Goat Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are goat peppers?

The peachy color of the goat pepper (also known as the Bahamian goat pepper), may lead you to think that it’s a milder offering on the Scoville scale. It’s not. Like its cousins the habanero and the scotch bonnet, the goat pepper kicks hard (an extra-hot 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units), but with a sweet flavor that works well with tropical hot sauces and meals. It’s a very popular pepper in its native region – the islands of the Bahamas. But the goat chili is a lot trickier to find outside of the Caribbean.

Bahamian goat peppers on the vine – note the bulbous shapes and stinger tail (on some)

Goat pepper fast facts

Scoville heat units (SHU)100,000 – 350,000
Median heat (SHU)225,000
Jalapeño reference point12 to 140 times hotter
SpeciesCapsicum Chinense
SizeApproximately 1 to 3 inches long, sometimes squashed looking, sometimes with tail
FlavorSweet, Tropical

How hot are goat peppers?

The Bahamian goat is a little bit of a Scoville unit mystery.  Some claim its heat level is the same as its habanero and scotch bonnet relatives (100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units). Others say that its bottom Scoville rating never goes so low, stopping at 250,000 SHU. And there’s even some that say there’s a scorching hot spiciness within this chili – ramping up to near 600,000 SHU, a similar heat to a Red Savina or chocolate habanero. That more extreme heat would put it among some of the hottest peppers in the world (but not the hottest.)

Regardless, it’s safe to say the goat pepper is hot. At least as hot as the habanero, with the potential for much more. Comparing it to our jalapeño reference point – it’s 12 to 140 times hotter, depending on the luck of the draw due to the variances in heat between both peppers.

What do Bahamian goat peppers taste like? Look like?

Typically the goat pepper is two to three inches in length, slightly squashed like the scotch bonnet, and peach in color. They sometimes have a small scorpion tail, like the super-hot Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, but often its simply bulbous at the bottom.

Due to the color and roundness, some people see a mini pumpkin shape when they look at the Bahamian goat. And that’s not surprising since, depending on the crop and the light, the goat can take on a yellow or orange color. And the ridges on the goat, particularly with more bulbous fruits, give it a pumpkin-like look.

Close-up of Bahamian goat peppers – the resemblance to pumpkins can be seen in some

Inside the pod, the flesh and membrane are surprising. The flesh has a snowy sheen to it that’s played up even more by the white membrane. It looks almost frosting-like, just tempting you to dive right in. And that’s a good thing, as the taste of these chilies is loved by most anyone that comes across them. They are as sweet (and sometimes sweeter) than the scotch bonnet. It’s a tropical, fruity flavor that people love.

What’s behind the name?

This is a hard one to decipher as there are a lot of guesses and legends around where the name “goat” pepper came from. Some say it’s due to the spicy kick the pepper has – it kicks as hard as a goat. Others say it’s due to the smell these chilies have when cut open – claiming it has the odor of a goat. Still others say it’s due to the fact that goat peppers typically grow in the Bahamas around areas where goats forage. It could be one…or all. Or something else entirely.

How are these chilies typically used?

They make tasty tropical hot sauces, especially if you like your hot sauces on the sweeter side. For instance, goat pepper can work just as well as habanero in our apple habanero hot sauce recipe. Or simply dry these hot peppers to make a delicious single-ingredient chili powder.

Goat peppers are also delicious as an ingredient in tropical dishes, like jerk chicken or a spicy conch salad. Really, anywhere where you’d use habanero or scotch bonnet (especially), you can substitute in a goat pepper, that is if you can find them.

Where can you buy goat peppers?

These aren’t easy chilies to pick up. In the Bahamas, of course, you’ll find them readily available, but in the United States, seek out Caribbean specialty stores. That’s your best brick and mortar bet. You can find Bahamian goat pepper seeds online, if you’re interested in taking a shot at growing these chilies. Otherwise, opt for the scotch bonnet or even the more popular habanero pepper. Both are available in more places, and the scotch bonnet, especially, delivers a comparable sweetness and heat.

If you’re in the Bahamas and you stumble upon these chilies, it’s a must to give them a shot if you are at all into spicy food. The Bahamian goat pepper may not be as famous as its closest relatives, but it has a dedicated following all its own due to its surprising looks and delicious sweetness. Enjoy them when you can.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 9, 2023 to include new content.
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Dein Papa

I love these. Growing them in Pots, in the wintertime, they will find a place in my Basement under LED lights. Did a fruity hot Sauce today, with Mangos, Onion, Garlic, Vinegar, Sugar, and some Spices.
nice heat and fruity pleasure. Greetings from Germany 😉