Inca Red Drop Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are Inca Red Drop peppers?

With its tiny profile and tear-drop shape, the Inca Red Drop cuts quite the profile in the garden as an ornamental pepper. But unlike many ornamentals, the Inca Red Drop provides delicious flavor too – a fruitiness akin to other Peruvian peppers with a very eatable heat (10,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units). It’s a terrific cross-over between ornamental beauty and culinary function.

Inca Red Drop pepper

Inca Red Drop pepper fast facts

  • Scoville heat units (SHU): 10,000 – 30,000 SHU
  • Median heat: 20,000 SHU
  • Origin: Peru
  • Capsicum species: Baccatum
  • Jalapeño reference scale: 2 to 12 times hotter
  • Use: Ornamental
  • Size: Approximately 1/2 inch, tear-drop shaped
  • Flavor: Fruity, Sweet

How hot are Inca Red Drops?

They are just a notch above our reference point, the jalapeño pepper. With a Scoville heat range of 10,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units, the Inca Red Drop comes in near equal (though slightly hotter) to twelve times spicier than a jalapeño. It’s akin to a serrano pepper in heat, but with the capacity for more. At its top heat, it’s as hot as the mildest possible cayenne pepper.

This level of heat on the Scoville scale is a terrific culinary sweet spot for those that love spicy food. It’s a notch up from the jalapeño norm, but never getting quite so hot that the flavor becomes secondary to the heat.

What does the Inca Red Drop look like and taste like?

These chilies average about a half-inch in length, and their teardrop shape is somewhat unique on the pepper scale. They are bulbous at the top and through the middle, then taper quickly to a point. It’s almost tail-like at time, like the scorpion tail of many hotter chilies.

While the Inca Red Drop’s profile may be unique, its color pattern is relatively standard. They age from green to orange and finally a vibrant red – very similar to many hot peppers. Still it’s a good looking pod that shows well in landscaping. And the plant itself is compact enough that the Inca Red Drop works quite well in containers for small space landscaping for the spicy food fan.

Flavor-wise, they make a very good culinary chili as well. They have a very tasty fruity flavor that leans into sweet, quite similar to other Peruvian peppers which are well known across the board for being exceptional in the kitchen.

How can you use them?

As an ornamental pepper, the Inca Red Drop works in both small spaces and exterior landscaping projects. They may not be as colorful or eye-catching as other ornamental peppers, but the shape is very pleasing.

In the kitchen, you can use the Inca Red Drop as a daily driver chili if you like things a little spicier than a jalapeño. The fruity flavor actually is a good foil to the jalapeño’s grassy and bright flavor. Try the Inca Red Drop fresh in salsas and salads, or use it as a red jalapeño replacement (red jalapeños tend to be sweeter and spicier than green ones) in any recipe that calls for it. These chilies are also delicious pickled – the flavor pairs very well with the pickle tang.

Where can you buy Inca Red Drop peppers?

You’ll need a green thumb to really appreciate this chili as you won’t typically find it fresh in stores. Buying Inca Red Drop seeds is easy enough, as they are widely available online (Amazon) and you may also find the seeds at a well-stocked garden center. This chili is very easy to grow with a compact shape, so even if you’re balcony gardening, there’s a space for this culinary beauty in your life.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 7, 2021 to include new content.
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