Is Pepper Spicy? 20 Types Of Pepper, Uses, And Spice

Is pepper spicy? The answer is yes. But not all peppers are spicy.

Pepper is a fruit that comes in over 600 varieties, each with a different level of spiciness. 

In this guide, you’ll see the different types of peppers, their level of spiciness, and everything in between. Also, you’ll know the peppers to use while cooking and the ones to avoid.

What is pepper spice?

Pepper is a hot, pungent spice that is used to flavor food. It is made from the dried berries of the plant itself. Additionally, pepper is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It can be used to add heat or flavor to a dish. 

Why is pepper spicy?

The active ingredient in pepper that makes it spicy is called capsaicin. When capsaicin comes into contact with your tongue, it activates a receptor called TRPV1. 

This receptor is responsible for the sensation of heat and pain, and high temperatures also activate it. In other words, when you eat something spicy, your brain thinks you are eating something hot!

Capsaicin is found in the highest concentrations in the outermost layer of the pepper, so if you want to reduce the spiciness of a dish, remove its seeds and white ribs.

SEE: Peppercorn vs Pepper

20 types of peppers and their Scoville heat unit

1. Yellow chili

Spice level: Between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville units.

Yellow chili peppers are also called Guero chiles. They have a bold flavor that comes off as peppery. Also, they have a smooth texture and add a crunch of spiciness to many dishes. 

2. Pimento pepper

Spice level: Between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville units.

Pimento has sweet, aromatic, and succulent flesh that can be enjoyed raw, stuffed, roasted, or pickled. It comes in green, red, and yellow colors and has a sweeter taste compared to bell peppers.

Additionally, the pimento pepper has very little heat and is often called a cherry pepper because of its heart-shaped frame, red color, and short thick stem.

3. Shishito

Spice level: Between 100 and 1,000 Scoville units.

This pepper is hotter than a bell pepper, but it’s not as intense as jalapenos. Shishito hails from Japan and has a smoky yet, not so spicy taste when used moderately. Also, it has a wrinkly appearance and can be eaten raw or roasted. 

4. Poblano pepper

Spice level: Between 1,000 and 1,500 Scoville units.

Poblano falls among medium-heat peppers but is spicier than banana pepper. Also, it tastes like green bell pepper and comes in green (unripe) and red (ripe) colors.

Red poblano has more spice than the green variant, but it’s not as spicy as a jalapeno. It can be consumed raw, roasted, or cooked.

SEE: Is Pepper A Spice, Herb, Or Vegetable?

5. Bell pepper

Spice level: 0 Scoville unit.

Bell peppers, though fruity, are often used as a side dish or vegetable ingredient. They are a type of sweet pepper you can enjoy in soups and sauces, grilled, or as you like.

They come in red, yellow, orange, chocolate, and white colors, with red bell peppers being the healthiest. 

6. Fresno chile

Spice level: Between 2,500 and 10,000 Scoville units.

Fresno has a striking resemblance to a jalapeno. However, it has thinner walls and is not as hot and spicy as a jalapeno. Additionally, Fresno gives off a more fruity and smoky taste and falls within the slightly spicy medium heat peppers.

SEE: Pepperoni vs Salami

7. Cayenne

Spice level: Between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville units.

This pepper has a slightly hot and spicy flavor that originates from dried chili peppers. It has the same origin as paprika, but its spice levels vary.

Furthermore, cayenne is a popular spice in Mexican cooking, and it’s used for meat marinades, fajitas, and spicy dishes.

8. Piri Piri

Spice level: Between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville units.

Piri Piri means “pepper pepper” in Swahili, and it’s often made from sweet pimento, spicy chiles, and extra ingredients like vinegar, onions, garlic, etc.

Furthermore, it is very hot and spicy, and in fact, hotter than jalapenos and cayenne pepper. It’s used mainly in Portuguese cuisine to marinade meals.

9. Scotch bonnet

Spice level: Between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville units.

Scotch bonnet is hotter and spicier than a habanero. Other names such as flower pepper, Bonney pepper, fresh pepper, etc., and it is a variety of chili pepper.

In addition, it has an almost sweet, flimsy fruity taste that adds a spicy flavor to many foods and its medicinal benefits are vast.

10. Guajillo chili

Spice level: Between 2,500 and 5,000 Scoville units.

This pepper closely resembles pasilla pepper in terms of its flavor. It’s fruity, smoky, sweet, and gives off a mild form of heat.

Guajillo is a versatile spice in Mexican cuisine, and it’s used in salsas, sauce, etc. Finally, it has leathery skin and is derived from dry mirasol pepper.

11. Pasilla

Spice level: Between 250 and 2,500 Scoville units.

In certain states like the US, Canada, and Mexico, the pasilla pepper is also called poblano. Pasilla is a dried chilaca pepper with mild heat and spice in other parts.

It’s often crushed into powder and used as a seasoning in Mexican dishes like moles and salsas.

SEE: Lemon Pepper Substitutes

12. Cubanelle 

Spice level: Between 0 and 1,000 Scoville units.

Cubanelle falls under the category of sweet peppers, but it can be slightly hot. Another name for it is Cuban pepper.

It has thinner flesh than bell pepper and gives off a sweet and low-heat flavor when used in dishes. It can be consumed raw in a salad or added to pizzas and steak.

13. Banana chili

Spice level: Between 0 and 500 Scoville units.

Banana chilis are shaped like bananas and come in bright yellow or pale green colors. These peppers have a mild and sweet taste and cannot be termed as spicy.

Also, they can be used in making dishes like salsa, buffalo chicken, and more.

14. Anaheim

Spice level: Between 500 and 1,000 Scoville units.

They are a type of chili pepper that can easily be substituted with poblano, bell pepper, or cubanelle pepper while cooking. Anaheim is less spicy than poblano green chiles and can be roasted, grilled, or as preferred.

It has relatively mild heat and tastes like bell pepper.

15. Rocoto

Spice level: Between 30,000 and 100,000 Scoville units.

The outer wall of rocoto has about the same level of spice as bell pepper, but the inner parts are fruity and fresh. Rocoto is a type of chili pepper that is grown in Bolivia and Peru.

They are classified under hot peppers and are hotter than a jalapeno.

16. Pepperoncini

Spice level: Between 100 and 500 Scoville units.

Pepperoncini and banana pepper measure up to the same value, 500, on the Scoville scale. However, they don’t have the same flavor and appearance. 

Pepperoncini is fondly used in Italian cuisine. It also has a sweet, tangy vinegar taste and gives off medium heat.

17. Bird’s eye pepper

Spice level: Between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville units.

This Thai chili is smaller than many peppers in size. It has a fruity and peppery taste and gets its name because of its small round shape.

Also, it’s common knowledge that birds easily spread this pepper and are not affected by its intense spice. 

18. Chipotle pepper 

Spice level: Between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville units.

The chipotle pepper is another type of chili pepper, and it’s fondly called smoked jalapeno. It is dried and smoked before being sold to retain its smoky and spicy taste. Also, it’s as hot as your usual jalapeno pepper.

19. Jalapeno

Spice level: Between 4,000 and 8,000 Scoville units. 

Jalapeno is considered a medium-hot pepper, and it’s medium-sized when compared to other chilies. It can be consumed cooked, raw or smoked and the closest substitute to it is Serrano. It originates from South America.

20. Serrano

Spice level: Between 10,000 and 25,000 Scoville units. 

This pepper tastes like jalapeno, but it’s up to 5 times hotter than it. Moreover, serrano has an earthy and grassy flavor, and you may not want to eat it raw because of its spice.

It’s rich in vitamin C, copper, potassium, and manganese and can add lots of spice to any dish.

SEE: These Peppers Are Good Alternatives for Green Chili


What is the spiciest chili in the world?

Carolina reaper. It has a Scoville heat unit of 2.2 million and gives a mouth-burning sensation.

What is the least hottest pepper in the world?

Cherry peppers and sweet bell peppers. They have a sweet and very mild heat and can be added to salad and other dishes.

What is the sweetest pepper?

Red bell pepper. It has a fruity and sweet flavor that comes from its full ripening process. Also, it’s called the king of the grill.

SEE: Is Wasabi as Spicy as Chili Peppers?


Is pepper spicy? If there’s one thing you’ve learned from this guide, it’s that pepper is indeed spicy, but you can manage the spiciness. If you’ve ever doubted what pepper to use, it’s best to bookmark this guide early for future reference.

Thank you for reading.

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