9 Best Habanero Pepper Substitutes

When the recipe calls for some heat, habanero pepper is often the pepper many cooking geeks and households turn to. Habanero pepper offers heat and heightens the taste of any dish you prepare with it.

However, when the situation yearns for replacement, you would also require a spicy pepper to give your recipe some heat and taste, too. In this guide, we explore the best habanero pepper substitute.

Although jalapeno pepper and Serrano chilies are the best Habanero pepper substitutes, there are peppers you can replace habanero pepper.

So, you can comfortably make your meal without mixing many spices, trying to attain the perfect heat for your meal. Are you ready to explore with us?


What is habanero pepper?

Habanero pepper is a type of pepper from the league of chilies. Habanero pepper is mostly used to make hot sauces and to achieve some heat in meals.

Habanero pepper ranges from green to orange and even red. This type of pepper is particularly native to the Caribbean, the north coast of South America. Habanero pepper because of the heat is likened to a scotch bonnet pepper.

Many people cannot have enough habanero pepper because it is not just available as fresh pepper but as powdered pepper.

And even with all the necessary qualities that make up an ideal spice for many dishes, you can still run short of habanero pepper.

So if this happens, are there any replacements to look into? Do they have similar qualities as habanero pepper? What is a habanero pepper substitute?

Read: 8 Best Substitutes For Black Pepper

9 best Habanero pepper substitutes

There are great replacements for habanero pepper, of course. And yes, they have one to two qualities that are similar to habanero pepper. So let us see them now!

1. Jalapeno pepper

jalapeno pepper

Jalapeno pepper is a better substitute compared to many peppers, so it would replace your habanero pepper when it seems many miles away from you.

Jalapeno is of the species capsicum annuum. A medium-sized Chile pepper that can fit in any dish that needs some heat and taste.

The taste of the habanero pepper would differ depending on the individual pepper. Although jalapeno pepper is mostly picked green, this pepper will turn red when it is ripened. A jalapeno pepper has almost the same heat as a habanero pepper.

Jalapeno pepper is also available in powdered form, so you do not have to search in all nooks and crannies for this pepper. Your favorite store could house this spicy ingredient.

When it is time to add some pepper, you might need to double the amount since habanero is hotter than a jalapeno pepper.

2. Serrano pepper

serrano pepper

Serrano pepper is also a type of pepper from the chili varieties, notable for the heat it offers to many dishes.

Depending on the maturity of the pepper, the color will range from green to red too, just like the habanero pepper. Serrano pepper is also a great substitute for jalapeno pepper.

Although Serrano pepper offers heat in many dishes, it is more mild compared to habanero pepper. So, if you enjoy the heat that burns the tongue, then gradually double the amount until you get the desired result.

3. Bell pepper

bell pepper

Bell pepper is also a species of capsicum annuum; bell pepper has some level of heat to give a meal some spicy outcome when you cook your meal with bell pepper.

Bell pepper varies in color, green, yellow, and red. Other times you could see white and purple too. Bell peppers are often classified as chili; however, it has a mild taste compared to the many peppers in chili varieties.

Finding a habanero pepper substitute does not have to be tiring, so if you have bell pepper, you can comfortably use it to replace habanero pepper.

4. Scotch bonnet pepper

scotch bonnet pepper

Also known as Bonney pepper, scotch bonnet pepper, just like jalapeno pepper is most notable in the Caribbean. Many people classify scotch bonnet pepper as chili, and this is because the pepper is very hot.

Scotch pepper is, most times, 40 times hotter than a jalapeno pepper. So, if you are looking for heat, then you have found the heat in one pepper.

No wonder many cuisines use scotch pepper as a typical pepper to achieve some height of heat in their meal.

So, scotch bonnet pepper is an excellent habanero pepper substitute.

5. Cayenne pepper

cayenne pepper

Available as fresh pepper and in powdered form, cayenne pepper is another pepper that offers heat to many dishes. However, compared to habanero pepper cayenne pepper is moderate and yet would stand out when you use it in many recipes.

So, you can replace your habanero pepper with cayenne pepper. It enhances the flavor of many recipes too!

6. Rocotillo pepper

rocotillo pepper

This is an excellent replacement for habanero pepper. Many people refer to Rocotillo pepper as a habanero-type pepper. Although it differs in shape, they share similar tastes.

So, when looking for a habanero pepper substitute, you can confidently replace habanero pepper with Rocotillo pepper.

7. Banana pepper

banana pepper

Do not be scared to try this out as well. Banana pepper is from the chili pepper family too. So it can fit when it is time to add some heat to your dish.

Banana pepper has a mild, tangy taste however, it contains enough heat to give you that burning sensation that you need.

Although it is banana pepper and the typical color should be yellow, banana pepper can also come in green, red, or orange.

So, when you are trying to replace habanero pepper with banana pepper, don’t just keep your eyes on yellow pepper, because other peppers can come in yellow too.

8. Thai chili pepper

thai chili pepper

Many people refer to Thai chili pepper as bird’s-eye chili, it comes mainly in red color, although if picked unripe comes in green too, Thai can replace habanero pepper in many recipes that call for heat and savory taste too.

9. Habanero powder

habanero powder

If you feel habanero pepper is irreplaceable, then you should have habanero pepper in your spice rack at all times. Habanero offers distinct heat in many recipes that call for heat.

So, the best habanero pepper substitute is habanero powder. It would give you a rewarding result, as you do not need to double the amount to meet up the heat standards in the meal.

Read: 9 Best Substitutes For Onions

Frequently asked questions

Is habanero pepper the same as jalapeno pepper?

No, they are not the same. However, habanero pepper and jalapeno share almost similar heat and so when easily replace themselves in recipes.

Is cayenne pepper hotter than habanero pepper?

Although there are many varieties of cayenne pepper, most of them seem to have better heat compared to habanero pepper.


There are many habanero pepper substitutes. However, when it is time to replace them in a pinch, you would need some varieties that share almost the same flavor and heat as a habanero pepper.

And what many of the above substitutes share in common is that they are from the chili varieties.

If you want something relatively hotter, then use Carolina pepper, naga viper, or ghost pepper. They are a few, amongst other hot varieties.

So, go ahead and replace your habanero pepper when you do not have them handy