Does the size of the pepper have any affect on how hot/spicy the pepper will be? ex. Is a smaller ghost pepper less hot than a ghost pepper twice its size?

  • 1
    Are we talking about total capsaicin per pepper, or scoville ratings (which is normalized by weight, so indirectly by size)?
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 3:30
  • It sounds like you mean size within the same variety. I grow apache (a common not-very-hot variety). Fruit sizes can easily vary by a factor of 3 on the same plant. Whether the heat in this case is similar per fruit or per unit volume would take an experiment as there are other variables: big chillies from the middle of the season grow and ripen quickly. They seem mild compared to stressed chillies from late in the season.
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 8:09
  • @ChrisH That sounds like a good answer to me. I have heard the same thing... peppers that are larger from the same plant will likely have more water so the spice/volume ratio is lower.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 18:40
  • @Catija my comment is a bit unscientific for me to put it as an answer (IMO).
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


As an overly broad generalization, yes, smaller peppers tend to be more spicy.

To answer in more detail, the heat in peppers comes from a molecule called capsaicin. The concentration of capsaicin is what determines how spicy peppers are relative to each other.

Incidentally, this is also how spiciness can be measured. The Scoville Scale is a measure of how many times you need to dilute the pepper's capsaicin before it is no longer detectable by taste. While this is subjective, it's a decent point for comparison between different varieties.

Larger peppers like bell peppers or banana peppers are low on the Scoville Scale (0 & up to 500 Scoville Heat Units respectively), while smaller peppers like Serranos (up to 25,000 SHU) and Habaneros (up to 350,000 SHU) are usually much hotter. Thus you have a trend with smaller peppers being hotter.

NB: Scoville units per pepper listed as 'up to xx', as there can be huge variations dependent on things like soil composition and climate. This is why you can get some Jalapenos that aren't terribly spicy, but then get others that are (relatively) really hot. SHU listings from Wikipedia.

  • 2
    I think the question is... if you have two peppers of the same variety, will the smaller of the two likely be hotter. Not comparing between two different varieties.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 18:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.