Piquillo peppers are sweet chili peppers with no heat traditionally grown in Navarre, Spain, specifically from Lodosa.
Scoville Heat Units (SHU): 500 – 1,000
Chili peppers are often known for their heat, for the spicy, mouth tingling offering that lingers after each bite. That heat, however, varies from pepper to pepper, and some chili peppers have almost no heat at all.
Case in point - the piquillo pepper.
Piquillo peppers offer up practically zero heat, yet what they do offer is sweetness and flavor. Much like the popular red bell pepper, piquillo peppers can be used to cook into many dishes. It's name derives from the Spanish word for "little beak", as they are grown in northern Spain.
The peppers grow about 2.5-3 inches in length and mature to a vibrant red, making them known locally as "red gold" of Lodosa. They narrow to a point at the end of the pendant pods, resembling little bird beaks, hence the name.
The plants grow up to 3 feet tall.
How Hot is the Piquillo Pepper?
Compare that with the popular jalapeno pepper, which measures from 2,500 - 8,000 Scoville Units, and you can see that piquillos are rather mild. In fact, the hottest piquillos are 5 times milder than the mildest jalapeno. They are more akin to poblano peppers and even lower in terms of heat, closer to a sweet bell pepper.
Piquillo Flavor Profile
Piquillo peppers are succulent sweet with very mild heat and tangy, smoky undertones. With their thicker walls, closer to that of a bell pepper, they offer up a sweet crunch when eaten raw. They are often roasted soon after harvest and packed in oil or in their own juices.
You can cook with them as you do bell peppers, and are richer in flavor when cooked or roasted.
Cooking and Serving Piquillo Peppers
Piquillos are popularly pickled, stuffed, roasted or fried. Because of their size and substance, they are particularly wonderful for making stuffed peppers, but also for cooking into soups and sauces.
They can be stored short term in olive oil, and are at their best when fire roasted.
Piquillo Pepper Seeds
Enjoy, and happy growing.
Mike's Personal Notes
I have grown piquillo peppers in my home garden and have always enjoyed them. You can use them in place of bell peppers for pretty much any application. They would make a great part of your Cajun Holy Trinity, where you're just chopping them and cooking them, or your favorite sofrito recipe.
If you're looking for a good substitute for piquillo peppers, either purchase jarred roasted red peppers, or try bell peppers.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me anytime, or leave a comment below.
NOTE: This post was updated on 7/14/20 to include new information. It was originally published on 10/22/14.