Understanding how to cook with peppers is just as important as knowing what peppers to use in the kitchen. If you missed it, check out our Beginner’s Guide To Peppers + How To Use Them In The Kitchen for more information on differences between sweet and chile peppers, the Scoville scale, and some helpful tips. Along with insight on what peppers to use, we’ll provide some links to dried, canned, jarred, ground, or crushed peppers for you to use in case you’re having difficulty finding them at your local grocery store or specialty market. This is not a complete list of all peppers that can be used in the kitchen, but it will get you started.
Hatch Chiles are very flavorful chiles that come from the valley near Hatch, New Mexico. These peppers are in season during August and September and provide a great balance of heat and flavor. These peppers are slender and green and look a lot like Anaheim chiles. These peppers have tough skins so it’s a good idea to roast them before combining into a recipe.These peppers are extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. Try them out in sauces, stews, sautes, dips, or even as toppings for items like burgers or pizzas. If you’re experimenting, try them with a spicy chile verde, in your cornbread or pesto, or even infused into oil. To roast, place over an open flame and rotate every few minutes until charred. You can purchase canned hatch chiles year round.
The Anaheim chile is one of the most mild green chiles, clocking in at 500 to 2,500 on the Scoville scale. These chiles have a mild, sweet flavor and is very versatile for cooking. Raw, these peppers have a slightly peppery flavor and are mild and bright. Once cooked, they take on a sweet, tangy flavor. They are regularly used while preparing chile rellenos but are also popular for sauces, stews, and salsas. The mild flavor is great alongside cheeses and meats like chicken and pork. Typically you will be able to recognize them by their bright, green pods. When these reach maturity, they turn a deep red color and are known as a chile Colorado or California red chile instead of a California green chile or chile verde. You can purchase these peppers year round and fresh in the grocery store. You can also find them dried here.
Ghost peppers were once the hottest peppers in the world (newly replaced by the Carolina Reaper pepper). The ‘Ghost Pepper’ or bhut jolojia of Bengali has a Scoville unit of over 1,000,000. This pepper is 100 times hotter than a jalapeno so use sparingly. We recommend using a very tiny amount in sauces, salsas, chutneys, or marinades. A little goes a very long way so keep this in mind before you make your hot sauce too hot to eat — pleasantly anyways. You can purchase ghost peppers year round as well. They come smoked and dried as whole peppers , jarred as whole peppers in sauce, or as ground chili powder.
Also known as Ancho peppers once they reach maturity, Poblano peppers are large, heart shaped peppers that are dark green in color and provide mild heat. At maturity, these peppers turn dark redish brown and are often dried. These peppers rank at 1,000 to 2,000 on the Scoville scale. These are commonly used while preparing chile relleno or sauces. We really like using these peppers while making our poblano corn salsa. You can buy these peppers whole, dried, or in powder form.
Aji Amarillo Pepper
A peruvian chile that can be spotted by its bright, yellow pigmentation. Aji Amarillo peppers are fruity and have mild to medium heat. The fruity flavoring is similar to poblano peppers and provide a well-rounded and less harsh heat. These peppers are available during the fall and can commonly be found as a paste. You can also find these dried or in powder form. These peppers are popular in Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine.
These bright orange, small chiles come from the same family as the Scotch Bonnet. Habañero peppers have a medium to high heat falling at 150,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale. They are available year round and are popularly found on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and in the Caribbean. They are typically used in these regions in jerk seasonings or in sauces. These peppers are very popular and can be used for their heat and fruity flavor in various cuisines ; these are commonly used in stews, soups, salsas, sauces, curries, and chutneys. The flavor pairs well with bright, tropical fruits like limes, pineapples, mangos, and papayas, seafood, grilled meats, and even with tequila. We also really enjoy habañero peppers in BBQ sauces or even in very small quantities with chocolate or dessert. You can purchase these peppers in powder form, dried, jarred / canned , or fresh in grocery stores.
These chiles are frequently used in Southeast Asian and Ethiopian cuisines. These little red peppers pack nice heat and are medium on the Scoville scale, ranging from 50,000 to 100,000. These peppers are also known as the Bird’s Eye chile. They are commonly used in curries, sauces, stir-fries, and in salad dressings. When preparing meals, these chiles work very well with ingredients commonly used in Asian cuisine including garlic, onion, eggplant, seafood, beef, fish sauce, and ginger. They also work nicely with ingredients like coconut milk, curry, and thai basil. Thai chiles will be commonly used alongside fish sauce as a condiment / hot sauce. You can purchase these peppers dried, ground into a powder, as chili flakes, or as a paste.
Scotch Bonnets are in the same family as habañero peppers. These peppers can be found in yellow, orange, and red when they have reached maturity. Scotch Bonnets are known for their fruity, tropical, and smokey flavor and high heat. On the Scoville scale, they range from 80,000 to 400,000. They have irregular shapes that actually resemble caps that men wear in Scotland, hence the name Scotch Bonnet. Today, these peppers are commonly found in the Caribbean and Maldives and are used while concocting traditional island dishes. Try preparing a dish using jerk seasoning, tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya), citrus, seafood like shrimp, white fish, or scallops, or with meats. Scotch Bonnets work well with bright, citrus and fruit forward recipes or as a jerk seasoning or sauce. Occasionally you’ll find a sweet Scotch Bonnet, called a cachucha. You can commonly find Scotch Bonnets as a powder or as a pepper sauce.
Ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville scale. These peppers are commonly found dried and ground in powder form. This is a very popular pepper that can commonly be found in Mexican dishes or in hot sauces. You can dice these peppers up and add to stews or oils or you can use the powder or flakes on pretty much anything. These peppers will primarily be found in powder form.
Shishito Chile Peppers
Bright green peppers with a wrinkly, glossy skin. These peppers are low on the Scoville scale with only 80-1,000 units. Japanese shishito peppers are available year round and are in season during the summer time. These peppers have thin walls and are commonly eaten after being pan seared in oil and sprinkled with sea salt flakes. You can grill or saute these peppers as well. These are a pretty popular pizza topping and work well on pastas and salads as well. The flavor of shishito peppers work really well alongside soy sauce, sea salt, shellfish, lemon and garlic. You can usually find these at the grocery store, or you can buy them fresh online.
These peppers fall at medium heat on the Scoville scale with 6,000 to 25,000 units (hotter than a Jalapeno). They are often found as immature peppers at markets and stores with bright green coloring. They change to dark red in color once mature. The smaller the pepper, the hotter it is. They usually range from one to two inches in length. These peppers are available year round. Typically you will see them in Mexican and Thai cuisines. They are very popular alongside guacamole and salsa. Sometimes you will see them blistered and sliced for tacos or other Mexican dishes. They are great for roasting or smoking, which enhances their flavor, and work well alongside fresh ingredients commonly found in Mexican cuisine like cilantro, avocado, tomatillo, corn, tomato, and onion. You can find these fresh or you can buy them canned, as a powder, or dried.
These are very common peppers and range between 3,500 and 8,000 on the Scoville Scale. They are typically plucked while still green, but turn red and become slightly more fruity with maturity. They have many uses in cooking and can be served raw, cooked, or pickled. Jalapeños are great in stews, stir fries, in chili, soups, bread, guacamole, salsa, sauce, or as a topping on food items like pizza, tacos, or sandwiches. Once Jalapeños are dried, they are called chipotle peppers. You can smoke-dry Jalapeño peppers; once smoked they are called meco (for mellow) or moritas (spicy). These peppers are great for many different types of cooking and work well with a variety of ingredients. These peppers are much safer to eat raw than hotter pepper varieties. You can find these raw year round or you can find them in powder form, pickled, dried, or jarred / canned.
Another pepper ranging from 30,000 to 60,000, similar to the Cayenne pepper. This is another pepper that is super common in hot sauce. Most famously, this pepper is used to make tobasco sauce. Tabasco sauce combines the crushed pepper, salt, and vinegar to create a hot sauce.
Chiles en Adobo
These are commonly found at grocery stores. They usually are chipotle peppers marinating in a sweet, tangy red sauce that packs mild heat. We always keep these on hand in the kitchen. They are great while making dips, stews, barbecue sauce, hot sauces, for grilling and glazing, and in a variety of other recipes. They add nice heat and flavor. You can find them here.