Jalapeno or Habanero

Habanero Vs. Jalapeno

Here we have two of the most popular chilies on the planet. But how similar are they really? How much of a difference between the two is there in overall spiciness? Do they taste different? Are they easily findable in grocery stores?


Habanero vs. Jalapeno

Habanero peppers

jalapeño pepper

How Hot?

This is really a no contest between these two peppers. The habanero chili makes the jalapeno look like an ice cube.  What’s the difference?

Jalapenos range from 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville heat scale. That puts them in the lower rung of medium-hot peppers.  Habaneros range from 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units, placing them squarely in the upper reaches of the Scoville scale, right below the super-hot peppers.

Let’s put this another way – the hottest habanero would be 140 times hotter than the mildest jalapeno. That’s the range of the heat difference, and it’s a big one. It may come as a surprise to some since many people think of jalapenos being a lot hotter than they really are.


Beyond the heat, there is a definite taste difference. Habaneros have a slightly sweet hot to them. It’s one of the reasons this chili works so well in hot sauces, especially hot sauces that contain sweet ingredients like tropical fruits. Jalapeno peppers taste crisper, much closer to a green bell pepper in overall taste. Then there are dried and roasted jalapenos (otherwise known as Chipotle) which take on an earthy taste perfect for barbecue and marinades.

Are they available fresh?

The jalapeno pepper is arguably the most popular hot pepper around. Most grocery stores carry them, and you see them in more places than your local market these days too. More and more sandwich shops are carrying jalapeños next to the mild banana peppers as an option to spice up a sandwich. And spicy drinks, like the jalapeno margarita, are popping up in more restaurants. This is a level of spiciness that’s become mainstream.The habanero is popular too, but it comes nowhere near the overall availability of the jalapeno. Some upper-end grocery stores may carry fresh habanero peppers, but not very often.  You need to have a serious taste for spicy to really jump to the habanero, so there’s not a big enough audience yet for most grocers to carry, let alone the concerns from unhappy customers unaware of how hot this pepper really is.

How many products use these peppers?

Here’s where habanero peppers do get competitive with jalapenos in stores. For both habanero and jalapeno peppers, there’s a wide world of products surrounding them. There’s chili powders, hot sauces, salsas…you name it. Jalapeno chilies are the power behind the famous Sriracha hot sauce and many more, and habaneros are quickly becoming the ingredient of choice for some of the hottest hot sauces you’ll find on store shelves. If you’re shopping online, the variety difference is really negligible here. There’s a ton of products for both chilies.


There are definite differences between these two chilies, the heat being the biggest one. For that, and the taste difference, substituting a habanero for a jalapeno (or vice versa) is not typical. They don’t work interchangeably like a jalapeno and serrano pepper do (or a habanero and a Scotch bonnet).

Still, we are talking about two of the most popular chilies around, so if your taste buds can handle habanero heat, find a place for both in your kitchen. They are two different worlds of spicy, but both deliver on their hype.

I personally use and prefer the jalapenos to the habanero due to the severe heat of the latter.  I am not a fan of such hot items that I cannot enjoy the taste, I put a little ice in my coffee every day just to cool it off enough to drink.

I do have a really great recipe for Smoked Jalapenos, check it here.

What are your thoughts on using peppers in cooking?  Any good recipes I can check out and perhaps post on my site?  Please let me know your thoughts.  Thanks

4 Comments on "Jalapeno or Habanero"

  1. Being from Texas, I would have to agree that the habanero wins hands down. Much more flavor and spiciness. In a pinch, I will pull out my jar of jalapenos. But to me, they taste similar to pickles. Habaneros are definitely better. I don’t understand why the jalapeno is so popular in dishes.

    • WOW! You impress me. I love the first bite of sweetness from the habanero but once that extreme heat hits my tongue, ouch!!!
      I pay for that sweet taste for hours to come. I don’t see how people can eat the habaneros. You certainly do see a lot of spices that are made from them anymore. For me to sit and enjoy a pepper, it has to be the jalapeno.
      Glad you enjoyed the post. Please come back anytime. This site is still growing with information added each day so come back to see what has been added in the days to come.

  2. I prefer Jalapeno diced and mixed in with food directly. It’s hot level, for me anyways, is just right to complement food. Habanero’s flavor come out when incorporated into a hot sauce, or a quantity of the pepper is added to a full pot of soup or stew. So, diluted, to some point in my opinion For my taste, Hababero’s are just too strong. I will say, I know a guy who eats them whole… and it just amazes me!

    • Thanks for stopping by my site.
      I agree the habaneros are just way too hot for me. I don’t mind them in a spice mix of some sort but they are hot and not my favorite.
      I do know people that will eat them or put them directly into a salsa, wow! I cannot do it. I will stick with the heat of the jalapeno. I am not a fan of something so hot I cannot enjoy it.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing, come back anytime.

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