Hinkelhatz Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

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What are Hinkelhatz peppers?

When you think “Pennsylvania Dutch”, hot peppers don’t immediately come to mind. But there’s a surprising amount of heat to be found in the region well known for its farming. Along with the extra-hot Devil’s Tongue chili (profiled here), the Hinkelhatz pepper has its roots in Amish country. It has been grown and used for over 150 years among the Pennsylvania Dutch. It has a medium spiciness (5,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units), though little nuance to its flavor, making it perfect for its main uses among the Pennsylvania Dutch – as a chili for pickling and hot pepper vinegar.

Hinkelhatz Pepper
Hinkelhatz peppers, growing on the vine

Table of Contents

Hinkelhatz pepper fast facts

Scoville heat units (SHU)5,000 – 30,000
Median heat (SHU)17,500
Jalapeño reference pointNear equal to 16 times hotter
Capsicum speciesAnnuum
OriginUnited States
Size1 to 2 inches long, conical
FlavorNeutral (peppery)

How hot are Hinkelhatz peppers?

The Hinkelhatz can have a surprising amount of spiciness for its size. We say “can” because its heat range (5,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units or SHU) is quite wide for a chili at this position on the Scoville scale. For instance, a jalapeño ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, so at minimum the Hinkelhatz rivals its heat. But at its ceiling, the Hinkelhatz reaches cayenne pepper level heights (30,000 to 50,000 SHU.)

So one chili could be a very eatable, family-friendly low-medium sizzle, while the next delivers a solid (and for many uncomfortable) medium-heat smack. It can be surprising, but the Hinkelhatz is also a pepper that’s not typically eaten fresh (more on that below.) And it’s still a far cry from extra-hot chilies, like the habanero.

What do Hinkelhatz peppers look like?

The name gives the best clue. “hinkel hatz” is Pennsylvania Dutch for “chicken heart” and it describes the pepper well. It’s tiny (one to two inches long) and conical – a shape much like a chicken’s heart. Hinkelhatz peppers mature from green to a beautiful orangish-red, though there is a yellow variety as well.

Their small shape and lovely color do make the Hinkelhatz a good option as an ornamental pepper (with a great name and origin story to boot), whether in landscaping or containers.

What do these peppers taste like?

The heat is the story here, as there isn’t much nuance to Hinkelhatz chilies. They may have a shape that is reminiscent of hotter chilies with fruity undertones (like the habanero), but it’s just not there. But that’s okay because the Hinkelhatz’s traditional use cases don’t rely on flavor complexity.

How can you use Hinkelhatz peppers?

The Hinkelhatz is popular among the Pennsylvania Dutch for pickling and making hot pepper vinegars. In both cases, the strong vinegar flavor and heat are the stars, making the Hinkelhatz a perfect chili pepper for the jobs. Its often strong medium heat is a good pairing for big vinegar tang. The heat stands up.

But that’s not to say you can’t use these chilies in other ways. They can work well in fresh salsas to provide a certain pop, and spicy soups and chilies where you need a pepper with bold heat are good use cases for the Hinkelhatz.

Just a word of caution if you do use them fresh. The size can easily fool you into thinking there’s less heat here than their potentially is. That, and the more random heat outcomes of this pepper, make it a prime candidate for delivering a surprise case of chili burn. Like with any chili, it’s best to use kitchen gloves in the handling. And learn how to combat chili burn before it happens.

Where can you buy Hinkelhatz peppers?

As a chili with strong regional ties, the Hinkelhatz (and products made from them) are hard to find outside of Pennsylvania Dutch country. Though you can buy Hinkelhatz pepper seeds online if you have an interest in growing these chilies (either for culinary or ornamental use.) If you’re a fan of pickling peppers yourself, these really are an excellent option to grow in your garden.

Grow Them Yourself
Hinkelhatz Pepper Seeds, 25 Seeds
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02/18/2024 04:36 pm GMT

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on April 24, 2023 to include new content.
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Searching a name for the peppers bought from a bazaar in Turkiye and finally got one. They said its origin is Roumelia. I think it is “hinkelhatz” and used to cook a very thick sauce. If anyone knows the name please reply. Colurs are changing yellow-green-red.

AJ Lau

Great peppers and yes the Amish grow both the red and the yellow. Seeds were from Jimmy Pickles in Pennsylvania (not too far from the source) and my plants turned out great.