18 Different Types of Peppers With Pictures and Their Uses


Updated: 4 May 2024

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Peppers belong to the Capsicum genus, part of the Solanaceae family. There are hundreds of pepper varieties. These include sweet peppers, chilli peppers, and jalapeno peppers. Each type of pepper has unique characteristics, such as colour, flavour, and heat level.

Sweet peppers are the most common type. They come in red, green, yellow, orange, and purple varieties. They have low heat. So, these mild peppers are good for salads, sandwiches, and stir-fries. I will explain the various types of peppers and their unique culinary uses in this article.

Types of peppers
Types of peppers

Mild peppers: Ancho, Poblano, Bell peppers

Ancho Peppers

Ancho peppers, the dried version of Poblano peppers, are a staple in Mexican cuisine. They are known for their mild heat and sweet, sometimes slightly smoky flavour, which makes them perfect for a wide variety of dishes. With a heat range of about 1,000 to 1,500 SHUs, Anchos are versatile and can be used in sauces, moles, or stuffed for a traditional dish like “chiles rellenos.” Their mildness allows for a focus on flavour rather than heat, appealing to those sensitive to spicier foods.

Poblano Peppers

The fresh counterpart to the Ancho, Poblano peppers, are equally mild, with a slightly lower heat level that usually ranges from 500 to 1,500 SHUs. They are larger and heart-shaped than many other peppers and have a rich, slightly earthy taste. Poblanos are ideal for roasting and are often used in dishes where the pepper’s body can hold fillings, like meats or cheeses, for a hearty meal.

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are the most well-known mild peppers and come in various colours, from green to yellow, orange, and red. With a Scoville rating of 0 SHUs, they are not spicy but prized for their sweet, juicy flavour and crisp texture. Bell peppers are incredibly versatile and can be eaten raw, roasted, stuffed, or used as a flavorful addition to dishes ranging from salads to stir-fries.

Ancho, Poblano, Bell peppers
Ancho, Poblano, Bell peppers

Medium peppers: Jalapeno, Serrano, Cayenne

Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are a step up on the heat ladder and are one of the world’s most popular peppers. They range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHUs, providing a moderate heat for a broad audience. Jalapenos are vibrant green when unripe, turning red as they mature. Their flavour is bright and slightly spicy, making them a favourite for salsas and dips and as a topping for nachos and other spicy dishes.

Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are similar to jalapenos but pack more heat, usually between 10,000 and 23,000 SHUs. They are smaller and thinner than jalapenos and have a crisp, fresh flavour with a bit more bite. Serranos are often used in Mexican cooking and are perfect for anyone looking for more heat without overwhelming spiciness. They can be used raw or cooked, adding a nice kick to salsas, marinades, and guacamoles.

Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne peppers are well-known for their use in powdered form, but the whole pepper is a medium-heat chilli that ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 SHUs. These slender, red peppers have a sharp, intense heat and a slight sweetness that comes through when used in cooking. Cayenne peppers are often dried and ground into a powder that is a critical ingredient in many spice blends and is used to add heat to dishes without significantly altering the flavour profile.

Jalapeno, Serrano, Cayenne
Jalapeno, Serrano, Cayenne

Hot peppers: Habanero, Thai peppers, Scotch Bonnet

Habanero Peppers

When discussing hot peppers, the habanero is often one of the first to come to mind. With a heat range of 100,000 to 350,000 SHUs, habaneros are not for the faint of heart. Their distinctive, fruity flavour accompanies their intense heat, making them popular in hot and spicy sauces. Their vibrant colours, which include orange and red, also make them an attractive addition to meals, though caution should be exercised when handling and cooking with them.

Thai Peppers

Also known as Bird’s Eye chillies, Thai peppers are small but mighty, with a Scoville rating of 50,000 to 100,000 SHUs. They are a vital ingredient in many Southeast Asian dishes, imparting a fiery heat balanced by their bright, sharp flavour. Thai peppers can be used in curries, stir-fries, and soups or eaten raw as a spicy condiment. Their small size makes them easy to sprinkle over meals for an extra punch of heat.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Scotch Bonnet peppers are closely related to habaneros and have a similar heat range, usually between 100,000 and 350,000 SHUs. They have a sweet, slightly tangy flavour, a hallmark of Caribbean cuisine, especially in jerk dishes and hot sauces. The Scotch Bonnet’s distinct flavour and high heat level make it a favourite for those who love spicy food with a strong character.

Habanero, Thai peppers, Scotch Bonnet
Habanero, Thai peppers, Scotch Bonnet

Super hot peppers: Ghost pepper, Carolina Reaper, Trinidad Scorpion

Ghost Pepper

The Ghost Pepper, also known as Bhut Jolokia, once held the title of the world’s hottest pepper. With a staggering heat level of over 1 million SHUs, it’s clear why it’s called “Ghost”—the heat sneaks up on you and lingers with an intense burn. The Ghost Pepper has a smoky, somewhat fruity flavour behind its heat, making it a popular choice for extreme hot sauces and those who want to push the boundaries of their spice tolerance.

Carolina Reaper

The Carolina Reaper holds the Guinness World Record for the hottest pepper, with heat exceeding 2 million SHUs. This pepper is not for the inexperienced, as its heat is immediate and overwhelming. Despite its fierce reputation, the Carolina Reaper has a sweet, fruity flavour accompanying its fiery nature, making it a prized pepper for those who can handle its intensity.

Trinidad Scorpion

The Trinidad Scorpion is another super hot contender, with heat levels that can reach 1.2 million SHUs. It’s named for the pointed end of the pepper that resembles a scorpion’s stinger, and its heat certainly stings like one. The Trinidad Scorpion has a fruity, floral flavour overshadowed by its intense heat, making it a favourite for hot sauce makers and heat seekers alike.

Ghost pepper, Carolina Reaper, Trinidad
Ghost pepper, Carolina Reaper, Trinidad

Exploring regional peppers: Chipotle, Hatch, Pimento

Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle peppers are essentially ripe, smoked jalapenos. They have a deep, rich, smoky flavour and a mild to medium heat level, perfect for adding depth to dishes. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are popular in Mexican and Southwestern cooking and used in everything from marinades to soups. Their unique flavour profile makes them a versatile ingredient that enhances the taste of meats and vegetarian dishes.

Hatch Peppers

Hatch peppers come from the Hatch Valley of New Mexico and are celebrated for their unique, earthy flavour. Depending on the variety, they can range from mild to hot and are often roasted to bring out their full flavour potential. Hatch peppers are a cornerstone of New Mexican cuisine and are used in various dishes, including the iconic Hatch green chilli.

Pimento Peppers

Pimento peppers, also known as cherry peppers, are small, sweet, and heart-shaped with mild heat. They are most commonly known for being the red filling found in olives, but they also stand on their own as a flavorful ingredient in salads, relishes, and cheese stuffing. Pimento peppers add a pop of colour and sweetness to dishes without contributing any heat, making them suitable for all palates.

Chipotle, Hatch, Pimento
Chipotle, Hatch, Pimento

Red Bell Pepper

The red bell pepper is the mature version of the green bell pepper and is the sweetest of the varieties. With a Scoville rating of 0 SHUs, red bell peppers are not spicy but offer a fruity, almost sugary flavour. They are incredibly versatile and can be used in many dishes, from salads and sandwiches to roasted and stuffed for an elegant presentation. Their bright red colour also adds visual appeal to any meal.

Red Jalapeno

Red jalapenos are mature jalapenos left on the vine to develop a deeper, sweeter, and slightly hotter flavour. They typically range between 2,500 and 8,000 SHUs, just like their green counterparts, but their mature state gives them a fuller, more robust taste. Red jalapenos are perfect for salsas and hot sauces, adding a pop of colour and moderate heat to dishes.

Fresno Peppers

Fresno peppers are often mistaken for jalapenos but have thinner walls and a fruitier, smokier taste. They range from 2,500 to 10,000 SHUs and are commonly used in ceviche, salsas, and garnishes. Their bright red colour makes them as visually appealing as delicious.

Red bell pepper, Red jalapeno, Fresno
Red bell pepper, Red jalapeno, Fresno

Types of peppers with pictures

Visual aids can help us understand and appreciate the vast world of peppers. Pepper types with pictures provide a valuable resource for identifying different varieties at a glance. Whether at the grocery store trying to decide between a poblano or a pasilla pepper or looking to differentiate between a Scotch Bonnet and a Habanero, having a visual reference makes the task much more accessible.

Photographs of peppers help with identification and allow you to appreciate the beauty and diversity of these incredible fruits. Peppers’ vibrant colours, unique shapes, and textures are as varied as their flavours and heat levels. When looking at types of peppers with pictures, you can also get a sense of their size relative to one another, which can be important when considering how to use them in cooking.

In addition to aiding in identification and appreciation, pepper types with pictures can inspire you to try new varieties. Seeing the rich red of a Fresno pepper or the ominous wrinkled skin of a Ghost pepper can pique your curiosity and encourage you to expand your culinary repertoire. Images can also help you better understand how to handle and prepare different peppers, ensuring you maximize their unique characteristics in your dishes.

Types of peppers with pictures
Types of peppers with pictures

Using in cooking

Peppers are not only about adding heat to a dish; they can contribute various flavours, from sweet and fruity to earthy and smoky. When cooking it’s essential to consider the flavour profile and the heat level to achieve the desired outcome. For instance, sweet bell pepper can add crunch and colour to a salad without any spiciness, while a habanero can infuse a sauce with a fruity heat that’s both intense and flavorful.

when cooking with peppers, balance their heat with other ingredients. Dairy, such as cheese, milk, or sour cream, can help temper the spiciness, while sweet elements like honey or sugar can complement the natural sweetness of milder peppers. Additionally, acidic components like lime or vinegar can cut through the heat and add a refreshing zing to the dish.

It’s also essential to consider the cooking method when using peppers. Roasting can bring out the natural sweetness of peppers and soften their texture, making them ideal for blending into sauces or spreads. Conversely, keeping peppers raw in salsas or salads can showcase their crispness and fresh flavours. Always handle hot peppers carefully, wear gloves if necessary, and be mindful not to touch your face or eyes after handling them to avoid irritation.

Types of hot peppers chart

A hot pepper chart is invaluable for anyone exploring the heat and flavour of different chilli peppers. Such a chart typically lists a variety of hot peppers along with their Scoville Heat Units, allowing you to compare their heat levels at a glance. This can help you make informed decisions about which peppers to use in your cooking, especially if you want to achieve a specific level of spiciness in your dish.

The chart may also include other helpful information, such as the pepper’s origin, typical uses in cooking, and flavour notes. This additional context can help you understand the cultural significance of hot peppers and how they contribute to regional cuisines. With a hot pepper chart at your disposal, you can confidently experiment with new varieties and spice levels, knowing you have a reliable reference to guide you.

When consulting a hot pepper chart, you’ll likely notice the vast range of SHUs that different peppers possess. This spectrum, from mild to super hot, allows for a nuanced approach to cooking with peppers, enabling you to dial in the flavour and heat profile you want. Whether you’re a seasoned spice lover or a pepper newcomer, a chart can be essential to expanding your culinary horizons.

Conclusion

The world of peppers is incredibly diverse, offering various flavours, heat levels, and culinary possibilities. From bell peppers’ mild sweetness to the Carolina Reaper’s blistering heat, there’s a pepper for every palate and dish.

This journey of the different types of peppers has inspired you to incorporate these versatile ingredients into your cooking.


Sikandar

Sikandar

Hi, I am Sikandar Mehdi, founder of mybestvegetables.com. I have been a professional farmer for 20 years. After graduating in 2002, I started learning about vegetables. After a lot of experience, in 2023, I started sharing my blog on my platform, mybestvegetables.com.

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