Here Are 11 Mild (-ish) Serrano Substitutes

Serrano pepper is a delicious chile variety placed in many dishes, from salsa to huevos rancheros. However, it can be a little spicy for some. If you find that the serrano is a bit too much for you, you may wonder if there are any mild serrano substitutes out there.

We have you covered. Read on to learn more about 11 excellent serrano substitutes that you can put inside any recipe. There are many flavors out there that capture the sweet spice of the serrano pepper without being too much.

Serrano Peppers

Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are one of the best substitutes for the serrano pepper. They are in almost any grocery store, and they’re affordable.

They have about the same heat level as the serrano but possess a milder Scoville heat. You can adjust the number of jalapenos in your recipe depending on your preferences.

Some of the characteristics you’ll get with jalapenos include:

  • Heat: The heat is there but significantly more mild than the serrano pepper.
  • Green pepper flavor: A jalapeno pepper strongly resembles a green pepper in flavor with some spice added to the mix.

They’re very similar to the serrano, with less heat.

If you’re trying to stick to something as close as possible to the serrano, the jalapeno is your best bet. You’ll get a taste that’s almost the same but with significantly less intense heat on your tongue. They’re readily available, so you don’t need to search for them.

Related Article: How To Tell if a Jalapeño is Hot or Very Hot

Red Pepper Flakes

Next up on this list are red pepper flakes. You can find these at your local grocery store, usually in the spice aisle. They come in a small glass jar. They’re typically composed of a variety of peppers, including jalapeno and Anaheim peppers.

Some of the things you’ll get with red pepper flakes when you ingest them include:

  • Sharpness: Red pepper flakes tend to have a sharp hit rather than a subtle burn. It’s not strong, but it punches faster.
  • Earthiness: This food has a distinct earthiness thanks to the combinations of peppers, slightly different from the serrano pepper.

The flavor is there with this spice, though it’s not as intense as the serrano pepper by any means.

Of course, red pepper flakes are not peppers. Although you’ll get the flavor, you won’t get the crunch that you will from the physical vegetable. If you don’t care about this, there’s no problem. Red pepper flakes will work perfectly in replacement of serrano peppers. However, if you do, look into physical peppers for your substitute.

Pickled Peppers

Pickled peppers may be something you’ve only heard about in a tongue-twister, but they also make for excellent serrano pepper substitutes.

You can usually find them in the aisles of your local grocery store, either by spices or where other pickled items sit, just like pickles. These will give you a unique flavor.

Some of the tastes you can expect with pickled pepper include:

  • Tang: Due to the vinegar, pickled peppers will give you a tang that regular peppers do not while also providing spice.
  • Crunch: Despite the brine, pickled peppers retain a solid crunch that makes a dish. They don’t become soggy and squishy, even inside a liquid.

All of these will bring a distinct taste to your serrano dishes, keeping spice while moving your palette in an entirely new direction.

If you’re looking for something that will provide a distinct, one-of-a-kind taste to your dish while also keeping the essence of the serrano pepper, try out pickled peppers. You may find that you like them more than you anticipated. There’s nothing like trying something new to discover tastes that you love.

Poblano peppers

Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers are one of the tastiest pepper varieties out there. They also make for excellent serrano pepper substitutes in many recipes. They resemble jalapeno peppers in appearance and are a bit bigger than bell peppers. With a lower spice level than serrano, they’re ideal for those who want less heat.

Some of the traits you’ll get with poblano peppers include:

  • Sweetness: Poblano peppers are a little bit sweet, which becomes more clear as they’re added to the heat.
  • Green pepper kick: Poblano peppers are also close to bell peppers in taste, with a bit of a kick. They’re an excellent balance between traditional green and serrano.

These traits make the poblano peppers great substitutes, but also distinct peppers all by themselves.

Poblano peppers can be a little harder to find in the grocery store, but they’re still relatively common. Poblano peppers are excellent for you if you want to take on a little bit of sweetness in your dish while also taking the heat down a few notches.

Guero Chiles

Next up are Guero chiles, a rarer pepper that works as a substitute for serrano peppers. They’re typically yellow rather than red or green, so if you want a bit of this in your dish, Guero chiles can give you that. They’re bold but not nearly up to the same level as the serrano pepper.

Some of the qualities you’ll get with the Guero chiles include:

  • Sweetness: Guero chiles are a little sweeter than most peppers used in recipes, allowing them to stand out amongst the rest.
  • Boldness: Guero chiles are small yet bold. The flavor you get packs a perfectly mild punch.

These allow this pepper to stand apart from the rest of the peppers while working as a serrano substitute.

Guero chiles have that perfect crunch that makes a dish, so you don’t need to worry about the texture changing when you utilize Guero chiles instead of serrano peppers. They’ll give you a pop of yellow rather than red or green inside a dish. The sweetness and pops of spice are sure to satisfy your palette, no matter what you’re making.

Green Bell Pepper

If you want a mild substitute for the serrano pepper, you can’t go wrong with the classic green bell pepper. This food will keep the crunch and general flavor of the serrano pepper without adding any significant heat to what you’re eating. Those who love mild flavors will enjoy this substitution.

Some of the flavors you can expect with the green bell pepper include:

  • Bitterness: Green peppers are known for their bitterness, which adds a unique kick to any dish.
  • Grassy: Green bell peppers also hold an earthy flavor that draws adventure in any flavor composition of a food.

These delicious flavors establish the green pepper as a classic flavor, perfect for a serrano replacement.

Green bell peppers can be found at any grocery store, usually upfront and center. They’re affordable. You can go for an organic or the regular variety. The green bell pepper may not have any spice, but it does have crunch and bitterness that will allow them to stand out in any dish. Those who hate spice will adore this substitution.

Banana Pepper

Banana peppers are often used in conjunction with jalapenos. They’re put on sandwiches, eaten as snacks, and placed in dishes. They also serve as excellent alternatives for serrano peppers in a dish.

Some of the tastes you can expect with banana peppers include:

  • Sharpness: Red pepper flakes tend to have a sharp hit rather than a subtle burn. It’s not strong, but it punches faster.
  • Earthiness: This food has a distinct earthiness thanks to the combinations of peppers, slightly different from the serrano pepper.

The flavor is mild and excellent inside any dish you may make.


Like jalapenos, banana peppers are inside any grocery store. They come whole or pickled in a jar. You can select the variety that you think will best complement your dish. Banana peppers will tickle you with spices without overwhelming the dish. It’s a substitution in the best sense of the word.

Pasilla Chile

The pasilla chile is another replacement for the serrano pepper. They have a mild heat that those who fear spice will adore, and they can accent any meal in the best ways. You can increase or decrease the amount to your advantage.

With a pasilla chile, some of the flavors you may taste include:

  • Smoky: Pasilla chiles have a smoky flavor that adds a little more to any dish.
  • Fruity: Shockingly, the chile is a little fruity, often compared to items like dried fruit.

The pasilla chile is certainly a unique-tasting pepper that will work wonderfully inside any food.

Pasilla chiles should be at your grocery store, but you can always find them online if worse comes to worst. The pasilla chile is a delicious variety of pepper that won’t let you down if you decide to utilize it as a replacement.

Anaheim Pepper

The Anaheim pepper is a delicious, rare variety of pepper that works well as an alternative for the serrano pepper. Although it can be tricky to find, if you do happen to get your hands on a few, they’ll taste excellent in any food that needs a little bit of spice.

A few of the items you’ll taste with an Anaheim pepper include:

  • Sweetness: These peppers have a hint of sweetness, a lot like bell peppers you can find in your local grocery store.
  • Heat: Anaheim peppers have just the right amount of heat, perfect for a serrano pepper replacement.

A dash of mild, spicy bell pepper is an excellent replacement for the serrano in any dish. That’s what you’ll get with the Anaheim pepper.

Anaheim peppers are almost impossible to find. If you’re desperate to utilize them, you may need to order them online. If you see any in your local grocery store, buy them as soon as you can. You never know when you’ll see them again.

Hot Sauce

If you don’t want to use a physical pepper as a substitute for the serrano, you can always take advantage of hot sauce. There are many varieties out there that can give you a milder spice while still maintaining the great pepper taste.

With hot sauce, some of the things you’ll taste include:

  • Vinegar: Many hot sauces pack a slight vinegar punch that pairs well with the spice of the peppers.
  • Slow-burn: Hot sauce often possesses a slow burn that sits on the tongue for a while.

You won’t get the crunch, but you will get the flavor.

Hot sauce is an affordable alternative to the serrano pepper, and you can keep it around for much longer. It’s great for those who want a mild spice they can have on hand at all times in their pantry.

Fresno Peppers

Last up is the Fresno pepper. These are last on the list because they’re a little trickier to find, and they’re not as mild as the other options above. However, they’re tasty and serve as a substitute if you can get your hands on them.

A Fresno pepper includes traits such as:

  • Smokiness: Fresno peppers are a bit smoky in flavor, a taste that comes to life when heat is added.
  • Spice: The Fresno pepper is a lot like a mild version of the serrano, ideal for someone who wants something similar.

This red pepper is sure to work well in any serrano dish.

If you want something similar to the serrano, a Fresno pepper is an excellent option. They can be tricky to find, so if you see some in a local store, you should scoop them up as soon as you can.

The serrano pepper is a delicious vegetable, but the spice can be too much for some people. Knowing mild replacements for this unique-tasting vegetable can save any recipe and allow you to keep the delicious flavor without dealing with a heat that’s too strong for your tongue.

With the items we talked about above, you can save any meal with a little bit of effort. Most of these products are right in your local grocery store for a quality price. From Anaheim peppers to jalapenos, there is sure to be something you can use in your meal. Next time you see serrano, replace it but don’t skip out on the flavor.

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