Scotch Bonnet Vs Habanero (Key Differences)

Posted on

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Vs Habanero Pepper



Prep time

Cooking time

Total time


This article may contain affiliate links and if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Peppers are hot, but some are hotter compared to others. There are many people out there who love using hot pepper for their recipes, and due to geographical differences, you may not find a particular type of pepper in certain regions.

Scotch Bonnet and Habanero belong to the same plant genus, grow in similar warm and dry regions, and are among the hottest peppers in the world. You can substitute them with each other in any recipe. However, you may want to know the difference(s) between these two equally unique peppers.

What are Scotch Bonnets?

Scotch bonnet pepper is a variety of the Capsicum Chinense species commonly seen and used in West Africa and countries in the Caribbean islands. Other common names of this pepper include Bonney peppers and Caribbean red peppers.

Bonnet and habanero peppers closely look alike, and that is why they are being compared in this article.

Big pile of red scotch bonnet peppers on an outdoor market stall

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Varieties 

There are several types of Scotch Bonnet peppers available. Each has its own unique characteristics and uses. From the Caribbean to its global reach today, here are some of the most common varieties of this pepper.

Yellow Scotch Bonnet

This one derives its name from its shape, which is similar to a Tam o’ Shanter or Scottish bonnet. When mature, it has a bright yellow color as compared to other Scotch Bonnet types, which are reddish-orange in color.

In terms of taste, it has a pinch of citrus and is enjoyed by pepper lovers who love Scottish bonnets but dislike its spiciness. The Scoville scale rates it at between 100,000 – 350,000 SHUs. It is often used in Latin American and Caribbean dishes, where it is used to make traditional hot sauce recipes and jerk dishes.

White Scotch Bonnet

The white is a rare cultivar, displaying a special creamy, ivory color when fully mature. It has a round shape similar to many habanero kinds, but it sets itself apart due to its subtly flattened top. It is full of health benefits such as vitamin C and potassium and can even assist in blood pressure modulation. In West Africa and the Caribbean cuisine, locals use it in jerk chicken, curries, and stews to kick off heat and zest.

Orange Scotch Bonnet

This one’s color ranges from light yellow-orange to a deep reddish-orange. It is small compared to other Scotch Bonnet kinds, measuring only 1 – 2 inches in diameter. Its texture resembles a wrinkled cloth, and it’s as thin and tough as it looks. Take heed when handling these Mama peppers, as their heat can overwhelm some people.

The Bahama Mama and the Bahamian

Both varieties originate from the Bahamas but are different in some ways. The Bahama Mama is the larger of the two, but its low heat is also the milder of the two. 

The Bahama Mama is bright yellow when ready for harvesting and is a staple in traditional Bahamian cooking. It infuses meals such as conch chowder and spicy cuisines with heat and flavor. The Bahamian is mainly used in cooking grilled seafood.  

You can use either of these peppers in food depending on how spicy you would like your meals to be. 

The Capsicum Chinense

Also called the Jamaican Hot, this pepper is a highly prized and sought-after Scotch Bonnet. Chili heads love it in particular because it is versatile and used in many dishes to add both heat and relish.

The capsicum Chinense is wrinkled and bumpy and grows to a length of around 1-2 inches. Don’t let its small size fool you, these peppers pack a deadly punch of up to 2 million SHU (Scoville Heat Units)

Compared to the Bahama Mama and Bahamian’s ember flavor, the Capsicum Chinense has a fruity taste with shades of peach or apricot. 

Scotch Bonnet Vs Habanero

What is Habaneros?

Habaneros is also a “Very Hot” chili, a species of Capsicum Chinense.

Well, habaneros are not ubiquitous in the Caribbean and W. Africa, but you can still find them in these places.

This chilies grow up to 6 inches. Unripe habaneros start green yet when they mature, the color changes to various shades of orange, white, red, and others.

There are a lot of similarities between this variant of chill and scotch bonnets, starting from the appearance.

Habanero Pepper Varieties 

Many people assume that all habanero peppers are the same, but there are differences between them that suit different dishes. 

White Giant 

These giants stand out more than their other cousins. Their huge size is, however, toned down by their milder and slightly sweeter taste profile compared to many pepper types, including the orange habanero. Chefs, in particular, love to fill beef patties, veggies, and cheeses, among other ingredients. The giant’s moderate heat infuses a hint of spiciness without overwhelming the eater.

Orange Habanero

The orange habanero is a native of Yucatan, Mexico. It is characterized by its bright orange color, fruity and hot. It is used in its ripe and unripe forms in hot sauces, salsas, or marinades. It adds a mixture of sweet and spiky flavors to Yucatecan diets.

Red Savina

This particular pepper is regarded by many as one of the hottest. Its bright red color with a smoky, fruity flavor packs some heat. It can scorch at up to 500,000 SHU. Be careful with the red savina – it’s only for the bold at heart.

Jamaican Chocolate (Black Habanero Peppers)

Next are the Jamaican Chocolate Habanero Peppers. This kind of pepper is native to the Caribbean and South America. Compared to other habanero peppers, which spot an orange or red color when mature, this one has a chocolate brown-like color with a heat level of up to 450,000 SHU. 


Sometimes called the heartless habanero, this pepper is sweet and fruity to the tongue with a tropical tang comparable to mangoes. They flavor food without adding heat or reducing the spiciness in homemade sauces. They also sweeten desserts due to their slightly sweet flavor.

White Habanero

Contrary to its name, the white habanero has a creamy or light yellow color. Compared to other habanero types, this bad boy has a slightly citrusy taste. This pepper is commonly applied to Mexican foods – think of guacamole and salsa.

Pink Habanero 

While this species is less common than other kinds, it has gained quite some popularity of late. It has a heat intensity similar to orange habanero. It’s usually employed to make hot marinades and sauces to infuse a bit of botanical hint. This plant grows in bountiful clusters of white pods, which are deceptively hot.

Scotch Bonnet Vs Habanero

To better understand the difference between these two chilies, let’s compare them based on various factors.

How Hot is Scotch Bonnet Pepper as Compared to Habanero? 

Scotch bonnets and habaneros are both hot peppers and share the same hotness rating, 100,000 – 350,000 SHU. But when it comes to appearance, these two peppers slightly differ.

From a dead-end, you’d think these two varieties have the same shape, but in actual sense, the Scotch Bonnet has a squat, globelike structure, while Habanero looks more like a teardrop.

Do They Both Taste Different? 

Apparently, both these peppers add the same fruity aroma to meals. They taste alike because they are cousins from the same chili family.

However, the Caribbeans believe that scotch bonnet tastes sweet as compared to habaneros; well, maybe because it originated there.

Related Questions

Which One Is More Popular Habanero vs Scotch Bonnet Peppers?

Which one is more popular, Scotch Bonnet vs Habanero, is difficult to say. The popularity of the two chili peppers can vary depending on the region and the culture. The scotch enjoys a massive following in the Caribbean, and habaneros are a hit in Mexico and parts of South America. 

Can You Substitute Scotch Bonnets for Habanero Peppers?

You can substitute habanero for scotch bonnet in recipes because they have the same heat levels and flavor profiles. The level of heat varies on the individual peppers plus how they are grown. It is also worth remembering that habaneros tend to be a bit larger compared to scotch; hence, you may want to use a smaller amount of the former to make the food less spicy. 

Are Scotch Bonnets and Habanero the Hottest Peppers?

The Scotch Bonnet and habanero are not the hottest peppers. These two hot peppers rank high on Scoville heat units. However, other extremely hot peppers are even hotter than the Scotch Bonnet and Habanero, such as the Ghost pepper. This is the hottest pepper, with a Scoville rating of 1,041,427.

Conclusion: Habanero vs Scotch Bonnet

So, in today’s comparison of scotch bonnet vs. Habanero, the final words are thus; both are cousins (varieties) of the same chili pepper species, Capsicum Chinense. They are almost the same in many aspects, such as taste, structure, and hotness.

You can use either of these two peppers to substitute the other in any recipe. Furthermore, they both have sub-varieties; some have a 100,000 SHU rating, and some have a 350,000 SHU rating.

If you love hot sauces, these chilies are best to use in your recipe. Well, you may not easily find them if you live in Asia and outside the American continent.


You might also like these recipes