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9 Best Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitutes

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Scotch bonnet peppers are very popular in most Caribbean cuisines, but it is very tough to find. Unless you reside in sub-tropic areas or areas with a high population of Caribbeans, getting the scotch bonnet peppers would be difficult.

But what happens when you stumble on an extremely good recipe that calls for scotch bonnet pepper but you don’t have it at home? Well, the simplest thing will be to use other good scotch bonnet pepper substitutes.

Habanero chili pepper, tabasco sauce, jalapeno chili pepper, piri piri sauce, paprika, sriracha, thai red chili paste, chili pepper, and red cayenne pepper powder are all suitable substitutes for scotch bonnet pepper that you can find in most supermarkets and grocery stores.

Let’s quickly learn more about these peppers and see how you can use them to replace scotch bonnet pepper in your dishes!

What Is Scotch Bonnet Pepper?

Scotch bonnet pepper, also known as Caribbean red pepper, is a hot and tangy pepper that is named for its resemblance to the tam o’ shanter hat. It’s basically one of the hottest peppers in the world.

It is mostly used in the Caribbean as well as west Africa. The scotch bonnet has a heat rate of about 100,000-300,000 Scoville units.

Compared to the jalapeno peppers, which have a Scoville of about 2,500-8,000 Scoville units, it is considered extremely hot. It is therefore advisable to consume it in small quantities.

Best Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitutes

This is the list of other peppers that you can use for scotch bonnet peppers.

1. Habanero Chili Pepper

Habanero pepper emerges as the best substitute for scotch bonnet peppers as it matches its high heat level.

When substituting habanero for scotch bonnet peppers, use them in a ratio of 1:1 because their heating effect is almost the same.

The good thing about using habanero as a substitute is that habanero peppers are easier to find in grocery stores, unlike the scorch peppers.

Even if habanero matches scorch bonnet peppers’ hotness, it lacks the fruity taste that scorch bonnet has, so the overall taste of your dish might differ.

2. Red Cayenne Pepper Powder

Most people already have a jar of cayenne pepper powder in their kitchen cabinets as it’s a very popular condiment for cooking.

This pepper is one of the greatest scotch bonnet pepper substitutes as it matches its intensity in both taste and flavor.

It is suggested that you use about ¼ teaspoon in your dish and keep adding the same amount until it matches the level of spiciness that you desire in your dish.

Note that if you’re adding powdered cayenne to your dish, there will be no traces of fresh chili in your container, but since the spice level is enough, it would be very rare for anyone to notice.

3. Chili Pepper

Most people will think that this pepper is just a mix of ground chili peppers put together and packaged, but this is not the case.

Chili pepper is a seasoning blend that is carefully put together to give your dish a tastier and more defined feel. Also, this pepper is often mistaken for Chile powder.

Chile powder is plain hot peppers grounded together that can also be used to substitute scotch bonnet pepper, but based on to its heat intensity, compared to the scotch bonnet, you would want to add more of it in your recipes.

Chili powders are also available in mild, medium, or hot varieties, and you can choose whichever level best suits your dish.

4. Jalapeno Chili Pepper

This pepper is suitable for use if you’re on the lookout for peppers with the same texture and taste as chili peppers without the heat of scotch bonnet pepper.

A major upturn is that this pepper is also almost available nationwide. Jalapenos have great flavors even if they are not as fruity and hot as the scotch bonnet peppers.

If you’re substituting jalapenos for scotch bonnet peppers in a recipe, it should be done at a 3:1 (jalapeno: scotch bonnet) ratio, and if you’re still in need of more heat, you can add your desired amount of chili pepper.

5. Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco sauce is made from tabasco pepper, vinegar, and salt. It is a very hot sauce with a comparably hot heat like the scotch bonnet pepper.

If you want a good level of spice and thickness in your recipe, tabasco sauce should be a decent choice.

When adding tabasco to your dish, add it slowly using your teaspoon until you get to your desired heat level. It is always better to have less heat in your recipe than to end up with a mouth-burning recipe.

6. Piri Piri Sauce

This sauce dates back centuries and is said to have originated from Portugal. Portuguese traders travel out and bring back the spicy flavors required to make the Piri Piri sauce which is now popular for its chicken peri Piri sauce.

This sauce contains vinegar, lemon, garlic, oil, and bay and may also collect certain herbal flavors like tarragon and citrussy.

Since Piri Piri also has a fruity feel, it is a great scotch bonnet pepper alternative.

7. Thai Red Chili Paste

Thai red chili paste is a mix of Thai spices and red chilies, which can be used as the base for soups, stir-fries, and several other dishes.

It stands as a great substitute for scotch bonnet pepper because of its great fragrance and versatility.

Before using this paste as a substitute, consider that it contains certain amounts of seafood extract that is present in fish sauce and shrimp paste. When added, it may not be suitable for vegetarians and dietarians.

8. Paprika

This pepper provides all the flavors of the scotch bonnet pepper but without the hot spice. Even if paprika was made from a chili pepper base, it has zero heat compared to the chili powders.

Paprika would make a great scotch bonnet pepper substitute in dishes where only flavor and not spiciness are required.

Another benefit of using paprika is that it is available in different forms like smoked, rubs, marinades, and sauces where you would want an earthy and rich flavor.

9. Sriracha

Sriracha is not as hot as Tabasco or Piri Piri sauce because it is made from red jalapeno peppers. It is a blend of vinegar, chili, and salt, and this pepper can add a gentle kick to almost any dish.

The nice thing about this pepper is that you should not worry about adding too much of it to your plate as it is not hot and can’t turn your food into a hot disaster.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Different Scotch Bonnet Pepper Varieties?

Yes, there are several scotch bonnet pepper varieties, including the Tobago, Grenada, chocolate, pink, red, sweet cachucha, true Jamaican, Tobago orange, and Tobago sweet.

Are Habaneros and Scotch Bonnet Pepper the Same?

These chilies are not the same even if they have the same spice levels; their flavors are different.

While both habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers are sweet and fruity, habaneros have a tinge of bitterness, while scotch bonnet peppers are not bitter.

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