The Padron pepper (Pimiento de Padrón) is a chili pepper about 3 inches in length originating from Padrón, Spain. It is typically mild but every now and then delivers a surprising blast of heat. Learn more about them here.
Scoville Heat Units: 500 - 2,500 SHU
Padron peppers (aka pimento de padron, pimiento de padrón or just "padron" peppers) originate from the province, Galicia, in the northwestern Spanish municipality, Padrón.
They are small green peppers averaging about 3 inches in length. The color ranges, starting out bright green and maturing to a vibrant red. The interesting thing about padrón peppers is that most of them are very mild peppers with no heat, but a small percentage of them will give you a shock of heat.
The only way to know if a padron pepper is hot is to give it a taste. It all has to do with the peppers' particular growing conditions.
How Hot is a Padrón Pepper?
Most pimiento de padrons are as about as mild as your typical bell peppers, which have zero heat on the Scoville Scale. However, about 1 in every 10 peppers will give you a surprising jolt of heat. It's a bit like playing Russian Roulette with your tongue. The peppers range from 500 to 2,500 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale, making most of them about as hot as a banana pepper. Compare that to a typical jalapeno pepper and you'll find most padron peppers are about 10 times milder.
However, if you get a hot one at 2,500 SHU, that is about half as hot as an average jalapeno.
They are quite similar to shishito peppers in this way, which are also mild, but about 1 in 30 will deliver a small blast of spiciness.
I've personally enjoyed padrons for a long time and have been pleasantly surprised by a spicy kick, but as a regular chilihead who enjoys spicy foods often, I don't feel they're very hot.
How to Cook with Padron Peppers
Pimiento de Padron peppers are traditionally prepared as tapas, with a quick blistering or frying of the peppers, then tossing them with salt. I had them this way in Spain and loved them. They're popular in tapas bars, and are easily cooked at home.
You can follow my recipe for Blistered Shishito Peppers with Flaky Sea Salt and Lime and sub in padrons. They will blister up beautifully the same way.
How to Cook Pimiento de Padron Peppers
- Heat a bit of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. A cast iron skillet works great here as well.
- Add the peppers in a single layer and let the peppers cook about 5 minutes per side, until the skin starts to blister up.
- When they're done and the skins are blistered, toss them with a bit of sea salt and freshly squeezed lime juice.
Wonderful as a snack or a side dish. You can also slice them open and stuff them with a bit of cheese and either bake them, grill them, or set them into a hot pan and cover them, then wait for the cheese to get nice and melty. The skins will char up nicely. Goat cheese is a great choice here.
They are also great for incorporating into other dishes in other ways. I grow them sometimes in my own garden and prefer to let them mature to red for a bit more sweetness.
A purist would say, however, that if the peppers are not grown in Padron, Spain, they are not true padrons.
They still taste great to me. Here are some peppers that I grew in my garden after they've ripened to red.
Where Can I Find Pimiento de Padron Seeds?
What Peppers are similar to the Pimento de Padron?
The shishito pepper is most like this pepper in many ways, including size, shape and color, and in that shishitos will also surprise you every now and then with a little blast of heat. You can use shishito peppers as a good substitute for padron peppers.
NOTE: This post was updated on 317/20 to include new information. It was originally published on 10/8/15.