As one chilli growing season ends in the northern hemisphere, passionate chilli growers and gardeners are already planning their gardens for next season. While numerous new and exciting options are available, consider the timeless classic chilli varieties, which’re sure to add flavor to most dishes!
This article presents the top 10 classic chilli varieties that add spice and flavour to your garden yearly. From the versatile and mild Jalapeno to the scorching Bhut Jolokia, there’s a chilli pepper to suit every taste and preference.
Whether you’re a seasoned chilli grower or a gardening enthusiast looking to spice up your garden, these top 10 classic chilli varieties offer a wide range of flavors, heat levels, and culinary possibilities.
Explore the Peppers
With their medium heat level and vibrant green color, Jalapeno peppers are a staple in many Mexican dishes. They are known for their versatility, whether pickled, turned into cowboy candy, or stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon.
Growing jalapenos is relatively easy, making them an excellent choice for beginners in chilli gardening. To grow Jalapenos, start with quality seeds from reputable suppliers. Sow your seeds indoors in early spring and plant out your seedlings to a sunny spot outside once the risk of any late frosts has passed. Jalapeno plants thrive in well-drained soil and require regular watering and fertilization.
Harvest the peppers when they turn bright green and reach the desired size. Use gloves when handling jalapenos to avoid skin irritation from capsaicin. Whether you add jalapenos to your salsas and stews or even make your own jalapeno poppers, they will undoubtedly add great flavor and mild heat to your culinary creations.
They have well and truly earned their spot on the list of classic chilli varieties.
How about some seeds from my own Jalapeno cultivar?
The habanero pepper is for you if you crave fiery heat and fruity flavour. Its intense spiciness makes it a popular choice for hot sauce, salsa, and Caribbean cuisine. Habaneros come in various colors, including orange, red, and chocolate brown.
To grow habaneros:
- Start your chilli seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost date.
- Use a seed-starting mix and provide warmth and adequate lighting for optimal germination.
- Once the seedlings have developed, transplant them to a sunny spot in well-drained soil.
Habanero plants require consistent watering and regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer. Harvest the peppers when they turn the desired color and reach their full size.
Handle habaneros carefully, as their intense heat can cause skin irritation. With their fiery flavor, habanero peppers will add a delightful kick to your dishes and homemade hot sauces.
The Anaheim chilli pepper offers a mild to medium heat level and a sweet and smoky flavor and is one of the classic chilli varieties I’d always grow. It is often used in roasted dishes and can be pickled or preserved for future use. Anaheim peppers are versatile and can be enjoyed at different stages of ripeness. When green, they have a milder taste, while the red ones are sweeter and spicier.
To grow Anaheim peppers, start the seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant your seedlings to your garden in a sunny spot outdoors once the danger of frost has passed in your region. Provide well-drained soil and consistent watering. Anaheim peppers thrive in warm climates, so ensure they receive adequate sunlight.
Harvest the peppers when they turn the desired color and reach their full size. You can enjoy Anaheim peppers in various dishes, from salsas and salads to roasted peppers stuffed with cheese or meat.
With their mild to medium heat level, Poblano peppers are widely used in Mexican cuisine, especially in dishes like chiles rellenos. These peppers have a rich, smoky flavor and can be roasted or stuffed to enhance their taste.
To grow Poblano peppers, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant the seedlings to a sunny position in the garden as long as the danger of frost has passed. Poblano plants prefer well-drained soil and require consistent watering. If you need to, support the plants with stakes or cages to help them stay upright as the peppers develop.
Poblanos are typically harvested when dark green and about 4 to 5 inches long. Poblano peppers are perfect for adding a smoky kick to Mexican-inspired dishes, such as enchiladas, tacos, or stuffed peppers.
The serrano pepper is a common ingredient in Mexican dishes, particularly salsa and guacamole and has a medium heat level. It adds a fresh, spicy kick to any recipe and can be used in pickling and hot sauces. It is also what is commonly used to make Sriracha!
To grow serrano peppers, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant your seedlings to a sunny spot outside after the risk of frost has passed. Serrano plants prefer well-drained soil and need regular watering. You can encourage bushier growth by pinching off the tips of the plants once they reach a certain height.
Serrano peppers are typically harvested when green and about 1 to 2 inches long, although they can be left to mature and turn red. Harvest the peppers when they reach the desired size and color.
Serrano peppers spice up your salsas, guacamole, and other Mexican dishes with vibrant flavor and heat.
With its medium to hot heat level, the cayenne pepper is a staple in hot sauces and spicy dishes. It offers a balanced combination of heat and flavor, a sweet, sharp, and tangy taste.
To grow cayenne peppers, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant the seedlings to a sunny location outdoors after the risk of frost has passed. Cayenne plants prefer well-drained soil and require regular watering. You can provide support, such as stakes or cages, to keep the plants upright as the peppers develop.
Cayenne peppers are typically harvested when red and about 4 to 6 inches long. Harvest the peppers when they reach the desired size and turn bright red.
Cayenne peppers are incredibly versatile and can be used in fresh, dried, or powder form for various culinary applications. From hot sauces to marinades and desserts, cayenne peppers add a delightful kick to your favorite recipes.
My favorite use for these is in hot sauce (for a great example, check out my Blazing Buffalo eXtreme!). I have seeds for a few varieties of this tasty chilli in the ChilliChump Seed Store (Cayenne, Cayenne Long Slim, and Ring of Fire!)
Rocoto chilli es are commonly used in Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine, notably in dishes like rocoto relleno. Thanks to their spicy kick, these peppers can also spice up sauces, salsas, and soups. Their thick skin makes them suitable for pickling and canning. Rocoto chilli es have a unique appeal with their thick flesh and juicy, sweet, and spicy flavor.
To grow Rocoto peppers, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Transplant your seedlings to a sunny spot in your garden once the risk of any late frosts has passed. Rocoto plants prefer well-drained soil and need regular watering. Due to their preference for cooler temperatures, Rocoto peppers may require some shade in hotter climates.
Harvest the peppers when they reach the desired size and color. Rocoto peppers will add a distinctive flavour and heat to your Peruvian or Bolivian dishes, ensuring a memorable culinary experience.
Frequently found in Caribbean cuisine, the Scotch Bonnet pepper is renowned for its fruity and distinctive flavor. It adds a delightful heat and tanginess to dishes, making it an essential ingredient in hot sauce and jerk seasoning.
To grow Scotch Bonnet peppers, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks ahead of regional last frost date. Transplant your seedlings to a sunny spot outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Scotch Bonnet plants prefer well-drained soil and need regular watering. Providing partial shade during the hottest part of the day can help protect the plants in scorching climates.
Scotch Bonnet peppers are typically harvested when they turn bright orange or red. Harvest the peppers when they reach the desired color and size.
Scotch Bonnet peppers will infuse your Caribbean-inspired dishes with their unique tropical flavour and spice.
One of the most infamous chilli peppers, the Bhut Jolokia, aka the Ghost Pepper, boasts extreme heat, surpassing one million Scoville units.
It is commonly used in hot sauces and spicy dishes, but caution is advised due to its intense heat. Despite its fiery nature, the Bhut Jolokia offers a unique and enjoyable flavour that differentiates it from other superhot varieties.
To grow Bhut Jolokia peppers, start the seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the your regional last frost date. Transplant the seedlings to a sunny location outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Bhut Jolokia plants prefer well-drained soil and require regular watering. Support the plants as they grow, such as stakes or cages, to prevent damage from strong winds.
Harvest the peppers when they turn a vibrant red or orange color. Bhut Jolokia peppers should be used sparingly in dishes, adding a potent kick that only the bravest of heat seekers can handle.
Last but certainly not least is the mighty Piri Piri or Peri Peri chilli, a personal favorite for many chilli enthusiasts, myself included. This small yet flavorful pepper packs a punch of heat and an almost smoky taste. It delivers a quick burn that dissipates swiftly, making it a perfect choice for adding zest to chicken dishes.
To grow Piri Piri peppers, start seeds inside 8 to 10 weeks prior to the last frost date for your region. Transplant your seedlings to a sunny spot outside after the danger of frost has passed. Piri Piri plants prefer well-drained soil and require regular watering. Ensure they receive full sun exposure for optimal growth and fruit development.
Harvest the peppers when they turn bright red or orange.
Piri Piri peppers are particularly popular in Portuguese and African cuisines, where they are used to make flavorful marinades, sauces, and spicy condiments. Add a kick of heat and an explosion of flavor to your meals with homegrown Piri Piri peppers.
Get seeds for my own cultivar of this wonderful chilli!
Conclusion to the Top 10 Classic Chilli Varieties to Grow This Season
Whether you’re an avid chilli grower or a budding enthusiast, cultivating these top 10 classic chilli varieties in your garden will reward you with an array of flavors, heat levels, and culinary possibilities. Each chilli pepper brings unique characteristics, from the versatile and mild Jalapeno to the scorching Bhut Jolokia.
Experiment with different recipes and cooking techniques to fully explore the taste and heat of these classic chilli es. With careful cultivation and attention to their growing requirements, you’ll have a bountiful harvest of spice and flavor that will elevate your culinary creations. Happy chilli growing, and stay spicy!
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