All About Common Fresh Chiles

For many cooks, fresh chiles are a bit of a mystery. And it’s no wonder.

Common Fresh Chiles

The same chile can go by different names in different parts of the country and can range from green to red, depending on when it was harvested. To ensure that you’re buying the chile called for in a recipe, it’s a good idea to look at a photo before shopping. Whatever the variety, you should choose chiles with tight, unblemished skin and flesh that’s firm to the touch.


Appearance: Large, triangular; green to red-brown Flavor: Crisp, vegetalHeat (on a scale of 1 to 4): 1 Substitutions: Anahein, bell pepper


Appearance: Large, long, skinny; yellow-green to red Flavor: Mildly tangy, vegetalHeat (on a scale of 1 to 4): 2 Substitutions: Poblano


Appearance: Small, smooth, shiny; green or red Flavor: Bright, grassyHeat (on a scale of 1 to 4): 2 Substitutions: Serrano


Appearance: Small; dark green Flavor: Bright, citrusyHeat (on a scale of 1 to 4): 3 Substitutions: Jalapeno

Thai Bird's Eye

Appearance: Narrow and petite; bright red Flavor: Rich, fruityHeat (on a scale of 1 to 3): 3 1/2 Substitutions: Serrano


Appearance: Bulbous; bright orange to red

Flavor: Deeply floral, fruity

Heat (on a scale of 1 to 4): 4

Substitutions: Double dose Thai Bird's Eye

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