Pasilla vs Poblano: How Do These Two Peppers Differ?

Chili peppers can sometimes get lumped into the same category, with that category being: They are very hot, hotter than your average bell pepper. However, chili peppers each have their own categories and differences from one to the other, so it is unfair just to lump them all into one category together. All sorts of chili peppers come in different categories and flavor profiles that can change the taste and the heat of the dish.

Whenever you are looking at a pasilla pepper vs a poblano pepper, they have some key differences. While both peppers are mild on the chili pepper scale, they do have some differences that you need to know about if you want to cook with them. Here’s what you need to know.

Are Pasilla Peppers The Same As Poblano?

No, they are not. Poblano peppers are much bigger than the longer and thinner pasilla peppers. Plus, poblano peppers are often sold fresh, while the pasilla peppers are sold dried.

They are not interchangeable, even though they look similar and come with a similar spice level, so here’s all you need to know about the differences.

What Is Pasilla?

Pasilla is the name of the chili pepper and is the dried fruit of the chilaca pepper plant. The name translates to ‘little raisin’ and should only be used to describe the dried peppers. So if you see fresh peppers with the pasilla name, then that is incorrect! 

You can find these peppers in whole bunches or ground into chili flakes or powder, and they are very popular in Mexican cuisines such as in moles and salsas. 

What Is Poblano?

These heart shaped chili peppers are named after the Mexican state of Puebla where the peppers come from. They can grow up to four inches long, which leads to them being one of the largest chili peppers. The peppers also hold their shape very well, which means that many of the recipes using them have them stuffed.

The poblano pepper becomes hotter the riper it is, much like most chili peppers, which is why they are harvested whenever they are green instead of later on whenever the skin turns into a deep and rich green and brown hue. But if you get them when they are green, they have less heat while still tasting warm.

If you manage to find some that are ripe or allow them to fully ripen, then the flavor becomes rich and very smoky. This is why the poblano pepper is regarded as one of the most flavorful in both North America and Europe.

How Do Pasilla and Poblano Peppers Differ?


The Poblano Pepper is one of the largest chile peppers in the world and is also very wide. While the dried pasilla pepper is long, thin, and small, growing up to ten inches in length. Additionally, because the pepper is dried it is wrinkled and shriveled, while the poblano pepper is smooth and  light green.

Plus, you can also find pasilla peppers ground up and in flake form, while poblano peppers are only found in fresh and not fully ripe just yet.

Heat Intensity

In terms of flavor and heat, even though they come from the same family of plants, they are worlds apart in terms of flavor. 

Since poblano peppers are harvested before they are fully ripened, then they will have only a mild spiciness and many people can eat them without feeling like their mouth is on fire. Instead, they will just get a warm and rich style of pepper that almost tastes like a green bell pepper.

However, a dried pasilla chill has a smokey, fruity, and earthy flavor that almost tastes like a dried fruit or raisin. They are less sweet than poblano peppers, and in terms of heat level, you will still get a very warm taste rather than outright heat.


Poblano peppers can be roasted on the grill and that is where they really bring out their flavor and their delicate heat. But the most common usage of them is the peppers being stuffed, where the top is cut off or the peppers are cut in half, and then they are stuffed with rice, meats, tomatoes, and cheese.

Then the stuffed peppers are tossed into the oven and baked! Additionally, once the peppers are roasted, the skin can be peeled away and can be used in different dishes, these can include salsas, guacamole, and salad dressings. 

Pasilla peppers are used to complement sauces, soups, stews, and other dishes. Plus, for people who like the flavor of chilis without all of the heat, the pasilla peppers can perfectly mimic the flavor while still leaving your taste buds intact.

But they aren’t cooked on their own like poblano peppers, and don’t form the base of a meal. Instead, they are used to complement other flavors inside of a dish, or at least bring some heat. 

Can I Use Pasilla Instead Of Poblano?

No, and the main reason why is also the main difference between them, because one is dried and the other is very fresh. Additionally, Pasilla is used to add flavor and spice to a cooked dish, while poblano peppers often are the cooked dish. 

Since they do completely different things, you won’t be able to substitute one for the other, and you certainly won’t be able to stuff a pasilla pepper like you would a poblano! 


Both peppers might come from the same family of plants and have a very low heat level, but that is where the similarities end and the differences start to come into play. They are different shapes, sizes, colors, and come in different levels of freshness.

However, at the end of the day, both are very good peppers and they can be used to spice up a lot of different dishes. So don’t hesitate to give them both a dry the next time you are in the mood for some Mexican food!