Jalapeno Scoville: About Heat + 7 Easy Hacks for Growing Spicier Jalapenos

So, how hot is a Jalapeno pepper? The average Jalapeno Scoville ranks between 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). If you’re unfamiliar with this heat rating system, that might not mean much. I’ll clear up what this spice level means, whether you’re growing Jalapenos or using them in recipes.

Jalapeno scoville, whole and chopped jalapeno peppers

Back in the day, I didn’t know that Jalapenos came in so many heat levels (and colors). I knew it as a green or red pepper that could be spicy, depending on where I got it.

(Side note: That’s the great thing about growing your own peppers – a whole world of knowledge and possibilities opens up!)

This article goes into all the details on the Jalapeno Scoville, from the heat levels of different varieties to how to bump up the spiciness when growing your peppers.

So let’s get into Jalapeno heat so that you can enjoy the classic Jalapeno flavor with the spice level you want.

JALAPENO PEPPER FACTS:

Common Names:Jalapeño, Cuaresmeño, Chipotle (smoked Jalapeno pepper), Huachinango (large red Jalapeno), Chile Gordo (“fat chile”)
Scoville Heat Units (SHU):2,500 to 8,000 / 10,000+ (hybrid Jalapeno varieties)
Capsicum Species:Capsicum annuum
Days To Harvest:70 to 85 days
Size:Peppers: 2-4 in (5-10 cm) long and ~1 in (3 cm) wide. Plant: up to 3 ft (0.9 m) tall and 2 ft (0.6 m) wide.
Flavor:bright, moderately spicy, juicy, grassy
Culinary Uses:Mexican & Tex-Mex cuisine, pickling, guacamole, salsas, chili oils, sauces, salads, stuffed peppers

About Jalapeño Peppers

Xalapa Mexico where Jalapenos were first cultivated
Xalapa Mexico Where Jalapenos Were First Cultivated

So, where do Jalapenos come from? 

The answer is in the name, as “Jalapeno” means “from Jalapa (Xalapa)” – a Mexican city where this chile was first marketed. Before then, the Aztecs had developed Jalapenos before Christopher Columbus’s arrival [source]. 

Being part of the Capsicum annuum family, Jalapenos are one of most domesticated species of peppers. In fact, Jalapenos are even the Texas state pepper!

These chillies are typically eaten green or red, but there are many Jalapeno types that come in colors like purple, orange, yellow and black.

What Is The Scoville Scale and How Does It Work?

what is the scoville scale and how it works chart

Using the Scoville scale, peppers are tested to determine their heat levels (pungency). Here’s a brief overview of how this works.

The Scoville Organoleptic Test — created by Wilbur Scoville in 1912 — extracts capsaicin (what makes peppers hot). These extract samples are then diluted until a panel of human taste testers no longer tastes the spiciness. These dilutions help determine the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) rating.

Taste buds vary, and some people have higher heat tolerances than others. Because of this, researchers are now using the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) test, which uses a machine, to more accurately determine heat [source].

» Read More: What Is the Scoville Scale for Peppers?

The following table has examples of peppers and their SHU levels to give you a better idea of Scoville heat scale ratings.

SHUHeat LevelPepper Examples
0No HeatBell pepper
Up to 2,500MildPoblano pepper, Anaheim pepper
Up to 25,000MediumJalapeno, Serrano pepper
Up to 100,000Medium HotCayenne pepper, Charleston Hot pepper
Over 150,000HotHabanero, Red Savina
Over 1 millionSuper HotCarolina Reaper, Ghost pepper

How Many Scoville Units Is A Jalapeno?

Jalapeno scoville units go down when the placenta and capsaicin glands (pith) of a pepper are removed
Jalapeno Placenta & Pith Where Capsaicin Is Concentrated

The average Jalapeno Scoville is between 2,500 to 8,000 SHUs — various types of Jalapenos can be milder or hotter than this range. And if you’re a fan of Mexican peppers, you’ll find that chile Puya has a similar heat level to the Jalapeno.

So, what’s the raw Jalapeno Scoville without seeds? There isn’t an exact SHU rating, but a fresh Jalapeño has less heat when the capsaicin glands (pith) is removed.

It’s a myth that a pepper’s spiciness comes from the seeds. When asking, Which part of the Jalapeno is the hottest?, it’s the pith and placenta where the capsaicin is primarily concentrated. (Pepper seeds may seem hot because they’re attached to these areas.)

Keep in mind these are just general heat guidelines. Growing conditions or adding sweetness to a dish with Jalapeno can bring down the spice. In this pineapple salsa salmon recipe, for example, you’ll get the flavor with just a little bit of heat.

Ranking Jalapeno Scoville vs Other Peppers

ranking Jalapeno Scoville vs other peppers
Jalapeno Scoville Chart

Here’s how Jalapeno Scoville units (2,500 to 8,000 SHU) compare to other popular peppers. 

Poblano vs Jalapeno Scoville

Poblano peppers and chile Ancho (the dried red version of the Poblano) are milder chiles at 1,000 to 1,500 SHU. When comparing peppers, Jalapenos can be three to five times hotter than Poblanos.

Fresno vs Jalapeno Scoville

Fresno peppers rank between 2,500 to 10,000 SHU. Considered a medium hot chile pepper, Fresno peppers can be a little spicier than Jalapenos.

Serrano vs Jalapeno Scoville

The Serrano Scoville ranges between 10,000 to 25,000 SHU. This means a Serrano has the potential to be three to four times hotter than a Jalapeno pepper.

Cayenne vs Jalapeno Scoville

The Cayenne Scoville rates between 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. For comparison, the Cayenne pepper plant grows pods that can be six to 12 times spicier than Jalapenos

Habanero vs Jalapeno Scoville

The Habanero Scoville (orange variety) ranks between 150,000 and 325,000 SHU. This rating is about 40 to 60 times hotter than average Jalapeno peppers, but may be more depending on the type of Habanero pepper.

Ghost Pepper vs Jalapeno

The Ghost Pepper Scoville goes up to 1,041,427 SHU. For comparison, the Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) can be up to 417 times spicier than a Jalapeno.

Jalapeno Scoville vs Carolina Reaper

Finally, how many Scoville units is a Carolina Reaper? Being the current (official) hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper is 2,200,000 SHU at the top end, making it potentially 880 times hotter than a Jalapeno.

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Types Of Jalapeno (with Scoville)

types of Jalapeno, NuMex Pinata Jalapeno
NuMex Piñata Jalapeno (~50,000 SHU)

We covered the standard Jalapeno pepper heat rating, but there are many versions of this chile. Here’s a list of different Jalapeno pepper varieties, from mild to the hottest Jalapeno Scoville.

Mild Jalapeno Peppers (below 2,500 SHU):

  • Brown Jalapeno Scoville (seeds): 200 to 2,000 SHU
  • TAM Jalapeno Scoville (seeds): 1,000 to 3,500 SHU
  • Mammoth Jalapeno Scoville (seeds): 1,000 to 5,000 SHU

First time growing peppers from seed?

Learn to grow peppers with my step-by-step, illustrated ebook. It’ll help you skip a lot of beginner mistakes so that you can enjoy harvesting your own chilies!

Regular Jalapeno Heat (2,500 to 8,000 SHU):

  • Craig’s Grande Jalapeno Scoville: 2,500 to 4,500 SHU
  • Early Jalapeno Scoville (seeds): 2,500 to 5,000 SHU
  • Purple Jalapeno Scoville (seeds): 2,500 to 8,000 SHU
  • El Jefe Jalapeno Scoville: 4,000 to 6,000 SHU
  • Mucho Nacho Jalapeño Scoville (seeds): 4,500 to 6,000+ SHU

Hottest Jalapeno Peppers (over 8,000 SHU):

  • Black Jalapeno Scoville (seeds): 2,500 to 10,000 SHU
  • NuMex Pumpkin Spice Jalapeno Scoville (seeds): up to 22,000 SHU
  • NuMex Lemon Spice Jalapeno Scoville (seeds): up to 25,000 SHU
  • Biker Billy Jalapeno Scoville: 5,000 to 30,000 SHU
  • NuMex Orange Jalapeno Scoville: up to 80,000 SHU

Note: The Chile Pepper Institute has other NuMex Jalapeno varieties besides the ones mentioned.

» Related: 30 Places to Buy Pepper Seeds Online

Are Red Or Green Jalapenos Hotter?

are red or green jalapenos hotter

In general, red Jalapeno peppers are sweeter and hotter than green Jalapenos. Red Jalapenos are the mature versions of all Jalapenos – eating them in this stage gives you the full flavor and heat.

The red Jalapeño Scoville can be at the top of the 2,500 to 8,000 SHU range. For hotter Jalapeno varieties, this rating goes to 10,000+ SHU.

Likewise, the green Jalapeno Scoville potentially ranks towards the lower end of the 2,500 to 8,000 SHU range, but there are always exceptions!

What Do Jalapenos Taste Like?

jalapeno and sliced jalapenos in bowl

The green Jalapeno flavor is grassy, juicy, slightly earthy and, of course, spicy to some people. (It’s like a Bell pepper with a bite.) Red Jalapenos taste the same except sweeter and hotter.

Different Jalapeno varieties also have unique flavor profiles. For example, the Lemon Spice Jalapeno has a citrusy taste, the Brown Jalapeno has a smoky, sweet flavor, and the Purple Jalapeno is extra juicy.

What Can You Do With Jalapeno Peppers?

jar of pickled jalapeno peppers

You can use Jalapeno peppers for so many things: for example, hot sauce, salsas, guacamole, marinades, chili pepper powders, chipotle peppers, candied Jalapenos, pickled Jalapeños — make Jalapeno tater tot casserole! — and stuffed Jalapenos (to name a few). Fresh Jalapenos taste amazing in spicy dishes like aguachile verde.

Note: The pickled Jalapeno Scoville still falls within the usual 2,500 to 8,000 SHU rating. Pickled chilies can taste spicier because the capsaicin in peppers leaches out into the liquid.

Jalapeno Recipes:

Buy Jalapeno Sauce:

Tabasco makes a popular green pepper sauce that mixes Jalapeno peppers with their signature flavor.

  • Mild sauce perfect for eggs, pizza, salads, tacos, etc.
  • Tabasco Jalapeno Scoville:  600 to 1,200 SHU

Tabasco’s green Jalapeno sauce is milder than the original — perfect for those who want all the Jalapeno flavor without excessive heat. The Scoville rating of this sauce is 600 to 1,200 SHU, according to the Tabasco website.

How To Get Rid Of Jalapeno Burn On Hands

Jalapenos are hot enough to produce a burn when the pepper’s oil touches the skin. If you’re not wearing gloves when cutting or handling these peppers, chances are you’ll start feeling that uncomfortable sensation.

Here are some ways to get the chili burn off your hands:

  • Rub your hands with dish soap and a little water to soothe the burn. You can wash it off when the pain calms down.
  • Dip your hands in dairy that has fat in it (for example, milk, sour cream, and yogurt). The fats help break down pepper oils. 
  • Apply aloe vera to the affected areas for relief. Aloe has cooling properties that reduce pain.
  • Rub a small amount of rubbing alcohol between your hands to help dissolve the capsaicin oil.

Confession: I know better, but I still get chili burn all the time. Because of this, I can tell you the pain lasts at least a half hour — it’s just a matter of waiting it out!

How To Grow Hotter Jalapenos

growing purple jalapeno peppers
Pick Mature Jalapenos For More Heat

Here’s my thought on peppers – the hotter the better! Besides choosing the hottest Jalapeno varieties, here are my tips for growing spicier Jalapenos.

  1. Use the correct soil for peppers so that plants can effectively absorb nutrients. Jalapenos prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6 to 6.8.
  2. Add sulfur to the soil. Sulfur is known to produce hotter peppers, so drop a few matches in the hole before adding your Jalapeno plant.
  3. Sprinkle 1 to 2 TBSP of Epsom salt around the base of your plant. (Make sure it’s plain with no fragrances.) Epsom salt makes plants stronger and helps grow tastier peppers.
  4. Cut back on nitrogen when Jalapenos are flowering and fruiting. Higher nitrogen focuses on leafy growth while sacrificing fruit development. (Here’s more on fertilizer for pepper plants.)
  5. Start watering peppers a little less. As Jalapenos come in, allow plants to dry (leaves start wilting) before the next watering so that capsaicin increases in the peppers.
  6. Wait for Jalapenos to turn red or their mature color before picking them. Aged peppers have more heat. Some Jalapenos even display corking (light stretch marks) when fully mature.
  7. Isolate your Jalapeno plants if you plan to save seeds for growing. Peppers can cross-pollinate, which means you might get mild hybrids next season. (To clarify, your Jalapenos will grow as expected during the current season, but the next generation will be affected.)

» Related – When to Pick Jalapenos: Here’s How to Tell When They’re Ready for Harvest

In my experience, keeping pepper plants in full sun also encourages the best spicy growth. And, weirdly, my first few Jalapenos tend to be mild before the heat starts kicking in. (I wanted to mention this in case you experience the same thing!) 

Jalapeno Scoville FAQs

Wrapping Up

To recap, the Jalapeno Scoville is generally 2,500 to 8,000 SHU unless you’re growing one of the hotter Jalapeno types that are 10,000+ SHU and higher. Hopefully, this article gives a better idea of Jalapeno heat and how to increase spiciness when growing these peppers.

What’s next: Check our complete growing Jalapenos guide to go from seeds to harvesting Jalapeno peppers. 

are red or green jalapenos hotter

How to Grow Hotter Jalapenos Using 7 Easy Hacks

Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy

Love heat? Below are some gardening hacks that you can use to grow even spicier Jalapeno peppers.

Materials

Instructions

  1. Use the right soil for growing peppers so that your plants can absorb nutrients better. Jalapenos prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6 to 6.8.
  2. Add sulfur to the soil (it's known to produce hotter peppers). A cost-effective way is to drop a few matches in the hole before adding your Jalapeno plant.
  3. Add 1 to 2 TBSP of Epsom salt (plain) by sprinkling it around the base of your plant. This helps grow stronger and tastier peppers.
  4. Use a fertilizer lower in nitrogen when Jalapeno plants are flowering and fruiting. At this stage, the lower nitrogen levels help your plant grow more fruit rather than leafy growth.
  5. Water your plants less as fruit begins to come in (let leaves start to wilt between waterings). This helps increase capsaicin production.
  6. Wait for Jalapeno peppers to turn red or their mature color before harvesting them. Some Jalapenos even display light stretch marks (corking) when ready. Aged peppers have more heat and flavor!
  7. Isolate your pepper plants if you plan to save seeds for growing. Chilies can cross-pollinate, which means you could potentially end up with mild hybrids next season. (Your current Jalapeno peppers will be fine, but the next generation will be affected.)

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AUTHOR

Jenny is the creator of Grow Hot Peppers. She is a self-taught gardener and has been growing peppers and a plethora of veggies for over 10 years. When she’s not writing or gardening, she loves eating spicy foods, hiking, and going to the ocean.

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