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22 September 2020

Wiri wiri peppers are berry shaped hot peppers from Guyana prized for their tangy flavor and high level of heat

Scoville Heat Units: 100,000 to 350,000 SHU
Capsicum Frutescens

While chilies and peppers have become extremely sensationalized these days thanks to internet challenges, most of these novel discoveries already have deep rooted history in various regions and their everyday cuisines. As more and more people get to know about the utter variety available in the world of peppers, the flavor possibilities become endless.

Each pepper has a unique taste, spice level, as well as texture. Not to mention, many peppers have unique shapes, colors, and physical characteristics that make them stand out from among the rest.

One of the most interesting looking chilies is the Wiri Wiri Pepper from Guyana, South America. It is a staple spice from the South American region and an ingredient so common that most Guyanese kids grow up eating them.

The Wiri Wiri pepper is known for its tomato-like appearance and delicious, tangy flavor. It is an essential ingredient when it comes to Guyanese cooking and makes for some extremely appetizing dishes.

Let’s get familiar with the Wiri Wiri Pepper.

How Hot Are Wiri Wiri Peppers?

The Scoville Scale measures the heat rating for the Wiri Wiri pepper within the 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville Heat Units range. This gives the pepper a median heat rating of around 225,000 SHU. Most peppers do, however, tend to be nearer to the lower end of the range when it comes to spice. So while they will not burn your face off with the heat, they certainly do pack quite a punch.

This puts them on par with a habanero pepper or Scotch bonnet pepper in heat. 

What Does A Wiri Wiri Pepper Look Like?

The pepper is only half an inch long and is shaped like a little sphere. The bulb-like body of the Wiri Wiri pepper is usually bright red in color, making it appear similar to fresh cherries. While they may be nicknamed Hot Cherry Peppers for their appearance, they taste nowhere near as sweet as a cherry. The peppers grow upright like ornaments on the plant, held erect and upside down by their stalks.

They start out as green spheres that transition into an orange and then a blood red shade as the peppers turn from green to orange to red and becomes spicier. They are red when mature.

What Are Wiri Wiri Pepper Used For?

In Guyana, the Wiri Wiri Pepper is used across breakfast, lunch, and dinner alike. It is added to eggs, incorporated into sauces, and mixed in with soups, stews, and stir fries for a spicy kick. Not only that, but many people like to eat the Wiri Wiri pepper fresh, right off the stalk, with their meals as it is extremely flavorful and the spice level is relatively tolerable. It is also used to make peppered rum.

The unique, tangy taste of the pepper makes it a great addition to most dishes, especially if you are already using tropical or Asian ingredients.

What Does Wiri Wiri Pepper Taste Like?

The reason behind the versatility of the Wiri Wiri pepper is its wonderful taste. Not only does this pepper provide a hearty hit of heat, but it is also just as fruity, flavorful, and tangy. You could describe its flavor profile as something close to a Habanero pepper, or maybe even a tomato if you focus on the tanginess.

The sweet and spicy taste is what makes it such a good pepper to pair or fuse with Asian cuisine. You can use it to make some tangy sauces and sides.

Where To Buy Wiri Wiri Pepper?

If you live anywhere near the South American, Caribbean, or Guyanese regions, you will find Wiri Wiri peppers in the market. If you live further out, you will be disappointed to know that it may be difficult to acquire the pepper, especially locally. You can try looking for them online but you are most likely to find dried Wiri Wiri peppers at best.

What Is A Wiri Wiri Pepper Substitute?

In regards to the Scoville heat rating scale, you can compare and substitute the spice from a Wiri Wiri pepper with a Habanero pepper or a Scotch Bonnet chili. The flavor profiles of these three spices are also pretty similar, having the same fruity and tangy touch.

Got any questions? Let me know.