Hot Paper Lantern: The Habanero Pepper For Northern Climates

hot paper lantern
The hot paper lantern pepper is famed for its short growing season, which endears it to chiliheads and growers in northern climates where the temperatures are cooler. They also surpass conventional habaneros in earliness, heat, size, sweetness, and flavor intensity.

What Are Hot Paper Lantern Peppers?

Hot paper lantern peppers are habanero-type chile peppers from Peru valued for their throat-blistering heat, large size, earliness, and fruity flavor. They are a cultivar in the Capsicum chinense species, which includes other notable varieties like scotch bonnet peppers. 

The hot paper lantern chili pepper is also called paper lantern habanero, habanero paper lantern, and hot paper lantern habanero.

You’ll love growing and using hot paper lantern peppers if you are a huge fan of habaneros for their sweet, fruity flavor. You might even ditch your conventional habaneros for these!

The hot paper lantern improves conventional habaneros like the orange habanero, peach habanero, and Peruvian white habanero. It is hotter, sweeter, fruitier, larger, more productive, and earlier to mature than the regular habanero.

Shorter Growing Season

While typical habanero peppers are ideal for warmer climates with several hours of daily sunshine, the hot paper lantern pepper is suitable for cooler northern climates since it has a shorter growing season—just two months after transplanting.

Most online seed catalogs actually market the hot paper habanero as the perfect hot pepper for northern climates.

hot paper lantern plant
Hot paper lantern plants are the perfect habanero for northern climates.


The paper lantern habanero is a three-color cycle pepper that goes from lime green to orange to scarlet red or orange-red when fully mature. The red ones are preferred for cooking, but you can harvest the peppers at any maturity stage.

Size And Shape

Hot paper lantern peppers take the shape of typical habaneros. They are elongated and Chinese lantern or paper lantern-shaped. They are conical and can have a straight to curved tapering profile that ends in a slim point.

The pendant pods are slightly longer than the regular habanero and grow up to four inches long and 1-1.25 inches wide when fully mature.


The waxy skin of a hot paper lantern pepper is smooth to slightly wrinkled with subtle creases. The peppers have thin, crisp flesh.


Being a habanero type, you can expect the hot paper lantern pepper to be sweet, but it’s even sweeter than a regular habanero. The pepper has a sweet, smoky, fruity flavor. Its flavor is as exciting as its slow heat.

How Hot Are Hot Paper Lantern Peppers?

A score of 150,000-400,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale means hot paper lanterns are among the hottest peppers in the Capsicum chinense species. 

For comparison, most habaneros scores 100,000-350,000 SHUs.

Other habanero peppers are hotter. The Roatan pumpkin habanero scores 100,000-500,000 SHUs, and the Caribbean red habanero hits 300,000-500,000 SHUs.

At its upper end, the hot paper lantern is as hot as the hottest habanero varieties, the red savina (350,000-577,000 SHUs) and chocolate habanero (425,000-577,000 SHUs).

How To Use Hot Paper Lanterns

The thin walls and sweet, fruity flavor of hot paper lantern peppers make them ideal for culinary uses such as:

  • Drying and crushing into pepper flakes or chili powder. You can also rehydrate whole-dried hot paper habaneros.
  • Pickling them to enhance their sweet tangy flavor.
  • Pickled hot paper lanterns as a dressing for burgers and sandwiches.
  • Fresh in hot sauces and tropical salsas like mango habanero salsa.
  • Cooking by roasting, simmering, sautéing, grilling, or frying.
  • As a substitute for conventional habaneros.
  • Cooking whole into curries, stews, and soups.
  • Seasoning marinades for grilled meats.
  • Stuff them with cheese before roasting.
  • Cooking into pepper jelly.
hot paper lantern peppers
Like all peppers, hot paper lanterns can be used at any stage.

Where To Buy Hot Paper Lanterns

Hot paper lantern peppers are hard to find in any form in US stores and supermarkets because they are not grown commercially. You might be lucky to source them from local growers or farmers’ markets.

Substitutes For Hot Paper Lantern Peppers

Since they are hard to find, you can try easier-to-source hot paper lantern alternatives. For their sweet, fruity flavor and simmering heat, you’ll want to first fall back on other habanero pepper, including:

  • Caribbean red habaneros
  • Peach habaneros 
  • Chocolate habaneros
  • Peruvian white habaneros
  • Roatan pumpkin habaneros
  • Red Savina habaneros

You can also try other Capsicum chinense varieties, like scotch bonnet peppers, with an index of 100,000-350,000 Scoville units.

Can You Grow Hot Paper Lantern Peppers?

Hot paper lantern hot peppers are easy to grow. They are compact plants that thrive in small spaces, making them ideal for growing pots or containers. You can also plant them outside in natural gardens.

Hot paper lantern pepper seeds are available on Amazon and various online seed catalogs. The hot pepper seeds take their sweet time to germinate: 4-10 weeks at optimal temperatures.

Given the prolonged germination period, you’ll want to pre-culture your seeds indoors at least 8-10 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant the young pepper plants outdoors once they develop a few sets of true leaves.

The open-pollinated hot paper habanero plant produces pendant pods that mature early in 70-90 days to lime green and red, respectively. They bear more fruits than the typical habaneros.


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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