11 Best Substitutes For Scotch Bonnet Peppers + Sauces and Powders

If you’re looking to prepare a delightful Caribbean dish, chances are you’ve come across recipes calling for Scotch bonnet peppers. Renowned for their distinct heat and flavour, these peppers can be a crucial ingredient in many dishes. However, it’s not always easy to find Scotch bonnet peppers at your local store, and that’s where suitable substitutes come into play.

As someone experienced in cooking with Scotch bonnet peppers, (my husband grows these) understanding the available alternatives is essential to ensure the authenticity and taste of your dishes are preserved. To help you navigate this challenge, we’ve compiled a list of the best substitutes for Scotch bonnet peppers encompassing close relatives, spicy options, similar flavours, and readily accessible choices.

scotch bonnet peppers

Top Highlights

  • Scotch bonnet peppers provide a unique heat and flavour to various Caribbean dishes to tantalise your taste buds.
  • There are several suitable substitutes when Scotch bonnet peppers are unavailable.
  • The best alternatives include chilies with varying heat levels and flavour profiles to cater to different recipes.

What are Scotch Bonnet Peppers?

Scotch Bonnet Peppers, also known as Caribbean red peppers, are a type of fiery chilli pepper originating from the Caribbean and West Africa. These peppers share close ties with habanero peppers, and are renowned for their unique fusion of fruitiness and intense heat. With a Scoville rating between 100,000 and 350,000 SHU, Scotch Bonnet Peppers rank among the hottest chilli peppers globally.

Predominantly utilised in Caribbean dishes such as jerk chicken, hot sauces, and various stews, the distinct combination of heat and fruity undertones makes Scotch Bonnet Peppers a sought-after ingredient for numerous other recipes.

hot scotch bonnet peppers what are the substitutes

Considering Factors for Scotch Bonnet Pepper Replacement

When choosing an alternative for Scotch bonnet peppers, keep these aspects in mind:

  • Spiciness: Aim for a substitute with a similar Scoville scale rating to preserve the intended heat intensity of your dish.
  • Taste: Seek out chilli peppers with fruity or tropical flavour profiles to replicate the unique flavour of Scotch bonnet peppers.
  • Accessibility: Opt for a substitute that is easily obtainable in your nearby grocery store or market.
  • Size and form: Take into account the size and shape of the alternative pepper, as it may influence the final appearance and texture of your dish.

So what can I use instead of scotch bonnets? Here are the next best alternatives:

1. Habanero Peppers (100,000 – 350,000 SHU)

Habanero peppers boast a high heat level and are closely related to Scotch bonnet peppers and the best scotch bonnet pepper substitutes , making them a suitable alternative in terms of both spiciness and taste. With a Scoville rating between 100,000 and 350,000 SHU, they share a fruity, citrusy flavour, ensuring the desired taste and heat of any recipe remains unaltered.

These peppers come in a variety of colours, such as orange, red, and yellow, and can conveniently be found in most supermarkets or local markets. When substituting Scotch bonnet peppers with habaneros, opt for a straightforward 1:1 ratio.

2. Madame Jeanette Peppers (125,000 – 325,000 SHU)

Madame Jeanette peppers possess a high heat level, another suitable substitute with a Scoville score ranging from 125,000 to 325,000 SHU. These peppers are known for their fruity, tangy flavour, making them an appropriate alternative to Scotch bonnet peppers. Frequently utilised in Surinamese and Antillean cuisines, Madame Jeanette peppers can be found fresh or dried in specialist shops or online. When replacing Scotch bonnet peppers with Madame Jeanette peppers, use a simple 1:1 ratio due to their comparable heat levels.

3. Thai Bird’s Eye Chilies (50,000 – 100,000 SHU)

Thai bird’s eye chilies, often referred to as bird chilies, are small and slender peppers with a Scoville rating ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 SHU. They possess a fruity and somewhat sweet taste, making them a suitable alternative for Scotch bonnet peppers. These chilies are a popular ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine and can be discovered both fresh and dried at numerous Asian supermarkets.

4. Fresno Peppers (2,500 – 10,000 SHU)

Fresno peppers offer a medium heat level, ranging from 2,500 to 10,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. These peppers possess a fruity taste, comparable to Scotch bonnet peppers, yet carry a subtle smoky nuance. Since they’re not overly spicy, using more in a recipe may be necessary to achieve the preferred spice intensity.

Fresno peppers are easily obtainable in both red and green forms. The red variety tends to be hotter and sweeter than its green counterpart.

5. Piri Piri Peppers (50,000 – 175,000 SHU)

Characterised by a high heat level with a tangy and slightly fruity taste, Piri Piri peppers are also known as African bird’s eye chillies or peri-peri peppers. With a Scoville rating ranging from 50,000 to 175,000 SHU, these peppers can be a suitable alternative to Scotch bonnet peppers.

Frequently utilised in African and Portuguese cuisines, Piri Piri peppers can be found in various forms, such as fresh, dried, or ground, at specialty stores or online. You can also get the piri piri sauce which is widely available.

To use them as a Scotch bonnet substitute, simply replace the same amount of Piri Piri pepper, then modify according to your taste preferences.

6. Jalapeño Peppers (2,500 – 8,000 SHU)

Jalapeno peppers present a milder alternative for those desiring a less intense spice. With a Scoville rating between 2,500 and 8,000 SHU, they are considerably less fiery than Scotch bonnet peppers. Their mildly fruity and crisp flavour makes them appealing to those with a preference for moderate heat levels.

These peppers are widely accessible and come in both green and red varieties. The red jalapeños are marginally sweeter and spicier. To achieve the desired heat, you might need to use more jalapeños in your recipe.

It should be noted that jalapeño peppers differ from Scotch bonnet peppers in size and shape, which could slightly alter the final appearance and texture of your dish.

7. Serrano Peppers (10,000 – 23,000 SHU)

Serrano peppers fall into the medium-heat category, with a Scoville heat rating of 10,000 to 23,000 SHU. They possess a bright and crisp flavour, making them a suitable alternative for Scotch bonnet peppers in certain recipes where the fruity component is not essential.

These versatile peppers are easily accessible and come in both green and red versions, where the red variant is slightly spicier and sweeter.

8. Ghost Peppers (855,000 – 1,041,427 SHU)

Ghost pepper, also referred to as Bhut Jolokia, rank among the world’s hottest peppers, boasting a Scoville rating of 855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU. These peppers exhibit an intense fruity and smoky flavour, making them an appropriate alternative to Scotch bonnet peppers for those seeking extreme heat in their dishes.

To avoid overpowering a dish, it is crucial to use ghost peppers with restraint and be cautious in your preparations. Start by adding small amounts, adjusting to your desired taste later. Specialty stores or online retailers are ideal places to source fresh, dried, or ground ghost peppers.

It is essential to be considerate of your guests’ preferences, as the extreme heat from ghost peppers may not be suitable for everyone. Use them prudently to ensure a pleasurable dining experience.

9. Cayenne Peppers (30,000 – 50,000 SHU)

Cayenne peppers possess a medium to high heat level, with a Scoville rating ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. These peppers exhibit a bright and slightly fruity taste, making them a suitable alternative for Scotch bonnet peppers when the fruity flavour is not essential. Available in fresh, dried, or as red cayenne pepper powder, the versatile cayenne pepper is an easily accessible choice for various dishes.

10. Carolina Reaper (1,400,000 – 2,200,000 SHU)

The Carolina Reaper takes the crown as the world’s most fiery pepper, boasting a scoville heat units level ranging from 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU. Possessing a fruity and rather sweet taste, it can act as a fitting replacement for Scotch bonnet peppers when seeking an intense heat addition to your meal.

Keep in mind that when utilising Carolina Reaper peppers, just a minuscule amount is needed, as their spiciness can rapidly dominate a dish. These fiery peppers can be bought in specialty stores or online, offered as fresh, dried, or in powdered form.

It’s important to note that the extreme spice level of Carolina Reaper peppers may not be tolerable for all; exercise caution and consider your guests’ preferences.

11. Anaheim Peppers

Anaheim peppers present an excellent alternative to Scotch bonnet peppers, offering a distinct taste and similar shape. These peppers are typically milder in heat, making them a more approachable choice for those seeking flavour without excessive spiciness. The Anaheim pepper’s unique flavour profile adds a delightful twist to any dish it is used.

Some key aspects of Anaheim peppers are:

  • Shape: They bear a resemblance to Scotch bonnet peppers in terms of shape.
  • Good option: For individuals who prefer a milder heat level, Anaheim peppers are a fantastic substitute.
  • Unique flavour: With a taste all their own, these peppers provide a fresh twist on traditional recipes.

Anaheim peppers are a suitable and flavourful substitute for Scotch bonnet peppers, particularly for those who desire a more modest level of spiciness. The peppers’ comparable shape and singular taste make them a valuable ingredient in various dishes.

More great substitutes for scotch bonnet peppers

While fresh hot peppers can be a delicious addition to many dishes, it can be easier to buy hot sauces and powders at the grocery store for a few reasons.

First, fresh hot peppers like tabasco peppers can be difficult to find, especially if you live in an area where they are not commonly grown or sold. 

Second, fresh hot peppers can vary in heat level and flavor depending on the season, growing conditions, and ripeness. This can make it difficult to consistently achieve the desired level of heat and flavor in your dishes.

Hot sauces and powders, on the other hand, are made from a consistent blend of peppers and other ingredients, which ensures that you get the same level of heat and flavour every time you use them. They have a longer shelf life than fresh peppers, which means that they can be stored in your pantry and used whenever you need them, without worrying about them going bad.

Hot Sauces, Pastes and Powders

Habanero Sauce

One of the most popular substitutes for scotch bonnet peppers is habanero sauce. Habanero peppers are similar in heat level and flavor to scotch bonnets, and habanero sauce isa good alternative to scotch bonnet peppers.

Other hot sauces that can be used as substitutes include cayenne pepper sauce, sriracha, and tabasco sauce.

If you prefer to use powders instead of sauces, you can try using cayenne pepper, chili powder, or red pepper flakes. These powders are made from dried chili peppers and can add a similar level of heat and flavour to your dishes.

However, be careful when using powders, as they can be more concentrated than sauces and can easily overpower your dish if you use too much.

Another option is to use a combination of spices to create your own scotch bonnet pepper substitute. Mix together ground cumin, coriander, allspice, and black pepper to create a spice blend that can add a similar flavor to your dishes. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to add some heat.

Thai red chili paste, also known as “nam prik pao,” is a popular ingredient in Thai cuisine. It is made from a blend of red chili peppers, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, and other spices, which are roasted and then ground into a paste.

The resulting paste has a sweet, smoky, and slightly spicy flavour that is used to add depth and complexity to dishes like stir-fries, curries, and soups. Thai red chili paste is often used as a base for marinades and sauces, and can also be mixed with coconut milk to create a creamy and flavourful curry. It is a versatile ingredient that can be found in many Thai recipes, and it adds a unique and delicious flavour to any dish.

Final Thoughts

A variety of Scotch bonnet pepper alternatives exist for use in cooking, covering a spectrum of mild to extremely spicy options. In selecting an appropriate substitute, take into account factors such as heat intensity, taste, accessibility, and the pepper’s size and shape to guarantee a successful result in your meal. Opt for a pepper that aligns with your preferred heat level, and if a fruity flavour is crucial, seek out that characteristic as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *