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25 August 2020

The puya chile is a Mexican pepper similar to the popular guajillo pepper, but smaller and hotter known for its fruity flavor and aroma.

Scoville Heat Units: 5,000-8,000 SHU
Capsicum Anuum

The puya chile is a Mexican pepper similar to the guajillo, but smaller and hotter. It is often used more for its fruity flavor, rather than its flesh, which means it is great pureed, mashed or diced, and then made into a sauce. It may be soaked in water to pull out the flavor, and then the water can be used in your dish.

The Puya may be used as a pizza topping, or with meat dishes, such as pork, veal, fish and chicken.

Where do Puya Chiles Come From?

Puya chiles hail from Mexico, and are plentiful in Mexico’s Central Valley as well as Mexico City. It is sometimes spelled “pulla” pepper.

Puya Chile Description

The pods of puya chiles are long, flat, and tapering and somewhat curved. They usually grow 3 to 4 inches long. The skins are a deep crimson red and can grow even darker. They look quite a bit like guajillo peppers, and are often confused for them, though in general they are typically smaller than guajillos.

How Hot is the Puya Pepper?

Puya chiles are considered fairly hot peppers, similar in heat to a fresh jalapeno pepper. The puya chile heat ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale. Compare that to a typical jalapeno pepper, which ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, and you’ll find them quite comparable.

Some consider the heat to be a rather intense heat, but those spicy food lovers accustomed to higher heat chilies, the puya chile might be considered a milder pepper, or at least one with some pleasant heat.

Puya Chile Flavor

Puya peppers are similar in flavor to the guajillo with a somewhat pungent heat and strong fruity flavor. Some compare them to a cross between the guajillo and chile de arbol, though with less pronounced heat. Fruitiness is the defining characteristic of the puya chile.

Cooking with Puya Peppers

Puya chile peppers are a favorite in Mexican cuisine for making salsas but also for making sauces, particularly mole sauces, to flavor beef and pork, various seafood dishes, vegetables, and for use as ground chili flakes. They are used for seasoning soups and stews, breakfasts and dinners and anything in between.

As they are dried peppers, they should be rehydrated in warm water to soften them for pureeing. Most cooks use the flavorful soaking water in their dishes as well.

If you are unable to find puya peppers for cooking, you can use guajillo chili peppers instead as a substitute.

Learn More About These Other Mexican Chili Peppers

NOTE: This post was updated on 8/25/20 to include new information and photo. It was originally published on 9/23/13.