Chili peppers are often known for their bright and bold colors – from shades of green and red, to bold purple, sunny orange, and subtle cream. But few may be as dramatic as black peppers. They may not be as prevalent as the colorful chilies you’ll find throughout the pepper scale, but those that are there catch the eye with their dark hues paired against garden greens.
Our black chili peppers guide helps you discover these dark beauties, whether for use as ornamental peppers or for culinary aesthetic. All of the peppers below fall in the mild to medium heat range (none hotter than a common cayenne pepper), so they’re all very eatable. Let’s review your options.
Mild Black Peppers
Pasilla Pepper (dried)
1,000 to 2,500 Scoville heat units
See our full pasilla pepper profile here.
The pasilla is actually a dried chilaca pepper. While most all dried chilies are dark, the pasilla pepper takes things one step more. There are none more black among dried chilies – not the ancho, not the guajillo, not the chipotle. Most of those are shades of brown and red, while the pasilla takes on a raisiny black finish that fits well with its raisiny like flavor (with a little more fruitiness and a hint of cocoa). This is one of the best flavors on the pepper scale, and if your need for black chili peppers works with dried chilies, then you’ve met your match.
Medium Black Peppers
Black Hungarian Pepper
5,000 to 10,000 Scoville heat units
See our full black Hungarian pepper profile here.
The black Hungarian is the best culinary option among black chilies. With a heat that’s comparable to a jalapeno pepper and a sweetness (particularly in its ripened state that’s much like a Fresno pepper, it’s quite a tasty pepper in the kitchen.
What’s unit to the black Hungarian pepper is its aging cycle. Black is the middle of its maturation cycle on the vine – aging from green, to black, to a jewel tone red. During its black stage, the interior of the walls of the black Hungarian stay green, making for a real dramatic look.
Black Pearl Pepper
10,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Black Pearl pepper profile here.
One of the most popular ornamental peppers around, the Black Pearl is a real jewel, but not only for the tiny onyx black chili peppers themselves that age to a crimson red. The Black Pearl plant brings its own unique beauty to the table, with purple leaves that border on black and purple flowers. It’s a real looker in the garden.
Heat-wise, the Black Pearl has a higher medium heat, much like other ornamental chilies, so take care popping one of these small beauties in your mouth. It may be edible landscaping, but you’ll be in for a surprise – it’s a heat more akin to cayenne than jalapeño.
Black Cobra Pepper
20,000 to 40,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Black Cobra pepper profile here.
Want a black ornamental chili with a little more edge? The black cobra pepper is bold with bite. The thin curved chilies jut from the plant like cobra heads aiming to bite. Black is again the middle stage of the aging process, running from green to black to deep red. And again the plant brings its own real style too. The leaves have fine silver hair that just add to this plants uniqueness.
Like all ornamentals, you can eat these chilies. But the heat is high (comparable to cayenne pepper) and there isn’t a lot of nuance to the flavor.