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26 October 2021

The manzano pepper is an apple-shaped hot chili with a distinctively fruity, citrusy flavor, the perfect chili for making hot sauces and salsa. It originates from Mexican and South America. Learn more about it.

Scoville Heat Units: 10,000 – 30,000 SHU
Capsicum Pubescens

The name “Manzano” actually comes from the Spanish word “manzana”. Manzano means “apple”, which is why it is also known in places as the “apple pepper”.

Apple or apple-like in appearance, it’s not surprising that this pepper has been given such a nickname. Manzano peppers are cherry to apple-sized fruits with a spicy flavor and a high concentration of vitamins C and A.

How Hot is Manzano Pepper?

The Manzano pepper is a medium-hot chili, falling somewhere in the 10,000-30,000 Scoville Heat Units range on the Scoville Scale. Compare this to the popular jalapeno pepper and the manzano can reach up to 6 times hotter than the average jalapeno.

They definitely have a nice kick.

What Do Manzano Peppers Taste Like?

Manzano peppers are good to eat raw or cooked, and the taste is similar to that of a mild jalapeño, though fruitier. You can either cook it or eat it just like you would eat an apple. You’ll definitely notice the sweetness associated with this pepper more than other hot peppers.

What do Manzano Peppers Look Like?

With an appearance like a small apple, manzano peppers usually range in size from 3-5 cm. They have a light green or yellow-orange color when they are immature. Once they get matured, they usually turn a dark red or orange color.

The size can vary from small and round like a cherry, to large and apple-shaped like the bell pepper.

The flesh is light with black seeds within. They are very popular in Mexico, Central America, and South America as well as Spain.

This pepper is often confused with the rocoto pepper, which is quite similar, but hotter.

Mike holding a Manzano Pepper in his hand

Where do Manzano Peppers Come From?

Manzano peppers come from Mexico. The pepper was first cultivated in the 1500s by the indigenous people living in central and southern Mexico. Manzano plants are grown at high altitudes in partial shade.

It is believed to originate from the state of Hidalgo, which is situated in the central part of the country near Mexico City, famous for its natural resources and agricultural production especially for vegetables such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, and pumpkins.

The cultivation process took place with small-scale farmers who were mostly living in rural areas that had a low population density so they could have enough space to grow organic crops without any pesticides or fertilizers.

What are Manzano Peppers Used For?

Common uses for this pepper are as an ingredient in vinegar, soups, sauces like chimichurri sauce, juices, and cooked dishes such as tamales or stir fry with rice or noodles.

In Ecuador, it is used for hot sauce.

A bowl of Manzano Peppers, ready to eat

In South America, the pepper is frequently used in salsas where the seeds are left in because of their high oil content. The seeds are also used for flavoring chocolate drinks. Mexican cooks utilize it in making a sauce similar to salsa verde.

In Nicaragua, it is also used to make a sauce called “Salsa Maracuya”, very similar to the Mexican one, but with the addition of carrots and chayote squash. It is also served pickled or fresh on many types of dishes including sandwiches, omelets, and other foods.

Questions about the manzano chile? Contact me anytime. 

Looking for manzano pepper plants or seeds? Check out the Resources section.