Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitutes: 3 Ultimate Alternatives

What about having a scotch bonnet hot sauce or pickled scotch bonnet peppers? They’re yummy indeed! They are hot, very hot, but with a lingering fruity taste.

The Scotch Bonnet pepper is a cultivar of the habanero. It carries some serious heat, measuring in at 100,000–350,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Besides the wicked heat, it can have an almost sweet, vaguely fruity taste underlying the spice. It’s a popular chili in the Caribbean and West African cooking.

This article digs into the best Scotch Bonnet pepper substitute you can use in a pinch.

Best Bonnet Pepper Substitutes

It’s hard to find bonnet pepper outside the areas of the Caribbean population. The availability of this chili pepper, even at online stores, is rare in most places. If you don’t have this hot chili to prepare a dish that calls for it, then turn to a bonnet pepper substitute instead.

Let’s now look at some of the best alternatives to Bonnet Pepper that work great and are easy to find as well.

1. Habanero pepper

Habanero chili pepper (Caribbean red pepper) is the best Scotch bonnet substitute in terms of its heat and other flavors. Two close cousins that spice up the upper end of the Scoville scale. They both have a similar heat level that ranges from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.

Despite the similarities, there’s also a disparity between the two; the habanero does not have the fruity sweetness of the former. However, the sweetness of peppers isn’t a big issue for most recipes, unless you are preparing a sweet item like spicy jam.

To your advantage, habanero chilies are easy to find around your area. Use it in a 1:1 ratio to substitute Scotch Bonnet peppers in your recipe.

2. Serrano Peppers

Serrano pepper makes a great substitute for Scotch bonnet chili peppers. This pepper ranks lower on the heat scale vis-à-vis the bonnet pepper, but they perfectly match in their fruity sweetness.

To make things easy for you, serrano pepper is conveniently available in most places, so it’s a viable alternative to scotch bonnet chile.

If you don’t have the serrano chilies, then think of using jalapeno pepper as a stand-in ingredient for Scotch bonnet pepper. Of course, jalapenos rank low on the heat index, but they match the bonnet pepper and serrano in sweetness. In the case of unavailability, even a substitute pepper for serranos could be usable in most recipes.

3. Rocotillo Pepper

Rocotillo peppers are similar to Scotch bonnet peppers, though they are 20 times milder than them. They are more like serrano and jalapeno peppers, with mid-level heat and a tinge of fruitiness.

Unfortunately, it is quite hard to find them in most places, perhaps even harder than Bonnet chilies.

Obviously, Rocotillo peppers are not the best substitute for Scotch bonnet peppers, but they are still a suitable substitute in a pinch.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use chili powder instead of the scotch bonnet?

All brands of chili powder aren’t the same and are available in mild, medium, or hot varieties. Chili powder made of a mixture of hot chilies could work as a good substitute for Scotch Bonnet in recipes that call for dry ground chilies.

Are habaneros and scotch bonnets the same?

The Scotch bonnet is a cultivar of the habanero, but both of them have noticeable differences in heat and taste. Habaneros are mildly sweet and fruity but are a tad bitter. On the other hand, Scotch Bonnets are sweeter and fruitier, but not bitter. Both peppers come in a variety of colors, although habaneros are more pointy or elongated in shape.

What pepper is similar to Scotch bonnets?

Heat-wise, Habanero, Bird’s Eye (Thai Red), and Jamaican Yellow Mushroom peppers come in the same heat range as Scotch Bonnets. If you consider the easy availability factor, then serrano, jalapeno, and cayenne peppers are better matches for bonnet peppers, though they lack the same heat and flavor.

Can I use cayenne instead of the Scotch bonnet?

The Cayenne chili pepper is a fantastic culinary chili, bringing medium heat that ranges between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville heat units with a neutral peppery flavor. It’s not as spicy as Scotch bonnet, which is a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 12 times hotter than regular red cayenne pepper. Like cayenne, you can use Tabasco pepper also as a substitute for Scotch bonnet chilies, but you’ll miss the scorching heat and sweet, fruity flavor. You may use red cayenne pepper powder to substitute for Scotch Bonnet powder or flakes.

Can I use jalapenos instead of the SB?

Jalapenos are the most commonly used chili everywhere; thus an easy replacement for any chili. But it’s a mild chili pepper, so you’ll be giving up a lot of the heat and flavor of Scotch Bonnet pepper. The Scotch Bonnet can be anywhere from 12 to 140 times hotter than jalapeno chili peppers and has a sweet, fruity flavor as opposed to the plain vegetal flavor of jalapenos.

Is ghost pepper hotter than scotch bonnet?

Generally, the ghost pepper is 2-4 times hotter than Scotch peppers and, in fact, one of the hottest peppers in the world. These two peppers are very similar in shape and color; they also have similar sweet flavors.

What can I use in place of Bonnet chili pepper sauce?

Some of the best alternatives to its sauce are Thai red chili paste and Piri Piri sauce. Tabasco sauce is also a good alternative to consider in a recipe that calls for Scotch sauce.

Can Pequin pepper be used to replace scotch bonnet peppers?

Pequin pepper, which has a spicy, sweet flavor, is another good substitute for it. In comparison, it’s much smaller but 5 to 24 times hotter than a jalapeno.

The Bottom Line

The Scotch bonnet pepper is a very hot chili commonly used in Caribbean spicy dishes. This pepper is mostly available in the Caribbean region only. Thus, it has become almost necessary for those living outside of the Caribbean to find a replacement for this pepper.

I would recommend habanero peppers as the best substitute for scotch bonnet peppers. Other possible replacement options are Serrano and Jalapeno, though they are milder than Bonnet peppers.

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