Chocolate Habanero: Twice The Spice Of A Regular Habanero

chocolate habaneros
Don’t be misled by the name - the chocolate habanero isn’t a sweet treat. This fiery member of Capsicum chinense is larger and twice as hot as its orange habanero cousin while maintaining the fruity, sweet tropical flavor habaneros are known for.

What Are Chocolate Habanero Peppers?

Like other varieties of habaneros, chocolate habanero peppers are known for their intense heat and sweet, fruity flavor.

The chocolate habanero hails from the Caribbean and is a cultivar of habanero. It’s been carefully cultivated over the years to showcase the natural fruity flavor of the habanero and amplify the heat. They’re slightly larger than their orange cousins and mature to a beautiful deep brown.

Chocolate Habanero Quick Facts

Origin: Caribbean

Color: Dark brown to black

Taste: Smokey, fruity, earthy, and sweet

Size: Approximately 2 inches

Other names:

  • Black habanero
  • Senegal hot chocolate
  • Black congo
  • Cuban habanero
  • Dark habanero
Chocolate habanero pepper plant.
Chocolate habanero pepper plant.

How Hot Are Chocolate Habaneros?

Chocolate habaneros are one of the spiciest pepper varieties on the Scoville scale. They measure 425,000-577,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), which is close to 140 times hotter than the jalapeno.

The following chart can help put the heat level of the chocolate habanero into perspective:

  • Bhut jolokia (aka Ghost pepper), 1,000,000+ SHU
  • Chocolate habanero pepper, 425,000-577,000 SHU
  • Serrano pepper, 10,000-25,000 SHU
  • Jalapeno pepper, 2,000-8,000 SHU

Is a Chocolate Habanero hotter than a regular habanero?

Many people feel like they’re already pushing the limits of their heat tolerance with the standard orange habanero. If you fall into that category, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the chocolate habanero and orange habanero are interchangeable.

In addition to the difference in color, there’s also a big difference in heat level between the two, with chocolate habaneros being twice as spicy or more.

  • Chocolate habanero pepper, 425,000-577,000 SHU
  • Orange habanero pepper, 100,000-350,000 SHU

What color habanero is the hottest?

There are several habanero varieties, and they come in various colors. In addition to the typical orange habanero and chocolate habanero, there’s also:

  • Red Savina habaneroLong considered the hottest pepper available, the red savina is a mutated variety of the Caribbean red habanero. It is now selectively bred for its intense heat and flavor. The Scoville scale measures 350,000-577,000 SHUs, making it and the chocolate habanero roughly the same heat level.
  • Peruvian white habanero. This small, bean-shaped habanero is challenging to find but has a smokey spice that pepper aficionados appreciate. They are one of the milder habanero varieties measuring 100,000-350,000 SHUs.
  • Datil pepper. Originating in Minorca, a Spanish-occupied island in the Baltic sea, this milder habanero variety is grown mainly in St. Augustine, Florida. It resembles the standard orange color but only measures 300,000 SHU at its hottest.
  • Roatan pumpkin habaneroThe pumpkin shape of this Roatan island native is how this habanero variety got its name. It’s one of the spicier habanero varieties, measuring up to 500,000 SHUs at its hottest.

So, which habanero is the hottest?

It’s a tie between the red savina and chocolate habanero. On average, these two peppers rival each other in heat. Of course, the Scoville rating for any pepper varies according to the measured individual pepper, which can vary based on growing conditions.

The chocolate habanero and red savina tie for the hottest habanero.
The chocolate habanero and red savina tie for the hottest habanero.

How To Use Chocolate Habaneros In Cooking

Chocolate habaneros have a variety of culinary applications. They are regularly featured in Jamaican fare and often included in the classic Jamaican Jerk sauce.

Their sweet smokiness and intense heat make them an excellent addition to:

  • Marinades
  • Soups and stews
  • Salsas

This sweet and spicy habanero hot sauce is a traditional favorite, but you can add it to brownie recipes to create an unusually sweet and spicy treat, too!

Where To Buy Chocolate Habanero Peppers

Although the orange habanero is readily available almost anywhere, fresh chocolate habaneros can be challenging to find in mainstream grocery stores. Some specialty markets may have them during the growing season, but a call ahead to determine if they’re in stock is wise.

Products made with chocolate habanero are easier to locate, however.

  • Sauces
  • Marinades
  • Rubs

These can all be found online at retailers like Amazon, if not in your local grocery store or specialty market.

Can You Grow Chocolate Habaneros?

Your best bet if you’d like fresh chocolate habaneros is to grow them yourself.

chocolate habanero plant
chocolate habanero plant.

Chocolate habanero plants may be available at your local nurseries, or you can order chocolate habanero pepper seeds from many websites.

These hot peppers are easy to grow and require the same essential elements as their more common orange cousins.

If growing from seed, start indoors 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost. They do best in a warm location and must be moist but not wet.

Germination will occur within 7-21 days from planting.

Transplant to containers or gardens once plants have three or more sets of true leaves. These plants like room to grow, so make sure the spacing is 30 inches or more between them.


Lorin is a writer, editor, photographer, and loves a culinary adventure. She routinely climbs up the Scoville heat ladder using peppers and spice to update and create new recipes for friends. Over the years she's become a pepper aficionado, growing and cultivating several varieties in her home garden.

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