Your Guide to Specialty Peppers

JUN 16, 2020

With all the delicious peppers Olam Spices offers, you may find it difficult to select the right pepper (or peppers) for your recipes. That’s why we're here to help. Below are tasting notes and usage ideas I've developed in my time as a chef, working with peppers every day. By: Chef Jill Houk, Corporate Research and Development Chef, Olam Spices

Aji Amarillo

Bright yellow / Peruvian

The pepper that adds gentle heat to traditional Peruvian ceviche. In your kitchen, use Aji Amarillo to add color and/or South American flair. Great with chicken, mayonnaise-based dressings, and as an accent to seafood.

SHU Level: Fairly Low


Smoky taste / Mexico’s #1 chili pepper

When poblano peppers (the peppers used for chile relleno) ripen, they become ancho peppers. Use mild anchos for a batch of chili, with sour cream  dips, and for sprinkling on grilled/BBQ meats.

SHU Level: Fairly Low


Smoky taste / Packs considerable heat

This pepper is a jalapeno that ripens (unlike jalapenos, which are picked green) and is then smoked. Use in spicy salsas, or any place where you want the taste of smoke.

SHU Level: Moderate


Bright green / Spicy, herbaceous flavor

The most common spicy pepper in America, jalapenos are welcome in any recipe where you want freshness plus heat. Delicious in pico de gallo, citrus marinades, and Southeast Asian dishes.

SHU Level: Moderate


Fruity, floral flavor / Pungent

Hailing from the Caribbean, this pepper is very spicy, with subtle tastes of orange and peach. Use to make traditional Jamaican jerk marinade, or to add a burst of heat to cream-based sauces.

SHU Level: High

Hatch (not available online)

Lightly pungent / Smoky

Grown in Hatch Valley, a region in and around Hatch, New Mexico, Hatch green chiles offer a buttery, balanced flavor of heat with a hint of subtle sweetness. 

SHU Level: Moderate

Now that you’re feeling inspired, let’s get cooking with one of my favorite recipes.

Parrilla Blend

The recipe name means “grill” in Spanish, which is where you should use this spice blend. Combining peppers brings out the best qualities of each: Jalapenos add heat, chipotles bring smoke, and pasillas bring sweetness. Black pepper, salt and garlic round out the blend.


2 parts jalapeno powder

4 parts chipotle powder

4 parts pasilla powder

3 parts Kosher salt

1 part ground black pepper

2 parts garlic granules


Mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container up to six months. Sprinkle liberally on any meat or vegetable before cooking.

Green Chile

Flavorful US chili pepper that adds a fresh flavor

If you like jalapenos, but want less spice, this is your pepper. Great with dried beans or on corn snacks like chips and popcorn.

SHU Level: Fairly Low

Smoked Paprika

Rich deep red hue / Smoky, sweet flavor

Smoked over real wood, these peppers give you the taste of outdoor grilling. Nice with rice dishes and barbecue sauces, as well as proteins like chicken and plant-based burgers.

SHU Level: Low


Hints of raisin and dark chocolate

A dark, sweet-savory pepper that is the classic flavor of mole negro (black mole sauce). Great for bringing out the natural sweetness of roasted vegetables. A welcome addition to salsas.

SHU Level: Low

Guajillo (not available online)

Little fruity and lightly smoky flavor

This popular Mexican chili has so many delicious uses. Adds a bit of heat fruit salsas and desserts. Also great in tacos.

SHU Level: Fairly Low

Scorpion (not available online)

One of the hottest peppers

A spice bomb! Scorpion peppers are thousands of times hotter than your typical hot pepper. Perks up snack foods and works well in fiery Caribbean and Indian dishes.

SHU Level: Very High


Check out the latest peppers we offer and other ingredients that make your dishes sing.

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