What’s a Good Pasilla Pepper Substitute?

The Pasilla pepper originates from Mexico and is one of the most common peppers used in Mexican dishes. They are long, dark-colored peppers. And while they’re common in Mexico, they might be tough to find elsewhere. So finding a pasilla pepper substitute is essential.

What Are Pasilla Peppers?

Pasilla, pronounced “pah-SEE-yah,” has a black color that matures to a dark brown. And its flavor is relatively mild, with a peppery, earthy, sweet, acidic, and spicy taste. Therefore, these peppers aren’t very hot and are often partnered with other chilis in Mexican dishes.

The production and use of the Pasilla Pepper can be traced as far back as the Puebla region of Southern Mexico. And Pasilla peppers are currently grown specifically in Michoacan, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Guanajuato.

Best Substitutes for Pasilla Peppers

1. Ancho Pepper

ancho pepper

Ancho pepper is frequently combined with the Pasilla pepper in Mexican food. These dry peppers have a similar appearance but have somewhat unique tastes. The Ancho pepper has a fruitier flavor with earthy overtones and is a little hotter than the Pasilla pepper. But it’ll give your recipe that Pasilla pepper flavor.

Ancho peppers can be crushed into a powder for further processing. When using it as a Pasilla pepper substitute, remember that Ancho peppers are spicier. So, if you’re not a lover of hot, peppery food, you might need to use a smaller portion of Ancho peppers.

Anchos are an excellent substitute for pasilla chile peppers in Mexican dishes like tacos, salsas, and other dishes.

2. Mulato Pepper

Mulato peppers are excellent substitutes for Pasilla peppers since they have a similar mild spicy, smoky, sweet flavor with overtones of cacao. Mulatto peppers are milder in spiciness than Ancho peppers. And the Mulatto pepper is often combined with the Pasilla or Ancho pepper for added spiciness.

These peppers can be hard to come by in some areas, but they can usually be found in Mexican specialty shops. Using the same proportions in any dish is safe if replacing Pasilla peppers with Mulato peppers.

3. Guajillo Pepper

dried red guajillo peppers

The dried version of the Mirasol chili, the Guajillo pepper, has a very fruity and earthy taste. And it also delivers cranberry and tea undertones. These peppers are frequently combined alongside Pasilla and Ancho peppers in Mexican stews and salsas.

Because Guajillo peppers are spicier than Pasilla peppers, you should use less when using them as a Pasilla chili substitute. For example, a half tablespoon of Guajillo peppers can be used instead of a whole tablespoon of Pasilla peppers.

Related: Best Guajillo Pepper Substitutes

4. Cascabel Pepper

These peppers are similar to the Pasilla pepper but are significantly hotter. In fact, they have a heat rating of up to 3000 SHU.

While using Cascabel peppers as an alternative, you must know how much you use in your meal. Even a small error in the quantity can make your dish considerably hotter. That said, the rich, smokey flavor of Cascabel peppers will enhance the flavor profile of your dish.

So they make an excellent pasilla substitute when used correctly, but that being said, a Scoville rating of 3000 SHU is still mild.

5. Habanero Pepper


This is an extremely spicy substitute for Pasilla peppers. If you use these instead of Pasilla peppers, you’ll likely use very few because they’re so fiery. 

Habanero peppers come in various colors but are most often yellow or orange. They’re delicious in most foods, but you can also use them to make hot sauces. And these little chilies are frequently stuffed with cheese and served as snacks. 

6. Jalapeño Pepper

a chopping board containing diced green jalapenos

The Jalapeño pepper is among the most commonly used peppers in many cuisines. And it can also be used in place of the pasilla pepper. They’re easy to find at supermarkets worldwide and highly nutritious. These chilies will fulfill all of your culinary demands.

Jalapeño peppers can be used in pasta dishes, vegetable dishes, stews, soups, sauces, and pizza toppings.

7. Serrano Pepper

Serrano peppers have been used in Mexican cooking for centuries and are still an incredibly popular ingredient today. These peppers are great for sauces, stews, and toppings. And they’re even better when roasted.

But beware: Serrano peppers are relatively hot. Due to their heat and spiciness, we advise you to implement a 4:1 ratio when used as a substitute.

8. Mirasol Pepper

Mirasol peppers are best known for their use in the Mirasol mole sauce. They have a heat value on the same level as the Jalapeño peppers.

These peppers are a vibrant red color. And while they’re great for soups, stews, sauces, and other recipes, they are ideal as a stunning garnish due to their vivid color.

9. Mexican Mole Chilies

Mexican mole chilies are a unique type of chili pepper that is used in the traditional Mexican dish called mole. These chilies are usually mild in flavor, ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 on the Scoville heat scale. Mole chilies are often used as a substitute for Pasilla peppers because of their similar flavor and heat level. The chilies are typically dried and ground into a powder that is used to create a rich and complex sauce that is often served with chicken, beef, pork, and vegetables. Mole chilies are a great way to bring a unique and flavorful twist to any dish.


You may find getting your hands on those sought-after Pasilla peppers challenging. But with these fantastic Pasilla pepper substitutes on hand, your recipe will not be compromised.