10 Substitutes for Fresno Chili to Keep your Appetite in Place

Fresno chile, sometimes mistaken for jalapeno chile, is a medium-sized hot pepper in bright red or green colors. It is used to spice up dishes, marinades, and sauces.

It is often used in Mexican dishes, tacos, salsas, burgers, hot dogs, and sausages and serves as a topping for many other meals calling for a hint of spiciness and a pop of color. 

Fresno chili is native to Fresno, California and you may often see it in local stores and markets. However, if you can’t find it or want to use a less spicy alternative to this hot pepper then let’s take a look at the best substitutes for Fresno chile.

The best alternatives to Fresno chile are jalapeno peppers, chipotle peppers, Holland chilies, Thai jinda chiles, Thai Luang peppers, serrano peppers, cayenne peppers, habanero, and red chili peppers. 

Best Fresno Chili Substitutes

1. Jalapeno Peppers

As mentioned above, Fresno chilies are often mistaken for jalapenos because they look alike and taste alike. They both come in red or green colors and have similar flavors and levels of spiciness. 

They are easy alternatives to Fresno chile and if you have them in hand, then there is no need to look for another substitute until you need something else. However, Fresno chili is considered to be a little bit spicier than jalapenos. 

The biggest difference between these two peppers is the thickness of their walls. Fresno peppers come with thinner walls and if you use jalapenos instead, then mind your cooking techniques. 

2. Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle is a smoked, dried ripe jalapeno usually used as a seasoning in Mexican and American dishes. Surprisingly it’s hotter than Fresno peppers and you should use less in your recipe to get the desired level of spiciness.  

The main difference between these two peppers is the smoky flavor and the purpose of usage. You should note that it’s a dried pepper and you may not use it in dishes that call for fresh pepper. 

On the other hand, chipotle peppers are perfect to add to veggies, beans, taquitos, salsas, and sauces. You can crush it and use it as a topping or add it to marinades. 

3. Holland Chilies

Holland chilies, also known as Dutch chilies, come with a milder flavor and level of hotness and they are great for salads, baked goods, soups, and roasted dishes. If you want to have milder hotness in your dish then look no further. 

Holland chilies come in several colors including red, green, and yellow which make them suitable to use as appealing toppings and add an esthetic touch to dishes. 

4. Thai Jinda Chilies

One of the most common hot peppers in Thai cuisine is Thai jinda chilies. It’s considered to be very spicy and looks like Fresno chile just at the first sight because you can find it both in red and green colors. Note that the smaller it is the hotter it tastes. 

Using it separately may make you sweat and feel the burn but it can also increase your appetite. You need to be careful with the ratios when using Thai jinda chilies in place of Fresno chilies. 

5. Thai Luang Peppers

As for Thai Luang peppers, they are other typical peppers to Thai cuisine but you may find them in central and southern parts of America. Thai Luang peppers are widely used in Asian cooking. They are much hotter than Fresno chilies and they are classified among the hottest peppers you may try. 

They are found in red, orange, and green colors and have some fruity and earthy notes in their flavor. They are used with sauces, stir-fries, and as a garnish. You can consider them as Fresno chili substitutes but make sure you reduce the amount you have in your recipe to get a tolerant level of spiciness in the dish. 

6. Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are green and this is perhaps one of the main differences between serrano and Fresno. Both can be used interchangeably if the color doesn’t matter. Serrano peppers are spicier than Fresnos but if you reduce the amount you’ll get what you need. 

Serrano peppers are popular in the southwest USA and they are other easy alternatives to Fresno chilies. If you like adding spicy ingredients to your dishes then serrano is a good choice to consider. 

7. Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne peppers are one of the hottest peppers. Compared to Fresno peppers, which are a bit sweeter, cayenne peppers have a sharper flavor. So, when using cayenne instead of Fresno, it’s better to add a pinch of sugar to get a closer taste of the dish. 

They have thin walls like green Fresno chilies and they are perfect to substitute green Fresnos. Cayenne peppers are a must in chili flakes and if you are making mixed hot spices with Fresno chilies then you can add crushed cayenne instead. 

8. Habanero

Habaneros differ from the rest of the options in size, shape, and color. They are fiery chili peppers with fruity flavor and citrusy notes. They look like bell peppers only in a bit smaller size. They are green, red, orange, or yellow. 

Habanero peppers are spicy and are often used in sauces, salsas, and many other dishes calling for spicy ingredients. You can use them to replace Fresno chili but make sure to reduce the amount as they are hotter than Fresno chilies. 

9. Red Chili Peppers

Red chili peppers are always there for any case. They are the easiest alternatives to Fresno chili and you can find them fresh, dried, and crushed. Depending on your recipe, you can use the one you need. Chili peppers have a similar flavor to Fresno chili but they also carry slight sweetness. 

Compared to Fresnos, which tend to lose their hotness with age, red chili peppers maintain their hotness even when mature. 

10. Scotch Bonnet 

Scotch bonnet is a variety of chili and if you haven’t heard about it, then it’s the best time to give it a try. A Scotch bonnet is 12 to 140 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper. Therefore it’s hotter than Fresno and if you decide to use it you should be careful with the ratios. 

It’s one of the hottest peppers that come in yellow, green, and red colors. However, the level of hotness mostly depends on where it grows. Anyway, use them properly by starting with smaller amounts.

FAQs on Fresno Chili

How hot is a Fresno pepper?

The hotness of Fresno, Chile is between 2,500-10,000 Scoville. It has medium heat. 

What’s the hottest type of Fresno chile?

Green Fresnos have mild heat, orange Fresnos offer medium heat and red Fresnos are extremely hot.  

What are Fresno chili peppers used for?

Fresno chili peppers are basically used with ceviche, salsa, rice, and black beans. They are usually used fresh because they have thick walls which don’t allow them to undergo proper dehydration. 

What is a Fresno chili?


The choice of Fresno chili substitutes mostly depends on the level of spiciness each chili or hot pepper offers. Therefore, everyone should choose the option that meets their preferences and taste. If you like too spicy chilies and peppers then keep your eyes on the options that are hotter than Fresno. If you want less spicy touches, then go ahead with the peppers that have fruity notes and slight sweetness. 

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