Wiri Wiri Pepper: Tiny, Spicy Cherry Tomato-Like Chiles

Wiri wiri pepper
Wiri wiri pepper is a staple in Guyanese cuisine and part of their rich culture. This hot chile has an innocent look similar to cherry tomatoes, but it packs a major punch of heat at 100,000-350,000 SHUs. Wiri wiri pepper is native to the South American coastal counter, and its high pungency and fruity and floral flavor make it a staple in Caribbean cuisines.

What Are Wiri Wiri Peppers?

Wiri wiri peppers are a cultivar of the capsicum frutescence species. The chile is classified as a hot pepper with a median heat rating of 225,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale.

Based on its berry-like appearance, wiri wiri pepper is also nick-named bird cherry pepper or hot cherry chiles. Other names include Guyana cherry and Guyana wiri wiri.

Aside from spicing Guyanese, Brazilian and Caribbean dishes, this rare pepper is also excellent for ornamental use.

Interestingly, most Guyanese children grow up eating this scorching pepper since it is part of almost every meal. Wiri wiri is small-sized, but don’t underestimate its fierce, slow-burning heat.

Wiri wiri is best used in dishes requiring lots of heat, including pepper rums, grilled meats, Caribbean crab backs, soups, and stews.


Wiri wiri peppers have the perfect blend of heat and flavor. They give a delicious, fruity, earthy, floral taste with some tomato-like tanginess.

The pepper’s aromatic, citrusy scent, similar to chai or teriyaki, makes it more lovable and easy to use with tropical fruits.


Wiri wiri is green when young before transitioning to orange and later a deep, vibrant red color. During spring, you’ll notice beautiful backyards in Guyana thanks to the wiri wiri pepper’s bright green leaves and white flowers.


The Guyana cherry closely resembles a round berry or cherry tomato. This chile has a beautiful appearance that is excellent for decorating your patio, garden, or backyard.


Judging by their size, wiri wiri’s heat level is unimaginable. The chiles are tiny and round. They are half an inch long and 0.5 inches wide, similar to mature red cherries.

The hot cherry pepper plant is short and can grow upright to three feet high on maturity. Its small size pods contain a high capsaicin concentration hence the intense heat.


A wiri wiri pepper is shaped like a wide berry/cherry or a tiny sphere. Some people liken the shape to a festive bulb, making this pepper ideal for ornamental purposes.


On touching a wiri pepper pod, it feels smooth, soft, firm, and shiny. You can easily be tempted to take a bite right away. Beware, the taut texture is misleading. Below the pepper’s smoothness lies heat-packed walls and seeds.


This hot pepper originated from Guyana, located south of the Brazilian rain forest. The South American coastal country has been growing and enjoying Wiri wiri peppers as part of its culture and traditional cuisines.

Due to the unique requisite growing climates, these peppers are rare to find fresh outside Brazil, the Caribbean, and South America. The Guyanese are keen on eating flavorful food. This explains why their traditional marinades, sauces, stews, and meats are never complete without wiri wiri peppers.

Wiri wiri pepper plant.
Wiri wiri pepper plant.

How Hot Is A Wiri Wiri Pepper?

With a rating of 100,000-350,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale, wiri wiri pepper packs a heat that’s on par with the mighty habanero chile (100,000-350,000 SHUs) and scotch bonnet pepper (100,000-350,000 SHUs).

Wiri wiri’s slow-building heat is nothing compared to the world’s hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper, which has a range of 1.5-2.2M SHUs.

Jalapeno chile is 12-140 times milder than wiri wiri, while the mildest wiri wiri matches the spiciness of the hottest Brazilian malagueta pepper (60,000-100,000 SHUs).

What’s The Difference Between A Wiri Wiri And A Ghost Pepper?

Ghost pepper and wiri wiri are both hot peppers with differences as follows:

  • Size: On average, a wiri wiri pepper is 0.5 inches long, whereas a ghost pepper is 2.5-3.5 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. Sometimes, the ghost pepper has irregular sizes.
  • Shape: The ghost pepper is shaped like a sphere with an elongated, slightly curved, tapered, pointed tip. On the other hand, wiri wiri is rounded and berry-like.
  • SHU/heat: While both are hot peppers, wiri wiris (100,000-350,000 SHUs) are 3-10 times milder than the ghost peppers (855,000-1,041,427 SHUs).
  • Taste: Wiri wiri brings a fruity, earthy, tangy, tomato-like flavor. Conversely, ghost peppers have a slightly fruity taste with an earthier and slightly smoky flavor.
  • Color: Wiri wiri’s color pattern starts green to orange and red when ripe. Ghost chiles are green when young before developing color variations, including red, orange, yellow, chocolate, and purple on ripening.

What Are Some Ways To Use Wiri Wiri Peppers?

If you can stand some serious heat, wiri wiri peppers are best used in the following ways:

  1. In authentic Guyanese hot sauce – Wiri wiri pepper is used as the main spicing ingredient for this sauce.
  2. Grilled beef, pork, chicken, and steak – Use thinly-sliced hot cherry pepper for a flavorful beef, pork, or chicken.
  3. With scrambled eggs – For a fruity flavor and an aromatic scent, add wiri wiri pepper to the butter to release its flavor and heat before scrambling eggs.
  4. Mashed or roasted potatoes – Serve wiri wiri sauces as a topping or dip sauce for mashed or roasted potatoes.
  5. As a raw healthy snack – If you’re bold enough, these peppers are also excellent eaten raw. However, take care as too spicy peppers may cause health complications, including nausea, headaches and abdominal pain.
  6. Authentic Guyanese curries – Use wiri wiri peppers to give the Guyanese chicken curry a unique fruity flavor.
  7. Stews, soups, and marinades – Use wiri wiri for intensely flavorful stews, soups, and marinades
chicken curry
Wiri wiri peppers add heat and flavor to traditional Guyanese and Caribbean stews, soups, and curries.

Where To Buy Wiri Wiri Peppers

Fresh wiri wiri peppers are readily available in grocery stores and farmers’ markets in South America, Brazil, and the Caribbean.

These fresh chiles are hard to find outside specific locations, but you can find powdered, dried, or wiri wiri flakes online.

Online stores, including Amazon and Etsy, sell pepper seeds and dried/powdered wiri wiri.

Substitutes For Wiri Wiri Peppers

Habanero peppers and scotch bonnet chiles are the best substitutes. Both peppers have wiri wiri’s exact heat level and fruity flavor.

Jalapeno may also deliver wiri wiri’s taste but with much milder heat.

Can You Grow Wiri Wiri Peppers?

Growing wiri wiri peppers is an excellent way to have a constant supply in the summer months. The peppers are disease and pest-resistant and low-maintenance.

The peppers do well if you live in geographical areas with warm weather, adequate sunlight, ample water, and well-drained loamy soils.

Germination often takes 2-4 weeks. Pepper fruits are ready for harvesting in 90 days. You can also grow in containers with drainage holes and use organic fertilizers for healthy peppers.


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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