Chili and pepper are not the same thing however people just refer to chilies as peppers interchangeably.

As far as I'm aware the difference is that peppers contain pipirine coming from the piper plant(such as black pepper, long pepper) whereas chillies contain capsaicin coming from capsicum plant and this is mutually exclusive.

This scoville chart https://www.pinterest.com/pin/148196643973566417/ shows bell peppers as containing no capsaicin so why is it in the list and is it considered a chili?

I'm confused Please clarify.

  • 5
    Please, please, please do some research. This is maybe the 4th question asking the same thing. These are starting to sound more like English language comprehension questions than cooking.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 25, 2019 at 17:02
  • @Tetsujin I have done research you can see I am differentiating between the two plants and explained what I've found. And arguably each of the questions is different. Sep 25, 2019 at 17:05
  • 1
    twistedtaco.com/peppers-chillies quick google search generated this which would be enough to go on for further research into the physiology and biological differences of chilles v peppers. I second @Tetsujin's request that proper research is required...
    – J Crosby
    Sep 25, 2019 at 17:08
  • 1
    Many sources make it clear that the terms are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably. So why are you confused that the terms are being used incorrectly by some particular source? Sep 25, 2019 at 17:20
  • 1
    They're in the same family. Please do some actual research until you comprehend these simple associations.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 25, 2019 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


When people talk about "peppers" (plural), they are referring to the fruit of capsicum plants. This includes both hot and "bell" peppers.

The singular "pepper" is used to talk about "peppercorns", which are in no way related to capsicums. And although white, green and black pepper are different ways of processing the same spice (containing pipirine), the term "peppercorn" is also used to talk about botanically unrelated spices (red, pink, scichuan, etc.)

Here's the current text of the relevent section from Translating cooking terms between US / UK / AU / CA / NZ :

  • Capsicum (AU) / bell pepper (US) is a pepper (UK). Note that for people with a biology background 'capsicum' also includes hot peppers (aka chilies or chili peppers)
  • Peppers (US) (note the plural), is typically short for chili peppers unless qualified as sweet peppers or bell peppers, or specified as peppercorn.
  • Colored peppers (US), (eg, red peppers, green peppers), typically refers to bell peppers unless qualified (eg, 'hot red peppers', 'small red peppers')
  • Pepper (US) (note the singular) refers to black peppercorns unless otherwise qualified.
  • Red pepper (US, note the singular) refers to dried, red chilies (typically cayenne) that has been dried and ground or crushed.

Despite the controversy above here is an answer.

In short, despite them being in the same family (but different genus), green peppers are included on a lot of scoville lists and lists about peppers/chilies because people use the term interchangeably; that and they are a good baseline for comparing spice (a lot of people have had a green pepper, while fewer have had a Thai Ghost Pepper, right?) This is no different than any other colloquial phrase we see in daily life when people use (sometimes incorrect) words to identify an object (e.g. North American "Buffalo" is a type of Bison, too "hot" in reference to something's level of spice instead of saying spicy).

People are inherently lazy so if it looks like something, and they don't know better, they will use the word they know. So what is a pepper becomes a chili and vice versa.

  • 2
    I blame Columbus ;-))
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 25, 2019 at 18:22
  • Um ... green (bell) peppers are not piperine peppers. They're capsicums, same as hot chiles, and the same species. Even the article you linked says so.
    – FuzzyChef
    Sep 25, 2019 at 19:00
  • @FuzzyChef, kinda the point of the deliberate insertion of a colloquial (while correct) term.
    – J Crosby
    Sep 25, 2019 at 19:01
  • You're saying above that "green peppers" are a different genus from Thai Ghost Peppers. They're not.
    – FuzzyChef
    Sep 25, 2019 at 19:02

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