Jalapeño Pepper – All about Heat, Flavor, Uses, Substitutes

What is jalapeño?

Jalapeño peppers are well-known Mexican chili peppers. They are medium in size and have thick green, glossy skin. Jalapeños are popular for their mild heat level, which ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville heat units. They are common in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine and come in various forms, including fresh, pickled, smoked, and dried.

The bright, grassy flavor of jalapeño peppers makes them a versatile ingredient in several dishes. People use them to make salsas, dips, and sauces, as well as tacos, burritos, and chili. Jalapeños are also frequently stuffed with cheese or other fillings before being grilled, baked, or fried.

Jalapeño pepper
SHU2,500 - 8,000
Median SHU5,250
FlavorGrassy, vegetale, slightly sweet, and moderately spicy
SpeciesCapsicum annuum
UsesSalsas, guacamole, nachos, jalapeño poppers, etc.

Are jalapeño peppers spicy? How hot are they?

Jalapeño scoville: 2,500 to 8,000 SHU

Jalapeño peppers have a Scoville rating of 2,500 to 8,000 units, indicating a mild to medium heat level. Jalapeños are significantly hotter than milder peppers like pepperoncini, with a 100 to 500 units Scoville rating. They are not, however, as hot as some other chili peppers, such as Serrano peppers, which have a Scoville rating of 10,000 to 25,000 units, or Habanero peppers, which can have a Scoville rating of 100,000 to 350,000 units.


Where do jalapeños come from?

Researchers believe that jalapeño peppers originated in Mexico, specifically around the city of Xalapa, where they get their name. They have been cultivated and used in Mexican cuisine for thousands of years. Jalapeños are now grown in many countries, including the United States, and have become a staple ingredient in many cuisines worldwide.


What are jalapeño peppers good for? How to use them?

Jalapeño peppers are extremely versatile, appearing prominently in a wide range of dishes and culinary creations. As a popular ingredient in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, they add a fiery kick to salsas, guacamole, and hot sauces. Tacos, burritos, and enchiladas also benefit from their distinct heat and flavor.

Jalapeños are not only used in traditional Mexican dishes, but they are also a popular topping for burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas. When sliced or diced, these peppers add flavor and heat to salads, soups, and chili. Furthermore, people frequently stuff jalapeños with cheese or other fillings before grilling, baking, or frying them to make delectable appetizers or side dishes.

A beloved jalapeño dish is the jalapeño popper, made by hollowing out the pepper, filling it with a cheese and spice mixture, and then breading and frying it. These poppers are commonly served as restaurant appetizers and are simple to make at home.

Jalapeños can also be preserved and consumed in various ways, including pickling, candying, and canning. These options provide distinct flavors and textures that one can use to enhance a dish or enjoy jalapeños on their own. Another popular form is dried jalapeños, which can be ground into a flavorful spice to add a touch of heat to various recipes.

Other inventive uses for this versatile pepper include sweet pickled jalapeños and jalapeño vinegar. These options give any dish a tangy, spicy twist, making incorporating jalapeños into your culinary creations simple.


What does a jalapeño pepper look like?

When fully ripe, jalapeño peppers are medium-sized chili peppers with smooth, thick skin ranging from dark green to bright red. They are usually 2-4 inches long and 1-1.5 inches wide. A jalapeño pepper’s shape can range from cylindrical to slightly tapered, with a rounded or slightly pointed tip.

What do jalapeños taste like?

Jalapeño peppers have a vibrant, grassy flavor with mild to medium heat. In addition, they have a subtle tanginess and a crisp texture, making them an excellent choice for adding a light spiciness to several dishes without overpowering the other flavors.

Another popular variation is pickled jalapeño, which has a distinct pickled tang from the vinegar brine, in addition to the original grassy and tangy flavors. Because the pickling process mildens the heat slightly, pickled jalapeños are a versatile choice for those who prefer a more manageable level of spiciness.

different types of jalapeño


What are the different types of jalapeño peppers?

Jalapeño peppers come in various colors, flavors, and sizes, each with distinct characteristics. Let’s look at six notable types:

The red jalapeño is a mature version of the green jalapeño with a vibrant red color. It has a slightly sweeter taste and a hotter heat level than its green counterpart, making it a popular choice for adding heat and color to dishes.

Smoked jalapeños, also known as chipotle peppers, are produced by smoking and drying ripe red jalapeños. They have a distinct smoky flavor and moderate heat, making them a popular addition to chili, stews, and barbecue sauces.

Black jalapeños have a distinct dark green to black skin that adds visual interest to any dish. They are hotter than green jalapeños but have a slightly earthier flavor.

Purple jalapeños have a unique, deep purple color, which adds a splash of color to any dish. They have a similar flavor and heat level to green jalapeños, but they have a more visually appealing appearance.

Mammoth jalapeños are larger than regular jalapeños, making them ideal for stuffing. They are milder but retain the same grassy, tangy flavor as traditional green jalapeños.

The NuMex Lemon Spice variety stands out among yellow jalapeños as a rare and visually appealing pepper with a vibrant hue. In addition, they are hotter than regular green jalapeños, with a heat level of 30,000 SHU. New Mexico State University developed this variety, which thrives in hot, dry climates.


How to grow jalapeños?

Because they are relatively easy to grow and produce a satisfying yield, jalapeño peppers are a rewarding and popular choice for home gardeners. They can be grown in many different climates, but they thrive best in warmer climates with plenty of sunlight.

When to pick a jalapeño?

Jalapeños can be grown in containers or directly in the ground, and they usually mature in 70-80 days. Jalapeño peppers require well-drained soil and consistent watering to grow successfully. Regular fertilization also benefits these plants, especially during the growing season. As jalapeño peppers mature, it is critical to harvest them frequently to promote continuous growth and a bountiful crop.

When to pick jalapeño


Cooking / Recipe ideas for jalapeño

Jalapeño peppers are a versatile ingredient in various dishes and the star of many delicious recipes. Stuffed jalapeños, for example, are a crowd-pleaser and are frequently filled with cream cheese or other delectable fillings. Bacon-wrapped jalapeños boost the flavor even more, as the smoky bacon complements the peppers’ spiciness.

Grilled jalapeños are an excellent appetizer or side dish, while air fryer jalapeño poppers are a healthier alternative to the traditional deep-fried version.

Making jalapeño pepper jelly, a delightfully sweet and spicy condiment that complements cheeses, crackers, and meats, is a popular and inventive use of jalapeño peppers. It is created by combining and boiling chopped jalapeño peppers, bell peppers, sugar, vinegar, and fruit pectin, resulting in a sweet and spicy spread.

Another delectable recipe is jalapeño pepper dip, which combines jalapeños with cream cheese, sour cream, and other flavorful ingredients. This dip is great with chips and veggies or as a topping for baked potatoes.

jalapeño pepper recipes


Where can I buy jalapeño peppers?

Most grocery stores sell jalapeño peppers fresh or in various processed forms such as pickled, canned, or dried. If you can’t find them at your local supermarket, look for them at specialty food stores or farmer’s markets. You can also buy jalapeño peppers online from various websites and have them delivered to your door.

When buying jalapeño peppers, look for bright green ones that are firm to the touch. Avoid peppers that are soft, mushy, or have dark spots, as these could indicate that they are past their prime. In addition to fresh peppers, pickled, canned, or dried jalapeños can be found in most supermarkets’ condiment or international food sections.

Where can I buy jalapeño plants?

If you want to grow jalapeño pepper plants, you can buy them from garden centers or nurseries specializing in selling vegetable plants. You can also purchase jalapeño pepper plants online from a variety of websites. Look for healthy plants with strong stems and green leaves when buying jalapeño pepper plants. You should avoid plants that appear wilted or have yellow leaves because they may be unhealthy.

Where can I buy jalapeño pepper seeds?

If you prefer to grow jalapeño peppers from seeds, you can find them online or at a local garden center. Plant jalapeño pepper seeds according to the instructions on the seed packet in a location with plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil.


How do I store jalapeños?

You can refrigerate fresh jalapeño peppers for up to two weeks by storing them in a plastic bag or airtight container in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.

Jalapeños can be stored in the pantry or refrigerator for several months if pickled, canned, or dried. Keep pickled jalapeños in their original jar or transfer them to an airtight container and place them in the refrigerator. Canned jalapeños should be stored in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry, transferred to an airtight container, and refrigerated once opened. Dried jalapeños can be stored in a sealed container away from moisture and sunlight in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Can jalapeños be frozen?

Yes, you can, in fact, freeze jalapeño peppers. First, wash the peppers and remove the stems and seeds. Then, place the peppers on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for several hours. Once frozen, place the peppers in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and freeze for up to six months. Freezing jalapeños is a great way to keep their heat and flavor for later use in recipes such as stuffed jalapeños, air fryer jalapeño poppers, and jalapeño cream cheese dips.


Are jalapeño peppers healthy?

Jalapeño peppers are low in calories and high in vitamins C, E, B6, and K, making them an excellent addition to any diet.

Jalapeño peppers also contain capsaicin, a compound with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. In addition, red jalapeños contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lutein, which can help protect the body from free radicals and promote overall health.

We should note, however, that some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort after consuming spicy foods such as jalapeño peppers. If you experience discomfort after eating jalapeños, reduce your intake or avoid them.


What is a good jalapeño alternative?

There are several options to consider when looking for a suitable substitute for jalapeño peppers. Anaheim peppers are a good substitute for a milder alternative. They are larger than jalapeños but have a similar shape and a lower heat level, making them ideal for those who prefer less spicy dishes. You can use Anaheim peppers in many recipes, including stuffed peppers, salsas, and chilis.

Serrano peppers are another option, but they are much spicier than jalapeños. You can use serrano peppers instead of jalapeños in various recipes for a spicier kick. Simply be mindful of their increased heat level and adjust the amount used accordingly. Remove the seeds and membranes before using them in your dish to reduce the spiciness.

Poblano peppers are a larger, milder option with a distinct, earthy flavor frequently used in Mexican cuisine. They can be stuffed, roasted, or blended into sauces and salsas. Remember that due to their size, you may have to adjust the number of poblano peppers used in a recipe as a substitute for jalapeños.

RELATED: Read our in-depth guide about Jalapeño substitutes

How do you pronounce jalapeño?

Jalapeño is pronounced as hah-luh-PEIN-yo.


FAQ about jalapeño peppers

Jalapeño in the eye - How to stop the burn?

If you get jalapeño juice in your eye, flush it out with cool water or a saline solution for at least 15 minutes. Avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can aggravate the burning sensation. If the irritation persists, seek medical attention.

Grow Jalapeños in pots - is it possible?

Yes, it is possible to grow jalapeños in pots. First, select a pot with drainage holes. Next, plant the jalapeño seedlings after filling the pot with a well-draining potting mix. Finally, place the pot in a sunny location and water and fertilize the plants regularly.

Growing Jalapeños indoors - is it possible?

With the right conditions, it is possible to grow jalapeños indoors. Provide a sunny windowsill for your jalapeño plants or supplement with grow lights. Keep the temperature, humidity, and water consistent to ensure healthy growth.

Are Jalapeño pepper leaves edible?

While the leaves of jalapeño peppers are not toxic, most people do not eat them due to their tough texture and lack of flavor. Instead, when eating jalapeños, the focus is usually on the plant's fruit.

How much cayenne pepper should I use in place of the jalapeño pepper?

To replace jalapeño pepper with cayenne pepper, use 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder for every 1 jalapeño pepper called for in the recipe. Cayenne pepper is significantly hotter than jalapeño pepper, so adjust the amount to your personal heat tolerance.

Can people be allergic to jalapeños?

Yes, some people are allergic to jalapeños or the capsaicin found in them. Mild skin irritation to more severe reactions are possible. Consult a medical professional if you suspect you have a jalapeño allergy.

How long do Jalapeño peppers last in the fridge?

Fresh jalapeño peppers can be stored in the crisper drawer for up to two weeks in a plastic bag or airtight container.

How long should you cook Jalapeño poppers in the air fryer?

Preheat the air fryer to 370°F (188°C) before cooking the jalapeño poppers. Place the prepared jalapeño poppers in the air fryer basket in a single layer and cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

How often to water Jalapeño pepper plants?

Jalapeño plants require about 1-2 inches of water per week to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Instead of watering the plants daily, wait for the top layer of soil to dry before deeply watering them. Never allow the soil to become completely dry to the touch, as this can harm the plants.

Similarities and differences between habanero and other peppers

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