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Chile Pepper Heat Scale

 

Some Like Them Hot, Some Not

A chile pepper’s heat comes from capsaicin. It’s what causes the burning sensation when chile peppers encounter tissue. Biological studies show that it also activates heat receptors in the human mouth (just as menthol activates cold receptors). Capsaicin is a molecule that occurs naturally in peppers and likely evolved to deter mammals from eating them. It appears to not have deterred humans much, however. Many people love chile peppers, the hotter the better. One of the easiest ways to tone down a chile pepper’s heat, if desired, is by removing the seeds and inner ribs, which will significantly decrease the total capsaicin level of the pepper.


How Hot is Hot?

The Scoville heat scale (developed in 1912) is the oldest and most referenced method of measuring pepper heat. The testing method is simple: a panel of five or more judges is subjected to a taste test featuring the paste form of each pepper that has been diluted with sugar syrup. The degree of dilution required for the judges not to detect any capsaicin in the mixture determines each pepper’s rating on the scale. Despite its inherent subjectivity, this scale is still a useful way of ranking peppers relative to other peppers.

Aji Panca Chilies

Mild

500 - 1,500

Mulato Chilies

Chocolate/licorice-like flavor

500 - 2,500

New Mexico Chilies

Dried red Anaheim peppers

750 - 1,250

Ancho Chilies

Dried poblanos

1,000 - 1,500

Pasilla Negro Chilies

Good in moles

1,000 - 2,000

Guajillo Chilies

Mild flavor, some heat

2,500 - 5,000

Jalapeño Chilies

Some heat, grassy-earthy flavor

2,500 - 8,000

Puya Chilies

Similar flavor to Guajillo, more spice

5,000 - 8,000

Organic Chipotle Morita Chilies

Smoked, dried Jalapeño

5,000 - 10,000

Aji Amarillo Chilies

Essential in Peruvian food

5,000 - 25,000

Brown (Meco) Chipotle Chilies

Smoky & spicy

7,000 - 18,000

Chipotle Morita Chilies

Smoked, dried Jalapeño

7,000 - 25,000

Urfa Biber Chilies

Sweet, citrusy & smoky

7,500

Cascabel Chilies

Round, with seeds that rattle

8,000 - 12,000

De Arbol Chilies

Similar to cayenne

15,000 - 30,000

Japones Chilies

Medium-strength Asian chile

15,000 - 36,000

Pequin Chilies

Spicy, hint of citrus, sweetness

40,000 - 50,000

Tepin Chilies

Powerful but brief heat

50,000 - 70,000

Dried Thai Chilies

Used in Thai, Chinese cooking

50,000 - 100,000

Habanero Chilies

Very hot, fruity/floral flavor

100,000 - 200,000

Organic Habanero Chilies

Very hot, fruity/floral flavor

100,000 - 300,000

Scotch Bonnet Chilies

Similar heat to Habanero, fruitier flavor

75,000 - 325,000

Ghost Chilies

Very, very hot with slight smokiness

300,000 - 400,000

Scorpion Chilies

Incredibly hot

Up to 800,000

Chile Pepper Heat Scale


Some Like Them Hot, Some Not

A chile pepper’s heat comes from capsaicin. It’s what causes the burning sensation when chile peppers encounter tissue. Biological studies show that it also activates heat receptors in the human mouth (just as menthol activates cold receptors). Capsaicin is a molecule that occurs naturally in peppers and likely evolved to deter mammals from eating them. It appears to not have deterred humans much, however. Many people love chile peppers, the hotter the better. One of the easiest ways to tone down a chile pepper’s heat, if desired, is by removing the seeds and inner ribs, which will significantly decrease the total capsaicin level of the pepper.


How Hot is Hot?

The Scoville heat scale (developed in 1912) is the oldest and most referenced method of measuring pepper heat. The testing method is simple: a panel of five or more judges is subjected to a taste test featuring the paste form of each pepper that has been diluted with sugar syrup. The degree of dilution required for the judges not to detect any capsaicin in the mixture determines each pepper’s rating on the scale. Despite its inherent subjectivity, this scale is still a useful way of ranking peppers relative to other peppers.

Aji Panca Chilies

Mild500 - 1,500

Mulato Chilies

Chocolate/licorice-like flavor500 - 2,500

New Mexico Chilies

Dried red Anaheim peppers750 - 1,250

Ancho Chilies

Dried poblanos1,000 - 1,500

Pasilla Negro Chilies

Good in moles1,000 - 2,000

Guajillo Chilies

Mild flavor, some heat2,500 - 5,000

Jalapeño Chilies

Some heat, grassy-earthy flavor2,500 - 8,000

Puya Chilies

Similar flavor to Guajillo, more spice5,000 - 8,000

Organic Chipotle Morita Chilies

Smoked, dried Jalapeño5,000 - 10,000

Aji Amarillo Chilies

Essential in Peruvian food5,000 - 25,000

Brown (Meco) Chipotle Chilies

Smoky & spicy7,000 - 18,000

Chipotle Morita Chilies

Smoked, dried Jalapeño7,000 - 25,000

Urfa Biber Chilies

Sweet, citrusy & smoky7,500

Cascabel Chilies

Round, with seeds that rattle8,000 - 12,000

De Arbol Chilies

Similar to cayenne15,000 - 30,000

Japones Chilies

Medium-strength Asian chile15,000 - 36,000

Pequin Chilies

Spicy, hint of citrus, sweetness40,000 - 50,000

Tepin Chilies

Powerful but brief heat50,000 - 70,000

Dried Thai Chilies

Used in Thai, Chinese cooking50,000 - 100,000

Habanero Chilies

Very hot, fruity/floral flavor100,000 - 200,000

Organic Habanero Chilies

Very hot, fruity/floral flavor100,000 - 300,000

Scotch Bonnet Chilies

Similar heat to Habanero, fruitier flavor75,000 - 325,000

Ghost Chilies

Very, very hot with slight smokiness300,000 - 400,000

Scorpion Chilies

Incredibly hotUp to 800,000