Chocolate Habanero Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are chocolate habanero peppers?

Sure you know what chocolate is, and if you’re any bit of a hot pepper fan, you have an idea of what a habanero is. But what is a chocolate habanero? It’s not a line of spicy candies, that’s for sure. No, this is a cultivar of habanero peppers, like the Red Savina habanero, that packs a serious punch (425,000 to 577,000 Scoville heat units.) In fact, it’s even spicier than the Red Savina with unique earthy and smoky undertones that complement their typical habanero sweetness.

chocolate habanero

Chocolate habanero fast facts

  • Scoville heat units (SHU): 425,000 – 577,000 SHU
  • Median heat: 501,000 SHU
  • Origin: Caribbean
  • Capsicum species: Chinense
  • Jalapeño reference scale: 53 to 231 times hotter
  • Use: Culinary
  • Size: Approximately 2 inches long, tapered
  • Flavor: Sweet, Fruity, Earthy, Smoky

Are chocolate habs hotter than regular habaneros?

They are. In terms of the Scoville scale, chocolate habaneros tend to hit around 425,000 – 577,000 Scoville heat units. That can easily be double the heat of a regular habanero. Versus the Red Savina, chocolate habs are very similar in terms of heat. The main difference: the mildest chocolate (around 450,000 SHU)  will always be hotter than the mildest Red Savina (350,000 SHU).

With the jalapeño reference point, you are talking on average 142 times hotter than a mild jalapeño. This makes chocolate habaneros one of the hottest peppers around, but still significantly milder than the jump up to the ghost pepper (starting at 855,000 SHU).

Are there different varieties?

There are. Like most chili peppers, there are various cultivated varieties around the world that are grown for specific properties and sold. You’ll see lots of different names for these chilies: black Congo, dark habanero, Jamaican hot chocolate, black habanero, Senegal hot chocolate, and Cuban habanero just to name a few. These are all cultivated variations of the habanero that share similar dark looks, earthy sweet taste (with slight variations), and big-time heat (again with slight variations).

The pods tend to be slightly larger than your typical habanero pepper – about 2 inches in length. They start emerald-green and as they ripen they take on the unique dark brown color.

What do they taste like?

These are still habaneros, so there’s a fruity sweetness behind the extreme heat. But unlike other hot peppers in the family, the chocolates bring a unique hint of earthiness and smokiness to the experience. They are an excellent chili for a Mexican mole sauce, or if you like rich salsa with an earthier taste, using chocolate habaneros is a great choice. Try pairing them with more pungent or earthier fruits in salsas like apricots and raisins.

Where can I buy chocolate habaneros?

Unlike your normal habanero, you aren’t likely to find the chocolate varieties in your local supermarket. You can, though, order the seeds and plants online (Amazon). There’s also a wide array of salsas and hot sauces available that feature these chili peppers, and they typically play up that smokiness you find with the chili.

If you love smoky heat, you’ll definitely want to check the chocolate habanero out. Hot sauces and chili rubs that are made with it are a mega-spicy alternative to a chipotle rub for steaks and other meats. It’s a definite step up, so be prepared!

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on October 11, 2021 to include new content.
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