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The Main Differences Between Red And Green Jalapeno Peppers

Quick Answer: What Is The Difference Between Red And Green Jalapeño Peppers? 

Red jalapeno peppers are actually the same variant as green jalapeno peppers but have simply been allowed to grow for a longer period of time on the vine. This longer maturation process causes the pepper to turn from green to red. In terms of flavor, red peppers are spicier than green ones, as they contain more of the chemical that produces heat (capsaicin). In addition, Red Jalapeno vs Green possess an element of sweetness that is absent in green peppers.


Having grown up in a small town in Ontario in a family where salt and pepper were the only spices to make an appearance at mealtime, the mere mention of the word jalapeno starts to make my eyes water. 

I never paid much attention to my spice intolerance- most of my friends were also exposed to equally mild foods. 

It wasn’t until I moved abroad and spent time in Spain that I truly realized the full extent of the crime my parents had committed against me. 

Please, I am begging you, if you ever take on the great responsibility that is having offspring, please diversify their taste palette. 

I can remember the first time my Mexican friend gave me a taste of her chipotle. All I will say is that it ended in me coughing extensively, chugging anything liquid in sight and my friend falling over from laughter while videotaping this entertaining yet tragic scene. 

Since that moment, I have slowly tried increasing my tolerance for spice, one jalapeno pepper at a time, and all I can say is it’s been a long and tiring journey, but totally worth it. 

The world of spice is vast and fascinating, peppers, in particular, are truly one of the world’s many miracles. 

And while there are many different types of peppers, there is one, in particular, that is exceedingly more common in the western hemisphere. 

If you guessed jalapenos, you’re right (I may have already primed your brain above, but we are going to ignore that). 

Jalapeno peppers are cultivated predominantly in Mexico and are consumed in North America more than any other pepper. 

If you’ve ever tried one, this isn’t surprising. 

Firstly, jalapenos give you that fiery kick without being too overbearing (they rank between 2,500 and 8,000 on the Scoville scale clocks, which is relatively mild). 

Secondly, jalapenos contain an irresistibly fresh and, if opting for the red ones, sweet flavor. 

Lastly, jalapenos are also known for their many health benefits, including containing numerous nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K and B, carotene, and potassium, providing a great source of fiber, as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory. 

When it comes to the various types of jalapenos, red and green are the most popular. Green peppers, however, tend to be consumed more often as they are more readily available. 

To learn more about these two variants, as well as their differences, make sure to check out the rest of this article. 

But first, let’s look at some of the many jalapeno variants out there:

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Jalapeño Variants

  • Señorita Jalapeños – very spicy peppers that are initially dark green but become red or purple once they have ripened. 
  • Fresno Jalapeños – the same as the Señorita pepper, but more mild and smaller in size. 
  • Sierra Fuego Jalapeños – peppers that are green but turn red when ripened, are larger in size and contain a mild level of spice.
  • Mucho Nacho Jalapeños – these peppers are the longest (approximately 4 inches!) of all the variants and are a great option if you want to stuff them and are mild in spice. 
  • Purple Jalapeños – these peppers are extra spicy (twice as hot as most other peppers) and possess a green color at first before turning into a dark purple/black hue when ripened. 
  • Jaloro Jalapeños – these peppers start off golden yellow before turning orange and finally, red. In terms of heat, they are mild and also contain a hint of fruitiness. They are also larger than a typical jalapeno. 
  • Lemon Spice Jalapeños – these jalapeños turn red when they are ripe but, like the previous pepper, also start off yellow. They are quite large, which makes them ideal for stuffing and because of their fruity palette, also make the perfect base for salsa. 
  • TAM Jalapeños – these peppers are unique because they taste like jalapenos but without the added element of spice. For that reason, they work well in sweet dishes. 

Green Jalapeño Peppers

So what exactly are jalapeno peppers? Jalapeno peppers are part of the chili pepper family and are most commonly cultivated in Mexico. 

In terms of spice level, jalapenos are more on the mild side. In Mexico, they are often used in various salsas, whereas in the US, they are more frequently eaten pickled (for more info on pickled jalapenos, make sure to check out that section below). 

If you’ve ever come across jalapenos in your lifetime, you may have noticed that they generally appear in shades of green and red. 

And if you’re like me, you probably assumed they were different variants. This, however, is not the case. 

Green jalapenos are simply red jalapeno peppers in their unripened state. Because maturing for longer periods of time causes peppers to take on a spicier flavor palette, green jalapenos tend to be more on the mild side. 

When it comes to the taste, green jalapenos also possess a crisp fresh and grassy flavor. Because of this, this type of pepper pairs really well with other greens, such as in soups and salads. 

Green jalapenos also go great on nachos. Need an appetizer for the next game night? Check out these cheesy jalapeno nachos: 

Red Jalapeño Peppers 

As mentioned before, red jalapeños are simply green jalapeño peppers that have grown for a longer period of time and have reached a more mature state. 

Although one may think that the flavors should therefore be identical, this actually isn’t the case. 

Red peppers are sweeter than green ones. In addition, they are also more spicy (now that’s a duo we can get behind). 

This greater level of heat in red jalapeños is a result of the “capsaicin” contained within all peppers. 

Essentially, the more time a pepper has to ripen on the vine, the more capsaicin it will develop. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the word “capsaicin,” it is a naturally-occurring chemical that produces heat. It originally evolved as a means to deter animals from eating pepper plants. 

Because red peppers are hotter than green ones, they tend to be preferred when it comes to making hot sauce. 

One such sauce that you are likely familiar with is sriracha. 

Store-bought sriracha is good but if you really want to wow the crowd, try making this DIY version: 

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Pickled Jalapeño Peppers: 

Whether you’re wanting to eat your peppers at a later date or simply love all things soaked in vinegar, pickled jalapeños are a must-try. 

Typically, the choice of pepper for pickling purposes is green jalapeños, but you can also complete this method with red ones if you prefer. 

It’s important to keep in mind that pickling peppers changes its flavor palette. 

For example, when pickling green jalapeños, the fresh and crisp taste will turn significantly more tart. 

This is due to the vinegar that is used to brine the peppers. 

In fact, the vinegar will not only make the jalapeños more tart, it will also neutralize the spice, making the heat level of your peppers more mild. 

Regardless, there’s no question that pickled jalapeños make for a delicious snack, especially when they’re accompanied by a juicy and tender burger

Pickled peppers can be purchased at your local grocery store, but if you’re wanting to make your own, here’s how to do it: 

  • Mix together 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of water, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt in a pot. 
  • Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Add in 8 jalapeno peppers that have been thinly sliced and mix together.
  • Remove from heat. 
  • Allow the mixture to rest for 8 minutes. 
  • Pour the mixture into a jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 months. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Affects The Spiciness Of Jalapeño Peppers? 

The first determining factor as to how spicy your pepper will be is based on how long it grew on the vine. 

Jalapeño peppers that have matured for longer periods of time contain a higher content of capsaicin (the chemical that makes your pepper spicy). 

This is why red peppers are hotter than green ones. 

In addition, it is believed that peppers that display “striation,” or scarring on the outside may also indicate a spicier jalapeño. 

Striation occurs when the pepper has endured some form of stress (for example, a lack of moisture) and has not yet been proven to be directly associated with a higher level of heat in peppers. 

Regardless, if you’re looking for a sweeter jalapeño, we would still recommend going for one without this scarring. 

Can You Replace Green Peppers For Red Ones? 

As previously mentioned, red peppers are spicier than green ones as they contain more capsaicin. 

Therefore, if you are looking to make a dish that’s extra hot, substituting the same number of green jalapeños for red ones will not result in the same end product. 

To make up for the lack of heat, you could try adding additional green peppers or a little chili powder to the mix. 

If you do decide to go with the green jalapeños, however, you won’t be able to replicate that sweet taste prevalent in red peppers. 

How Do You Make Jalapeños Less Spicy? 

If you’re like me and are a bit of a wimp when it comes to spice (it’s okay, we all have flaws), there are also ways to make your peppers less “fiery.” 

One trick is to allow your peppers to soak in a bowl of salt water for approximately half an hour. When they’re done, the saltwater should have removed some of that heat. 

Another option would be to use pickled jalapeños, as the vinegar has already neutralized some of that spice. 

Just keep in mind that your peppers won’t have the same freshness and crispness in this state. 

Are Green Or Red Jalapeño Peppers Healthier? 

Overall, both red and green jalapeño peppers contain a variety of health benefits. 

These health benefits include containing numerous nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K and B, carotene, and potassium, providing a great source of fiber, as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory (a benefit which comes from the capsaicin chemical). 

It could be argued that red peppers are slightly more healthy, due to their higher content of capsaicin, but overall the difference is minimal. 

Do Red And Green Jalapeños Taste Different? 

In general, all peppers possess a fresh and crisp flavor. 

Despite this, when it comes to red and green peppers, there are some differences in terms of taste. 

Red jalapeños are not only spicier than green ones, they also contain an element of sweetness that isn’t present in green jalapeños. 

On the other hand, green peppers are more fresh, mild and grassy. 

How Do You Dry Jalapeño Peppers? 

If you wish to dry out your jalapeno peppers, there are several ways in which you can execute this. 

Some of these methods include drying them out slowly in the oven at a low temperature, laying them out in the sun to dry out, hanging them up from your ceiling (if you love the cottage core trend, then this would be right up your alley), or, if you have a food dehydrator at home, you can also use this. 

To dry your peppers out using a food dehydrator, follow these steps:

  • Choose your desired peppers.
  • Wash them thoroughly and then dry them. 
  • Thinly slice the peppers.
  • Place them onto the dehydrator trays. 
  • Set your food dehydrator to a temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52 degrees Celsius).
  • Allow the peppers to dehydrate for 6-10 hours (or longer if needed).
  • When they are done, store the peppers in a dry, airtight container. 
Jess Smith


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