Red Jalapenos: Green Jalapeno’s Spicier Relative

red jalapeno peppers
Red jalapenos look exactly like their green counterpart; the only difference is that they have been left on the plant longer to ripen. The result is a vibrant red color and a spicier pepper that's crisp, juicy, and perfect for virtually any type of cuisine.

What Is The Difference Between Green And Red Jalapeno Peppers?

Though they are Mexican and come from the same plant, red and green jalapeno peppers are slightly different in the following aspects:


Green jalapenos are often younger and harvested before full maturation. Red jalapenos are green peppers left on the stem longer until they’re fully ripened. The pods start as green before turning vibrant red upon ripening.

red jalapeno


Red jalapenos have a deeper, earthy flavor. Due to the longer growing period, they have more capsaicin, giving them a slightly higher heat level. On the contrary, green jalapenos are less spicy and have a fresh, crispy, grassy taste.

Nutritional value

A red jalapeno pepper has more capsaicin, hence better nutritional content than green jalapenos lower in capsaicin.

While all peppers are a healthy addition to your diet, capsaicin determines the level of spiciness and nutrition in any pod.

Additional names

Red jalapeno has other names that the green one doesn’t. Huachinango, Chile Gordo (fat chili pepper), and Chipotle (dried/smoked Chile) are some alternative names for the red jalapeno pepper.


Since green jalapenos are harvested early before maturing, they are readily available in commercial markets worldwide. Conversely, red jalapenos are rare to find since they take time to grow and need more maintenance in the field.

How hot are red jalapenos?

Depending on their growing environment, red jalapenos have a range of 2,500-8,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, similar to the Fresno Chile (2,500-10,000 SHU).

They are hotter than Poblano (1,000-2,000 SHU), cubanelle pepper (1,000 SHU), and Pasilla (1,000-2,500 SHU).

Though a close alternative due to its medium heat level, Serrano Chile is 10,000-20,000 SHU, making it 2-3 times spicier than red jalapenos.

Cayenne pepper (30,000-50,000 SHU) is hotter than red jalapeno and is a strong heat source. With a range of 100,000-350,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, Habanero is extremely hot. Thai bird’s eye chile (30,000-50,000 SHU) is 15-20 times hotter than a red jalapeno pepper.

How to cook with red Jalapeno peppers

Jalapeno is among the most versatile and popular hot peppers across many cuisines. You can use red and green ones interchangeably in the same dishes depending on your desired spiciness.

Red jalapenos are sweet and hot, great for making hot sauces, soups, and stews, while the green types are preferable for giving sandwiches or salads a grassy taste.

Other popular uses for red jalapenos include:

Stuffed jalapenos

Hollowed-out red jalapeno chilies create a delicious vessel for stuffing meat, cheese, and other fillings into before roasting, frying, or grilling.

Raw jalapeno peppers

  • Raw, thinly-sliced red jalapenos provide medium heat when mixed with your favorite vegetable salad.
  • You can add the slices to your mango and avocado salsa for a relatively hot, fresh taste.
  • When added to your cream cheese, cucumber and avocado salad, red jalapeno gives a spicy touch to your creamy green goodness.

Chipotle pepper

Smoked jalapeno powder gives any of your dishes a distinctive hot and smoky taste.

Muddled red jalapenos

Muddled jalapenos up your mixed drinks game if you love spicy beverages. Try this recipe for a spicy margarita – swap red jalapeno coins for green ones for a kick (and a festive holiday beverage!).

spicy margarita jalapeno

Jalapeno appetizers

Add some grated or sliced red jalapeno pepper to potato skins or nachos for a fresh and spicy twist on the classic green jalapeno. Like green jalapenos, the red variety are equally as delicious pickled!

Texas toothpicks

A zesty twist on the classic onion ring! Thinly slice red jalapenos, bread and fry them for a crunchy, spicy treat. Dip them in a chile de arbol crema, or serve them on top of a salad!

Red jalapenos make a delicious topping for cuisines such as Vietnamese Pho, Banh mi, sandwiches and pizza.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Red Jalapenos?

The longer peppers are left on the vine, the more vitamins and antioxidants it contains.

Red jalapeno pepper is in the class of capsicum annuum. Like other fruits, it contains vitamins A, C, K and B6. It’s also a good source of copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, fiber and iron essential for good health.

Further, capsaicin, the chemical compound that triggers the brain to feel spiciness, has anti-inflammatory properties.

Eating red jalapenos has the following health benefits:


Red jalapeno contains high amounts of essential oil, capsaicin, which is excellent for anti-aging. Since it’s a type of red chili, it’s packed with nutrients that improve the quality of life. In an NIH study, adults who consumed hot red chili had a 13% lower risk of death than those who didn’t.

Natural pain reliever

Red jalapeno is a natural pain reliever used in pain management creams/ointments. The red jalapeno ingredient blocks pain receptors to relieve nerve discomfort, arthritis, or sore muscles when applied to the pain area.

Promotes weight loss

Red jalapenos have Capsaicinoids which promote weight loss by increasing body metabolism, fat burn, reducing abdominal fats, and controlling appetite.

Prevent stomach ulcers

While there’s a notion that high consumption of red chili causes stomach ulcers, the opposite is true. Red jalapeno pepper inhibits acid secretion hence protecting your stomach.

Aids in digestion and bowel movement

This chile is rich in fiber, improving digestion and promoting regular bowel movements.

Promotes healthy skin

Aside from flavoring your food, vitamin C cleanses your skin, while vitamin B6 gives you firmer, healthier skin. Carotene also protects your skin cells.

Keeps the heart healthier

Eating red jalapeno pepper helps fight blood cholesterol and obesity, enhances blood flow, and protects your heart.

Can you grow red jalapenos?

Yes, red jalapenos are rare in markets, so growing them is an easier option to get them to your kitchen.

These peppers are the easiest to grow. You only need warm temperatures, ample water, sunlight, good drainage, and organic matter.

Additionally, red jalapenos thrive well when planted indoors or outdoors. The pepper plant takes only 3-4 months from planting to harvesting.

Where to buy red jalapenos

Red jalapeno peppers can be hard to find, unlike green ones.

You may buy directly from local farmers if you live near jalapeno growing areas. Or, you can easily grow your own as you would any other chili pepper in your garden.

Substitutes for Red Jalapenos

If you want to try a new recipe and can’t find red jalapeno peppers, use the following alternatives:

Red Serrano peppers

Red Serranos (10,000-20,000 Scoville heat units) are 2-4 times hotter than red jalapenos. However, they have a similar color on ripening, with a sweet crispy taste closer to red jalapenos. If you’re looking for something similar to red jalapeno chile pepper, red Serrano is a good fit.

Red Anaheim peppers

In the absence of red jalapeno, red Anaheim pepper will do. Despite Anaheim (500-1,000 SHU) being significantly milder in spice than jalapenos, they have a sweet peppery flavor that reminds you of jalapenos.


This is a perfect substitute for red jalapenos. Fresno (2,500-10,000 SHU) has a heat level similar to red jalapenos (2,500-8,000 SHU). They also have the same shape and color; the only distinctive difference being their fruity, smoky taste.


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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