Cacho de Cabra Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What Are Cacho de Cabra?

Cacho de Cabra (a.k.a. Aji Cacho de Cabra), which translates to “Goat’s Horn” in English, is a type of chili pepper native to Chile. It is one of the most commonly used peppers (both fresh and dried) in Chilean cuisine and is known for its robust flavor profile (sweet, fruity, and smoky) and a mild to low-medium spiciness (1,000 to 5,000 Scoville heat units). The pepper is named for its unique shape, which resembles the horn of a goat. 

Cacho de Cabra peppers

Cacho de Cabra fast facts

Scoville heat units (SHU)1,000 – 5,000
Median heat (SHU)3,000
Jalapeño reference pointEqual heat to 3 times milder
SpeciesCapsicum Annuum
Size2 to 4 inches long, curved
FlavorSweet, Fruity, Smoky, Earthy

How hot are Cacho de Cabra?

Cacho de Cabra have a low-medium heat, ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). That puts it on par or slightly milder (up to 3 times milder) than a jalapeño pepper (2,500 to 8,000 SHU). At its mildest, it’s more akin to a mild poblano chili in heat (1,000 to 1,500 SHU). And it will never get as potentially hot as a jalapeño can reach, having a ceiling far below the jalapeño’s 8,000 SHU. Overall, this is a very family-friendly level of heat that most can enjoy. 

What do they look like?

The Caco de Cabra pepper is small to medium in size, typically measuring between 2 to 4 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter. Its shape is elongated and slightly curved, somewhat similar to a goat’s horn, hence the name. 

When it comes to color, these peppers transition through a series of hues as they mature. They start off as a vivid green when immature. As they ripen, they gradually change to a deep, fiery red. This color transformation is not only a sign of the pepper’s ripening but also an indication of its increasing heat level. The longer any pepper stays on the vine, the more capsaicin it will have (the compound that creates the heat in peppers.

What do they taste like?

The initial taste of Cacho de Cabra is a blend of sweet and fruity. The fruitiness can take on citrus-like notes, adding a light tang to the eating experience. But there’s even more to this chili than that. Quickly, that flavor profile takes on smoky and earthy undertones, giving the Cacho de Cabra a lot of depth. 

How can you use them?

Cacho de Cabra peppers are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. They are often dried and ground into a powder, known as merkén, which is a staple in Chilean cuisine. This spice blend is used to season meats, soups, stews, and even bread. Fresh Cacho de Cabra can also be used in salsas, sauces, or any dish that could benefit from a touch of heat and flavor.

Cooking with Cacho de Cabra

If you’re using it as a dried pepper, it’s best to rehydrate it before use. To do this, simply soak it in warm water for about 20-30 minutes until it becomes pliable. This process will not only soften the pepper but also release its flavors, making it more effective in your dish.

–> Learn More: How To Rehydrate Chilies For The Best Flavor

Remember, too, that you can control the heat when using this or any chili. The pith (the white part inside the pepper) and (secondarily) the seeds are the spiciest parts. If you want a milder flavor, remove these parts before cooking. On the other hand, if you want your dish to be spicier, include them. But remember, it’s easier to add heat than to take it away, so start with less and adjust according to your taste.

Finally, when handling any type of chili pepper, it’s advisable to use gloves to avoid chili burn. And know how to handle chili burn beforehand – hint, milk is your best friend here.

Where can you buy Cacho de Cabra?

Cacho de Cabra peppers can be found in some specialty grocery stores, particularly those that carry Latin American products. They are also available online through various retailers. Remember, when purchasing, look for vibrant red peppers or a deep, richly colored powder if buying the ground version. If you’re interested in growing your own, Cacho de Cabra pepper seeds can be purchased from several online seed banks. 

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 23, 2024 to include new content.
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