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The chile Anaheim (or Anaheim pepper) is a mildly spicy chile used to bring life to many Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. Find out everything you need to know about this pepper, including some tasty plant-based recipe ideas.
Table of Contents
📖 What are Anaheim peppers?
As you can imagine, Anaheim peppers are named after the city that gave rise to them — Anaheim, California.
A New Mexico farmer, named Emilio Ortega, transplanted Hatch (or New Mexico) chile seeds to California. Here, they transformed into a slightly different, but equally delicious, chile variety.
Although these peppers look very similar, the nuances in flavor come from differences in soil between the locations.
Pretty cool, right?
Anyways, Anaheim chiles are medium in size, growing approximately 6-10 inches in length. They’re generally sold and cooked when green, although they will turn red as they ripen.
In fact, when Anaheim peppers turn fully red, they are dried to become chile seco del Norte or chile Colorado (much like poblano peppers becoming ancho chiles).
🍴 Flavor profile
Anaheim chiles have a sweet, bell pepper-esque flavor with a mild spice in their raw form.
Once roasted (which is common), the taste becomes much sweeter and smokier. They are a great way to add flavor to dishes without imparting too much spice.
🔥 Spice level
Anaheim chiles are considered a mildly spicy pepper, ranging from 500-1000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
In comparison to a jalapeño, they are about 5-16x milder on the Scoville Scale.
🍎 Health facts
If you are not a fan of spicy chiles, just think about all the health benefits you’re missing out on!
Anaheim peppers contain an abundance of vitamin C, K, A, and pyridoxine (aka vitamin B6).
Not only that, Anaheim peppers are filled with a compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin is what puts the spice in spicy pepper, but it’s also proven to be a potent anti-inflammatory, promoting heart health.
🍽 Anaheim pepper dishes
There are many regions across Mexico and the Southwest that utilize Anaheim chiles for their mild spice and tasty flavor profile. They also make an ideal choice to replace poblano peppers in recipes like:
- Chiles rellenos
- Salsa verde
- Soups, stews, or chilis
- Espagueti verde
- Corn bread
Raw Anaheim peppers will stay fresh for about 1 week in your fridge — just keep them in the crisper drawer.
If you roast them, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
If you have too many to eat, raw or roasted Anaheim peppers can be frozen for up to 6 months.
💰 Buying guide
Before you head out to purchase your own Anaheim chiles, remember the following tips to make the best choice with your hard-earned money.
What to look for
Avoid any bruised, flaccid, or wrinkled peppers. Instead, look for Anaheim peppers that are firm, shiny, and uniform in color.
Where to buy
You shouldn’t have any issues finding Anaheim peppers at most local grocery stores in the produce section. They will likely be right next to the jalapeño, serrano, and poblano peppers.
If you’re not able to find Anaheim chiles, there are two other varieties that work well as substitutions.
- Poblano peppers. Although slightly spicier than Anaheim peppers, poblano peppers have a similar flavor profile, making them an excellent replacement.
- Green bell peppers. With more of a garden-fresh flavor and less complexity, green bell peppers are the next-best choice if you can’t find Anaheim or poblano peppers.
🌶 More Mexican chiles
If you’re interested in learning about more popular chiles used in Mexican cooking, check out our other detailed guides:
Anaheim peppers are technically different from Hatch peppers. When the Hatch chile was transplanted to California, it became the Anaheim chile. Because of the differences in soil, Hatch peppers are much hotter and have a slightly different taste.
Yes and no. When Anaheim peppers are grown in New Mexico, they are referred to as New Mexico peppers or Hatch peppers. New Mexico peppers are much hotter than Anaheim peppers.
When Anaheim chiles are ripened, picked, and dried, they are referred to as chile Colorado or chile seco del Norte.