Tangerine Dream Pepper Guide: Heat, Flavor, Uses

What are Tangerine Dream peppers?

Now here’s a pepper that performs well across the ornamental and culinary spectrum. And with a whole lot of flair along the way. Tangerine Dream peppers pop in the garden – their bright orange hue draws the eye making them an ideal fit for colorful ornamental landscaping. And unlike many ornamental peppers with high heat and no flavor, the Tangerine Dream packs nearly zero heat (0 to 100 Scoville heat units) and a deliciously sweet taste that’s perfect for summer salads and sweet sauces. If you love edible landscaping, this is a tasty, family-friendly choice.

Tangerine Dream Pepper
Tangerine Dream peppers, on the vine

Tangerine Dream pepper fast facts

Scoville heat units (SHU)0 – 100
Median heat (SHU)50
Jalapeño reference point250 – 8,000 times milder
SpeciesCapsicum Annuum
OriginUnited States
SizeThin and elongated, 3 inches long

How hot are Tangerine Dream peppers?

The default for Tangerine Dream peppers is zero heat, though some report a slight simmer to the sweet pepper. Regardless – it’s more bell pepper than jalapeño – falling at least 250 times milder than our jalapeño reference point. At that heat level (when there is heat), it’s a similar slight warmth as a shishito pepper (50 to 200 SHU.)That is, when the shishito doesn’t surprise with additional spiciness, which it sometimes does. And it’s much milder than the poblano (1,000 to 1,500 SHU), which is still considered a mild chili.

As ornamental peppers go, this is one of the most family-friendly you’ll find when it comes to spiciness. Many ornamentals, because they are bred for looks and not to temper heat, have a surprising kick. Not so with the Tangerine Dream chili.

What do they look like?

While they may have the heat of a bell pepper, the shape and color of Tangerine Dream peppers are more like chilies further up the Scoville scale. The fruit is thin and elongated – approximately three inches in length – and they tend to grow straight up from the plant, giving them a dramatic physical presence.

Though, it’s the color that really adds the drama here. The chilies age from green to a rich, jewel-toned orange. It’s a bold and beautiful color that is only emphasized by the way the peppers grow towards the sky.

What do these peppers taste like?

They taste just as good as they look. That’s the real benefit of growing Tangerine Dream peppers. They are a beautiful ornamental pepper choice, and they work just as well as a culinary sweet pepper. There’s a delicious, flavorful sweetness here that really complements the color.

How can you use these chilies?

As landscaping, these peppers are right up there with other popular ornamental peppers like aji omnicolor and the Black Pearl pepper. The main benefit of the Tangerine Dream, though, is its flavor. All ornamental peppers are edible, but not all have a robust flavor beyond their high heat. This chili adds a terrific sweetness to summer salads (especially paired with citrus fruits). It’s also very useful in sweet sauces, and it makes a good choice as a pickling pepper. That sweetness pairs really well with the briny tang.

Where can you buy Tangerine Dream peppers?

You won’t find them in local supermarkets. Some farmer’s markets may carry them, but as ornamental peppers, it’s best to grow them yourself. Beyond broad-use edible landscaping, they’re a great fit for container gardening and relatively easy to grow. You can buy the seeds online if they aren’t available at your local gardening center.

So if you want a family-friendly sweet pepper with looks as much as flavor – the Tangerine Dream should be at the top your gardening list. Its versatility, from aesthetic garden to delicious plate, makes it truly special.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on August 18, 2023 to include new content.
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