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27 September 2013

Scoville Heat Units: 30,000 – 100,000 SHU

This pepper grows in the Andes from Chile to Columbia, as well as in the highlands of Central America and Mexico. It goes by many names including the locoto pepper widespread through South America, or as the rocote, or as the caballo or “horse” in Guatemala and some parts of Mexico.

It is also known in Peru and in Mexico as the manzano/manzana or “apple pepper” in one variety resembling small apples and often used when red, or as perón or “pear pepper,” once again in Mexico and in allusion to its especially fruity or even sometimes green appearance.

They are called canario or “canary” pepper when referring to the yellow variety, particularly in Oaxaca.

They are further known as cera and malinalco, or ciruelo, as well as cirhuleo in Querétaro, a state in central Mexico.

The pepper plant’s size varies widely and can reach vine-like from a common expanse of 2 feet in the United States to a whopping in 15 feet in Bolivia, and the round or pear-shaped pods can grow from 2 to 3 inches in length.

It is among the oldest of domesticated chili peppers in the Americas, and was possibly domesticated as early as 6,000 BCE; some scientists even now agree that its domesticated form is so old and prevalent that its original wild form is now totally extinct.

These peppers tend to get consumed while fresh because of the thickness of the pods making them hard to dry properly.

They also appear in hot salsas or feature as rocotos rellenos when prepared as stuffed and baked dishes including meats and cheeses.

Rocoto Chili Peppers


  1. Try them as Rocoto Dip (“Crema de Rocoto”). It is a very popular Peruvian dish. Absolutely delicious with potato fries or chips.
    In a saucepan add 2 spoons of olive oil, and lightly fry 3 large Rocotos (No seeds), 1 small onion , 3 garlic cloves (all vegetables roughly chopped), salt and pepper. Add the fried vegetables and oil to a blender, add 1 Tbsp of apple vinegar, 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 100 grams of fresh cheese (“queso fresco”), and 2 soda crackers . Blend everything together to form a consistent sauce . Add salt pepper and olive oil to taste. Transfer to a container and refrigerate after use.
    Regards from Costa Rica!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Yes! This sounds wonderful. On my list to make!

  2. Grind the black seeds from the pods. They make a great replacement for black pepper and are more flavoursome and only slightly more spicy – try them!

  3. Rocoto’s origins date back to 5000 years ago to Pre-Incan times. It is originally from Peru and then it expanded to other countries thanks to the Spaniards.

  4. Hi Everyone,
    I’ve been making batches of Asian Chilli Paste (called Sambal Chilli) but just without the Sambal (salted fish!), for a few years now with my parents’ Rocoto Chillies. I have sold and given bottles away but my supply is more than the demand! Too many Rocoto chillies! I tried asking a local fresh food grocer if they’d buy some off me (the fresh chillies) but to no avail. They wanted Habanero Chillies or other varieties, Rocotos are too spicy! So I’d recommend making some Sambal Chilli paste from your harvest of Rocotos. Your Malaysian friends will love you for it!

    1. Hi, sounds interesting. What is the recipe for your Sambal Chilli? I am in New Zealand and have a small Rocoto plant.

  5. Steve Herrmann

    I make a great hot sauce with these peppers and I use the whole pepper, including seeds.

  6. Hi there,

    Can the seeds in these peppers be eaten or are they generally discarded? I am expecting my first crop of these very soon and recall when planting that the seeds seemed a bit bigger than average (may be an optical illusion being black seeds).

    REPLY: Danny, they are edible, though most people remove them because of the color. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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