Padron Peppers: Spanish Frying Pepper That’s Hot – Or Not

padron peppers
Padron peppers are a darling to Spanish cuisine lovers. These chiles are natives of Spain and belong to the Spanish heirloom variety that represents the cultural heritage of Spaniards. Their mild to medium heat and sweet taste make them perfect for spicing various authentic dishes, but you never know how spicy they’ll be!

What Are Padron Peppers?

Also known as Herbon peppers or pimiento de Padron, the pepper is originally from South America. In the 16th century, Spanish monks brought them to their monastery in a small village called Herbon, Padron municipality, Galicia province of Northwest Spain.

Herbon chiles belong to the capsicum annuum species. Usually, Padron peppers are mild in spice, but due to genetics and environmental factors, every once in a while you’ll get an unexpected hot pepper with more heat, closer to a jalapeno’s.

Like the Spanish saying goes, “unos pican otros no,” which means, “some bite, others don’t,” the heat level varies from pod to pod.

Padron peppers have a unique nutty taste, making them excellent for traditional Spanish cuisines, like blistered peppers for tapas dishes.

Fresh, green Padron peppers.
Fresh, green Padron peppers.


Padron peppers are unique as individual peppers have different sizes. On average, they are 2-4 inches long (5-10 cm), while a mature Padron pepper plant may get up to 2 meters high.


Pimiento de Padron has a conical, crinkled shape with curvy jalapeno-like pods. They resemble the shape of a habanada pepper, a heatless habanero pepper. Occasionally, your peppers may come in other irregular sizes with a furrowed look and tapered ends.


Chile Padron has a sweet taste and mild spiciness. It has a grassy, piquant, vegetal, nutty flavor with a hint of smokiness. Herbon pepper’s robust flavor and sweetness intensify towards full ripening.


Young Padron chiles are green. The bright green hue turns to yellow-green and eventually red on ripening. Mostly, Padron peppers are best when green and immature. Some people love it red and fully ripened.


Despite their crinkled, furrowed appearance, the Padron’s skin is smooth. It also has a taut, waxy feel and may get bumpy when mature.

Nutritional Value

Aside from spicing meals, Herbon peppers are nutrient-packed. The nutrients are good for digestion, skin, and cardiovascular health. Padron peppers are rich in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6
  • Dietary fiber
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Niacin

How Hot Are Padron Peppers?

With a range of 500-2,500 SHUs on the Scoville scale, Padron peppers are mild in spice. The chiles pack similar heat as the hottest banana pepper (0-500 SHUs). If you’re looking for Padron’s exact heat match, Anaheim pepper ranges between 500-2,500 Scoville heat units.

Pardons are ten times milder than a typical jalapeno pepper. However, if you’re luck (or unluck) enough to find a rare spicy Herbon chile, its pungency matches that of the mildest jalapeno (2,500 SHUs).

The scientific reason why some Padron peppers are hotter than others is due to genetics and how specific peppers interact with the environment.

How Are Padron Peppers Prepared?

The moderate heat and unique grassy, vegetal, nutty flavor, make Padron peppers famous worldwide.

The most popular way of using Padron peppers is in making the traditional Spanish tapas dish of pan-fried blistered peppers.

You can also replace serrano chiles with pimiento de padron for a tasty chiles toreadoes or huevos rotos.

Here’s a quick and easy Padron peppers recipe for your homemade tapas.

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blistered padron pepper

Pan-Fried Padron Peppers Tapas

  • Author: Regie


Use a large cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan that can get very hot to blister the peppers.


Units Scale

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pound whole green Padron peppers

Coarse sea salt to taste


  • Put the skillet on high heat, add olive oil, and give it time to heat evenly.
  • Once the oil heats, place your peppers in the skillet. Flip every 5 minutes until they blister.
  • Remove from the heat, and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.

That’s it! Serve your Spanish tapas hot as an appetizer, side dish or with bread chunks.

Is A Padron Pepper A Jalapeno?

No. Padron and jalapenos are not the same peppers, though they share some similarities and differences:

  • Color: The Padron and jalapeno chiles have a similar color pattern. Both peppers are green when young and turn red on ripening.
  • Taste: Green Herbon chiles possess an earthy, smoky, nutty flavor, whereas young Jalapenos have a more grassy, verdant, and bitter taste.
  • Size: Padron peppers (2-4 inches) are slightly longer than jalapenos (2-3.5 inches). They also tend to have more folds and creases, whereas jalapenos are usually smooth and elongated with few irregularities to their shape.
  • SHU/Pungency: Jalapeno chiles range within 2,500-8,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale, making them ten times spicier than Padron peppers (500-2,500). However, around 10% of Herbon chiles can rate 2,500 SHUs like a mild jalapeno.
  • Uses: Chile Padron is excellent in dishes requiring mild heat and a unique sweetness. Jalapeno peppers are great if you need extra heat that doesn’t burn.

Are Padron And Shishito Peppers The Same?

Padron and shishito peppers are not the same. However, they are very similar, making them excellent substitutes for each other.

  • Origin: Herbons are native to Spain, while shishito peppers originated from Japan.
  • Spiciness: Padron peppers are almost thirteen times hotter than shishitos (50-200 SHUs).
  • Flavor: These two peppers are excellent for people who don’t like the burning sensation of hot peppers. However, their flavors are uniquely different. Padron peppers are earthy, nutty, and smoky. On the other hand, shishito chile has a citrusy, less-grassy taste with a touch of smokiness.
  • Uses: Pardons and shishitos have thin walls. This similarity makes them best for quick pan-frying recipes. Like the Spanish tapas using Padron chiles, you can also fry shishitos with olive oil and salt to make a delicious snack.
  • Size: Both peppers average 2-4 inches long.
  • Shape: Padron and shishito peppers have similar elongated shapes that can be confusing.
blistered padron peppers
Both Padron and shishito peppers are excellent pan-fried and seasoned with olive oil and sea salt.

Where To Buy Padron Peppers

Since Padron peppers are commonly used fresh, it’s rare to find them dried online. Check the produce section of your supermarket, local farmers’ market, or a chili farmer near you.

Growing your Padron peppers is the best way to ensure constant supply in warm months. Padron pepper seeds are available in online stores such as Amazon.

Can You Grow Padron Peppers?

Yes. Padron peppers grow best indoors or in a greenhouse. Choose a sunny spot away from the wind when transplanting the pepper plants outdoors.

Avoid frosty climates, and use compost before planting for a healthy crop. Germination occurs within 10-21 days.

After transplanting, you’ll only wait 80-85 days to harvest your chiles. If you love growing in containers, ensure it has enough soil and proper drainage.

Substitutes For Padron Pepper

Padron peppers may be hard to find. Use the following peppers instead:

Anaheim pepper  These mild chiles provide sweetness and smokiness, similar to Padrons. They are also harvested green, like chile Padron.

 Chile shishito – Though they have a lower heat level, shishitos have a slightly similar grassy taste with an additional citrusy flavor.

Aji DulceThis Latin-American chile provides a sweet, unique fruitiness and smokiness matching pimento de Padron pepper.


Aside from being a writer, Regie is a food lover. She loves adding chili to almost everything – apart from tea. Within her small compound, she has lots of red and green chilis that grow throughout the year. She looks forward to sharing her love and passion for pepper through crafting informational pieces that you’ll love. Happy reading!

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