The Anaheim pepper is a mild chile pepper that gives a boost of flavor to any dish. Learn more about this versatile chile, then use it to give some dimension to dishes that are just a little bland.
What is an Anaheim pepper?
As the name suggests, Anaheim peppers are named after a city in California. The farmer Emilio Ortego (of Mexican food fame!) brought them to California via New Mexico.
They are very similar to Hatch chile peppers. In fact, the two peppers started life as the same thing. Because one is cultivated in California and one in New Mexico, they taste slightly different. The temperature, soil and climate of the two places differ, creating variations in the flavor of the peppers.
An Anaheim pepper is medium in size, averaging six to ten inches long. They are typically used in cooking when they are still green. You will find them under a variety of names, such as New Mexico peppers, California chili and Magdalena.
If the peppers are left on the plant, they will continue to ripen to a red color. Red Anaheim peppers are usually called California red chiles, or chili Colorado.
Are Anaheim peppers healthy?
Chile peppers have a high water content. They pack a lot of flavor with very few calories. Anaheim peppers also contain:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
How spicy is an Anaheim pepper?
Anaheim peppers are quite mild. In fact, mild enough that many people enjoy eating them raw!
They rank from 500 to 1,000 SHU on the Scoville Scale. For reference, bell peppers are at zero while jalapenos can be as hot at 8,000 SHU.
However, the heat level varies, depending on where they are grown. The peppers harvested in California are not nearly as spicy as the ones grown in New Mexico.
The taste of an Anaheim pepper can be described as smokey, sweet and tangy. It does have a little heat, but not the kind that lingers such as in very spicy peppers.
Can you dry the peppers?
When Anaheim chiles are dried, they are called chile seco del norte. These are the most mild form of dried chile peppers available. Chile seco del norte is commonly found in chile powder.
If you have fresh Anaheim peppers and would like to dry them, there are several methods you can use. Cutting them into smaller pieces will reduce the time it takes them to dry out.
Drying the peppers does increase the heat, but these are pretty mild to begin with. Any of these drying methods work well:
- In a dehydrator
- Air drying – If you live in an arid climate, you can simply hang them to dry
- In an oven set to its lowest temperature
What do you do with Anaheim peppers?
Anaheim peppers are easy to find because they are so popular. Because they have little spice but aren’t overwhelmingly hot, they add a nice pleasant kick to food that’s still kid/family-friendly.
When you buy canned green chiles, it is usually Anaheim peppers.
The peppers taste fantastic in dishes such as:
- Stuffed peppers
- Salsa – The heat in this corn salsa can be toned down by using Anaheim peppers instead of jalapenos
- Topping for salad or nachos
- Creamed corn
- Chile rellenos – Anaheim are a similar size and shape as poblanos, so they are a great substitute in these baked chile rellenos.
- Enchiladas – This homemade enchilada sauce tastes delicious on almost anything!
When a recipe calls for a bell pepper, but you want a little more pizazz and spice, use an Anaheim pepper instead!