Cheiro Roxa: Brazilian Beauty

Habanero fruity, with half the heat…

Scoville heat units (SHU): 60,000 to 80,000
Jalapeño reference point: 8 to 32 times hotter
Products and seeds: Cheiro roxa on Amazon

Looking for an ornamental pepper with more to it than just looks? The cheiro roxa is a uniquely-colored purple beauty that many consider one of the prettiest peppers for landscaping. Plus, unlike most other ornamentals, it delivers both heat (more than a cayenne, though less than a habanero) and a delicious fruity flavor. It’s a perfect combo of looks, heat, and flavor.

How hot are cheiro roxa peppers?

Weighing in at 60,000 to 80,000 Scoville heat units, cheiro roxa sit at the lower end of extra-hot peppers. Compared to our jalapeño reference point, this chili is 8 to 32 tiimes hotter than a jalapeño pepper, so there’s a most certain kick. Many chilies known for their ornamental beauty tend to the upper reaches of the pepper scale. Most are bred to accentuate their looks over flavor, though the cheiro roxa is more than a looker in the garden.

So what do cheiro roxa taste like?

These are surprisingly tasty chilies. There’s a fruitiness akin to habanero pepper here. Cheiro roxa tend to be slightly sweeter than habanero, but there’s also the chance for a little more bitterness, too. If you want a unique habanero substitute for the edible garden (along with the desire for a little less heat), growing cheiro roxa is a terrific alternative.

What do these chilies look like?

The peppers themselves grow to about an inch in length. There’s a squatness to them – sort of like the pepper was slightly pushed in from both sides, creating an exaggerated middle that tapers to a point.

But where these chilies stand out as ornamental peppers is in their color. Cheiro roxa don’t play by the same color handbook as other chilies as they age. Most peppers age from green to red – cheira roxa, instead, age from a dark purple to a creamy purple-red (almost pink). There’s a candy-like quality to the coloring due to the creaminess of the hue. It’s certainly a standout in a garden, and they make for very good eating too.

How can you use cheiro roxa chilies?

You can use cheiro roxa either fresh or dried. Like the habanero, they tend to sweeten and grow in heat as they age, so consider that when choosing when to use. Really, wherever you’d use a habanero or scotch bonnet, you can opt for a cheiro roxa instead – salsas and sauces especially work well. And the color of this chili is really something unique, so it can add a nice color aesthetic to the plate.

Where can you buy cheiro roxa?

Here’s where things get difficult. These are very hard chilies to source. You can buy cheiro roxa seeds online and grow them yourself for your garden or edible landscaping project. But finding them for sale fresh (and even dried) is a much harder job. Consider local chili pepper farms and farmers markets as a start.

If you’re one for growing hot peppers and love edible landscaping, though, pick up those seeds and give this pepper the shot it deserves. They really are distinct among ornamental pepper options – uniquely colorful and surprisngly tasty.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 9, 2022 to include new content.
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