Skip to Content

The 13 Best Substitutes For Calabrian Chili

Do you love the flavor of Calabrian chili?

If so, you’re not alone!

This spicy variety of chili is a favorite among many food lovers.

But what if you don’t have access to Calabrian chili?

Or perhaps you want to try something new and different?

Fortunately, there are plenty of substitutes for Calabrian chili that will give your meals an extra kick.

From smoked paprika to chipotle powder, here are 13 of the best replacements for Calabrian chili.

What is Calabrian Chili?

Calabrian Chili

Calabrian chili is a type of chili pepper that originates from the Calabria region in Italy.

It has a unique flavor profile, characterized by its earthy undertones and smoky-sweet taste with hints of citrus fruit.

The peppers are typically dried before they’re crushed into flakes or ground into powder, which gives them their distinct red color and fiery kick when added to dishes.

The heat level varies depending on the variety, but most Calabrian chilies offer up moderate spiciness.

In terms of cooking uses, Calabrian chilies are popularly used as an enhancer for sauces or pasta dishes—especially those involving seafood!

The peppers can also be added to salads and marinades for extra zest.

The 13 Best Substitutes For Calabrian Chili

Calabrian chili is a unique and flavorful ingredient that can be hard to find.

Fortunately, there are several suitable substitutes available if you don’t have access to the real thing.

Here are thirteen of the best options:

1 – Anaheim Pepper

Anaheim Pepper

Anaheim pepper is a mild chili pepper that originated in New Mexico and is now grown throughout the United States.

It has a mild heat level, ranging from 500 to 2,500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

The peppers are long and slender with smooth skin and bright green color. When dried, they turn dark red or brownish-red.

Anaheim peppers are great for adding flavor without too much heat.

They can be used in sauces, soups, stews, salsas, chilis, and more.

If you’re out of Calabrian chili but still want some spice in your dish, Anaheim peppers make an excellent substitute.

They have a similar flavor profile but less heat than Calabrian chilies – perfect for those who don’t like their food too spicy!

2 – Serrano Peppers

Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are a type of chili pepper that originated in the mountains of Mexico.

These small, thin-skinned peppers have an intense heat and bright flavor that can range from sweet to smoky.

They’re often used as a substitute for Calabrian chilies, which have a similar heat level but lack the sweetness of Serranos.

Serrano peppers can be eaten raw or cooked, depending on your preference.

When cooking with them, it’s important to wear gloves and avoid touching your eyes or face until you’ve washed your hands thoroughly afterward.

In addition to adding flavor and spice to dishes, they can also be pickled or dried for later use.

3 – Fresno Chili

Fresno Chili

Fresno chili is a milder, sweeter cousin of the Calabrian chili pepper.

These peppers are bright red and have a slight heat that can range from mild to moderately spicy.

Fresno chilies have an earthy flavor with hints of sweetness and smokiness, making them great for adding depth to dishes like salsa, sauces, and stews.

When substituting Fresno chilies for Calabrian chilies in recipes, you may need to adjust the amount used as Fresno peppers tend to be less spicy than their Italian counterparts.

The best way to use Fresno chilies is by roasting or grilling them before using in dishes – this helps bring out their natural sweetness and smoky flavor.

4 – Poblano

Poblano pepper

Poblano peppers are a mild chili pepper with a deep, smoky flavor.

These medium-sized chilies have thick walls and are usually dark green in color.

When dried, they become the famous ancho chili pepper.

Poblanos can be used to add heat to dishes without being overly spicy.

They pair well with other ingredients like onions, garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro for a flavorful mix.

If you’re out of Calabrian chilis but still want to add some heat to your dish, poblanos make an excellent substitute!

Their smokiness adds depth of flavor while their mildness keeps things from getting too hot.

5 – Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Red pepper flakes are a great way to add heat and flavor to any dish.

These tiny, dried pieces of red chili peppers have a mild-to-medium level of spiciness that can be adjusted depending on the amount used.

They’re perfect for sprinkling over pizzas, pastas, salads, and more – plus they’ll last for months in your pantry!

When substituting red pepper flakes for Calabrian chilies, you may want to adjust the quantity according to taste as Calabrian chilies tend to be much spicier than red pepper flakes.

The flavor profile is quite different too: while Calabrian chilies offer a smoky sweetness with hints of garlic and herbs, red pepper flakes deliver a sharp kick of heat without any additional flavors.

6 – Habanero Pepper

Habanero Pepper

Habanero peppers are one of the hottest chili peppers in the world, with a Scoville rating of 100,000 to 350,000.

These small but potent peppers have a bright orange hue and an unmistakable fruity flavor that adds a kick to any dish.

When substituting habanero peppers for Calabrian chilis, it is important to remember that they are much spicier than their milder counterparts.

It is best to start off slowly by adding just a few slices into your dishes and then increasing the amount as desired.

Habaneros can be used in sauces, marinades, salsas, soups and stews for added heat and flavor.

They can also be dried or smoked for use as a seasoning or garnish on tacos or other Mexican cuisine.

7 – Hot Sauce

Hot Sauce

Hot sauce is a great alternative to Calabrian chili if you’re looking for an intense flavor and heat.

It comes in many varieties, from mild sauces like Tabasco to extra-hot options like Sriracha.

Hot sauce can be used to add a kick of flavor to dishes such as tacos, burritos, and nachos.

It can also be used as a condiment for grilled meats or vegetables.

If you’re looking for something even spicier than hot sauce, try adding some cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to your dish.

This will give it an extra boost of heat without sacrificing any flavor.

No matter which type of hot sauce you choose, it’s sure to add some zing and excitement to your meal!

8 – Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne pepper

Cayenne peppers are a type of chili pepper that pack a punch of heat and flavor.

These fiery red peppers have a bright, earthy taste with some smokiness and sweetness to balance out the heat.

They can be used in many dishes from soups to sauces, adding an extra kick of flavor.

When substituting cayenne peppers for Calabrian chilies, it’s important to remember that cayenne is much spicier than Calabrian chilies – so use sparingly!

Cayenne peppers can also be dried and ground into powder for seasoning or used as flakes for added texture.

Whether you want a subtle hint of spice or something more intense, cayenne peppers are sure to bring your dish up a notch.

9 – Ancho Chile Peppers

Ancho Chile Peppers

Ancho chile peppers are dried poblano peppers that have a mild to medium heat level, with a sweet and smoky flavor.

These peppers are popular in Mexican cuisine, often used as the base for mole sauces or added to dishes like tamales and enchiladas.

The ancho chile pepper is also an excellent substitute for Calabrian chili, which has a similar flavor profile but tends to be spicier.

Ancho chiles can be ground into powder or rehydrated in hot water before being blended into salsas or sauces.

They’re also great when roasted and served alongside grilled meats or fish, adding a subtle sweetness that pairs well with other flavors.

10 – Chipotle Pepper Powder

Chipotle Powder

Chipotle pepper powder is a great substitute for Calabrian chili.

It has a smoky, spicy flavor that adds depth to any dish.

Chipotle pepper powder is made from smoked and dried jalapeno peppers, giving it an intense heat level of 6-8 on the Scoville scale.

This chili powder can be used in place of Calabrian chili to add a kick to tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other Mexican dishes.

It can also be used to season meats like pork or beef before grilling or roasting them.

Chipotle pepper powder is an easy way to give your dishes a unique flavor without having to buy fresh chilies every time you need some heat.

If you’re looking for something with more subtle heat than Calabrian chili, chipotle pepper powder may be just what you need!

11 – Dried Chile Peppers

Dried Chili Peppers

Dried chile peppers are a great alternative to Calabrian chili.

They come in many varieties, from mild to hot, and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Dried chiles have a distinct smoky flavor that is perfect for adding heat and depth to any dish.

They can be added whole or ground up into powder form for use in sauces or rubs.

When substituting dried chiles for Calabrian chili, it’s important to know the level of heat you’re looking for as well as how much you need.

Start with small amounts and adjust according to taste until you find the right balance of heat and flavor.

In addition, dried chiles can be rehydrated before using them in recipes if desired.

This will help bring out their full flavor potential while still providing the same level of heat as fresh chilies would offer.

12 – Harissa


Harissa is a spicy North African condiment made from hot chilies, garlic, olive oil, and spices like cumin and coriander.

It has a deep red color and packs quite the punch when it comes to heat.

Harissa can be used as a marinade for meats or vegetables, added to soups or stews for extra flavor, or mixed into sauces and dips.

For those looking to substitute Calabrian chili in recipes, Harissa is an excellent choice.

The flavors are similar but Harissa has an added kick that will give your dish some extra oomph!

Try adding it to pizza doughs or pasta dishes for a unique twist on classic Italian cuisine.

13 – Paprika


Paprika is a type of chili powder made from dried, ground peppers.

It has a mild flavor and can range in color from bright red to deep orange.

The most common types are sweet paprika, which is mild and slightly sweet; smoked paprika, which has an intense smoky flavor; and hot paprika, which adds a bit of heat to dishes.

Paprika can be used as an alternative for Calabrian chili when you’re looking for a subtle hit of spice without the added heat.

It pairs well with other ingredients like garlic or cumin and can be used to season meats, vegetables, soups, stews, sauces, and more.

Plus it adds beautiful color to any dish!


What do Calabrian chilis taste like?

Calabrian chilis have an intense flavor and heat, with a smoky sweetness.

The peppers range in color from green to red, but they all have the same flavor profile: sweet and spicy with a hint of smokiness.

Their heat level can vary greatly depending on how ripe they are; unripe peppers tend to be milder while fully ripened ones can be quite hot.

Calabrian chilis are often used as an ingredient in Italian cuisine, especially in pasta sauces and pizza toppings.

They’re also great for adding zest to salads or sandwiches, or simply enjoyed as a snack on their own.

Is Calabrian chili really spicy?

When it comes to heat, Calabrian chilis can vary widely—some are mild while others can be quite spicy.

Generally speaking, they have a moderate level of spiciness that is comparable to other types of chili peppers like cayenne or jalapeños.

The heat level also depends on how ripe the pepper is; unripe peppers tend to be milder than those that are more mature.

In addition to their spiciness, Calabrian chilis also have an earthy flavor with notes of citrus and sweetness.

Calabrian Chili

The 13 Best Substitutes For Calabrian Chili

When you're out of Calabrian chili, it can be hard to know what to use as a substitute. That's why I'm here to share my top 13 alternatives to this spicy condiment. From jalapenos to Aleppo pepper, each of these ingredients will give your dishes a unique flavor and kick. I'll provide detailed descriptions of each ingredient, as well as tips for when to use them for the best results. Whether you're in a pinch or just looking for something new, this article has got you covered!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitutes
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 4 people
Calories 77 kcal


  • Anaheim Pepper
  • Serrano Peppers
  • Fresno Chili
  • Poblano
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Habanero Pepper
  • Hot Sauce
  • Cayenne Peppers
  • Ancho Chile Peppers
  • Chipotle Pepper Powder
  • Dried Chile Peppers
  • Harissa
  • Paprika


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.