as you would chile de arbol in your recipe.
14. Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
If you have a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in your pantry, you can use them as an alternative for chile de arbol.
Ratio: Use one or two chipotle peppers, along with a spoonful of adobo sauce, for each chile de arbol you're replacing.
15. Korean Red Pepper Flakes (Gochugaru)
Korean red pepper flakes, also known as gochugaru, have a slightly milder heat than chile de arbol, but they still have a smoky flavor.
Ratio: Use twice as much gochugaru as you would chile de arbol to get a similar level of heat.
16. Sichuan Peppercorns
You can try this Sichuan peppercorns as well, as they are a Chinese spice that doesn’t have a lot of heat, but they do have a unique numbing sensation.
Ratio: Use five times as many Sichuan peppercorns as you would chile de arbol to get a similar level of heat.
17. Habanero Peppers
Habanero peppers are one of the spiciest peppers out there, so if you’re using them as a substitute for chile de arbol, use them sparingly.
Ratio: Use one habanero pepper for every four or five chile de arbol you're replacing.
Learn out: Best banana pepper substitute
18. Crushed Red Pepper and Smoked Paprika Mix
Whether you don’t have any of the above substitutes in your pantry, you can create a chile de arbol substitute by mixing together equal parts of crushed red pepper and smoked paprika.
Ratio: Use the same amount of the mix as you would chile de arbol in your recipe.
You must try this combination to complete your dish.
Where to buy chile de arbol?
If you are looking for where to buy chile de arbol, there are a few different places you can go. Many specialty food stores carry it, as do some international grocery stores.
You can also order online from many retailers that provide various flavors and types of chile de arbol.
Read More- Guajillo chile substitute
Wrap up on chile de arbol substitute
As a chef, I know the importance of having the right ingredients on hand. But, at times, you may need a quick chile de arbol substitute.
In this blog post, I have shared ten alternatives and the ratio for the perfect heat. Experiment with these substitutes to create delicious dishes and add a little heat to your cooking.
FAQs on chile de arbol substitute
Q1. What is similar to chile de arbol?
Chile de arbol is similar to other types of chiles like guajillo, pasilla, ancho, and New Mexico chiles. They all have a similar flavor profile but vary in spiciness though Chile de Arbol is one of the hottest. All four are traditionally used for spicy sauces and tacos when dried and are commonly found in Mexican recipes.
Chile de Arbol is usually used dried as a powder or flakes, although it can also be sold fresh. It has an earthy, smoky flavor with a hint of sweetness and a lingering heat that develops on the palate. The chile is often added to salsas, soups, and stews and pairs well with tomatillos, garlic, and cilantro.
When making salsas and sauces, it’s best to adjust the amount depending on your desired heat level since these chiles are quite spicy. Chile de Arbol is also great for roasting vegetables like bell peppers or eggplants.
For example, you can toss them in olive oil along with other spices like oregano or cumin and roast them in the oven for a delicious side dish.
Overall, Chile de Arbol is a great ingredient to add to your pantry! It’s versatile and adds heat and flavor that can’t be replicated with any other chile. With their earthy smokiness and lingering heat, these chiles are sure to bring your favorite dishes to life. Give this spicy fruit a try if you’re looking to spice up your next meal!
Q2. Is Chile de Arbol the same as cayenne?
No, Chile de Arbol and Cayenne are not the same. Chile de Arbol is a variety of chili pepper native to Mexico. It has a deep red color and a thin, curved shape that resembles that of a bird’s beak. Its flavor is described as smoky and slightly fruity with medium-high heat levels.
On the other hand, cayenne is made from ground cayenne peppers, which are typically dried and then crushed into a fine powder. Cayenne has an intense heat level with floral, smoky, earthy undertones and vibrant red color.
Q3. Is Chile de Arbol the same as Thai chili?
No, Chile de Arbol and Thai chili are not the same. Chile de Arbol is a type of dried red chili pepper typically used in Mexican cuisine. It has thin and brittle skin with a curved shape and a bright red hue. The heat from this type of chili pepper ranges from moderate to very hot.
On the other hand, Thai chili is also known as bird’s eye chili, and it is widely used in Southeast Asian cuisines. This small but potent chili pepper is wrinkled and pointed with thin skin, which provides an intense heat that can range from mild to fiery hot, depending on the variety.