Jalapeño Pepper vs Ghost Pepper (Heat, Flavor, Size, & Nutrition!)

You may have heard whisperings of the mysterious ghost pepper. With such an intimidating name, they must be the real deal! How does this ominous pepper stand up to the stalwart classic pepper, the jalapeño?

Jalapeños and ghost peppers are similar in size but worlds apart. Ghost peppers can be hundreds of times spicier than jalapeños! While jalapeños have a smooth exterior, ghost peppers are very wrinkled. Ghost peppers are usually made into hot sauce or used in extreme moderation, whereas jalapeños are cooked in just about every fashion imaginable.

Read on to learn how different these two peppers really are!

Comparison – Differences between jalapeño peppers and ghost peppers

Jalapeños are among the most popular “hot” peppers, but they’re actually among the mildest peppers that have any actual bite. If you want to know what pain really is, get your hands on a ghost pepper.

Jalapeños vs ghost peppers (based on heat, flavor, size, shape, nutrition, and substitutions).

Let’s take a detailed look at the similarities and differences between jalapeños and ghost peppers based on the following criteria:

  • Jalapeños vs ghost peppers heat level
  • Jalapeños vs ghost peppers flavor
  • Jalapeños vs ghost peppers texture
  • Jalapeños vs ghost peppers size and shape
  • Jalapeños vs ghost peppers nutrition
  • Jalapeños vs ghost peppers cost and availability
  • Unique difficulties
  • Substitutions
CriteriaJalepeño PepperGhost Pepper
Heat level2,000-8,000 SHU1,000,000 SHU
FlavorSweet and brightFruity and very spicy
TextureSmooth with a tough skinWrinkly
Size2-3″ 2-3″
ShapeRounded conesLong and pointed
Nutrition (per 100g)29 Calories
144% DV Vitamin C
15 Calories
SubstitutionsSerrano pepperCarolina Reaper pepper
Table comparing jalepeños vs ghost peppers based on heat level, flavor, texture, size, shape, basic nutrition, and common substitutions

Jalapeños vs ghost peppers heat level (in Scoville heat units)

Jalapeño peppers have a Scoville heat unit range from 2,000-8,000. Meanwhile, ghost peppers average at 1 MILLION SHU!

Ghost peppers are intensely hot, averaging 1,000,000 SHU!

This makes them 500 times spicier than jalapeños. Geez!

Jalapeños vs ghost peppers flavor

Jalapeño peppers are loved for their sweetness.

While ghost peppers have a fruity flavor, your taste buds need to be well-trained in order to detect it beneath all the heat.

Jalapeños vs ghost peppers texture

Jalapeños are smooth and ghost peppers are wrinkled.

Jalapeños vs ghost peppers size and shape

Jalapeños and ghost peppers are both 2-3 inches long. 

They’re both cone-shaped, but jalapeños are more rounded and ghost peppers are pointier.

Jalapeños vs ghost peppers nutrition

Jalapeño peppers and ghost peppers are both low-calorie foods with a high Vitamin C content. Vitamin C is a necessary antioxidant that potentially prevents cancer by fighting free radicals in your body.

Ghost peppers also have insane levels of capsaicin, which boosts metabolism and decreases inflammation.

Cost and availability

Jalapeño peppers are available at most grocery stores and are relatively inexpensive.

Jalapeños are easier to find, although you may be able to purchase both at your local farmer's market.

If you’re looking for a ghost pepper, you’ll either need to find a specialty store, visit your local farmer’s market, or grow your own.

Unique difficulties

Jalapeño peppers are pretty easy to use, but there is a pretty wide heat range, meaning you never really know what you’re going to get.

You have to be INCREDIBLY careful when handling ghost peppers.

Wear gloves and only touch things that are completely necessary. Avoid your eyes and face at all costs. Sanitize everything when you’re done.

Can you substitute jalapeño peppers for ghost peppers or vice versa?

You cannot substitute jalapeño peppers for ghost peppers or vice versa. They live in completely different worlds!

Jalapeño peppers – a complete overview

Now let’s give our attention to this well-loved Mexican pepper.


Jalapeño peppers have a Scoville heat unit rating between 2,000 and 8,000. So some jalapeños are 4 times as spicy as others!

Graphic showing the relative comparison of select peppers based on their SHU.

Size doesn’t tell you much about how hot a jalapeño is. The best indicator is color. 

Jalapeños become red as they grow – all while their capsaicin levels get higher and higher. In other words, they get spicier and spicier!


Jalapeños have a strong sweet flavor with a kick of spice.

Size, shape, and texture

Jalapeños are about 2-3 inches in size.

They’re very round cones with smooth skin.

Nutritional content and potential health benefits

One cup of raw chopped jalapeños contains:

  • 26 calories
  • 20% DV Vitamin B6
  • 177% DV Vitamin C
  • 10% DV dietary fiber

Some potential health benefits of eating jalapeños include:

  • Increased heart health
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Fights and prevents cancer
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Relieves pain

Cooking with jalapeño peppers

It’s popular to use pickled jalapeño peppers as a topping on everything ranging from nachos to pizzas to subs.

Stuffed jalapeños are another great way to enjoy these spicy peppers!

Jalapeños are popular in many recipes, but they add a particularly nice kick of sweetness and heat to your homemade salsa.

Jalapeños can also be cooked just like any other pepper – sauteed, blistered, grilled, or roasted.

You probably won’t find anyone dipping raw jalapeños in hummus, though!

Substitutions for jalapeño peppers

Serrano peppers are the best jalapeño pepper substitute because they are both sweet with a similar Scoville heat unit rating.

Freezing, drying, and preserving jalapeño peppers

Jalapeño peppers can be frozen, dried, canned, or pickled.

Ghost peppers – a complete overview

Ghost peppers are just an intense as they sound.

At one time, ghost peppers were actually the hottest pepper in the world, although these days they’re ranked fifth!

Let’s take a look at all the important characteristics of this spooky pepper.


Ghost peppers rank at an impressive 1 MILLION SHU!


Ghost peppers are so hot that you’d have to be a pepper connoisseur in order to taste the flavor beneath! 

But, if you must know, they have fruity undertones.

Size, shape, and texture

Ghost peppers range from about 2 to 3 inches long. 

Like many other extremely hot peppers, ghost peppers have a wrinkled exterior.

They have a cone shape with a pointy tip and lots of wrinkles.

Nutritional content and potential health benefits

Ghost peppers are low in calories and loaded with vitamin C. That being said, the biggest secret lies in their capsaicin.

Capsaicin has incredible health benefits such as boosting your metabolism. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Countries that eat spicier food have been found to have “lower rates of colon cancer,” although other lifestyle choices need to be adjusted for in further studies.

Cooking with ghost peppers

Most people will stick to making hot sauce with their ghost peppers, or potentially making spicy oil to cook with or drizzle on dishes.

Ghost peppers are typically used to make hot sauces since they're too hot for most people to eat straight.

The brave may cook with ghost peppers in other ways – such as adding small amounts to salsa – but you have to work your spice tolerance up if you want to have a good experience!

Substitutions for ghost peppers

Carolina Reapers are a good substitute for ghost peppers, although they can be twice as spicy! 

Want to know more about the current world’s hottest pepper? Check out this comparison of jalapeños and Carolina Reaper peppers!

Freezing, drying, and preserving ghost peppers

You can freeze, dry, and preserve ghost peppers, although, as mentioned, hot sauce fermentation is the most popular method of preserving this super-hot pepper.

Check out this video for an overview of preserving ghost peppers – including safety precautions!

An interesting experiment would be to grind up dried ghost peppers to add insane levels of spice to your dishes with just a sprinkle of the final product!