Red Jalapenos vs. Green Jalapenos

The same…but different.

Jalapeño peppers are hands down the most popular hot pepper around, but most don’t know that it comes in different shades.

That’s right – there are green jalapeños and red jalapeños. What’s the difference? Is one spicier than the other? Do they taste different? Are the red versions hard to find? Let’s break down what makes these two hot pepper options tick in another PepperScale Showdown.

Red jalapeño vs. green jalapeño: What makes them different colors?

The big difference between these two peppers is simply age. They are the same pepper, just a green jalapeño is picked early in the ripening process, while a red jalapeño is left on the vine to mature. During the ripening, jalapeños, like other chilies, turn red. The process takes time so many jalapeños end up multi-hued, various shades of green and red during the aging process. And the same pepper plant may have some green, some red, and some various hues of each.

Is one better for you than the other?

All peppers are full of vitamins and antioxidants, so every type is good for you. But there is something to be said for eating hot peppers that have been longer on the vine. The longer a chili has to mature, the more of these healthy compounds they have. So a red jalapeño, with its increase in capsaicin (known for great health benefits), vitamins, and antioxidants, is going to have some added health benefits compared to the green versions.

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8 Responses to Red Jalapenos vs. Green Jalapenos

  1. Nabranes TwistyPuzzler says:

    Which is hotter? Red or green?

  2. Dino says:

    > The longer a chili has to mature, the more of these healthy compounds they have.

    Do you have any sources on this for further reading?

  3. Some sugars and other things such as fats and oil, have the ability to “tone down” some of capsaicin’s effects, notably in the mouth. This is true in cooking AND in the production and growth of the Jalapeño pepper. The point is that quite often red-ripe jalapeño peppers have LESS perceived heat or spiciness than the green ones from the same plant. As the peppers grow, capsaicin does in fact increase, but many other beneficial compounds form and also increase. This quite often makes the riper jalapeño peppers less hot, as I’ve experienced over many years of growing. Here’s the one exception. Jalapeño of several varieties are grown in many places, under various conditions. A red-ripe jalapeño from one place may indeed be hotter, MUCCH hotter than a green one harvested elsewhere, as many factors can influence capsaicin production. So comparing peppers red and green from two different sources, it could go either way. The article also fails to mention that most varities of jalapeño don’t go from green to red at all. They go from green to black, and then begin reddening. I wonder if the author has ever grown jalapeño, either farm scale, home garden or just one in a pot on the patio.

  4. Tina Webb says:

    I completely agree with Jon Fantom. I have been growing them for years and the reds are never as hot as the greens, yet they are sweeter. I am in zone 6B. In some cases some of the younger Jalapenos are wildly hotter than the older ones. I have a 3 year old Jalapeno plant I bring in during the winter. It used to have very hot peppers now they seem no hotter than a bell pepper. I would like to learn a whole lot more about them.

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