Chili peppers and how to use them

Chili peppers and how to use them

Feel the Burn: A Guide to Chili Peppers

We all like to spice up our lives every once in a while, and Mexican food gives us the perfect opportunity to do so.

Use this quick guide to chili peppers and how hot they really are – so you will be sure what your taste buds can handle:

Hot: These dishes will be sure to give your taste buds a surprise:

  • Habanero is the hottest known chili in Mexican cuisine. So, beware when cooking with these “bad” boys. Their heat index is a whopping 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units. They are the main ingredient in bottled hot sauces. They start out green but color as they ripen.
  • Chiles de Arbol have a heat index of 15,000 to 30,000 Scoville units. They are used in powdered form to make sauces, but can also be used in soups and stews. They are sometimes used to decorate wreaths as they do not lose their signature red color when dried out.
  • Jalapenos are the most popular chili peppers. They have a heat index of 2,500 to 10,000 Scoville Units. They are green but turn red if allowed to fully ripen.
  • Serrano is a smaller jalapeno with a heat index of 5,000 to 25,0000 Scoville units. It is amazing when used in salsas, sauces, relishes, and garnishes.
  • Puya is best served pureed, mashed and in a sauce. It has a heat unit of 5,000 to 8000 Scoville units.
  • Morita is a dried jalapeno commonly known as a chipotle. With a heat index of 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units, it has a rich and fruity flavor.
  • Guajillo is used for a sweet but surprisingly spicy taste in salsas. It is also used in pastes, butters or rubs to flavor all kinds of meats, especially chicken. It has a heat unit of 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units.


Not: If you prefer to taste a subtle chili flavor, give these chilis a try:

  • Cascabels are used to add a touch of heat to soups, salsas, stews, and sauces. They are known as rattle chili as the loose seeds tend to rattle inside. They have a heat index of 1,000 to 3,000 Scoville units.
  • Poblanos are a mild chili with a heat index of only 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville units. The ripe, red poblano is a lot spicier than the green poblano. They are mostly used in mole sauces.
  • Ancho is a dried form of poblano. Used with pasillo and guajillo it makes a fantastic mole sauce with a heat index of 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville units.


Mysteriously in between: Sometimes they are hot, sometimes mild. It all depends on how you cook it:

  • Pasillas have a heat index of heat index 250 to 4,000 Scoville units. They are best combined with fruits, duck, seafood, lamb, mushrooms, garlic, fennel, honey or oregano.
  • Anaheim has a heat index of 500 to 2,500 Scoville units. They are a common ingredient in salsa. Known as New Mexico peppers, they are considered much hotter than peppers grown in California.


Ramona’s Mexican Food uses several different chili peppers to create their homemade, authentic Mexican dishes. Come visit us today to feel the burn of authentic Mexican cooking.

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