Satan’s Kiss Pepper: A Devil Of A Pop

| Last Updated: May 13, 2020 |

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Its playful look hides a cayenne kick…

Satan’s Kiss pepper fast facts:

  • Scoville heat units (SHU): 40,000 – 50,000 SHU
  • Median heat: 45,000 SHU
  • Origin: Italy
  • Capsicum species: Annuum
  • Jalapeño reference scale: 5 to 25 times hotter
  • Use: Culinary
  • Size: 2 inches wide, round
  • Flavor: Neutral (peppery)

The Satan’s Kiss pepper (a.k.a. Baccio de Satana) has a playful look: small and round, cherry pepper-like. But its name should give you some warning there’s something hidden behind its cute facade. Yes, this Italian heirloom pepper as has a surprising punch for its size, rivaling a cayenne pepper in heat. And while there’s not much nuance beyond the spiciness here, it’s normally served stuffed with mozzarella or anchovies where another flavor stars aside the heat.

What does the Satan’s Kiss pepper taste like? Look like?

The look does belie what’s underneath. The Satan’s Kiss is also known as Ciliegia Piccante (Spicy Cherry) and it’s a very fitting name as well. It looks much like a small tomato or cherry pepper, tiny and round. They’re about one to two inches wide (think the size of a golf ball) and mature from green to red, gaining in heat along the way.

Satan's kiss pepper

It’s not a stretch to call these chilies “cute”, but upon first bite the Satan’s Kiss punches back and not in a cute way. This pepper is spicy – a cayenne level of spice (more on that below) that surprises most that taste this chili for the first time. But there’s not much beyond the spiciness beyond a pleasant peppery taste.

So how spicy is spicy? How hot is the Satan’s Kiss pepper?

Let’s break down the Satan’s Kiss cayenne-level punch by comparing it to our jalapeño reference point. Compared to a jalapeño pepper (2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units or SHU), the Satan’s Kiss is five to twenty-five times hotter (40,000 to 50,000 SHU). Even compared to a cayenne, the Satan’s Kiss will be on average hotter as its floor in terms of heat is higher than a cayenne’s (30,000 – 50,000 SHU). This a no-doubt level of pop, hotter than comfortable for many eaters, particularly because you don’t expect it.

How do you use this chili?

Satan’s Kiss peppers can be used like most chilies fresh to provide a pop of heat – sliced for salads, diced for soups, or chopped for salsas just to name a few use cases. They are also delicious as a pickled pepper, but not quite as popular as another Italian pepper for pickling – the very mild pepperoncini.

The traditional use of the Satan’s Kiss is as a stuffed pepper. These chilies are typically stuffed with mozzarella, anchovies, or cream cheese. It’s the pairing of the Satan’s Kiss with another flavor that provides a real boost to the overall taste of the pepper (beyond the heat).

Where can you buy Satan’s Kiss peppers?

While these chilies look like cherry peppers, they aren’t as easy to source outside of Italy. They aren’t as popular as pepperoncini that can typically be found in the pickled condiment aisle alongside banana peppers. Instead, you’ll need to focus your search on specialty shops or grow your own. Satan’s Kiss pepper seeds are widely available (Amazon) and if you have a green thumb this chili’s small size provides plenty of crop to enjoy.