Guindilla Peppers: Piparras Pickled Spanish Peppers

green guindilla pepper
Guindilla peppers from the Basque region of Spain are grown for their family-friendly sweet spiciness and versatility when pickled. The two-color cycle peppers are more used pickled at half maturity than dried when fully mature.

What Is A Guindilla Pepper?

A guindilla pepper is one of the most famous Spanish hot peppers and is grown commonly as an heirloom pepper variety in the Basque region of Spain.

The guindilla is the traditional chile pepper of the Basque Country straddling the borders of Spain and France, a region of humid and warm climate that favors the pepper’s growth.

The name “guindilla” generally refers to chili or hot pepper in Spanish but refers specifically to this chili pepper.

Guindilla peppers are also called piparra peppers or piparras, specifically when they are pickled after harvesting at their immature greenish-yellow stage. Piparras translates to “pipes,” referring to the long tubular appearance of the peppers.

Pickled guindilla peppers are also called guindillas la Vasca, which translates to “chili peppers of the Basque” or “Basque peppers.”

You’ll also find guindilla peppers referred to as guindilla amarilla or guindilla yellow. “Amarilla” means “yellow” and is the feminine version of “amarillo.”


Guindilla peppers start yellowish-green or greenish-yellow and ripen to red at full maturity. They are usually harvested for pickling while still yellowish-green. Red guindilla chili peppers are hard to find and have fewer uses.

Shape And Size

Guindilla peppers resemble green cayenne peppers in size and shape. They are long, tapered, and conical but slightly curved. The thin peppers measure 1.5-4 inches long.


Like most peppers, guindilla peppers have glossy skin. The flesh beneath the skin is tender, a characteristic that remains even when the peppers are pickled.


The flavor of guindilla peppers is spicy-sweet or slightly sweet because of their mild heat. It is accompanied by the soft crunch of the peppers’ tender flesh.

Pickled guindilla peppers or piparras have an acidic, tangy flavor with hints of grassiness.

Dried red guindilla chile peppers harvested when fully mature have an earthy flavor.

guindilla peppers
Guindilla or piparra peppers are a staple in Spain.

How Spicy Are Guindilla Peppers?

Labeled as mild heat peppers, guindilla chili peppers score only 1,000-2,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville heat chart. Their slightly sweet flavor effectively masks their little heat.

Are Guindillas The Same As Jalapenos?

Both jalapenos and guindillas are hot peppers in the Capsicum annuum species that ripen to red at full maturity. But that’s where their similarities end.

Typical jalapeno peppers ripen to red from green, while the guindillas ripen to red from greenish-yellow.

Guindillas are milder than jalapenos, which register 2,500-8,000 Scoville Units. The spiciest guindilla is four times milder than the hottest jalapeno.

The shapes of the two peppers are also different. Jalapenos are shorter and have a more plump, rounded profile with a large, rounded stem end.

How To Use Guindilla Peppers

As mentioned, guindilla chiles are usually harvested young for pickling. They are jarred in white grape or wine vinegar to give them a tangy flavor.

Pickled guindilla peppers are eaten as a snack, especially as speared pincho (pintxo), guindilla tapas, or as Gilda pintxo—guindilla peppers speared with a toothpick alongside anchovy and olives.

Piparras are also eaten as a side for smoked fish, tuna, and cheeses. They also make an excellent appetizer when you pair them with wine.

If you love spicy cocktails, try replacing or complementing celery with pickled guindilla peppers as a garnish in the famous Bloody Mary cocktail. You can add the guindilla white wine vinegar brine to Bloody Mary alongside the pickled peppers. The pickled peppers also do well in martini cocktails.

You can use guindillas to flavor oils, canapés, or salads.

If you love your peppers cooked whole, you can sauté, shallow-fry, deep-fry, or roast guindilla hot peppers.

Dried red guindilla peppers are crumbled to flavor dishes or rehydrated to season stews, soups, and hot sauces.

Besides culinary uses, you can use dried red guindillas as ristras to decorate your kitchen. About 50 of the red peppers are strung together to make a ristra. Espelette peppers, their counterparts from the Basque region of France, are used similarly.

Gilda pintxo
Gilda pintxo, guindilla peppers speared with a toothpick alongside anchovy and olives.

Where To Buy Guindilla Peppers

Since they are commonly used as pickled peppers when harvested at half maturity, guindilla peppers are hard to find when fully ripened to red.

Pickled guindillas are widely available in Spain and other European nations. You can also buy them online via vendors like Amazon or some specialty stores.

Guindilla pepper seeds are available on the Internet from Amazon and other web retailers.

Your best luck for cooking with greenish-yellow and red guindillas lies in buying the seeds online and growing your own peppers.

What Can Substitute Guindilla Peppers?

Mild-heat peppers ideal as substitutes for guindilla chili peppers include:

  • Banana peppers (0-500 SHUs) for a sweet, tangy flavor.
  • Anaheim peppers (500-2,500 SHUs) for a tangy, smoky, sweet flavor.
  • Chilaca peppers (1,000-2,500 SHUs) for a floral, mildly tangy flavor when green or an earthy, slightly sweet flavor with raisin undertones when mature.
  • Cascabel peppers (1,500-2,500 SHUs) for a fruity flavor with hints of tobacco, woodsiness, smoke, earthiness, acidity, and nuttiness.
  • Espelette chili peppers (500-4,000 SHUs) for a fruity flavor when fresh or a slightly smoky flavor when dried.
  • Ancho chiles (1,000-2,000 SHUs) for a sweet, earthy, almost chocolatey flavor.


Peppers have become the meeting point for three of Alex's greatest passions—gardening, cooking and writing. He is happiest watching small plants grow big and heavy with produce, and he can't wait to harvest self-grown fresh produce for his kitchen. When he is not taking care of his pepper plants, you'll find him busy cooking and sampling different peppers as he seeks the next hotter pepper.

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