Mexican food has a reputation for being very spicy and with good reason. Mexican chilli peppers are a huge part of the culture in Mexico, used throughout the whole country in a mind-boggling array of ways. Regardless of which region of Mexico you travel to, you’ll find Mexican chillies in almost all the food. In fact, we would go as far to say that Chilli Peppers are the most vital ingredient in authentic Mexican cooking.
So join us on this spice crusade and discover the wonderful world of Mexican Chilli Peppers.
Think of Jalpeño chilli as the gateway into the whole world of chillies. Extremely common in both Mexican and Tex-Mex Cooking, jalepeños can be either Green, Red or Yellow. The difference between the colours depends on how long the chilli is allowed to ripen on the plant. Typical Tex-Mex uses would include topping them onto Nachos or stuffing them to make deep fried Jalapeńo peppers. In Mexico, it’s more common to find them in a Tomatillo Salsa or cooked and blended in oil to make a sauce to put on top of chicken tacos. Jalapeños are also used to make Chipotle Chillies.
Whilst this fruity number is pretty hot (it’s packing between 200 and 300 Scoville units), the Haberno Chilli Pepper it’s also packed full of favour which just needs to be enjoyed. Grown in the Yucatan region of Mexico, typically this Mexico chilli would be used in hot sauces paired with fruit (we use it in our Mango and Habanero Salsa). Please don’t be afraid! The heat dissipates pretty quickly.
This Mexican chilli pepper which originates from Pubela has been made famous by the Mexican dish Stuffed Poblanos. In this recipe, the fresh peppers are stuffed before being roasted. Quite commonly this would then be covered in sauce. A dried poblano is called an Ancho.
The fleshy chilli is also from the region of Puebla and is either eaten raw or fire roasted. They are quite mild in heat (10 to 20 thousand Scoville Units) and are typically used in salsa and pico de gallo. These serrano peppers can either be red or green depending on how ripe they are when they are picked.
This dried chilli pepper is one of the more common and popular chilli peppers in Mexico. Mostly grown in the Zacatecas region of central Mexico, it has a medium heat with a smoky berry flavour. These chillies used in Mexican cooking are put into soups and moles as well as being used in meat rubs such as our Guajillo and Garlic Taco Mix.
An ancho chilli pepper is a dried poblano chilli and an extremely common chilli in Mexican cuisine. One would find these medium heat Mexican chillies (2000 Scoville units) used in stable dishes such as Enchiladas, tortilla soup and more exotic dishes such as carne de puerco en chile negro (grilled pork in ancho & tomatillo sauce). There’s even a chilli liquor made out of anchos!
These super hot (100k-140kn Scoville Units) and tiny Mexican chillies are also known by many other names such as tepín, chiltepín, chilito, or chiapas. They are most commonly found dried but these peppers have the same name regardless of whether they are dried or fresh. This pepper is often ground to a powder and sprinkled on fresh fruit or used in Mexican soups and stews such as Pozole.
The cascabel chilli pepper is also known as the rattle chilli due to the loose seeds inside the chilli. It keeps the same name when its fresh and dry (though its most commonly found dried). Its grown in the Coahuila, Durango, Guerrero and Jalisco areas of Mexico and is often used in Salsa, Soups and Stews.
Not to be confused with the Pasilla Oaxaca, the Pasilla is the dried form of the chilaca chilli. Pasilla translates to mean ‘little raisin’. It has a rich flavour and a mild to medium heat rating (4000 Scoville Units). In Mexican Cooking its often used in sauces that are served with duck, lamb or seafood.
A close cousin of the ancho chilli, this Mexican chilli pepper is pretty unique in that it retains the same name in both its fresh and dry forms. It has a mild heat (2,500 Scoville Units) and a rich deep flavour with hints of chocolate. Its traditionally used in Mole, sauces, and stews.
Chipotle (Morita) Chilli
Maybe Mexico’s most famous chilli pepper, the chipotle chilli is a smoked jalapeńo. There are two varieties of the chipotle chilli, the Morita (a very spicy variety from the northern Chihuahua region) and the meco (a milder variety from central & south Mexico).
The chipotle is a medium heat (5k Scoville Units) and has an earthy and smoky flavour which lends itself very well to cooking. Most commonly sold as a chipotle paste or chipotle flakes and often found in chipotle salsa.
De Arbol Chilli
Also known as pico de pajaro (bird’s beak) or cola de rata (rat’s tail), the arbol chilli is another chilli that has the same name dried as well as fresh. Originally from the states of Oaxaca and Jalisco, the arbol chilli has a sharp and distinctive flavour. With an average Scoville rating of 25,0000 units, this Mexican chilli pepper is hot hot hot!
So there you have it. No more excuses. There’s a lot more to dried Mexican chillies than the generic chilli flakes or powder you often see in jars. Why not get hold of a few different types and start experimenting!