Poblano Vs Serrano

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When it comes to hot peppers, there is a whole world to discover. Two popular peppers used in Mexican cuisine that have made their way to the United States are the poblano and serrano peppers.

While you may be more familiar with the jalapeno pepper, the serrano and poblano peppers deserve a spot in your culinary repetoire thanks to their unique flavors and different spice levels.

Jalapenos tend to fall between serrano and poblano peppers in terms of spiciness. That makes these chiles a great choice for folks who are looking for either milder or spicier alternatives to the jalapeno.

So, what is the difference between these peppers? Serrano peppers are smaller, thinner, and much spicier than poblano peppers. Poblanos are generally dark green, with a thick skin, and a wide base that tapers to a point. They are also quite a mild chile pepper.

Read on to discover the differences between serrano and poblano peppers, the best ways to prepare them, and some fun recipes to use them in.

Which Is Spicier: A Poblano Or Serrano Pepper?

When it comes to measuring the spiciness of peppers, most people use something called the Scoville Scale.

This measurement tool helps to classify peppers from mildest to spiciest and ranges from 0 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) to the millions, with 2,200,000 being one of the highest scores.

Bell peppers are sweet and not at all spicy, so they measure about 0 on the Scoville scale, while the Carolina Reaper clocks in between 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU.

One of the peppers that most people are familiar with is the jalapeno pepper, so I’m going to use that as a reference for the spiciness of poblano and serrano peppers.

Jalapenos are on the lower end of the Scoville scale with an average rating of 2,500–8,000 depending on the pepper.

So if you enjoy the spiciness of jalapenos, you should be comfortable eating either a poblano (a little milder) or a serrano (slightly spicier) pepper.

  • Poblano peppers are a little larger than jalapenos, but have a milder spice level. These differences can make them a perfect choice for people who are looking for the flavor of a pepper without the intense spiciness. These peppers typically measure in at 1,500 SHU.
  • Serrano peppers look similar to jalapenos, but they are a little spicier clocking in around 10,000 to 23,000 SHU. These peppers are a perfect option for people who love extra spice and kick to their meals.

When it comes to comparing the spiciness of poblano and serrano peppers, the poblano is going to be the choice for folks who like a mild spicy level. It can be anywhere from about 1/9th to about 1/15th less spicy than a serrano pepper.

Can You Make Hot Peppers Less Spicy?

One trick to make your spicier peppers taste a little milder is to remove the seeds and the inside flesh. Lots of the capsaicin (one of the compounds in spicy peppers) is found in the white pith or rib of chili peppers.

Seeds in chili peppers are typically found in and around the pith/rib inside the flesh of the pepper. The contact between seeds and pith means that the seeds can also be coated in capsaicin, even though they don’t technically contain any of this compound themselves.

That’s not to say that peppers with the pith and seeds won’t have a nice kick to them, but they can be a milder alternative if you’re not a fan of screaming hot peppers.

How Do You Prepare A Serrano Pepper?

Serrano peppers have a crispy, bright flavor that is much spicier than a jalapeno. Generally, these chiles are enjoyed raw in salsas, like pico de gallo, and other dishes.

These peppers will be green when unripened and can turn red, brown, orange, or yellow as it matures.

You can eat the peppers in their green, unripened state. You can also try roasting them to deepen the flavor and add a little complexity and smokiness to balance the spiciness.

If you want your peppers to be slightly milder, then you can slice them in half and remove the white pith and seeds.

The pith concentrates the capsaicin, which is responsible for the heat level in a chile. Since the seeds are in close contact with the pith, they can be coated in capsaicin.

Removing both these parts of the pepper can make them less spicy and give a cleaner texture to enjoy them raw.

How Do You Prepare A Poblano Pepper?

Poblano peppers can be prepared in a few different ways to highlight their unique flavor profile.

Dried poblanos are called ancho chilis. One of the most common uses for ancho chiles is in adobo rojo de chiles. This mixture is a marinade that is used in dishes such as tacos al pastor.

When you roast poblano peppers, it brings out more of the fruity flavors of the pepper. It also makes it easy to remove the skin, which can sometimes be a little tough or difficult to digest.

Which Pepper Is Better For Stuffing: Poblano or Serrano?

When it comes to making stuffed peppers, it is going to be easier to use a poblano pepper than a serrano pepper simply because of their size differences.

Poblano peppers are much larger than serrano peppers, so they are going to be easier to deseed and stuff.

If you want a stuffed pepper that is spicier, then you can use your poblano pepper as the container and chop up a serrano pepper and add it to your filling mixture. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

Poblano peppers are the most commonly used pepper to make chile relleno. This dish is made with a roasted pepper that is stuffed with cheese, then coated in egg and fried.

Typically, it will be served with a flavorful sauce to compliment the flavors of the chile relleno.

What Different Dishes Can You Make With Poblano And Serrano Peppers?

When it comes to enjoying your serrano and poblano peppers there are a lot of ways you can use them. In fact, you can use them interchangeably in many recipes since, in general, the only thing it will change is the heat level.

Poblano peppers are much milder than serrano peppers measuring in at about 1,500 SHU versus 10,000 to 23,000 SHU. So the main thing you need to figure out when using these peppers is how hot you want your final dish to be.

Remember, if you prepare them as above, you can remove the pith and seeds to make them slightly milder.

Since capsaicin, the compound responsible for most of the spiciness in peppers, is concentrated in the pith and coats the seeds, removing both can help decrease spice level.

Below I’ll outline a few delicious ways you can enjoy serrano and poblano peppers depending on your taste buds and spice preference.

Use Serrano Or Poblano Peppers As Alternatives To Jalapenos In Poppers

One delicious way to enjoy these peppers is as an alternative to jalapeno peppers when making jalapeno poppers.

  • Poblano peppers are a little larger than jalapenos, but have that milder spice level so you get more pepper flavor than spice in your popper. These differences can make them a perfect option for people who may want their popper to be less snack-sized and more of an appetizer.
  • Serrano peppers are a little smaller and thinner than jalapenos, but they are a little spicier clocking in around 10,000 to 23,000 SHU. These peppers are a perfect option for people who love extra spice in their poppers and who may want a daintier popper.

Try Roasting Serrano Or Poblano Peppers And Adding To Dressings

Roasting your peppers is a great way to add another layer of smoky flavor to your dishes. It also softens the flesh to make it easier to work with.

A great way to use your serrano or poblano peppers is to roast them, peel off the skins, and add them to sauces, dips, or dressings.

Try some of these suggestions. Remember serrano = heat, poblano = mild pepper flavor:

  • You can finely chop the pieces and add them to salsas or guacamoles.
  • Add them to mole sauces for complex flavors and a hint of spice.
  • Puree them into salad dressings or yogurt dips.
  • Chop them up and add to relish for a sneaky hit of smoky spice.

Add Chopped Pieces To Corn Bread

Jalapeno is a common addition to corn bread, but you can use either poblanos or serrano peppers to add a different dimension of flavor to this classic side dish.

Take Your Soups To The Next Level

You can add either raw or roasted serrano or poblano peppers to your favorite vegetable soups, chilis, stews, or curries for a layer of peppery spicy flavor that will awaken the taste buds.

Add Chopped Peppers To Hashes

There’s something incredibly satiating about a hash made with veggies and adding some poblano or serrano peppers can round out the rich flavors with a bit of fruitiness or spiciness.

Up Next: Can You Freeze Jalapeno Poppers?

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