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Poblano Peppers: Mexico’s Mild Chili

Tasty and mild

Scoville heat units (SHU): 1,000 – 1,500
Jalapeño reference point: 2 to 8 times milder

Poblano peppers are on the milder end of the Scoville scale, ranging from 1,000 SHU to 1,500 SHU. But that mildness in no way belies their popularity. In fact these hot peppers are some of the most beloved and easily found of the bunch! They are arguably Mexico’s favorite chili pepper, especially when you consider that the poblano is also the ancho pepper. The poblano is just ripened fully to a red color and then dried.

poblano pepperPhoto Credit: smoMashup_ via Compfight cc

What are the origins of the poblano?

As mentioned, this is one of the most popular hot peppers in Mexico. It comes originally from Puebla, Mexico. In fact, the residents of Puebla are known as Poblanos. Of course the pepper was named after the region (and the people), but it’s still very fitting.

So the poblano pepper is mild?

It is, but this label can be tricky. Poblano peppers have been known to pack a surprising punch every once in a while. In fact, two peppers from the same plant can have a great difference in heat. But overall, the heat is much less than other hot peppers out there. As a reference point, the jalapeño pepper is around five times hotter on average. If you are looking for a pepper pretty much in the middle between a bell pepper and a jalapeño, the poblano is your match. It pairs well with all sorts of foods, and it’s a staple in Southwestern and Mexican cuisine, the most notable dish being chiles rellenos.

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When you ripen and dry poblano peppers into ancho peppers, their heat rises due to the ripening. Green poblano peppers are much less spicy than when they are ripened into red poblano peppers. So note that when using anchos, the flavor will definitely be more pungent.

What do poblano peppers taste like?

These mild peppers have a rich and somewhat earthy flavor to them. Because they are thick peppers, there’s a lot of “meat” to them, similar to a bell pepper. The thick walls of the vegetable make them excellent for cooking. They hold up very well as a roasting pepper, especially with the waxy outer skin peeled after roasting. And because of their size (around 4 inches long by about 2 inches wide), they are excellent to use as stuffed peppers (like those oh-so-tasty chiles rellenos).

What can you buy with poblano peppers in it and where?

Poblanos are a very main stream pepper these days. You can find poblano peppers in many supermarkets, especially in the southwest United States. If you live in an urban area, check out your local supermarkets too: sometimes they’ll carry this chili, along with many others. Online retailers are also a great place to find poblano hot sauces, seeds, poblano plants, and even soups that feature this chili.

This is definitely a chili pepper that has sparked the imagination of the United States. Between the flexibility poblano peppers have for cooking and their mild heat, it’s a chili on the rise. If you’re scared off by the heat of a jalapeño but you’re looking for something with a bit more kick than a bell or even an Anaheim pepper, then try giving poblano peppers a turn in your cuisine.