The most common division of peppers is into sweet peppers and hot peppers. The line from sweet to hot is drawn around 1,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).
Fans of the popular YouTube show Hot Ones will be familiar with the Scoville measurements. Peppers range from 0-2,000,000+ SHU’s with mild peppers in the 0-5,000 range, medium 5,000-15,000, hot 15,000-50,000, and super hot >50,000 SHU’s.
Bell peppers and some hybrid varieties bred from bell peppers are the only type of peppers that have zero capsaicin. Capsaicin is the chemical that gives peppers their heat.
How Many Types of Peppers Are There?
Peppers fall under the family Capsicum. There are five major types or species of peppers.
- Capsicum annuum – Bell peppers, cayenne, jalapenos, serrano, paprika
- Capsicum baccatum – Aji amarillo, aji limon
- Capsicum chinense – Habaneros, scotch bonnets, ghost peppers, carolina reaper
- Capsicum frutescens – Tabasco
- Capsicum pubescens – Rocoto, manzano
How Many Varieties of Peppers Are There?
There are something like 50,000 different varieties of peppers with 2,000-3,000 cultivars actively grown across the globe. The National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) led by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) stores a diverse collection of agriculturally important plant seeds including 6,200 pepper varieties.
Pepperseeds.eu “The Chili Gardener’s Choice” is a European pepper seed company that currently offers over 280 varieties of peppers.
Best Types & Varieties of Peppers To Grow
Chinese 5 Color Peppers – This is a type of tabasco pepper that grows straight up and has peppers on it that are different colors at the same time. This is an ornamental and edible plant.
Habanero Pepper – Habaneros are small peppers that pack a lot of heat, something like 100,000-300,000 SHU’s. There are many varieties available that come in lots of colors. They are great for spicy salsa or spicy and flavorful hot sauce.
Tabasco Peppers – Tabasco peppers have a flavor commonly described as smoky and vinegary. They make a beautiful garden plant as the peppers grow straight up instead of hanging from branches.
Thai Pepper – These are the spicy peppers commonly seen in Chinese or Thai cuisine. They pack a spicy, peppery punch.
Shishito Peppers – These pepper plants are heavy producers. The peppers themselves are mild for the most part but every once and awhile you’ll bite on one with some kick.
Filius Blue Pepper – This is another tabasco pepper that is both ornamental and edible. The peppers are a violet/blue color and have a spicy flavor.
Lemon Chile – Peppers with a medium spice and a lemony zest flavor.
Pepperoncini/Banana peppers- These sweet peppers go great on sandwiches or pizza.
You might also like “Different Types & Varieties of Bell Peppers” which dives into the different kinds of bell peppers specifically.
What Are the Sweetest Peppers?
Bell peppers are the sweetest peppers. A brix refractometer is used to determine the sugar levels of different produce, wine, beer, and honey.
A good brix level for a bell pepper is 10 and this article from Crop Services International stated that eating a bell pepper with a brix level of 16 tastes like eating an apple.
Here is a list of brix levels for common types of produce.
The following is a list of common sweet peppers. Even though they are labeled as sweet they all have some spice level to them except for bell peppers or hybrid varieties bred from bell peppers.
- Anaheim (500-2,500 SHU’s)
- Bell Peppers (0 SHU’s)
- Banana Pepper (100-500 SHU’s)
- Carmen (0-500 SHU’s)
- Cubanelle (100-1,000 SHU’s)
- Paprika (250-1,000 SHU’s)
- Pepperoncini (100-500 SHU’s)
- Pimentos (500-1,000 SHU’s)
Types of Hot Peppers
Here is a list of the more common types & varieties of hot pepper.
- Poblano (1,000-1,500 SHU’s)
- Jalapeno (3,000-10,000 SHU’s)
- Serrano (10,000-25,000 SHU’s)
- Cayenne Peppers (30,000-50,000 SHU’s)
- Thai Pepper (50,000-100,000 SHU’s)
- Habanero Peppers (150,000-300,000 SHU’s)
- Bhut Jolokia aka Ghost Pepper (800,000-1,500,000 SHU’s)
- Carolina Reaper (1,500,000+ SHU’s)
How Many Types of Jalapenos Are There?
Jalapeno peppers are an important ingredient in the kitchen to add flavor and spice to lots of dishes, but did you know there are different varieties of jalapenos? Here’s a list of different jalapeno varieties from most mild to most hot.
These jalapenos range from below 1,000 SHU to approximately 5,000 SHU to earn their mild rating. These varieties come in a multitude of colors.
- TAM Jalapeno
- Mammoth Jalapeno
- NuMex Pinata
- Concho Jalapeno
The medium variety of jalapeno peppers range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU and are most appreciated by people that like their food spicy. Typically the medium peppers are a little larger than their mild counterparts. Like the milder peppers these come in a wide range of colors.
- Jalaro Jalapeno
- Black Jalapeno
- Purple Jalapeno
- Mucho Nacho
- Mitla Jalapeno
These two top the list of hot in the jalapeno category, with the Jalapa pepper reaching 10,000 SHU and the Biker Billy pepper exceeding 30,000 SHU. They’re both hotter than the average medium jalapeno and should only be consumed if you’re in the mood for something muy caliente.
- Biker Billy
Are Peppers GMO?
GMO peppers are not approved for commercial cultivation in the US. Anytime you see peppers labeled GMO free or GMO free pepper seeds the GMO label is correct but unnecessary since no GMO peppers exist outside of laboratories where GMO studies may be done.
Sweet peppers were approved to be GMO grown in China in 1998 for virus resistant traits but has yet to be grown commercially.
The following are crops that are grown GMO in the US: alfalfa, canola, cotton , corn, papaya, potato, soybean, squash, and sugar beet.
It is the longest list of GMO crops grown by any country. Corn and soybean are by far the major GMO grown crops.
Please comment below with your own experiences with different types and varieties of peppers!