Mariachi Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are Mariachi peppers?

There’s a lot to love about the Mariachi pepper, a 2006 AAS winner (All America Selection). Delivering a beautiful color pattern, an eatable mild heat, and a surprisingly complex fruitiness (nearly melon-like), the Mariachi is a chili pepper for the masses. It’s a quick grower, too, and very productive, so you are rewarded with large crops of this hybrid hot pepper earlier in the season than most other chili peppers.

Mariachi pepper

Mariachi pepper fast facts

Scoville heat units (SHU)500 – 600
Median heat (SHU)550
Jalapeño reference point5 to 13 times milder
Capsicum speciesAnnuum
OriginUnited States
SizeUp to 4 inches long, conical

How hot is the Mariachi pepper?

A typical Mariachi carries more of a warmth, a spicy tickle, than true heat. Rating 500 to 600 Scoville heat units, it’s more in line with a cubanelle than a jalapeño. It’s mildy hot, sharing a comparable range with its parent pepper, the Santa Fe Grande (which it looks a lot like, too). This is a family-friendly pepper (normally), perfect for family gatherings and parties with a wide range of heat tolerance.

Mariachi Pepper SHU Heat Comparison

That said, this is also a chili that’s susceptible to surprising upticks in heat when grown in more arid climates and dryer soil. Both conditions create hotter peppers as it stands, but the Mariachi has been known to increase in spiciness five-fold. In these conditions, it can hit a spiciness closer to a mild jalapeño pepper.

What does the Mariachi pepper taste like? Look like?

While the Mariachi is not an ornamental pepper, there’s still no denying this is one pretty chili. It’s conical, growing up to four inches long and two inches wide. It hangs, pendant-like, from the plant (and as Mariachi plants are very productive, there are many.) And then there’s the color. Mariachi peppers age in a somewhat unique color pattern: starting green, aging to a creamy yellow-white, then to a yellowish-pink rose hue, and finally to bright red.

In terms of taste, this is one hot pepper where the flavor matches its looks. It’s sweet, but not as fruity as some bolder peppers. It’s a more delicate, melon-like flavor. The sweetness works best in the mid-cycle of the fruit when the pepper is in its yellow to light rose color phase. But it’s still delicious in its mature red form.

How is it used?

One of the key culinary benefits of the Mariachi is its thicker walls. It’s a meaty pepper, like the jalapeño. And with its cone-like shape and thick walls, it works well as a stuffing pepper. The Mariachi is an excellent jalapeño substitute for popper recipes when you’re looking for a milder heat. Just note the flavor difference. Jalapeños have a bright, grassy flavor compared to the sweetness behind the Mariachi. It may work better with some popper recipes than others.

Beyond stuffing, this chili is excellent in fresh salsas and salads. Its mild heat makes it a great bell pepper substitute for those that are looking for a culinary twist to their everyday meals. Those meaty walls also make the Mariachi a good pepper for grilling.

Where can you buy the Mariachi pepper?

You won’t find these hybrid peppers at most stores. Look to pepper farms or farmers’ markets to find them fresh. Your best option is to grow these peppers yourself. Mariachi pepper seeds may be available at your local gardening center, or you can purchase them online (Amazon).
If you have a green thumb and you’re looking for a tasty everyday pepper to replace the bell or jalapeño, give the Mariachi pepper a serious look. It works in either case.

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

I grew these organically in Ft Worth TX. I spoiled the plant & absolutely love it. The peppers are super sweet & mine are so hot they’re insane. Super sweet,large & 10x hotter that a jalapeño. Best pepper I ever grew.