Hot Pepper Scale
The measurement of heat in peppers is measured on the Scoville scale. This is generally the universal measurement of the spicy heat (or piquance) of a chili pepper. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present in the pepper. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes. It is most prominent within the placenta of the pod, which is the white membrane running along the insides.
The pepper heat scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. Let’s take a look at the most common peppers you’ll see in stores, restaurants, sauces etc, and see how they stack up against each other on the heat scale – starting with the mildest first. Of course there are many thousands of different pepper varieties, but these are a selection of the more commonly found.
|Pepper Type||Approx Heat on Scoville Scale||Description|
|Sweet Bell Pepper||0-100||Very little heat, barely registers on the scoville scale, the common bell pepper comes in a variety of colors – green, red, yellow, and orange being the most common.|
|Cubanelle Pepper||100 – 1,000||The Cubanelle is generally considered a sweet pepper with mild to heat. Cubanelles are usually picked before they ripen, while they are a yellowish-green color, but when ripe, they turn bright red.
Most cubanelle pepper imports come from the Dominican Republic.
|Pepperoncini Pepper||100 – 500||Peperoncini are sweet Italian peppers and golden Greek peppers and are a variety of the species Capsicum annuum.
Generally the Greek varieties of Peperoncini are sweeter and less bitter than the Italian. Peperoncini are mild with a slight heat and a hint of bitterness, and are commonly pickled and sold packaged in jars. These are commonly found on salad bars around the USA.
|Pimento Pepper||100 – 500||
The Pimento or Cherry Pepper is a variety of large, red, heart-shaped chile pepper – very mild and sweet in taste.
|Limo pepper||100 – 500||The Limo chili/pepper can be yellow, green, red or purple in color and is traditionally used in the preparation of the cebiche. Though cebiche is generally prepped with a mild flavor, this chile can be a little on the spicy side, so it isn’t used in quantity.|
|Poblano Pepper||1,000 – 2000||
Poblano peppers are a mild chili pepper originating in the State of Puebla, Mexico.
They are often used in Mexican food preparation where they are generally dried, and reconstituted in sauces. In its dried state it is called a chile ancho. The ripened red poblano is significantly hotter and more flavorful than the less ripe, green poblano, however, it is not uncommon for some poblanos to have a significant heat – different peppers from the same plant often vary substantially in heat intensity.
|Pasilla Pepper||1,000 – 2,000||
The pasilla pepper is a long, thin pepper usually measuring between 7 and 12 inches long. Pasilla peppers turn from dark green to dark brown/purple as they mature.
|Ancho Pepper||1,000 – 2,000||
Ancho peppers are are the dried version of Poblano, or “people” peppers. Their flavor is somewhat sweet and somewhat raisin-like, with medium heat. The outer skin has a rich, sweet, raisin-like flavor, which is most commonly associated with the flavor of chili; the inner veins of the pepper are quite hot. When you buy the whole pod, you have the advantage of being able to separate these two distinct flavors.
|Anaheim Pepper||500 – 2,500||
This mild pepper is also known as California, long green chili, chilacate, chile college, chile de rista, chile verde, Chimayo and Hatch.
Same species as the Jalapeno but is more ripe and has a higher vitamin content. Frequently used in ceviche and is one of the most frequently used chilies in salsa.
|Mirasol Pepper||2,500 – 4,500||
In Spanish, Mirasol means ‘looking at the sun’ and describes the upwards tilting nature of the pods. The pods are 3 to 5in in length and can be used both fresh and dry. Conical in shape and medium hot measuring close to 5,000 scoville heat units, the Mirasol pepper has a unique fruity flavor.
|Cherry Pepper||1,000 – 2,500||
Also called Hungarian cherry peppers, these are mild and sweet. Very similar to the cascabel pepper. Small in size and round in shape, this variety of pepper has the appearance of a large cherry or a small cherry tomato.
|Guajillo Pepper||2,500 – 5,000||
Sometimes (incorrectly) spelled “guajilla”. They are thick, leathery dark reddish brown (when mature) chiles that contain mild to moderate amounts of heat. The guajillo is one of the most commonly grown chiles in Mexico. This chile requires a longer soaking period than most due to its leathery skin.
|Jalapeño Pepper||2,500 – 8,000||
Perhaps the most popular and most widely-used hot pepper in the western world. The jalapeño is a small to medium-sized chile pepper that is prized for the hot, burning sensation that it produces in the mouth when eaten. Jalapeños have a wide variety of culinary uses: snacks, dishes, sauces and salsas are just a few. The jalapeño is known by different names throughout Mexico: cuaresmenos, huachinangos and chiles gordos. A smoked jalapeño is known as a chipotle pepper.
|Chipotle Pepper||5,000 – 10,000||
There is no naturally-occurring chipotle in nature; it is simply a jalapeno pepper that has been smoked. It has a slightly higher Scoville count than a regular Jalapeno. Spicy, smoky, sweet, and flavorful.
|Serrano Pepper||10,000 – 23,000||A serrano pepper is a type of chile pepper that originated in the mountainous regions of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo.|
|Tabasco Pepper||30,000 – 50,000||
The tabasco plant has a typical bushy growth, which commercial cultivation makes stronger by trimming. The tapered fruits, around 4 cm long, are initially pale yellowish-green and turn yellow and orange before ripening to bright red. Tabascos rate from 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville scale of heat levels
|Aji Pepper||30,000 – 50,000||
The Aji pepper, also known as Peruvian hot pepper, is a unique species of hybrid chili pepper – Capsicum baccatum.
|Cayenne Pepper||30,000 – 50,000||
Cayenne pepper is a popular, hot red pepper used to flavor spicy dishes and sauces.
|Piquin Pepper||40,000 – 58,000||
Other common names are pinhead pepper, chile petin, chile pequin, piquin, chile del monte and chile mosquito.
Common uses include pickling, salsas and sauces, soups, and vinegars. The popular Cholula brand hot sauce lists piquin peppers and arbol peppers among its ingredients
|Thai Pepper||50,000 – 100,000||
There are three varities of thai peppers, the hottest of which can reach as high as 100,000 on the Scoville scale.
|Birds Eye Pepper||100,000 – 225,000||The term Bird’s eye chili is also used for the North American Chiltepin pepper, both due to their small round shape and because they’re widely spread by birds.|
|Fatalli Pepper||125,000 – 325,000||
The Fatalii (Capsicum chinense) is a chili that originates in central and southern Africa. It has a fruity, citrus flavor with a searing heat that is generally much hotter than the standard habanero.
|Scotch Bonnet Pepper
|150,000 – 325,000||The Scotch Bonnet is a Carribean variety of chile pepper similar to and of the same species as the habanero.|
|Habanero Chile Pepper||100,000 – 350,000||
The habanero chile is popular in western culture, it is a hot and flavorfull chile used in a wide variety of recipes and hot sauces. Store bought Habaneros are generally much milder than home grown peppers as they are picked well before they are allowed to fully ripen.
|Red Savina Habanero Pepper||200,000 – 580,000||
The Red Savina pepper is a cultivar of the habanero chile (Capsicum chinense Jacquin), which are bred to produce hotter, heavier, and larger peppers.
|Dorset Naga Pepper||876,000 – 970,000||
The Dorset Naga pepper (Capsicum chinense) is a variety of chile pepper grown in West Bexington, Dorset, England.
|Bhut Jolokia Pepper||855,000 – 1,041,427||
The Bhut Jolokia is an interspecific hybrid from the Assam region of northeastern India and parts of neighbouring Bangladesh.The pepper is typically called the ghost chili or ghost pepper in the USA where it was once renowned as the world’s hottest chile.
The Naga Viper pepper is the present holder of the Guinness World Records “World’s Hottest Chilli” record as of 2011. Due to the nature of it being a hybrid it is unable to produce offspring exactly like the parent plant.
|Trinidad Scorpion (Butch T strain)||1,463,700||
A superhot, bitter chile originating from the island of Trinidad.