A Visual Guide to Chile Peppers

June 30, 2015


The world of chile peppers can be daunting. Fresh, dried, green, red, fruity, hot…the diversity within this family of capsaicinoid-rich nightshades is incredible. Get to know the culinary charms of these ubiquitous little firecrackers with our international chile pepper guide!


Fresh Chile Peppers



Anaheim peppers are a mild type of New Mexican chili closely related to the famous Hatch green chili. Like Poblanos, the Anaheim pepper is large enough to be stuffed, but are more slender with a lighter green color and a brighter, fruiter flavor. As it matures, the Anaheim peppers begin to turn red. In this state, they are referred to as Colorado or a California Red Chile. Green or red, they are a favorite in many Southwestern-style dishes.


Scoville Units: 500-2,500



The yellow Caribe Chile Pepper originated in the Caribbean and is called Chili Guero in Mexico. Caribes are a ‘wax’ type chili with medium heat level. Caribes can be used interchangeably with Hungarian Wax or Fresno peppers, and make a lovely addition to sauces and salsas.


Scoville Units: 5,000-10,000


Cherry Hot

The Cherry Hot is a round red pepper with a sweet, succulent flesh. Cherry Hots are considered mild, and are typically used fresh or pickled and jarred. A classic East Coast deli staple.


Scoville Units: 100-500



The Cubanelle or Cuban Pepper is a mild, sweet pepper with just a touch of heat that is light green and almost yellow in color. Similar to an Anaheim or Banana pepper (but slighty sweeter), the Cubanelle is great for frying, stuffing, or incorporating into authentic Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Dominican recipes.


Scoville Units: 100-1,000


Finger Chile

The world’s most commonly used hot pepper, the Finger Chile, more commonly known as the Cayenne Pepper, is long and slender. The Finger Hot starts out green and becomes red upon maturity. Used to kick up the heat in cuisines on every continent, cayenne is most often used dried and ground, but can also be used fresh.


Scoville Units: 20,000-30,000



The Fresno Pepper is very similar to the Jalapeno except with thinner walls. Like the Jalapeno, the Fresno starts out green, then gradually turns to orange and red once matured. Fresno peppers are versatile and can be used to replace Jalapenos or Serrano peppers.


Scoville Units: 2,500-10,000


Ghost Chile

The Bhut Jolokia, or the Ghost Pepper, is a supremely hot pepper from northern India. This wrinkly, bright colored pepper can be red, yellow, orange, white, purple or brown once it has reached maturity. It is most often used in hot sauces, salsas, or infused oils, as it can be dangerously hot eaten raw...not surprising as they’re more than four times hotter than a habanero!


Scoville Units: 800,000-1,041,427



Habanero peppers are small, hot chili peppers grown in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. They are short with thin orange, red, or yellow skin. Because of their heat level, Habaneros are usually not eaten whole but added to salsas and other recipes. They have a slight fruity flavor which can be enhanced by roasting.


Scoville Units: 100,000-350,000


Hungarian Wax

The Hungarian Hot is a variety of yellow chili from – you guessed it – Hungary. It is often mistaken for a banana pepper, but has a higher heat level. Medium hot, it boasts a distinct tangy-sweet-hot flavor, delicious fresh in salads and salsas, and popular pickled.


Scoville Units: 5,000-8,000



Jalapenos are a common medium-sized chili peppers with a mild to moderate heat level essential in Mexican cooking. They are usually harvested green, but can also be eaten red once they’ve matured. Fruity and somewhat grassy in taste, Jalapenos vary in heat level depending on a few different factors including the amount of sunlight, and the pH level of the soil in which they grew.


Scoville Units: 2,500-8,000


Long Hot

A Philadelphia favorite, Long Hots are usually fried or roasted with olive oil, garlic, and salt served whole, often on a classic roast pork sandwich. The Long Hot changes from green to red once matured, and vary in spiciness, but generally have a distinctly pepper flavor with a mild bite.


Scoville Units: 100-1000



The Manzano Pepper was originally cultivated in South America and is recognizable by its distinctive black seeds. It has thick walls resembling a bell pepper’s, but can be very hot. This pepper is a staple in South American cuisine and can usually be found stuffed with ground beef, or included in many soups and salsas.


Scoville Units: 30,000-250,000



Poblano Peppers are a mild variety of chili peppers often found in Mexican and Southwestern cooking with a thick and dark green skin. Oftentimes mistaken for Pasilla Peppers, Poblano Peppers are mild to medium-hot and are great for roasting as it brings out the fruiter flavors within. When dried, the Poblano Pepper is referred to as the Ancho Chili.


Scoville Units: 1,000-2,000



Serrano Peppers are small to medium in size with a fiery, sharp flavor. Serrano peppers are similar looking to the Jalapeno, but are smaller, more slender and pointier. Serrano peppers are usually eaten green, but will change from green to red, orange, yellow and possibly brown when ripened on the vine. They are generally eaten raw or added to different salsa and guacamole recipes. They can be used to replace Thai Chilis with a ratio of 4 Serranos to 1 Thai Chili.


Scoville Units: 10,000-25,000



The Shishito pepper is a slender, thin-walled Japanese pepper with a moderate heat that varies from pepper to pepper. Their smoky-savory-sweet flavor has made them a darling of the culinary world. Similar to the Spanish Padron Pepper, Shishitos are popular pan fried, sautéed or grilled. They are popular in izakayas and tapas bars in Japan and beyond. It makes a wonderful tempura, and a great bar snack.


Scoville Units: 100-1,000


Thai Hot

The Thai Hot, also known as a Bird’s Eye Chili, is only a few inches long and very slender, but has almost as much heat as a Habanero. Cultivated in Asia, the Thai Hot goes from green to red upon maturity, but is used interchangeably at any stage. It is ubiquitous in Southeast Asian cuisine, but is growing in popularity around the world.


Scoville Units: 50,000-100,000


Trinidad Scorpion

"Scorpion" peppers are referred to as such because the pointed end of the pepper is said to resemble a scorpion's stinger. Before the "Carolina Reaper" pepper made its debut in 2013, the Trinidad Scorpion reigned supreme as the world’s hottest pepper, and it's still well known for its killer sting. Red in color, the Trinidad Scorpion has a bright, fruity flavor, making it the perfect pepper for super fiery sweet-hot salsas.


Scoville Units: 1,200,000-2,000,000


Dried Chili Peppers


Aji Amarillo

The Aji Amarillo pepper is typically associated with Peruvian cuisine, and changes from yellow to orange when ripe. Typically paired with red onions and garlic, the Aji Amarillo is usually found in Peruvian stews and sauces.


Scoville Units: 30,000-50,000



The Ancho pepper is a dried version of the poblano pepper often used in Mexican cooking. They have a deep red color with wrinkled skin, and are sweet and smokey with a mild to medium-hot heat level. Ancho peppers are often softened in hot water and then ground into a paste (the soaking water can be used as well). The dry pepper is also often ground, the powder being a staple in New Mexican cuisine.


Scoville Units: 1,000-2,000



In the US, Chipotle may refer to any smoked pepper – but real deal chipotle is a long-smoked red jalapeño pepper. These distinctly earthy, smoky dried peppers may also be found rehydrated in a thick liquid and are commonly used in Mexican cooking.


Scoville Units: 2,500-10,000


De Arbol

The Chile de Arbol is a tiny Mexican chili most often found dried. De Arbol peppers are closely related to the cayenne pepper, and are accordingly very hot. They have a bold heat with a subtle smokiness that makes them a good alternative to chipotle.


Scoville Units: 50,000-65,000



Guajillo pepper is a dried mirasol chile pepper and is often found in Mexican cuisine. Deeply red in color, the peppers are not particularly hot, but boast a unique slight green tea flavor. They are an essential componant of a traditional mole sauce.


Scoville Units: 2,500-5,000



The Pasilla or “Little Raisin” chile is the dried chilaca pepper. The fresh chilaca pepper is also known as pasilla bajio, chile negro, or “Mexican negro” because it starts off dark green, but ends up dark brown. With a rich, smokey taste, the Pasilla is an used in many moles and adobo sauces.


Scoville Units: 250-4,000


Thai Chili

Dried Thai Chiles are a great alternative to fresh when making soups, stews, or curries. They impart a distinct earthy heat to dishes with south or southeast Asian flavors and go particularly well with lemongrass, coconut, and lime.


Scoville Units:  50,000-100,000 

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