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The Difference Between Habanero and Jalapeño Peppers

The Difference Between Habanero and Jalapeño Peppers

Jalapeño and habanero peppers are two of the most popular chilli peppers in the world. Here at Sauce Shop, they’re our most used chillies for our range of award-winning chilli and hot sauces, but what are the differences between the two? How hot are they? and what do they taste like?

Read on and we’ll explain.

What do Habaneros and Jalapeños taste like?

Despite both Habanero and Jalapeños chillies belonging to the Capsicum genus, they have their differences when it comes to flavour. Habaneros are fruity, floral, citrusy and sweet, which nicely offsets the heat they deliver. They're pretty similar in profile to the Scotch Bonnet chilli, which is around the same heat level but are slightly sweeter (that's why we use them in our Scotch Bonnet Chilli Jam). They can be a pretty intense chilli so we’d recommend using sparingly in any recipes! 

Jalapeños offer a more neutral flavour, they’re a little more earthy and are less sweet compared to habaneros. If you’re looking for a versatile chilli pepper to include in recipes or start off experimenting with, then this chilli is a great option.

As with lots of foods, the flavour profile can be tweaked somewhat. All of our hot sauces feature our Signature Chilli Mash (more about that here). We take chillies, mix them with salt, and seal them in barrels. This is where the fermentation happens. After 2-3 weeks, our chilli peppers have taken on a wealth of complex new flavours and are ready to be used in making our hot sauces.

How hot are Habaneros and Jalapeños?

One major difference between the two chilli peppers is their heat level. Habaneros are a very hot chilli, known for their intense heat. In Scoville Heat Units (SHU), sitting somewhere typically between 100,000 and 350,000 SHU. The spiciest sauce in our range is our 2-star Great Taste Award winning Habanero Ketchup – the recipe is actually made up of 60% habanero peppers. It’s a very, very spicy ketchup! 

Jalapeños are a much milder chilli, ranging from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU meaning they’re more suited for using in larger quantities or to provide a subtle kick to a recipe. Due to their versatility, here at Sauce Shop we use them in most of our hot sauces. 

Where do Habaneros and Jalapeños come from?

Habaneros are believed to have been discovered in Cuba before being steadily introduced into Mexican food culture in the 16th century and then spread across the world. The pepper is believed to be named after the Cuban city of La Habana. Jalapeños are also linked to Mexico. They have their origins firmly rooted in the city of Xalapa where they were first grown. Now, they’re a very common ingredient in many Mexican dishes.

The best way to cook with Habaneros and Jalapeños 

In terms how to use a habanero pepper, they pair perfectly with sweeter more tropical dishes. If you’re looking to make some chicken tacos and want a fruity punch of heat, then drizzle over a habanero-based chilli sauce. You could finely dice them and add to a salsa to deliver some sweet heat. If you’re searching for a fruity, habanero chilli sauce, why not try our Habanero Hot Sauce which features these fiery chillies and lots of juicy mango.

As Jalapeños are a milder chilli then a habanero, they’re likely to fit with more of your dishes. Eat whole by making things like jalapeño poppers, or chopped and sprinkled on loaded fries, enchiladas, in guacamole and more.

If you're already the proud owner of some Sauce Shop hot sauces, then check out this page for hot & spicy recipe ideas.

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