Fire And Ice Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are Fire and Ice peppers?

The Fire and Ice pepper is an ornamental pepper that’s valued for its unique “fire and ice” coloration (shades of white, yellow, orange, and red) and moderate heat level. Bred for both ornamental and culinary use, they are ideal for gardeners and cooks who seek a chili that delivers both visual appeal and spice without being overwhelmingly hot. Fire and Ice peppers have a low-medium heat (1,000 to 5,000 Scoville heat units) and a slightly sweet flavor, making them excellent for everyday eating. 

Fire and Ice pepper, a colorful ornamental chili

Fire and Ice pepper fast facts

Scoville heat units (SHU)1,000 – 5,000
Median heat (SHU)3,000
Jalapeño reference pointEqual heat to 8 times milder
SpeciesCapsicum Annuum
OriginUnited States
Size3 to 4 inches long, conical

What do Fire and Ice peppers look like?

The name ‘Fire and Ice’ aptly describes the striking color contrast these peppers exhibit as they mature. Starting off a creamy white (ice), they transition to a rich red (fire) as they ripen, often displaying intermediate shades of yellow and orange during the process. The peppers are small to medium in size (thin, three to four inches long) and boast a conical shape with a smooth, glossy exterior. If you’re looking for a colorful chili for your garden or home landscaping, it’s an excellent choice. 

–> Learn More: Colorful Pepper Guide – The Rainbows Of The Scoville Scale

How hot are Fire and Ice peppers?

These peppers offer a mild to low-medium heat level, typically ranging between 1,000 to 5,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). This makes them less intense than the popular jalapeño, which can range from 2,500 up to 8,000 SHU. 

This is relatively low heat among ornamentals, as ornamental chilies have been bred to accentuate looks, not to temper heat or enhance flavor. For instance, the Bolivian Rainbow pepper, another colorful chili, ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 SHU. And the Prairie Fire chili hits well beyond a cayenne in overall heat (70,000 to 80,000 SHU). If heat is of a concern, the Fire and Ice provides a lot more family-friendliness in the kitchen.

Fire and Ice is an apt name not only for the colors. It’s also a good clue into what to expect from the spiciness of an individual fruit on the plant. “Ice”, those white chilies, are new on the vine and likely the least spicy options on the plant. “Fire”, on the other hand, those red chilies, are fully mature and likely carry more of a jalapeño level heat. Use the colors as a judge. 

What do they taste like?

Fire and Ice peppers have a crisp texture with a flavor profile that leans towards the sweeter side. The taste is fresh and can have fruity undertones, which become more pronounced as the pepper ripens and turns red (entering its “fire” state.) Is it an incredibly nuanced flavor? No, but it’s more than you get from many ornamentals that have more of a neutral “peppery” flavor.

–> Learn More: Can you Eat Ornamental Peppers?

How can you use them?

In landscaping, these vibrant plants add a splash of color with their contrasting fiery red and icy white fruits, which often grow simultaneously on the same bush. The lush green foliage serves as a stunning backdrop, making them an eye-catching feature in any flower bed, container garden, or as borders along a walkway. 

In the kitchen, fire and ice peppers are a versatile ingredient that can add complexity to a variety of dishes. The “fire” peppers, with their robust heat, are perfect for salsas, hot sauces, or infused oils that require a spicy kick. Meanwhile, the milder “ice” peppers contribute a sweet and tangy flavor ideal for fresh salads, sandwiches, and sautéed vegetables. They are also very tasty when pickled.

Growing Fire and Ice peppers

This ornamental works both in your garden or in containers. In fact, the chili is often called “Patio Fire and Ice peppers” for a reason. It takes to containers well. 

To grow them, select a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Incorporate a balanced fertilizer into the soil before planting and space the plants about 18 inches apart to allow for adequate air circulation and growth. 

–> Learn More: Fertilizing Pepper Plants – The What, When, and How

Growing Fire and Ice peppers in containers offers flexibility for those with limited space or for adding a pop of color to patios and balconies. Choose a container with sufficient drainage holes and fill it with a high-quality potting mix blended with slow-release fertilizer to provide consistent nutrients. A single pepper plant per 12 to 14-inch pot should suffice, as this allows the plant enough room to grow without overcrowding. Regular watering is crucial, especially in containers, as the soil can dry out faster than in the ground. 

Where can you buy Fire and Ice peppers?

These ornamental chilies can be found at nurseries that specialize in a wide range of pepper plants or at select online retailers that offer seeds for gardeners looking to grow their own. During the growing season, they may also be available at farmers’ markets or specialty grocery stores. 

Must-read related posts

  • The Hot Pepper List: We profile 150+ chilies, both ornamental and culinary, from mild to super-hot. Search them by name, heat level, flavor, and more.
  • Ornamental Peppers Guide: Want to discover more chilies with real stage presence? Start here.
  • Sedona Sun Pepper Guide: Another colorful ornamental chili whose name speaks a lot to the colors you experience.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on November 29, 2023 to include new content.
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