10 Best Calabrian Chili Substitutes

Calabrian chili

Calabrian chili is a range of chili peppers that comes from Italy, specifically from the Calabrian region. They are known for their unique flavor that combines spiciness with a mild salty taste and even an interesting fruity taste.

Add these peppers to your savory dishes and you will get one of the most delicious meals! But what to do if you are out of Calabrian chili? The good news is that you can replace this type of chili with many other options.

The best substitutes for Calabrian chili include chili flakes, Anaheim peppers, Serrano peppers, Habanero peppers, and many other options.

Keep reading to find out what Calabrian chili substitute is best for your dish! 

Best Calabrian Chili Substitutes

The substitutes that follow will add a tasty flavor to your food but there will be slight differences between them and Calabrian chili.

Nevertheless, we are sure that you can find even more than one favorite alternative on this list!

1. Chili Flakes

Chili flakes are most likely your best and most available option when you are looking for Calabrian peppers substitutes. They are similar in flavor to Calabrian chilis and you can find them in a powder version as well.

Bein dried, these flakes will not have the juicy taste and the texture of the Calabrians. But they can make for a great alternative in different soups, stews, and even in salads if you want a pinch of spiciness.

You can add them in the same ratio during the cooking process or at the end of it to boost the taste of your food before serving it.

2. Anaheim Peppers

Anaheim pepper

Another great alternative that you can use is Anaheim pepper which also comes in flakes or powder and is even fresh. They come from New Mexico and became popular in America in the 1900s.

They have a lower heat level compared to Calabrian peppers so you will have to use a bit more if you want that spiciness in your dish. Ranking between 500 and 2500 units of heat on the Scoville scale, these peppers are considered mild.

They go best in salads and cold dishes. However, you can add them to stews, soups, or baked dishes just as well and your food will taste deliciously.

3. Serrano Peppers

Serrano Peppers

If you have Serrano peppers, give them a try and you will not regret it. They come from Mexico and they have a medium heat level, just like the Calabrian peppers.

These peppers are similar in color to jalapeno ones but they have a different shapes. Use them in the same ratio to replace the Calabrian peppers in your recipe and you will obtain a very similar flavor as well.

They are not as easy to dry as Calabrian so you should use them mostly in garnishes and sauces such as salsa.

4. Habanero Peppers

Habanero Pepper

Habanero peppers are easy to find and widely used worldwide, so you can try them if you are lacking Calabrian peppers for your recipe too.

Keep in mind that these peppers are some of the spiciest you will have. They rank between 100,000 and 350,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale so you should use them in a smaller quantity.

Use half a teaspoon of Habanero peppers for each teaspoon of Calabrian ones to obtain a similar level of spiciness and heat.

5. Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne peppers

Cayenne peppers are also an important ingredient in chili powder. This is just another reason to use them as a substitute for Calabrian peppers in your dishes, from cooked ones to cold ones.

Many people use this substitute in the same ratio as it is similar in terms of heat. However, for some, different strains of Cayenne peppers could be too hot so you want to reduce the amount you add to your recipe.

Start by adding just a pinch of these peppers and increase the amount as you taste your food to make sure you don’t add too much of it.

6. Ancho Chile Peppers

Ancho peppers

Ancho Chile peppers can amaze you with their intense and tasty flavor as you add them to all kinds of savory dishes.

They are dried poblano peppers and are common in Latin American cuisine. You can successfully use this substitute in equal amounts and in the same types of dishes and you will not regret it.

7. Chipotle Pepper Powder

Chipotle powder 

Chipotle pepper powder is popular in Mexican and American cuisines as well as other cuisines around the world. It is rich in flavor but not as hot as Calabrian peppers so you might want to add a bigger quantity of it.

We suggest starting with an equal ratio and increasing it as you prefer according to your taste. You can use this powder in different salads, pasta, pizzas, sauces, soups, or stews.

You can enhance the flavor of every type of dish as long as you control the quantity of this substitute.

8. Dried Chile Peppers

Any dried chile peppers can be similar in taste and flavor to Calabrian peppers. They are spicy yet smoky and have a mildly salty taste that will compliment any type of savory dish.

If you find these peppers, use them in a similar ratio but you might want to increase the quantity as they are not just as spicy as the Calabrian ones. Just taste them beforehand and follow your preferences.

9. Harissa

Harissa Paste

Even if it is not as easy to find as other substitutes, Harissa can save your recipe when you don’t have Calabrian peppers as well.

This chili paste is widely used in Middle Eastern dishes and North African ones. It contains red chiles, roasted red peppers, and seasonings such as garlic and oil.

So, the flavor of this substitute will be more complex than the Calabrian peppers. But the level of heat it delivers is fairly similar.

However, there are many brands of Harissa on the market and some are spicier than others so taste it before you add this substitute to your food.

10. Paprika


Paprika can save your recipe if you don’t have Calabrian peppers or other substitutes on hand.

It will deliver the pepper taste but a milder level of heat. There is also paprika that is low in heat so depending on which one you choose, you will have to decide on the quantity of it that you add to your dish.

Use paprika as a substitute for Calabrian peppers in warm and cold dishes as well as sauces.

What Does Calabrian Chili Taste Like?

Calabrian chili peppers have an interesting smoky, spicy, and a bit salty flavor. That being said, they can alter the taste of any dish you add them to. They can even provide a fruity flavor as you mix them with the rest of the ingredients.

You can also crush dried Calabrians, mix them with some olive oil and vinegar and make a paste. This paste could be a topping sauce in itself considering its rich and pungent flavor.

How Hot Are Calabrian Chiles?

Calabrians can vary in terms of heat depending on the strain and time they are harvested at. Generally, these peppers are situated between 25,000 and 40,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale and they are gluten-free.

Final Thoughts 

Calabrian peppers can be quite special but they are not irreplaceable in any type of dish. You can find in our list of substitutes, peppers with similar heat levels and just as interesting aromas.

So, don’t be afraid to experiment when you replace your Calabrian peppers and make sure to taste the potential alternative so you can decide the ratio according to your preferences.

You can also combine two or more substitutes to get a more unique flavor!

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