Santa Fe Grande Pepper: Southwest Sweet

Sweet, slightly smoky, and mild…

Scoville heat units (SHU): 500 – 700
Jalapeño reference point: 3 to 16 times milder
Origin: United States
Seeds: Santa Fe Grande pepper on Amazon

With their sweet flavor, mild heat, and vibrant color, the Santa Fe Grande pepper (a.k.a. the guero pepper) is a favorite in the American Southwest – both in the kitchen and for ornamental planting. They make an excellent bell pepper substitute, mild enough to eat raw no matter your heat tolerance though with a little extra sweetness to boot.

How hot are Santa Fe Grande peppers?

These chilies are about as mild as mild can get. Their Scoville heat range runs from 500 to 700 Scoville heat units (SHU) which makes the Santa Fe Grande pepper three to sixteen times milder than our jalapeño pepper reference point. It’s closer in heat to no-heat sweet peppers than the jalapeño. For even more perspective, the Santa Fe Grande at its top level of heat doesn’t even reach the heat of the very family-friendly poblano pepper.

What do Santa Fe Grande peppers look like?

They have a familiar hot pepper shape – conical, tapering to a rounded point, growing to about five inches in length. It’s quite like a Hungarian wax pepper in shape – though that’s where the similarities end between the two. The Hungarian wax is much hotter with a tangy taste.

In terms of color, they are surprisingly vibrant. They age from green to shades of yellow and orange, to finally a bright red. One plant will contain dozens of peppers at various color stages, making them really lovely to look at.

What do they taste like?

There’s a sweetness with a touch of smoke to the Santa Grande pepper. It’s quite delicious, and because the heat is so low, they are easily eaten raw no matter your spicy food tolerance.

How can you use Santa Fe Grande peppers?

For most bell pepper uses cases, you can use a Santa Fe Grande pepper instead. Chop them up raw for salads, pickle them for a delicious side or snack (the colors also are really striking), or use them for fresh salsas and sauces. Their sweet-slightly smoky flavor works very well with barbecued meats, too, and grilling these chilies really brings out the smokiness.

It’s this mix of delicious flavor, mild heat, and colorful appearance that make the Santa Fe Grande such a popular ornamental pepper as well. It’s truly edible landscaping that everyone in the family can enjoy.

Where can you buy Santa Fe Grande peppers?

Some supermarkets do carry these chilies (though they may not be labelled Santa Fe Grande). You can also find them at farmer’s markets, especially the more you venture into the southwest region of the United States. For those seeking them for ornamental use, you can buy Santa Fe Grande seeds from well-stocked gardening centers and very easily online.

If you use Santa Fe Grande as an ornamental pepper, don’t overlook its uses in the kitchen. This is one tasty mild pepper that very well may become a staple in your kitchen once tried.

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Photo Credit: Bonnie Plants

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 8, 2022 to include new content.
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Donald Eaves

Growing it now and just tasted the first pepper. Mine was hotter than your description. Hotter than a really mild Jalapeno (some of which seem to almost lack heat) and definitely packing more heat than most Poblanos, but still something that could be eaten fresh by most people. Still the amount of heat was unexpected. Pepper had really thick walls containing a lot of moisture. Flavor was decidedly sweet. Easily among the sweetest peppers I’ve experienced. I liked it a lot. Hope future peppers are the same.