Pasilla vs. Poblano: What Is the Difference? (Explained)

If you live in Mexico, Canada, or the United States, you have access to many spices often used to make the best dishes we enjoy. All spices offer their taste and flavor, which means understanding each is essential to making a good recipe. For instance, some of the common spices in these countries are pasilla and poblano. So, if you’re wondering about the two, here’s my take:

The main difference between the pasilla and the poblano is their properties. The pasilla is more of a thin and dried chili. On the other hand, the poblano is a fresh chili which has the same size as bell pepper. There are other differences between the two, and we’ll tackle all of them below.

Pasilla and poblano are found in sauces, salsas, and multiple other cuisines! Aside from their uses, these two peppers may look very similar but have some differences. Thus, understanding these two can help you understand which one will work best with your recipes and preferences.

In this article, you’ll see our in-depth explanation of the two spices and how they differ. This way, you can know more about each of these spices and learn how to use them in the best way possible.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Pasilla vs. Poblano

Are pasilla and poblano the same thing?

No, pasilla and poblano are not the same thing. While the two spices look similar and have several similar uses, they are two different things. The pasilla is like a thin and dried chili, while the poblano is a fresh chili of the same size as bell pepper.

The poblano is commonly called a pasilla in some places, but other places use the term to describe a dried chilaca pepper. The dried Poblanos are known as anchos. Poblanos are often dried for storage purposes.

What is pasilla pepper?

The Pasilla pepper is a dried version of the famous Mexican chili pepper, the Chilaca. A chilaca pepper’s new form has other names, including pasilla bajio, chile negro, and Mexican negro. 

The pepper begins dark green and turns brown at the end. Usually, it grows to be 8-10 inches long. In Mexican cuisine and cooking, pasilla peppers are used for making sauces such as moles, salsas, and table sauces. 

The peppers can also be crushed into a powder, used in similar applications, or as a spice. Chile pasilla peppers are often considered the holy trinity of chile peppers and ancho and guajillo peppers.

What is poblano pepper?

Known for its dark green skin that turns a deep red or brown when ripe, the poblano pepper is famous Mexican chili pepper. Usually shaped like a heart, large, gentle, and red. 

The pods are 4 inches long and have a dark green tint that matures to a dark red or brown hue. Most farmers harvest them while they are still green so that you can use them for general cooking.

Poblanos are medium-sized peppers with a slight heart shape. Their thick skins/walls are ideal for stuffing in the oven because they will withstand the heat. 

In cooking, Poblano peppers are usually roasted and peeled or dried. When dried, they become Ancho chilies.

The Poblanos pepper is native to Puebla, Mexico, and is one of the most widely grown pepper varieties. There are many stems on the plant, which grow to be as tall as 25 inches. Pods can measure up to 3 inches in length and 2 inches in width.

What is the difference between pasilla and poblano?

In general, we can find several differences between pasilla and poblano. Below, let’s see how they differ in terms of appearance, level of heat, flavor, uses, and availability.

Appearance

The differences in their appearances easily distinguish Poblano from Pasilla. For example, poblano peppers are shaped somewhat like hearts and have a length of approximately 4 inches. In contrast, pasilla peppers are very elongated, about 8-10 inches long.

There is also a slight color variation, as poblano peppers mature to a darker red or brown color, whereas pasilla peppers mature to a darker brown color.

Level of Heat

The poblano pepper is mild chili pepper. On the Scoville scale, which measures the heat level of chiles, they range from 1,000 to 2,000.

Compared to Pasilla peppers, they are moderately hot. According to the Scoville scale, they range between 1,000 and 2,500.

Flavor

When sold green and unripe, poblanos are exceptionally mild. They taste similar to green peppers but with a little more zest. Cooking poblanos soften them even more and make them somewhat sweet.

In contrast, the flavor of pasillas is smokey, fruity, earthy, and often compared to berries and dried fruits (like raisins). The taste of these peppers is similar to that of ancho chiles, though they are less sweet.

There are also different uses for poblano and pasilla peppers with such a difference in flavor.

Uses

The poblano peppers are commonly used in making several dishes and food. Among these are dressing, relishing, stuffing, soup, and even cocktails. It’s also best paired with guacamole, pesto, cornbread, and posole.

On the other hand, pasilla is often enjoyed as part of sauces, moles, and soups. You can also make some chili flakes out of it and add them to your snacks and meals.

Availability

Poblano and pasilla are both available at the supermarket. However, it is much easier to locate fresh poblanos, while pasilla is usually more readily available as dried.

Can I use pasilla instead of poblano and vice versa?

No, you cannot use pasilla instead of poblano and vice versa. Fresh peppers do not have the same smoky, earthy, and spicy flavor as dried peppers. You can use anchos as an alternative to pasillas and have it the other way around.

As a result, many people won’t be able to detect the difference between the dried chiles after they’ve been used in a dish.

In contrast, Anaheim pepper is the best substitute for poblano. Poblano peppers are twice as hot as Anaheim peppers. In contrast, you can substitute the poblano pepper with this chili.

Summary

In a nutshell, The main difference between the pasilla and the poblano is their properties. The pasilla is more of a thin and dried chili. On the other hand, the poblano is a fresh chili which has the same size as bell pepper. There are other differences between the two, and we’ll tackle all of them below.

Pasilla and poblano are found in sauces, salsas, and multiple other cuisines! Aside from their uses, these two peppers may look very similar but have some differences. Thus, understanding these two can help you understand which one will work best with your recipes and preferences.

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Image credits – Canva

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