Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 22, 2011 05:45 PM

Jalapeno substitute in salsa verde

The produce manager at our local Whole Foods told me that winter jalapenos are too mild for salsa verde and that I should substitute poblanos. I came home empty handed as I was not sure what to get for my recipe. I don't want it to be too hot. What to do????

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Generally poblanos are the mildest of the Mexican peppers - or maybe I say, 2nd mildest. Anaheims (which are likely to come from Mexico at this time of the year) are milder. Though an occasional poblano can be hotter. Serranos, which are thinner than jalapenos, are the ones that are somewhat hotter.

    But what kind of salsa verde are you making - one that uses tomatillos, onion, cilantro and peppers? I just used poblanos in a cooked tomatillo sauce, but I wasn't aiming for a hot one. And the darker green of the poblano will darken the sauce.

    1. in a pinch you could used jarred pickled jalapenos ....

      1 Reply
      1. re: Madrid

        i wouldn't use anything pickled since that would completely alter the taste. I hate when I want a little more heat and I request a simple, fresh jalapeno or serrano and get a pickled one instead.

        If you are looking for something hotter than jalapenos I'd suggest serranos, and your Whole Foods manager must be nuts to suggest poblanos!! I've never ever run across a poblano that I'd ever consider "hot".

      2. Poblanos are mild- 1,000 SU. Check around, as I am still able to find hot jalapeños. In Scovill units Jalapeños are around 5,000, serranos are around 15,000, with the high end being the habanero 500,000, and the ghost pepper at 1,000,000 .

        You can use serranos, just use less of them , say 1/3 less, and dice small. The remainder could be the mild jalapeños.

        1. Poblanos are pretty mild. I don't think that guy at Whole Foods knows what he is talking about. In cases where I have purchased particularly mild jalapeños, I just use them anyway but add in a single Thai green bird chile, Indian chile, or habanero (whatever fresh hot chile I have on hand). I have done this for salsas and chutney. The salsas come out atomic, which you may not desire. I think you should just go ahead and use jalapeños but throw in a small sized single fresh chile as an alternative heat source if need be. Although it is winter, the jalapeños I have gotten lately haven't been too mild. Cut one open and see what you think.

          2 Replies
          1. re: luckyfatima

            You are pretty much spot on here with one exception. The produce manager ABSOLUTELY doesn't know what he's talking about.


            1. re: Davwud

              Yup, disregard the manager's advice, buy a bunch plus a few serranos just in case, and see for yourself. (Possibly not from Whole Foods, but from a mainstream grocer, as maybe *their* jalapenos just aren't hot right now?)

              Jalapenos are used for their flavor as much as their heat, so you should be able to balance mild jalapenos with serranos easily if you need to punch it up. (the quick home test for jalapenos - cut one at the stem, touch your tongue to the stem-side membrane. That will give you a gutshot of the heat level in the hottest part of the pepper.)

          2. Use serranos, they taste about the same but are hotter than most jalapenos.