Easy Chili Peppers Cheat Sheet 101

How large of a range of spiciness is there, really? 

Scientists measure the heat of a chili pepper using Scoville heat units (SHU), which measure the concentration of capsaicin in a pepper.

As a reference, a bell pepper has 0, and a jalapeño has between 5,000 to 15,000 SHUs. A habanero can have over 300,000, and the hottest peppers on Earth have over 2 million! That’s about half the Scoville units of pepper spray.

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The good news is that whatever your heat preference is, there is a chili pepper out there that you’ll love.

How Can You Tell The Heat Of A Chili Pepper?

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The Scoville Unit Count Isn’t Evident From Looking At Chili Peppers

Here are a few handy ways to tell the heat of a spicy chili pepper before biting in. (your results may vary, can’t sue my ass over what happens to you!)

  • Size: Smaller varieties of chili peppers are usually hotter than larger ones. If you’re looking for a milder pepper, stick with bigger varieties like Anaheims or poblanos. Intermediate spice fans can experiment with medium varieties like Fresnos and serranos. True chili nerds should seek out the thrilling sting of tiny Thai Bird’s Eye chilis and Caribbean Scotch Bonnet peppers.
  • Color: Chili peppers change color as they ripen, going from green to orange and red. Look for wrinkled red and orange chilis to bring some serious heat to your meal. Smooth green chilis will offer a milder level of spice.

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