This article aims to clear up the confusion between serrano and jalapeño peppers. There are some frequently asked questions about both types of peppers.

What’s the hottest chilli? What species does each of them descend from? Can you make serrano poppers? We look at all this and more so you know what range to choose at the supermarket.

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Serrano (left) and jalapeños Serrano (left) and jalapeños (right).

Serrano peppers versus jalapeños

There are some major differences between the serrano and the jalapeño, but also many similarities. Here we look at the main categories and compare two types of peppers.


One of the most obvious differences is size. Serranos are similar in length to jalapenos, but are much thinner. This makes them less attractive for stuffed peppers (poppers) and more for salsas or sliced roasts.

Heat (Scoville)

We’ll come back to this later, but the serrano is 2 to 4 times spicier than the jalapeño. This is a big advantage of serranos over chili peppers, as they offer more heat in a smaller package.


Although serrano and jalapeño look similar at first glance, there are important differences that set them apart. One is that serranos are less round than jalapenos, with a straight, long and slender shape. In addition, jalapenos often have vertical corks or white lines along the skin of the pepper, while serranos are smooth.


The flavors of serranos and jalapenos are very similar. They both taste like spices with cocktail nuances. Both types of peppers are equally sweet, especially when left to ripen to a bright red color.


Serrano and jalapeño are both derived from the pepper Capsicum annuum. This means that they are closely related and probably descended from a common ancestor. С. The most common varieties are paprika, poblano and cayenne.

Which is hotter, the serrano or the jalapeño?

This is probably the question most often asked by curious grocery shoppers: Which is the hottest pepper, the serrano or the jalapeño?

Simply put, serrano peppers are 2 to 4 times hotter than jalapenos. Serranos range from 10,000 to 20,000 on the Scoville scale, while jalapenos range from 5,000 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale. Don’t be fooled by the small Serrano sizes!

The higher temperature of the serrano makes it an excellent option for flavoring chili con carne, salsa or guacamole. It’s also one of our favorite chilies to grow, with small plants and high yields.

Can you replace the jalapenos with serranos?

In short, yes, you can substitute the serrano for the jalapeño and vice versa. Note that the serrano is both spicier (2 to 4 times hotter) and smaller than the jalapeño.

If you’re making stuffed peppers, Serrano may not be appropriate. But if you’re just chopping peppers for salsa or guacamole, any pepper will do.

You can find other substitutes for jalapeño here.

Serrano vs. Habanero pepper

Since we compared the Serrano to the Jalapeño, why not compare the Serrano to the next level? Habanero peppers are as easy to find in supermarkets as serrano and jalapenos.

However, the habanero and the serrano are very different in almost all respects. First, habaneros are about ten times spicier than serranos. They also come from a different species of pepper (C. chinense).

Savina Habanero Red Pepper

Habanero peppers also have a very different flavor profile. They are sweet and fruity, with a sometimes floral taste. The skin of habaneros is slightly thinner than that of serranos, making it the perfect chili for a super hot sauce.

Finally, the shape of the habaneros is markedly different, with a much more rippled texture and a coarser appearance. This makes habaneros unpleasant to work with fillings, but ideal for seasoning and cooking.

Learn how to grow habanero peppers here.

Serranos and jalapeños turn red?

There are many different subtypes of serrano and jalapeño. However, the most common varieties you see in the supermarket ripen to a bright red color.

Serrano red pepper Serrano red pepper.

However, both serrano and jalapeño are sold under green when they are still dark green. This means that no matter how long you let them sit, they may not reach full maturity.

All peppers harvested before they begin to ripen usually do not get their final color. If the peppers begin to turn during harvest, even if only slightly, they will continue to ripen after picking.

What type of peppers should I grow?

Jalapeño peppers are more famous than serrano peppers for a reason. The larger size and more tolerant heat makes jalapenos attractive to a wider audience.

However, if you love the flavor of chilies but want it a little spicier, the Serrano is the perfect chili pepper to grow. We always have at least one Serrano plant in our garden.

Serranos offers a higher yield for a smaller plant size. The pods develop and ripen quickly, just like jalapenos. Because the pods are smaller, the plants will produce more, meaning you can harvest one or two pods a day, depending on your needs during the season. The flavors are similar, but I personally prefer serrano to jalapeño, especially for making a hot sauce.

There are many varieties of jalapeño peppers. Some ripen to yellow, orange or brown, others are super hot. There is even an unroasted jalapeño pepper called Nadapeno. Yields are generally good, but not as high as the Serrano due to its larger size. However, the larger peppers make them useful for making tasty snacks like chili peppers.

Learn how to grow potted peppers here.

Whatever variety you choose, you can easily get seeds by just taking a few store-bought peppers. Choose an organic, healthy and mature pod and store the seeds carefully for future propagation.

More information can be found here:

I hope this article has helped clarify the debate over the serrano and jalapeño peppers. They are very healthy and tasty peppers, with some differences. Let me know in the comments what kind of pepper you prefer!

Calvin's sketch


One of the original s! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning about peppers and botany, he might be traveling to new places or making music.

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