Big Peppers Guide: The Giants Of The Pepper Scale

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For many, the bell pepper may be the biggest pepper they’ve ever seen. But there are more than a handful of peppers in the world that eclipse the bell. These big fruits are the giants of the pepper scale, yet they don’t have a level of heat that matches their frames. In fact, all the big peppers on our list are either mild or barely medium in overall spiciness, the spiciest never getting past the heat of a jalapeño pepper.

What makes a big pepper on our list? We define it as any fruit that can surpass seven inches in length. The largest, in fact, can top out at twelve inches, or a whole foot long. We don’t consider the width here, so you’ll find some slim big peppers and others with a decent amount of girth.

Mild Big Peppers

peperone di senise

Peperone Di Senise

0 Scoville heat units
See our full Peperone Di Senise profile here.

Peperone di Senise (also called simply the Senise pepper) is a no heat, sweet pepper with a big body. They range from six to ten inches in length, eclipsing the typical bell with the potential to double its size. This chili is a staple of cuisine from the Basilicata region of Italy and often used dried. Its sweet flavor is deliciously smoky and nutty as well, perfect for rustic soups and stews.

Italian Long Hot Peppers
Photo By: Bill Damon CC 2.0

Italian Long Hot Pepper

100 – 1,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Italian long hot pepper profile here.

If a pepper can be gangly, the Italian long hot is it. They grow to six to eight inches in length, but the lightly wrinkled thin pods curve in and out often creating the illusion of a much smaller pepper. These are popular sandwich peppers or try them charred – they are terrific frying peppers. There’s a subtle simmering heat here that reaches no more than a poblano pepper in spiciness.

Beaver Dam Pepper

Beaver Dam Pepper

500 – 1,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Beaver Dam pepper profile here.

Growing from six to nine inches with wide shoulders to boot, the Beaver Dam pepper is big all around. Its not a widely known chili outside of its regional stronghold of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. There’s a light amount of heat here and a delicious sweetness. The Beaver Dam pepper makes an excellent alternative to the bell pepper for sandwiches and salads, as well as for stuffed pepper recipes.

Holy Mole Pepper

Holy Mole Pepper

700 – 800 Scoville heat units
See our full Holy Mole pepper profile here.

Long and slender, the Holy Mole pepper is a hybrid chili of the pasilla, grown to be the perfect mole pepper. It’s big, too, seven to nine inches long with a thin curved body. The Holy Mole is mildly spicy with a deliciously nutty flavor that is certainly a great flavor for Mexican mole sauces.

Chilaca Pepper
Photo by Jonathanischoice CC 2.0

Chilaca Pepper (a.k.a. pasilla pepper)

1,000 – 2,500 Scoville heat units
See our full chilaca pepper profile here.

You may not know the chilaca pepper by name, though in its dried form its quite the popular Mexican chili. When dried, the chilaca goes by the name pasilla, and it’s one of the Holy Trinity of dried Mexican chilies that are essential for mole sauces. The fresh chilaca has a raison-y sweet, slightly sunburnt flavor. When its dried and takes its pasilla form, it takes on additional smoky and earthy undertones. The chilaca grows from six to nine inches long.

Medium Big Peppers

NuMex Big Jim

NuMex Big Jim

2,500 – 3,000 Scoville heat units
See our full NuMex Big Jim profile here.

Now here’s the mama jama of big peppers. The NuMex Big Jim grows anywhere from seven inches to a foot long. And it’s not a thin chili either. This is one BIG chili with a three inch girth to boot. This chili is a hybrid of New Mexican chilies, and as such it can be used anywhere you’d use an Anaheim pepper. Its thick walls and eatable medium heat (no more than a mild jalapeño), makes it a great choice for stuffed pepper recipes.

Cowhorn Pepper

Cowhorn Pepper

2,500 – 5,000 Scoville heat units
See our full cowhorn pepper profile here.

Another giant among giants, the cowhorn pepper grows from eight to ten inches long. It has a cayenne-like shape and thick walls. While its cavity is too thin for stuffing, those thick walls make the cowhorn a great frying pepper. Its sweetness also works very well with pickling.The cowhorn only reaches jalapeño level heat which makes it relatively family friendly.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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