The Hot Pepper List: Know Your Spice

| Last Updated: December 24, 2019 |

You are here: Home / Fun & Learning / The Hot Pepper List: Know Your Spice

One hot pepper list to rule them all…

Just like grapes grown for wine, hot peppers are incredibly complex. There are multiple varieties that come in unique shapes, flavors, and, of course, heat. It’s our goal to help you traverse this wide world of spiciness, and it all starts with the Scoville scale through which the heat is measured. Our hot pepper list brings that famous pepper scale to life in many ways.

It allows you to see the heat from mild to hot, as well as get an idea of what that heat is like via our jalapeño reference point. We show you how much hotter (or milder) a hot pepper could be from the jalapeño – a chili most everyone has tried. We find it to be a great way to bring the big numbers on the Scoville scale into perspective. 

To read more about a chili pepper: Click on the row to open our Fast Facts pop-up or click on the pepper’s name to view PepperScale’s full profile on the chili.

Scroll to the bottom of our hot pepper list to view a glossary of key terms.


wdt_ID | Image Hot Pepper Min SHU Max SHU Median SHU JalRP JalRP Times Hotter/Milder Type Origin Use Flavor
1 Mild Bell Pepper 0 0 0 0.00 -8,000 to -2,500 annuum Mexico Culinary Bright, Sweet
2 Mild Gypsy Pepper 0 0 0 0.00 -8,000 to -2,500 annuum USA Culinary Sweet, Floral
3 Mild Purple Beauty Pepper 0 0 0 0.00 -8,000 to -2,500 annuum South America Culinary Sweet
4 Mild Melrose Pepper 0 0 0 0.00 -8,000 to -2,500 annuum USA Culinary Sweet
5 Mild Carmen Pepper 0 0 0 0.00 -8,000 to -2,500 annuum Italy Culinary Sweet
6 Mild California Wonder Pepper 0 0 0 0.00 -8,000 to -2,500 annuum USA Culinary Bitter, Sweet
7 Mild Peperone di Senise 0 0 0 0.00 -8,000 to -2,500 annuum Italy Culinary Sweet, Nutty, Smoky
8 Mild Tangerine Dream Pepper 0 100 50 0.01 -8,000 to -250 annuum USA Ornamental Sweet
9 Mild Chilly Chili 1 100 51 0.01 -8,000 to -2 annuum USA Ornamental Neutral
10 Mild Shishito Pepper 50 200 125 0.02 -160 to -13 annuum Japan Culinary Sweet, Grassy, Citrusy, Smoky

Glossary:

Heat: Mild, Medium, Hot, or Scorching-Hot. You get the picture. We break them down by color (green, yellow, orange, red). This is the simplest way to explore our hot pepper list and get an idea of where things sit. Note – “Medium” is plenty hot here. It contains the likes of jalapeños and cayenne peppers which many with milder tastes find very spicy.

SHU: Scoville heat units. The units by which the Scoville scale is measured (read more about them here). It is the key numerical value of our (or any) hot pepper list.

Min/Max SHU: Even individual hot peppers have a range of heat, depending on where they are grown, how long they’ve matured, and even the amount of sun they’ve received. The minimum SHU is the mildest a pepper could be, the maximum SHU is the hottest possible for the variety.

Median SHU: The number exactly in the middle between the minimum and maximum Scoville heat units of the pepper. This gives us one number by which to compare our jalapeño reference point.

JalRP: Jalapeño reference point. Our hot pepper list gives you a perspective of how hot these peppers really are by comparing them against a reference point most everyone has tried. We offer this data in two ways:

  • Decimal: Based on the median heat of the peppers. The jalapeno is “1” and the other peppers are either less than one (less spicy) or above one (hotter). As you’ll see some peppers are much, much hotter than a jalapeño. You can read the hotter pepper numbers as “X times hotter than a jalapeño”. For instance, the median heat of a habanero (at 42.86) is nearly 43 times hotter than the median heat of a jalapeño.
  • Range: Based on the minimum and maximum SHUs of the pepper. We offer this option in the Fast Facts pop-up. It shows how the range of potential times hotter/milder given each chili has a range of heat.

Origin: Where the chili pepper has its roots. Try typing an origin into the search filter to see all chilies from that region. All chili peppers are native to South and Central America, but here we consider “origin” as the place where the pepper is now regionally connected or primarily cultivated.

Use: We reference the typical use case: culinary or ornamental. Note, all ornamental peppers are also edible, so consider that when exploring the list. Many, though, are not as flavorful (and often surprisingly spicy) as they are grown for looks, instead of flavor or mildness.

Flavor: Our hot pepper list breaks down the overall basic flavor of each chili pepper, using a common glossary of terms: sweet, fruity, citrusy, tropical, smoky, earthy, crisp, floral, nutty, bright, grassy, salty, peppery (as in black peppery), and tangy. This is a simplified description to give you a starting point to considering flavor. We highly recommend clicking through to our pepper profile for more detail on the overall heat and flavor profile of each pepper. As the heat rises on the Scoville scale it becomes harder to detect the nuances of flavor, but they are still there.

Note: we do use the term “neutral” in flavor. By neutral here we mean simply a standard fresh pepper taste without any distinct flavor nuance.

Related

  • I like to experiment cross pollenating with jalapeno peppers. I have planted a row of hot jalapenos and then planted a row of tams about 10 – 12 inches away and another row of tams 6 – 8 inches away from the first row of tams. Result was hot, medium and mild. Great for making salsas with varying degrees of heat. What degree of SHU pepper do you think would make the most efficient hot pepper to use and would it change spacing between the rows ? Thanks !

    JC

    • That’s an interesting question – assuming you are grabbing the seeds and replanting the next year? Cross-pollination won’t affect the current generation of plants. So if you plant a habanero next to a jalapeno, the current plants will be exactly as planted – with varying degrees of hotness dependent on the seed, soil, temperature, water accessibility, etc. The seeds of those plants, though, may take on new characteristics because of the cross-pollination. Just want to make sure we are talking the same thing?

      Peppers are self-pollinating, but bees and other insects can move from plant to plant (along with air currents, etc) – so as long as the plants are relatively close-by, there’s a very good chance of cross-pollination of two different types. Wouldn’t be too concerned over the spacing if you have one row of one pepper type right next to another type.

  • Thank you very much for answering my question. I am going to try another cross pollination with a xtra hot or super hot jalapeno and planting felicity instead of tam this time and adding one more row of the mild peppers to the mix. I have read where the cross pollination could also go in the reverse and tame a hot pepper some degree.

    JC

  • I had about 4 to 5 different types of peppers growing in one small area this year. White Ghost Peppers, Tabasco Peppers, Jalapeno, Cowhorn, Dragon Cayenne and some Bell Peppers as well. I’m hoping next year that I can use the seeds from the Wite Ghost, Dragon Cayenne and the Tabasco Peppers and POSSIBLY plant them together in one small area. Hopefully to MAYBE have a MONSTEROURS little pepper with a big bite… but I can only hope. I’m going to try to put a little stress on the plants as they grow next year. I’ve heard that if the plants are more stressed ( lack of water, not going without completely, but holding back, and sometimes more direct heat ) causes the pepper to be hotter. Not sure of the truth behind that, but it’s just what I read.😎😎😎👨‍🚒👨‍🚒👨‍🚒👨‍🚒

  • >
    shares