It seems like it is always hit and miss when it comes to eating jalepenos. What are some ways to tell if the jalapeno is hot or not, besides tasting it?


  • 5
    Drop a piece of jalapeño on the floor. If your pet tries to eat it and recoils in terror, it's spicy. Unfortunately, mine eventually learned that not everything on the floor is edible.
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Jun 20, 2011 at 0:48
  • cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/25695/… very closely related question...
    – baka
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 20:53
  • Find someone who can take tasting a tiny bit (plausible with jalapenos. Do not attempt with habaneros.) Commented May 14, 2018 at 17:56

4 Answers 4


The only way to test for capsaicin besides tasting is chemical testing, namely liquid chromatography. Problem is, the same kind of chili can be quite different in heat, even on the same bush it can be quite different from my experience. No idea why, though.

Here is one tip on how to check the heat of a chili without actually eating part of it, but still cutting it apart: Cut through the chili below the stem, touch the membranes, touch your tongues, feel the heat. http://www.chow.com/videos/show/chow-tips/78517/how-to-test-the-heat-of-your-chiles

You can adjust the amount of heat a chili adds to the dish by removing the white membranes. Just add the colored flesh, check for heat, and add membranes until the desired spiciness is obtained. Capsaicin is only produced in the white mebranes in the center. It may move inside the fruit, though. Areas closer to the membranes will be hotter (like, the seeds), than other parts.


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Look for the white strecth marks it indicates the jalapeño is old and has endured more stress, it appears that being older and endure dry times increases something in their inner oil that makes them more spicy, of course there's no scientific evidence for this and each jalapeño vary its level of hotness but on average I have picked them like this and they never fail to turn me red

btw the color has nothing to do

source: trust me I live in mexico

  • Hello, and welcome to Seasoned Advice. Great answer and diagram; hope to hear more from you! Commented May 15, 2018 at 18:46

The hotter the pepper the more small dark lines on the outside!

  • 5
    I've heard that the striations actually have nothing to do with heat level but how fast the pepper grows. The striations are like stretch marks.
    – lemontwist
    Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 20:37
  • @lemontwist, this leaves me with a disturbing image of a pepper giving birth to a baby pepper, horror movie style. :^D But seriously, do they work like rings on a tree where there's correlation between how many and how old the tree or pepper is? Or is it more, "there's some dark lines; this one must be old" without specifics? Commented Oct 26, 2012 at 20:53
  • @MargeGunderson... LOL... That is kinda gross! I think the striations are genetic, so not all jalapeños get them. I'm not 100% sure about the age but it makes a certain amount of sense that they would get more as they grow larger.
    – lemontwist
    Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 2:01
  • 1
    Do you have any evidence of this? My thought is that they are there when the chili grows faster than the skin can expand. I'll try to find a reference, I recall reading something about that. If it is in drought condition, then suddenly gets water, but I'm not positive. Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 13:44
  • @lemontwist See my answer describing TAM jalapenos. That paricular large, shiny and popular cultivat lacks both the striations and the heat. Ehen I grow from seed at home, I get stubby (~1 to1.5" 2.5 to 3.5cm) Jalapenos with striations, and plenty of heat. I don't get TAM seeds. Commented May 15, 2018 at 3:14

If it's a great big shiny Jalapeno, chances are it's a Texas A&M mild Jalapeno (TAM). Very popular with farmers because yield is good, and fruit is pretty. Stores lik3e it for same reasons. Organoleptically speaking, you may as well get a bell pepper. They're not hot. Usually best to kick it up a notch with something like Serranos, they're about as hot as old style jalapenos. Hot jalapenos will be smaller than TAMS, and have some brownish stripes that many people who don't know their peppers find offensive.

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