How hot is a habanero pepper? The habanero pepper ranges from very hot to scorching. The most common range between 100,000-350,000 SHU. Learn just how hot.
How Hot is a Habanero Pepper?
You may be curious to cook with habanero peppers, but you’ve heard that they are so hot that they’ll leave you in pain. This does not have to be the case. There are many ways to cook with habanero peppers that won’t destroy your taste buds.
We cook with habanero peppers all the time. We love the heat. We actually depend on that heat, especially when making hot sauces. Habaneros can range from pretty darned hot to tongue scorching, so it is best to proceed with caution if you’re not accustomed to spicy food.
Still, habanero peppers bring a wonderful fruity flavor to your dishes that you won’t get anywhere else, so they should not be ignored.
Measuring Chili Pepper Heat
Chili pepper heat is measured in Scoville Units, ranging from 0 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) for the exceedingly mild bell pepper to over 2 Million SHU for the hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper (former champ: Trinidad Moruga Scorpion).
Habanero peppers range in Scoville Heat Units from 60,000 SHU to 800,000 SHU, making them some of the hottest chili peppers around. The most common orange habaneros that you’ll find in many grocery stores typically range between 100,000 SHU and 350,000 SHU.
Compare that to the average jalapeño pepper, which averages 5,000 SHU, and you'll see that habaneros can be as much as 16 times hotter. That is quite hot!
Taming the Habanero Pepper Heat
But do not fear. Here are some basic tips to help you enjoy the outstanding flavor of the wonderful habanero pepper.
- Core the Habanero Pepper. Removing the insides of the pepper will remove much of the heat. The chemical that makes peppers hot, capsaicin, resides in the whitish membranes within the pepper. You’ll still have plenty of heat with the membranes removed, but it will be reduced considerably.
- Keep Dairy On Hand. Dairy products help deactivate capsaicin. If you find your mouth burning, drink milk or add sour cream to the meal.
- Dilute! If you’re unaccustomed to the heat of very hot chili peppers, make a large portion of your meal and only use half a habanero. A little heat will go a long way, and will dilute over the large meal.
Handling Habanero Peppers
When cooking with habanero peppers, you may notices a burning sensation on your skin, usually after you cut into them. This is because habaneros and other chili peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their heat.
Capsaicin is an oil that can spread onto your skin. It is best to wear gloves when working with hot chili peppers. If you do notice the burning sensation on your skin, or in your mouth after eating them, see my page on how to stop the chili pepper burn.
Want to learn more?
Check out some of my favorite habanero recipes.