Peter Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are peter peppers?

Giggle away. It’s ok. That’s the nature of the peter pepper. When you see it, you can’t ignore its shape. It looks like a man’s penis. There’s a reason it’s called peter pepper, as well as Chilly Willy and simply penis pepper, too. But once you get past the laughs, there’s a pretty significant hot pepper here – a solid medium heat, hotter than a jalapeño (10,000 to 23,000 Scoville heat units.) In fact, it’s a terrific alternative to a serrano pepper, if you can find it available near you.

Peter Pepper

Peter pepper fast facts

  • Scoville heat units (SHU): 10,000 – 23,000 SHU
  • Median heat: 16,500 SHU
  • Origin: United States
  • Capsicum species: Annuum
  • Jalapeño reference scale: Near equal heat to 9 times hotter
  • Use: Culinary
  • Size: Approximately 4 to 6 inches long
  • Flavor: Bright, Sweet

How hot is the peter pepper?

It fits squarely in the medium-hot level of the pepper scale – 10,000 to 23,000 Scoville heat units. in fact it parallels the serrano pepper quite well in terms of overall pungency. That puts it about near equal heat to nine times hotter than a jalapeño, depending on the strength of each pepper measured. But it’s fair to say that the mildest peter pepper will always closely mirror the hottest possible jalapeño.

So, the shape…

Yeah. It can’t be ignored. The peter pepper is aptly named, with a long conical shape and a bulbous end that shares an uncanny resemblance to a penis. The pepper grows to four to six inches long, even putting it in-line with the average length of the typical member too. It ripens from green to a shock-red, adding even more to one of the greatest natural gags around.

This is obviously a chili that is polarizing. It’s definitely not a pepper for conservative company, but for those that enjoy some low-brow humor – it’s a gem of a chili to “pull out” among mixed company.

What does it taste like?

Cutting all jokes here, the taste is similar to the bright, crisp taste of the jalapeño, but just a hair sweeter too. It can easily replace the jalapeño is a dish if you want a step up in heat. It’s an even better serrano pepper substitute given that both share the same heat profiles.

What can you make with these chilies?

It’s as versatile as the jalapeño. It especially makes a terrific salsa chili and it’s well-known to make an excellent chili powder, but nearly any dish that calls for a jalapeño or serrano is fair game for the peter pepper.

Where can you buy peter peppers?

This is the trickiest part. These chilies are, in fact, pretty rare to find. Many people grow peter peppers, but, for obvious reasons, they aren’t typically carried in big-box supermarkets. These chilies are too likely to cause an uproar.

You might be able to find them at farmer’s markets if you are lucky, but if you really want peter peppers, you’re going to need to invest time into growing them. Peter pepper seeds are widely available online (Amazon), and that’s how this chili has survived and grown its cult following over the years.

This is one naughty pepper, that’s for sure. In fact, it gives the popular term “food porn” a whole new meaning. If you want your own peck of peter peppers, you’ll need to be on the look-out (or get ready to grow them). But, when you do find them, enjoy the laugh along with the good taste.


UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on October 8, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on November 26, 2014.
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