What Are The Best Ñora Pepper Substitutes?

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Ñora peppers, native to Spain, are a distinct variety of red bell pepper that is dried and used to add a unique, sweet, and mild flavor to various dishes. However, they are not always readily available in every region. Let’s look at your best substitutes for ñora peppers if you have none available. While all of these can work, mileage may vary based on your heat tolerance and the use case. We cover best use cases and details on the heat differences with each alternative.

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Table of Contents

Your best option: Guajillo peppers

Guajillo peppers are a popular choice as a substitute for ñora peppers. They are dried chili peppers with a sweet, tangy flavor profile that closely matches the ñora pepper. Guajillos are typically used in Mexican cuisine and can be found in some supermarkets and certainly online. They may be difficult to find if you’re in a pinch and need an alternative fast.

Guajillos can be substituted for ñora peppers at a 1:1 ratio. However, it’s important to consider that guajillo peppers are hotter than ñora peppers. They range from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville heat units, while the ñora only reaches 500 to 1,000 SHU. Therefore, adjusting the amount used based on personal heat tolerance is advised. 

Another good alternative: Ancho peppers

Ancho peppers, which are dried poblano peppers, are another suitable substitute. They offer a mild, sweet, and slightly smoky flavor, similar to ñora peppers. Ancho peppers are a similar spiciness to ñora chilies (they ranged from 1,000 to 1,500 SHU), so they can also be substituted at a 1:1 ratio. However, they are slightly larger than ñora peppers, so, if you’re using whole dried chilies, adjusting the quantity to match the intensity of flavor is recommended. One potential drawback of using ancho peppers is their slightly smokier flavor, which might alter the taste of the dish ever so slightly.

A spice option: Sweet paprika

Sweet paprika, a ground spice made from dried red peppers, can be used as a substitute for ñora peppers. It provides a similar sweet and mild flavor, making it a convenient alternative. The substitution ratio for sweet paprika is a bit tricky. Since it’s a ground spice, it’s more concentrated. Start with a quarter of the amount of ñora peppers called for in the recipe, and adjust to taste.

The main consideration when using sweet paprika is its form. Being a powder, it might change the texture of the dish. Also, it lacks the slight fruity and smoky notes of ñora peppers. You could opt for smoked paprika instead if the smokiness is something that you’re after for your dish.

If you must: Bell peppers

In terms of accessibility, fresh bell peppers are an excellent substitute for ñora peppers. They are sweet and mild, similar to ñora peppers, but lack the depth of flavor that comes from drying. Outside of that sweetness, there isn’t a lot of complexity to the flavor.

Bell peppers can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio by weight. However, since they are not dried, they will add more moisture to your dish, which might require adjusting other ingredients to maintain the desired consistency. 


UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on November 22, 2023 to include new content.
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