Ñora Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are ñora peppers?

Ñora peppers (or nora peppers), also known as Spanish red bell peppers, are a variety of Capsicum annuum with a mild Scoville heat range (roughly 500 to 1,000 Scoville heat units.) They are predominantly grown in the regions of Murcia and Valencia in Eastern Spain. Ñora peppers are an integral part of Spanish cuisine and are used in many traditional dishes. These peppers are typically harvested when they are fully mature and then dried in the sun, which gives them a distinct sweet and lightly earthy and smoky flavor. They are small, round, and have a thick flesh, making them ideal for drying and rehydrating.

Ñora peppers, dried. Note their distinctive round appearance

Ñora peppers fast facts

Scoville heat units (SHU)500 – 1,000
Median heat (SHU)750
Jalapeño reference point3 to 16 times milder
SpeciesCapsicum Annuum
Size1 to 2 inches wide, round
FlavorSweet, Earthy, Smoky

How hot are ñora peppers?

In terms of heat, ñora peppers are considered mild. The Scoville rating of ñora peppers is around 500 to 1,000 Scoville heat units (or SHU.) This makes them less spicy than jalapeños (3 to 16 times milder), which typically range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. This is a family-friendly level of spiciness; for many, it’s more of a warm tingle than anything sharp and fiery. 

Comparing it to other popular dried chilies, the ñora tends to be one of the mildest options you can choose.

  • Chipotle: Chipotles are dried, smoked jalapeños, so they share the same heat range (2,500 to 8,000 SHU), making the ñora 3 to 16 times milder. Though, as the jalapeños chosen are at their mature red, the chipotle may tend to the upper part of that range.
  • Ancho: Anchos range from 1,000 to 1,500 SHU, so they are at best similar heat, but typically slightly hotter.
  • Pasilla: Pasillas range from 1,000 to 2,500 SHU, making them slightly hotter than ñora. 
  • Guajillo: Guajillos share a similar range with jalapeños, 2,500 to 5,000 SHU, so they are a true step up from the heat of the ñora.

What do they look like?

Ñora peppers are small, round, and slightly flattened. They usually measure about 1-2 inches in diameter. When fresh, they have a vibrant red color. Once dried, they turn a deep, dark red, almost burgundy, and their skin becomes wrinkled and tough. The flesh inside is thick and meaty. The peppers have a small, compact stem and contain numerous small, flat seeds inside. It’s a rather unique look on the Scoville scale, though it does share a lot of appearance traits with the cascabel pepper

What do they taste like?

Drying chilies tends to unlock all sorts of flavor depth, and that’s certainly true here. Ñora peppers have a sweet, mild flavor with a slight smokiness. And the drying process concentrates their natural sugars, enhancing their sweetness even further. It’s a rich, complex flavor profile. They are often described as having notes of dried fruits, tomatoes, and a hint of tobacco.

How can you use them?

Dried ñora peppers are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. They are a key ingredient in many traditional Spanish dishes, including paella, fabada (a hearty bean stew), and various seafood dishes. The ñora’s unique taste is highly valued in Spanish cuisine and is difficult to replicate with other types of peppers.Their sweet, smoky flavor adds depth and delicious complexity. 

They are also commonly used as a base for making romesco sauce, a traditional Catalan sauce made with rehydrated ñora peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and nuts. But beyond the traditional, you can look to these chilies to add flavor depth to many soups, stews, and meals. They work very well with mashed potatoes and other earthy vegetables. And the flavor profile works very well with barbecue sides and meats. Sausage, especially, is a tasty pairing with it.

As a dried chili, the ñora is also often ground down to powder (or flakes) for use as a ground spice. The flavor profile is is much deeper and complex than what you typically get from store-bought crushed red pepper. Think of it more like what you’d experience from Aleppo pepper flakes.

And their distinctive round shape make the ñora an interesting choice for showcasing in the kitchen. Like cascabels, they provide a rustic aesthetic and show well grouped in a bowl.

Cooking with ñora peppers

Dried ñora chilies are typically rehydrated in warm water before use, which softens their tough skin and allows the flavors to be more easily released. Once rehydrated, the chilies can be chopped or pureed and added to sauces, stews, and soups. It’s important to remember that the ñora pepper’s skin is tough and not usually consumed. After rehydrating the chilies, the skin is typically removed, and the soft, flavorful flesh is used. 

As these are mild chilies, you can handle them by hand without much concern for chili burn. But, it’s still possible to experience discomfort. If you have concern, use kitchen gloves while handling. Also know how to combat chili burn if it does occur.

–> Learn More: What Are The Best Ñora Pepper Substitutes?

Where can you buy ñora peppers?

Ñora peppers can be found in specialty food stores, particularly those that carry Spanish or Latin American products. They are often sold dried, either whole or in flakes. Some supermarkets may carry them in the international food aisle. 

Online shopping is another option for purchasing them. Various online retailers sell them, and they can be shipped worldwide. When buying ñora peppers, look for those that are a deep, dark red color, indicating that they were harvested at full maturity and properly dried.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on November 22, 2023 to include new content.
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