For most people, the habanero or ghost pepper is probably the hottest pepper they’ve ever experienced. Others draw the line at the popular jalapeño. Real thrill seekers, however, may have sought out the world’s (official) hottest pepper: the Carolina Reaper. Those who haven’t experienced this intimidating pepper may find themselves wondering what the big difference between jalapeños and the Carolina Reaper might actually be.
Carolina Reapers are one thousand times spicier than jalapeños! Good luck finding two peppers that are more different from each other. Even their appearances are opposites – jalapeños are incredibly smooth and Carolina Reapers are quite wrinkly. The only thing they have in common is their size, measuring between 2 and 3 inches long.
Read on to learn about all the unique differences between jalapeños and Carolina Reapers!
Comparison – Differences between jalapeño peppers and Carolina Reaper peppers
You’d be hard-pressed to find two hot peppers that have less in common than jalapeños and Carolina Reapers but do you actually know the extent of the differences?
Let’s take a detailed look at the similarities and differences between jalapeños and Carolina Reaper peppers based on the following criteria:
- Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers heat level
- Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers flavor
- Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers texture
- Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers size and shape
- Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers nutrition
- Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers cost and availability
- Unique difficulties
|Criteria||Jalepeño Pepper||Carolina Reaper Pepper|
|Heat level||2,000-8,000 SHU||2,200,000 SHU|
|Flavor||Sweet and bright||Fruity and incredibly spicy|
|Texture||Smooth with a tough skin||Very wrinkled|
|Shape||Rounded cones||Irregularly shaped|
|Nutrition (per 100g)||29 Calories|
144% DV Vitamin C
|Substitutions||Serrano pepper||Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper|
Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers heat level (in Scoville heat units)
Jalapeños don’t come anywhere NEAR Carolina Reapers heat-wise.
Jalapeños rank at a modest 2,000-8,000 SHU – which is still too spicy for some. Terrifyingly, Carolina Reapers come in at 2.2 MILLION SHU!
Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers flavor
Jalapeños have a wonderful sweet burst to them, while Carolina Reapers have a fruity taste. But you have to work your way up to the spice level in order to taste anything besides, well, ouch!
Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers texture
Jalapeños are impressively smooth, and Carolina Reapers are super wrinkled.
Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers size and shape
Jalapeños are 2-3 inches long and have a cone shape with rounded edges.
Carolina Reapers are also 2-3 inches long, but they have irregular shapes and are extremely wrinkled.
Jalapeños vs Carolina Reaper peppers nutrition
As with all peppers, both jalapeños and Carolina Reaper peppers are low in calories and loaded with Vitamin C! Their capsaicin content also has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Cost and availability
Jalapeños are SO much easier to find than Carolina Reapers.
Carolina Reapers aren’t very cheap since they’re a bit of a delicacy with a cult following. Additionally, most grocery stores won’t stock them because of how few people actually want to purchase them in their raw form.
If you thought you had to be careful cooking with jalapeños, the level of necessary precaution quadruples (at the very least) when working with Carolina Reapers.
Wear gloves and avoid touching anything – not just your eyes. Be prepared to rinse your eyes just in case. Sanitize your entire kitchen after working with Carolina Reapers and don’t use the cutting board for anything else until it’s been thrown in the dishwasher.
Can you substitute jalapeño peppers for Carolina Reapers or vice versa?
You absolutely cannot substitute jalapeño peppers for Carolina Reapers or vice versa. They are in completely different galaxies heat-wise.
Even if you’re looking to add an out-of-this-world spice to your recipe, the flavor profiles don’t have much in common. In that case, you’d be better off using a ghost pepper. Since it only comes in at around 1 million SHU, you’ll be losing some heat, but you’ll retain the sweet flavor.
Jalapeño peppers – a complete overview
Now let’s give the spotlight to jalapeños. This common pepper may be the hottest most people ever go, and it’s definitely worth exploring!
Jalapeños have a decently large SHU range- from 2,000 to 8,000.
Size won’t tell you much when it comes to how spicy a particular jalapeño may be, but a red color can cue you into the fact that it’s on the spicier side.
Capsaicin builds up as jalapeños mature, so redder, more mature jalapeños will be spicier.
Jalapeños have a decent kick to them, paired with a wonderfully sweet flavor.
Size, shape, and texture
Jalapeños are about 2-3 inches long.
They look a little bit like rounded cones.
Nutritional content and potential health benefits
- 26 calories
- 20% DV Vitamin B6
- 10% DV dietary fiber
- 177% DV Vitamin C
Some health benefits of the jalapeño pepper include:
- Potential weight loss aid
- May help fight infections
- May prevent ulcers
- May increase heart health
Cooking with jalapeño peppers
Many people only eat pickled jalapeños because they can’t handle the full spice of the raw pepper. Pickled jalapeños are popularly used on nachos or subs.
Jalapeños can be stuffed, roasted, sauteed, grilled, blistered – you name it!
While jalapeños are well known for their use in Mexican cooking, they’ve been welcomed all around the world for their incredible combination of flavor and spice.
For a Southen take on this pepper, try adding jalapeños to your cheddar cornbread like in this recipe.
Substitutions for jalapeño peppers
Serrano peppers are the best jalapeño pepper substitute. Spicy jalapeños have about the same SHU as mild serranos, and both peppers are sweet!
Freezing, drying, and preserving jalapeño peppers
If you love pickled jalapeños and want to have some fun, you should try pickling them yourself!
Carolina Reaper peppers – a complete overview
While there are some reports that there are hotter peppers out there, none of them are official.
For now, the Carolina Reaper remains the world’s hottest pepper, but is there more to know about it?
Carolina Reapers are one of the hottest peppers in the world, making it all the way up to 2.2 million SHU!
The Carolina Reaper tastes fruity, although it’s hard to detect any flavor behind the spice unless you’re a seasoned veteran.
Size, shape, and texture
Carolina reapers are 2-3 inches long.
They’re irregularly shaped and very wrinkled.
Nutritional content and potential health benefits
Carolina Reapers are low in calories, high in vitamin C, and incredibly high in capsaicin.
Vitamin C has potential anti-cancer properties. Meanwhile, the huge capsaicin content may be anti-inflammatory and boost your metabolism.
Cooking with Carolina Reaper peppers
Carolina Reapers should only be used in minute amounts.
Hot sauce fans like to make hot sauce out of them (or buy it pre-made and use make hot wings). They’re also great for jelly, but always adjust common pepper recipes to account for how spicy Carolina Reapers are!
Substitutions for Carolina Reaper peppers
Dragon’s Breath peppers are the best substitute for Carolina Reapers.
Dragon’s Breath peppers have almost 2.5 million SHU, actually making them spicier than Carolina Reapers. Watch for an upcoming update to the Guinness world record!
Freezing, drying, and preserving Carolina Reaper peppers
Carolina Reapers are unique in how spicy they are. So while you can technically freeze and dry them, they’re most commonly bought and used in small amounts with no preservation necessary unless you’re growing them in your garden.