Bod’e Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are bod’e peppers?

Like many small chili peppers, the bod’e pepper’s size belies a surprisingly nuanced fruity flavor. Behind their cherry-like looks is a habanero-like fruitiness with a nice hint of smoke – all. And that’s all without that habanero-like heat. In fact, for those that love spicy food, the bod’e sits in a very eatable area of the pepper scale (30,000 to 32,000 Scoville heat units) making this an excellent chili pepper for all sorts of use cases. Though, good luck finding this pepper outside its native Brazil – it’s very difficult to source fresh.

Bod'e Pepper

Bod’e pepper fast facts:

  • Scoville heat units (SHU): 30,000 – 32,000 SHU
  • Median heat: 31,000 SHU
  • Origin: Brazil
  • Capsicum species: Chinense
  • Jalapeño reference scale: 4 to 13 times hotter
  • Use: Culinary
  • Size: Approximately 1/2 inch, round
  • Flavor: Fruity, Sweet, Smoky

How hot are bod’e peppers?

If you find yourself reaching to cayenne more than chipotle powder, then the bod’e pepper is at a good heat level for you. It sits at approximately 30,000 to 32,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) which places it four to thirteen times hotter than our jalapeño reference point. Compared to a cayenne (30,000 to 50,000 SHU – medium heat on the Scoville scale), the bod’e compares well to a very mild cayenne in terms of spiciness (but there’s a whole big world of flavor here, much more than the more neutral peppery flavor of a cayenne).

What does the bod’e pepper look like and taste like?

These are tiny tepin-like chilies, round and running about a half inch across from any angle. They have large curved stems which gives the bod’e a more dramatic look than their small fruit size would typically offer. The fruits themselves age from green to shades of yellow, orange, and finally red upon maturity.

The bod’e pepper’s flavor is where this chili really makes its mark. If you are looking for the fruity flavor of a habanero or scotch bonnet without the scorching heat of those chilies, the bod’e delivers well. There’s also a smoky undertone to the pepper that adds even more to the eating experience.

How can you use them?

With its nuanced flavor and eatable heat, the bod’e pepper is a true culinary chili, even with its small size. No, you won’t be using these tiny chilies for stuffed pepper recipes, but they are perfect for enhancing the flavor of salsas, soups, and sides (we love this pepper mixed in rice and beans). They make an excellent pickling pepper, too, and its smoky fruitiness pairs well with meats, especially steak and pork.

Where can you buy bod’e peppers?

Here’s the rub: They aren’t easy to source fresh outside of their native Brazil. So if you’re looking to add the bod’e pepper to your chili pepper arsenal, you’ll want to call around to local chili farms or grow them yourself. You can buy bod’e pepper seeds online (Amazon), so those with green thumbs who are willing to put in the growing time will be treated to an exceptionally delicious chili pepper that few get the opportunity to try.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 7, 2021 to include new content.
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