a red manzano pepper

Manzano Peppers (Chile Peron)

Are you looking for a new pepper to spice up your cuisine? Look no further than the manzano pepper! This medium-hot chili is shaped like an apple and packs a fruity, citrusy flavor that sets it apart from other chilies.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what makes manzano peppers unique, how spicy they are, and how they compare to more common peppers like habaneros.

Facts about
Manzano Peppers

Heat level:
12,000 - 30,000
Capsicum pubescens
South America
a photo of four yellow chili peppers with a small coin to compare size
The pepper on the bottom left is a Manzano. Photo by Carstor, Share Alike 2.5.

What are manzano peppers?

The manzano pepper is a medium-hot chili with thick walls and a refreshing citrus flavor. Also sometimes referred to as the peron pepper, its apple-like shape hints at its fruity taste, making it a great addition to salsas, hot sauces, and pickled dishes. However, it can be challenging to grow outside of its native cool climate in the Andes, making it tough to find outside of Mexico and South America.

What makes manzano peppers unique?

Unlike most medium-heat chilies that belong to the capsicum annuum species of peppers, the manzano pepper is a member of the capsicum pubescens species. This gives it furry leaves and black seeds, which are unique to this pepper species. The manzano pepper’s thick walls and fruitiness make it a perfect salsa pepper, as well as a great addition to hot sauces and grilled dishes.

C. pubescens is a much less common species of pepper than C. annuum or C. baccatum, with only a few varieties commonly eaten, like rocoto and peron peppers. In fact, C. pubescens peppers are known to be less diverse and contain fewer capsaicinoids, flavonoid aglycons, and quercetin than other types of peppers (Meckelmann, et. al., 2015).

How spicy are manzano peppers?

The manzano pepper is medium-hot, ranging from 12,000 to 30,000 SHU. This makes it about 2-3x as hot as a jalapeño pepper and similar in spiciness to the serrano pepper and the chile de àrbol. However, they are usually about half as hot as a typical cayenne pepper, with a median spiciness of 21,000 SHU. The manzano pepper is suitable for those who are comfortable eating spicy foods, while not being uncomfortably hot for most folks.

Manzano pepper vs. habanero

While the Manzano pepper is not as well-known as the habanero, they are similar in some ways. Both peppers have a fruity flavor and a decent level of heat. However, while the Manzano pepper ranges from 12,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units, habaneros are up to 10x+ hotter, ranging from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. Manzano peppers are also easier to handle in the kitchen due to their thicker walls, making them a great pick for salsa, hot sauces, and grilling. The habanero, on the other hand, can be overwhelming and difficult to work with for some people due to its extreme heat level.

What other peppers are similar to Manzanos?

If you enjoy the Manzano pepper, there are several other peppers that you may also enjoy. The Peruvian rocoto pepper is similar in shape and heat level, with a slightly sweeter taste — plus, they are both members of the c. pubescens species. The Aji Amarillo pepper, also from Peru, has a similar heat level and a fruity flavor that is similar to the Manzano. The Fresno pepper is another option, with a similar heat level and a smoky, slightly sweet taste.

What do they taste like?

Manzano peppers are known for their citrusy, sweet flavor. They have a medium-heat level ranging from 12,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units, which makes them about twice as hot as jalapeño peppers. The manzano’s median spiciness is 21,000, making it similar in heat to the serrano pepper and the chile de àrbol. It’s about half as hot as a typical cayenne pepper but much milder than extra-hot and super-hot chilies like the habanero.

The manzano pepper is shaped like a small apple (about the size of a golf ball or slightly larger) and matures from green to a vibrant yellowish-orange or red. Its thick walls and fruitiness are reminiscent of a bell pepper, but much spicier.

Common culinary uses for manzano peppers

Manzano peppers are an excellent choice for salsas, hot sauces, and pickling due to their refreshing citrus flavor and medium-heat level. Their thick walls are perfect for slicing and grilling as a spicy side dish, and they are also great for making manzano poppers – a tasty alternative to the popular jalapeño popper. Unlike most other chilies, manzano peppers are not typically dried because they are thick-walled, which makes it harder to dry them.

Where to get manzano peppers

Manzano peppers can be challenging to find outside of Mexico and South America, where they are commonly found in local markets. However, if you live in an urban area with a large Latin American population, you may be able to find them in produce markets. You can also buy manzano pepper seeds online, but be sure to buy them from a reputable seed company like Pepper Joe.

How to grow manzano peppers at home

Manzano peppers are surprisingly difficult to grow compared to other types of peppers. This is because, while most peppers love heat, manzanos are native to the Andes, growing in cooler conditions at 6,000 – 10,000 feet of elevation.

It’s possible to grow manzanos in other conditions, but they require temperatures around 45-60 degrees Fahrenheit, so you may need to find a shady place for them or grow them indoors. This makes areas like San Francisco a perfect place to grow them. While they naturally grow at 6,000+ ft. elevation, they can produce fruit at lower elevations, but they will produce very few seeds.