Whether it’s a hint of heat or something that packs more of a fiery punch, chillies add a depth of flavour and intensity to cooking that is hard to replicate with other spices. Chillies range in heat and flavour from mild (such as the Serrano pepper) through to 'blow-your-mind' hot (like the world's hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper). With more than ten different varieties of single origin chillies and several speciality chilli blends, shopping chillies can get overwhelming.
Here's our wrap up of our 14 chillies, from hottest to most mild, and how to use them. Heat for chillies is measured in units using the Scoville Scale, where the numbers correspond to the pungency (spiciness or heat) of the chili pepper. This unit generally relates to their capsaicin content.
To help simplify heat levels, we've included our own heat level indicator on each of our chillies to help you determine whether you can handle the heat.
One of the hottest chillies on the market, the Habañero pepper is not for the faint hearted. The habañero ranges from 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) — for comparison, that between 12-100 times hotter than the jalepeno!
Habañeros are mostly grown in the Yucatán region of Mexico and used frequently in Mexican dishes to add a hot yet delicious fruity, sweet, and crunchy flavour.
Add sautéd habañero peppers into pots of chile, mango salsa or even cut fresh and sprinkled over crispy tacos, served with guacamole and fresh lime juice. For a small kick, add it sparingly to hot sauces, stews and curries.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 10/10. Scoville Scale: 100,000–350,00
Containing a staggering amount of heat, the Bird's Eye Chilli is often used in condiments where heat is the main attraction rather than flavour. As a very small and highly pungent chilli, it can be used whole, crushed or ground.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 10/10. Scoville Scale: 50,000 - 100,000
With intense heat and a subtle smokey flavour, Arbol chilli peppers are popular in western Mexican and Tex Mex cooking. These long, curved chillies start out green and turn a fiery red upon drying. Fry or soak before use for a deeper intensity.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 8/10. Scoville Scale: 15,000 - 30,000
Cayenne pepper, unlike its name indicates, has nothing to do with pepper other than it being a chilli pepper. Cayenne peppers are thin, long and red or green, and can be used whole or ground in meals. Closely related to bell peppers and jalapeños, cayenne peppers provide a balancing, though strong, heat to a dish. Use these instead of chilli powder or even pepper to bring some more heat to mealtimes — particularly tasty in scrambled eggs, frittatas and quiches.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 8/10. Scoville Scale: 30,000 - 50,000
Native to Turkey, Aleppo Peppers are highly desirable for their fresh, fruity flavour and mild heat that builds slowly on the palate. These peppers, once ripe, are semi-dried, deseeded and grounded. Used commonly in Turkish and Middle Eastern recipes, and frequently featured in Yotam Ottolenghi’s tomes, the Aleppo pepper is a flavour enhancer. As such, a great substitute for crushed red pepper or paprika. Use the Aleppo pepper to season almost everything, and don't be afraid to use it in salads.
Scoville Scale: 10,000
Hot chilli flakes are perfect for making your own chilli oil: simply heat peanut oil to between 107°C and 122°C, add desired amount of crushed chilli flakes and allow to cool down before pouring into a sterilised bottle. These flake are also great to use in stir-fries, curries, stews and Asian dipping sauces.
Our heat level puts this chilli as 7/10.
Made by deseeding the fruit of long chilli to remove some of the heat, our Mild Seedless Chilli is then chopped to form a crushed flake. It's excellent when used in pasta, risotto and other dishes where the visual and textural characteristics of the chilli seed are undesired. Its bright colour uplifts BBQ seafood marinades and poultry dishes. Seedless chilli also sticks to food better than its seeded counterpart.
Our heat level puts this chilli at 6/10.
Chipotle peppers are ripened jalapeño chiles that have been smoked and dried. Ground or whole, chipotle peppers are used widely in Mexican and Tex Mex cooking. You'll usually find it in a smoky-flavoured adobo sauce, or in the Mexican seasoning, 'adobo' (where you marinate meat in a flavorful mixture using vinegar, salt, garlic, paprika, oregano and, of course, chipotle). Its smoky and sweet tones, combined with its tenable heat level, will make you reconsider the general perception of chillies adding nothing more than heat to a meal.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 6/10. Scoville Scale: 2,500 - 8,000
The Guajillo chilli is the dried version of the Mirasol chilli, and used commonly in Mexican cuisine. It has a deep red flesh and a green tea flavour with berry overtones. Used to flavour meats, sauces and salsas, guajillo chillies is particularly taste with meats such as a chicken.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 4/10. Scoville Scale: 2,500 - 8,000
Also known as Chile Mosquito, Pequin chilli peppers are a small yet hot Mexican varietal, a domesticated relative to the Tepin Chilli. We use this chilli in our English Pickling Spice, but it is also good for giving heat and flavour to vinegars, salsas and sauces. With a smoky, nutty and citrus-like taste, its perfect shape is also pleasing to the eye.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 9/10.
Kashmiri Chilli comes from the northern region of India, and has a wonderfully bright red hue with a fruity and fresh chilli aroma. It's a good all-round chilli to add to curries and sauces, seafood and poultry dishes, or to quickly blanched vegetables in a light sauce. Replace your standard chilli powder with Kashmiri for more depth of flavour as well as bite.
You can get this chilli ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 5-7/10. Scoville Scale: 1,000 - 2,000
With less heat than your average chilli, you can take a good sniff of the Ancho chilli; the complexity of its aroma is tantalising – sweet yet smoky, with caramel and molasses wafts. Add to chilli con carne or meat dishes such as spaghetti bolognese where a balance of sweetness and heat are required.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 3/10. Scoville Scale: 1,000 - 1,500
Affectionately named “little raisin” due to its resemblance to both the colour and flavour of raisins, the Pasilla chilli is one of the main ingredients in Mexican mole. With chocolate overtones and a delicious fruitiness, this chilli is a must try.
You can get this chilli as whole or ground. Our heat level puts this chilli as 4/10. Scoville Scale: 250 - 4,000.