Jalapeños: Types, Taste, and Uses

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 29, 2022

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The jalapeño ( or , ) is a medium-sized chili pepper. A mature jalapeño fruit is long, and is commonly picked and consumed while still green, but occasionally it is allowed to fully ripen and turn crimson red.

Jalapenos are a type of chili pepper that originated in Mexico. They’re a medium-sized round pepper with a smooth flesh and a medium level of spiciness. Their Scoville scale range is 4,000 to 8,500.

In this article, we’ll explore the history, types, and uses of this versatile chili pepper.

What are jalapenos

Get to Know the Versatile and Spicy Jalapeños

Jalapeños are a type of chili pepper that originated in Mexico and are now popular all over the world. They are medium-sized, with a round, firm, smooth flesh that can range from 5-10 cm long and 25-38 mm wide. Jalapeños have a spicy flavor that can range from mild to hot, with Scoville heat units of 4,000 to 8,500.

Types and Varieties of Jalapeños

There are different types and varieties of jalapeños, and each has its own unique flavor and heat level. Some of the most popular types include:

  • Early Jalapeño: This variety is produced earlier in the season and has a milder flavor.
  • Tam Jalapeño: This variety is larger and has a sweeter flavor.
  • Mucho Nacho Jalapeño: This variety is larger and hotter than the regular jalapeño.

Where to Buy Jalapeños

Jalapeños can be found in most grocery stores, either fresh or canned. When buying fresh jalapeños, look for ones that are firm, smooth, and free of blemishes.

How to Store Jalapeños

To keep jalapeños fresh, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They can last up to two weeks.

How to Use Jalapeños in Dishes

Jalapeños are a versatile ingredient that can add a spicy kick to many dishes. Here are some ideas:

  • Add diced jalapeños to guacamole or salsa for extra flavor.
  • Mix chopped jalapeños into cornbread batter for a spicy twist.
  • Use jalapeños to add heat to chili, soups, or stews.
  • Add sliced jalapeños to sandwiches or burgers for a spicy crunch.

An Easy Recipe to Follow: Pickled Jalapeños

Pickled jalapeños are a great way to preserve the peppers and add flavor to dishes. Here’s an easy recipe to follow:


  • 1 lb jalapeños, sliced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

1. In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and garlic. Bring to a boil.
2. Add sliced jalapeños to the saucepan and let simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Transfer jalapeños and liquid to a jar and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.

Jalapeños are a spicy and versatile ingredient that can add flavor to many dishes. Whether you’re using them fresh or pickled, they’re sure to add a kick to your meals.

Get to Know the Different Types of Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are known for their heat, but did you know that there are different levels of spiciness among the different types of jalapenos? The heat of a jalapeno pepper is measured on the Scoville scale, which ranges from 0 (no heat) to over 2 million (extremely hot). Here are some of the most commonly found jalapeno pepper varieties and their corresponding Scoville heat units (SHU):

  • Regular green jalapenos: 2,500-8,000 SHU
  • Mucho Nacho jalapenos: 5,000-8,000 SHU
  • Purple jalapenos: 2,500-8,000 SHU
  • Black jalapenos: 2,500-8,000 SHU
  • Jalapeno M: 2,500-8,000 SHU
  • Jalapeno Early: 2,500-8,000 SHU
  • Jalapeno TAM Mild: 0-1,000 SHU
  • Jalapeno TAM Mild Jaloro: 0-1,000 SHU

Tips for Picking and Storing Jalapeno Peppers

When picking jalapeno peppers, look for firm, smooth peppers with a bright color. Avoid peppers with soft spots or blemishes. To store jalapeno peppers, remove any stems and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will last for up to two weeks. If you want to freeze jalapeno peppers, slice them thin and spread them out on a baking sheet. Freeze for 30 minutes, then transfer to a freezer bag. They will last for up to six months.

Recipes Using Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are a great addition to many recipes, from appetizers (here are great smoked options) to main dishes. Here are some recipe ideas to try:

  • Jalapeno poppers: Cut jalapeno peppers in half, remove the seeds and fill with a mixture of cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes.
  • Jalapeno cornbread: Add diced jalapeno peppers to your favorite cornbread recipe for a spicy twist.
  • Jalapeno salsa: Mix diced jalapeno peppers with diced tomatoes, onions, and cilantro for a fresh and spicy salsa.
  • Jalapeno margarita: Muddle a few slices of jalapeno pepper in a shaker with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a glass and enjoy!

Remember, the best way to get to know the different types of jalapeno peppers is to try them out for yourself!

What’s the Flavor of Jalapeños?

Jalapeño peppers are one of the most common varieties of peppers found in the United States. They have a fresh, spicy flavor that is similar to a green bell pepper, but with a hotter kick. The overall taste of jalapeños can vary widely among individual peppers, ranging from mild to very hot.

Green vs. Ripened Jalapeños

Jalapeños are usually picked green and used in their unripened state. However, they can turn red as they ripen, both on and off the plant. Ripened jalapeños tend to have a sweeter taste and a median level of spiciness.

Heat and Spiciness

The spiciness of jalapeños is characterized by the presence of capsaicin, a chemical compound found in the pepper’s cavity. The heat level of jalapeños can vary depending on factors such as age, growing conditions, and hybridization. The Scoville Heat Units (SHU) of jalapeños range from 2,500 to 8,000, making them a moderate to hot pepper (here’s the best wood to smoke jalapenos).

Flavor Profile

Jalapeños have a vegetal flavor that is earthy and slightly sweet. When roasted, they develop a smoky flavor that adds depth to dishes. They tend to be stouter than other peppers, such as serranos, and have a thicker flesh.

Colors and Varieties

Jalapeños come in different colors, with the most common being green. However, there are also beautiful purple jalapeños that are bred for their color. There are also hybridized versions of jalapeños that have been bred for their flavor and heat level.

Uses in Cooking

Jalapeños are a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, but can also be found in other types of cuisine. Some popular uses for jalapeños include:

  • Salsa and guacamole
  • Tacos and burritos
  • Chili and stews
  • Pizza and sandwiches
  • Pickling and canning

Spice Up Your Life: Creative Ways to Use Jalapeños

Jalapeños are a great way to add some heat to your dishes. Here are some ways to incorporate them into your recipes:

  • Slice them up and add them to your favorite stir-fry or curry for an extra kick.
  • Combine diced jalapeños with sweet potatoes and bacon for a delicious breakfast hash.
  • Make traditional cowboy poppers by slicing jalapeños in half, removing the excess seeds and placing a mixture of cream cheese and bacon inside. Bake until crisp and enjoy!

Playing with Jalapeños

Jalapeños are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, but there are so many other ways to use them! Here are some new ideas to try:

  • Add sliced jalapeños to your favorite pizza for a spicy twist.
  • Mix diced jalapeños into your guacamole for an extra kick.
  • Use jalapeños as a topping for your baked potatoes instead of the traditional sour cream and chives.

Learning to Make Jalapeño Poppers

Jalapeño poppers are a popular appetizer that are easy to make. Here’s a step-by-step process:

  1. Cut the jalapeños in half and remove the excess seeds.
  2. Let the jalapeños cool in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Fill each jalapeño half with a mixture of cream cheese and bacon.
  4. Place the jalapeño poppers in the air fryer or bake in the oven until crisp.
  5. Enjoy your delicious and spicy jalapeño poppers!

Remember, the best way to find out how you like to use jalapeños is by experimenting and playing with different recipes. Don’t be afraid to add a little heat to your dishes and enjoy the spicy goodness that jalapeños have to offer!

Where to Get Your Hands on Jalapeños

Before using jalapeños, it’s important to wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt or bacteria. Here’s how to do it:

  • Rinse the peppers under cold running water.
  • Use a vegetable brush to gently scrub the surface of the pepper.
  • Dry the peppers with a paper towel.

To store jalapeños, place them in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. They should last for up to a week.

Jalapeño Recipes

Jalapeños can be used in a variety of dishes, from salsas and guacamole to marinades and stir-fries. Here are some recipe ideas to get you started:

  • Jalapeño poppers: Cut jalapeños in half, remove the seeds and stuff them with cream cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the peppers are tender.
  • Jalapeño salsa: Combine diced jalapeños, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro for a spicy salsa that pairs well with tortilla chips.
  • Jalapeño margarita: Mix tequila, lime juice, and jalapeño slices for a spicy twist on a classic cocktail.

When using jalapeños in recipes, be sure to taste them first to gauge their heat level. You can also remove the seeds and membranes to reduce the heat.

Keeping Your Jalapeños Fresh: A Guide to Storing Jalapeño Peppers

Storing jalapeños correctly can mean the difference between fiery, fresh peppers and moldy, gone-to-waste ones. Proper storage ensures that your jalapeños stay fresh and flavorful for as long as possible.

Methods for Storing Jalapeños

There are a variety of methods for storing jalapeños, depending on how you plan to use them. Here are some options to consider:

  • Store whole jalapeños in a paper bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. This will keep them fresh for a short period of time.
  • To store sliced or diced jalapeños in the refrigerator, keep them in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. This will allow them to stay fresh for a longer period of time.
  • If you prefer to dry your jalapeños, you can cut them into strips and place them on a sheet pan in a low-temperature oven until they are fully dried. This process takes a few hours, but the dried jalapeños can be stored in an airtight container for a long time and used in a variety of dishes.
  • Another option is to pickle your jalapeños. Simply cut them into rings or slices, add them to a jar with vinegar and water, and let them sit for a few days. This is an excellent way to save jalapeños that are starting to go bad and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Choosing the Best Storage Method

The storage method you choose will depend on how you plan to use your jalapeños. If you need them for a dish in the near future, storing them in the refrigerator is the best option. If you want to keep them for a longer period of time, drying or pickling them is the way to go.

Tips for Proper Preparation and Storage

Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing and storing jalapeños:

  • Always clean your jalapeños before storing them.
  • Remove any excess water from the jalapeños before storing them to prevent mold from appearing.
  • If you notice mold on your jalapeños, discard them immediately.
  • Depending on the quality of the jalapeños you’ve picked, they may require different storage methods.
  • When storing jalapeños in the refrigerator, make sure to keep them away from other foods that may absorb their fiery flavor.
  • If you love spicy food, jalapeño sauce is a great way to use up any excess jalapeños. Simply blend them with vinegar and salt until smooth and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Learning More About Storing Jalapeños

If you’re new to storing jalapeños, doing some research can help you decide which method is right for you. Experimenting with different methods can also be a fun way to learn more about the different ways jalapeños can be used in the kitchen.

When Jalapeños Are Not Available: Finding the Perfect Substitute

Jalapeño pepper is a staple ingredient in many recipes, from sauces to grilled dishes. However, it’s not always available in supermarkets or local stores. Sometimes, people might prefer a milder or spicier alternative to jalapeño pepper. Whatever the reason, it’s essential to find a suitable substitute that brings a similar taste profile to your dish.

The Benefits of Using Substitutes for Jalapeño Pepper

Using substitutes for jalapeño pepper offers several benefits, including:

  • A wider range of flavors and heat levels to choose from.
  • The ability to find a substitute that’s available in your local store.
  • The opportunity to experiment with different varieties of peppers and find your preferred choice.
  • The essential element of adding a spicy kick to your dish without compromising the taste.

Green or Red: Which Jalapeño Pepper is Better?

When it comes to jalapeño peppers, the color can make a difference in both taste and texture. Here are some things to consider:

  • Green jalapeños are picked early in the ripening process, while red jalapeños are left on the vine to mature. This means that green jalapeños are generally milder and have a slightly grassy flavor, while red jalapeños are spicier and have a sweeter, fruitier taste.
  • The longer a jalapeño pepper stays on the vine, the more vitamin C it will contain. Red jalapeños have a higher concentration of vitamin C than green jalapeños.
  • If you’re looking for a jalapeño with a little extra kick, go for the red variety. The capsaicin concentration is higher in red jalapeños, which means they are hotter than their green counterparts.


Both green and red jalapeños can be used in a variety of dishes, but there are some differences to keep in mind:

  • Green jalapeños are a staple in Mexican cuisine and can be found in everything from salsa to guacamole to chili. They are also commonly used in pickling and canning.
  • Red jalapeños are often used in Asian cuisine, particularly in Thai and Vietnamese dishes. They are also great for adding a pop of color to salads and other dishes.
  • If you’re using jalapeños in a recipe and want to tone down the heat, remove the seeds and white membrane from the pepper. This is where most of the capsaicin is concentrated.


Whether you prefer green or red jalapeños, you should be able to find them at most grocery stores. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Green jalapeños are more commonly available than red jalapeños, especially in the United States.
  • If you can’t find fresh red jalapeños at your local store, look for them in Asian markets or specialty stores.
  • If you can’t find either variety fresh, you can usually find them canned or pickled.

Health Benefits

Jalapeño peppers, regardless of their color, offer a number of health benefits. Here are a few:

  • Jalapeños are a good source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health and blood clotting.
  • Capsaicin, the compound that gives jalapeños their heat, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
  • Some studies have suggested that capsaicin may also help with weight loss by increasing metabolism and reducing appetite.

Jalapeños vs Serranos: The Spicy Showdown

When it comes to heat, serranos are the spicier choice. They are two to five times hotter than jalapeños, which means they pack a bigger punch. If you’re looking for an extra kick in your dish, serranos are the way to go. However, if you want a milder spice level, jalapeños are a better choice.

Size and Appearance: Jalapeños vs Serranos

Jalapeños and serranos are similar in appearance, but there are a couple of key differences. Jalapeños are bigger and longer, usually measuring around 2-3 inches in length. They are also thicker and have a smoother outside with a dark green color that turns red as they ripen. Serranos, on the other hand, are smaller and thinner, usually measuring around 1-2 inches in length. They have a bumpy outside with a bright green color that turns orange or red as they ripen.

Recipes and Health Benefits: Jalapeños vs Serranos

Jalapeños and serranos can be used in a variety of recipes, from simple guacamole to complex sauces. They are also a great source of vitamin C and other health benefits. If you’re making a dish that calls for jalapeños but you want to use serranos instead, keep in mind that serranos are spicier, so you may need to adjust the amount you use. Always read the recipe carefully and choose the right pepper for the dish.


So there you have it- the history, the heat, and the uses of jalapenos. 

They’re a great way to add some spice to your life, so don’t be afraid to try them!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.