The jalapeño pepper is the #1 most popular hot pepper in the United States, Mexico, and beyond. It originated in Mexico but is widely produced in the US (California, New Mexico, and Texas) — with more than 460 million pounds produced in 2014.
Jalapeños tend to be 2-3.5 inches long, but can grow to be as long as 6″. They are flavorful and have a great level of spice for most people, being spicy enough to give a kick without overwhelming. On average, jalapeños fall around 5,000 on the Scoville heat scale.
The name jalapeño comes from “Jalapa”, or Xalapa, which is the capital of Veracruz in Mexico, where the peppers are originally from. Jalapeños are widely eaten raw, dried in a variety of ways, including chipotle meco and morita, cooked into moles and sauces, or pickled. Jalapeños are also one of the most common and popular peppers used in commercial products, so you’ll see plenty of hot sauces and chili flakes touting this ingredient.
Looking for something a little more unique? Jalapeños can be found in a number of colors like purple, black, and orange, and other varieties like lemon spice and Jaloro.
Facts about Jalapeño Peppers
2,500 - 10,000
Jalapeños taste fresh, bright, and grassy, with a decent spicy kick. They are similar to serranos, but less spicy. Chipotle (dried or smoked red jalapeños) take on a deep and rich flavor.
Jalapeños can be used wherever you want a bit of spice. You can use them in place of bell pepper and sautee them with your eggs, use fresh or pickled jalapeños as a pizza topping, incorporate fresh jalapeño or chipotle into a sauce, and much more. They are also amazing raw in salsas and pico de gallo, or in a poke bowl or salad.
Where to get jalapeños
If you live in the US, chances are you can find fresh jalapeños in the produce section of your local grocery store. They tend to be green, around 3 inches long, and relatively plump, and you may see them next to serrano peppers which are usually slightly smaller and thinner. You can also find pickled jalapeños in the canned goods or “Mexican/Latin” section of the store, or near the pickles and giardiniera.
Jalapeños are also one of the most-used peppers commercially, so there are tons of products that use them. They are also very easy to grow at home!
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Hot sauces with jalapeño peppers
Jalapeño hot sauces tend to be on the milder end unless they are combined with other types of peppers. El Pato jalapeño sauce and Dave’s Gourmet are two solid and reputable options.
Pickled jalapeño peppers
Pickled jalapeños are amazing on nachos, pizza, and sandwiches. You can typically find pickled jalapeños near the regular pickles at your local grocery store.
Jalapeño pepper flakes
Jalapeño pepper flakes are another option, although because they lack serious heat, they are less common than cayenne pepper flakes. When in doubt, the Sonoran Spice Company has a jalapeño flake option, and they are a brand I personally have used for years.