Peppers: Hot, Hotter, Hottest

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Chile Peppers

So Hot Right Now!

Loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, C and B9 (folic acid), peppers are also low-calorie and a good source of fiber. You can’t talk about peppers without talking about capsaicin, the chemical compound that provides the heat we experience when eating peppers. It can make you sweat, your eyes water and nose run. Capsaicin can also release a rush of endorphins—which is why some people love them! The hotness of a pepper is measured by the Scoville heat scale ranging from zero to 16 million SHU (Scoville heat units). For reference, bell peppers rank zero SHU and jalapeños weigh in at 2,500–8,000 SHU.

Types of Hot Peppers You’ll Find at Sprouts

Long Hots (100–1,000 SHU)
  • Sweet with a slight sizzle
  • Roast ‘em or pan fry with olive oil
  • Not as hot as a jalapeño
Anaheim Pepper (500–2,500 SHU)
  • Mild fruity sweetness with a touch of heat
  • Super versatile, try them in salsa or chiles rellenos
  • Usually green, when left on the vine to turn red, they’re called chile Colorado
Hungarian Wax Pepper(1,000–15,000 SHU)
  • Tangy, it looks like a banana pepper, but has more heat
  • Great tossed in a salad
  • Can be eaten raw
Jalapeño (2,500–8,000 SHU)
  • Perfect for those who like a little kick
  • A smoke-dried jalapeño is called a chipotle
  • Can be eaten raw and are perfect in pico de gallo
Habanero (100,000–350,000 SHU)
  • Fruity flavor with serious fire
  • Good for mixing with tropical flavors like mango in salsa
  • Range in color from yellows, to oranges and reds
Ghost Pepper (855,000–1,041,427 SHU)
  • Fruity and tropical, intensely hot
  • Whip up a BBQ sauce
  • 100 times hotter than a jalapeño
Dried Reaper (1,400,000–2,200,000 SHU)
  • Sweet and fruity with fiery heat
  • Mix into a hot salsa
  • A cross between a ghost pepper and a red habanero

What to Do If You’ve Eaten a Pepper That’s Too Hot

Your natural inclination after eating a pepper-shaped inferno will likely be to reach for water—after all, you feel like your mouth is on fire. This would be a rookie maneuver though. Capsaicin is an oil; and oil and water don’t mix. Drinking water will just spread the fire. Instead, try one of these remedies.
  • Water & vinegar mixed together, can be swished and spit out. This combination helps to break down the fats of the capsaicin, cooling your mouth.
  • Beer with a healthy squeeze of lime can have similar results as the water and vinegar combination (but you can drink this elixir!), with the added bonus that the carbonation has a cooling and soothing effect as well.
  • Dairy, because of the protein casein, can help to neutralize the heat as well. If you’ve made your dish too spicy, tone it down with a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt—it’ll make a world of difference.


When you’re prepping and cooking peppers, always wear a pair of latex or nitrile gloves to keep the oils from getting on your hands. If you don’t have gloves? Don plastic bags while you chop and prep the hot peppers.