Skip to Content

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitute

Scotch Bonnet pepper is an extremely hot chile closely related to the habanero. It rates 100,000 to 350,000 units on the Scoville scale, and it’s about a 9-10 on the relative heat scale. The chile may vary in color from yellow-green to orange and even bright red. The average size of this chile is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. The Scotch Bonnet is an essential ingredient in Jamaican Jerk spice and sauce and Jamaican curries. Scotch Bonnet chiles are pretty easy to find in most well-stocked grocery stores.


Scotch Bonnet Peppers are actually named after “Scotsmen,” as the British first brought the pepper to Jamaica in the mid -19th century. The pepper is also referred to as a “Caribbean red pepper,” as it derives from the Caribbean island of Jamaica, where it is a major ingredient in jerk sauce.

The Scotch bonnet peppers have a fiery, fruity flavor with hints of citrus and mango. They can be eaten raw or cooked into soups, stews, and curries.

Compared to other peppers, they are also low in nutrition and calories, which means they can add zing to your food without adding any calories.

Why do we need to scotch bonnet pepper substitutes?

While Scotch bonnet peppers are a fantastic choice for heat and a fruity flavor, they are also hard to find in areas without a large Caribbean population. Most supermarkets do not carry them, so they can be challenging to find. This can pose a problem if you want to use a recipe that makes use of this pepper. However, there are several other options that you can use as a substitute for Scotch bonnet peppers that will ensure your dish is just as delicious as if you’d used the real thing.

Substitute for Scotch Bonnet Peppers

If you are looking for Scotch bonnet alternatives to spice up your recipe, we have compiled the following list of some substitutes that you can use instead!

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne peppers are a staple ingredient in many dishes. They can be used as an alternative to the hot, spicy Scotch bonnet pepper.

The heat of cayenne peppers is measured on the Scoville scale and ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). For comparison purposes, Scotch Bonnets range from 100,000-350,000 SHU.

Cayenne Peppers will not give your dish that same level of heat as you would get with a Scotch Bonnet, but they do have some spice to them and can add flavor without overpowering other ingredients or being too hot for most people to handle.

Fresno Peppers

Fresno Peppers

In general, Scotch Bonnet peppers are spicier than Fresno peppers. However, both varieties pack a punch that can be too much for some people.

If you want to use them in dishes that will be cooked over low heat and not eaten whole, it is best to substitute Fresno peppers instead. They have an earthy flavor which can really enhance the dish!

Habanero pepper

Habanero pepper

Some of you may be wondering if you can use habanero peppers as a substitute for scotch bonnets. Yes, you can, but you must be extremely careful while working with this pepper – especially if you use it in a recipe that requires a long cooking time. Also, regarding taste – habanero doesn’t have the actual depth of flavor that few quality scotch bonnets possess. Hence, habanero doesn’t make an excellent substitute for those dishes that require the full potential of scotch bonnet peppers.

However, if you’re looking for a substitute that is fairly close in flavor, then habanero peppers are a good option. They are also an excellent alternative to scotch bonnet peppers if you’re looking to cook something hot … but not superhot.

Pequin Peppers

Pequin Peppers

Pequin peppers are much more common than scotch bonnets and have a similar spice without as much heat. They also have a sweeter flavor, perfect for dishes like mole or tamales that need some sweetness.

Substituting pequin peppers for scotch bonnets can change your dish into something new while maintaining its original flavor profile!

Pequin peppers are milder than scotch bonnets and can be substituted to reduce the spice factor.

Serrano Peppers

Serrano Peppers

The Scotch Bonnet pepper is capsicum that is rated at above 100,000 on the Scoville scale. The Serrano pepper, on the other hand, rates around 1,600-2,500.

So what does this mean? If you’re substituting peppers for another dish and want to make it spicier without adding more heat to your dish overall, then try using a Serrano instead of a Scotch Bonnet.

That way, you can get the same flavor profile but with less spice!

Thai Peppers


Thai peppers are a close relative to the Scotch bonnet pepper. They have a similar heat level and flavor but with less intensity.

Thai chiles can be substituted for Scotch bonnets in many recipes that call for them, so long as you reduce the number of seeds when preparing them.

They can be found in the produce section of grocery stores or Asian markets. Substituting Thai peppers for Scotch Bonnet Peppers will give your dish a different flavor without losing any heat!

Rocotillo pepper

Rocotillo pepper

Rocotillo pepper is described as a “goat head” pepper and is a variety of Scotch Bonnet. Rocotillos are considered to be more flavorful than scotch bonnets, but their flavor is similar.

It’s green at first but does turn red or orange when fully mature. Rocotillos can grow up to 2 inches in length and have a hole in the middle through which the spine sticks out. Though the spines are not necessarily dangerous to humans, they can cause problems for animals, so be careful with this pepper if you have a pet at home.

Some say Rocotillo peppers smell the most like scotch bonnets and have the hottest burn off all Scotch Bonnet varieties. They are a great substitute for scotch bonnets, especially if you’re looking for a slightly pungent and flavorful pepper that’s moderately hot, but bear in mind, these peppers are not for beginners!

Substitute for Scotch Bonnet Peppers in Mango Kuchela

Mango Kuchela is a specialty of Trindad made from air-dried green mango, hot chile peppers, vinegar, salt, spices, and brown sugar. The hot relish is served with just about anything from rice to curry. The habanero pepper is a perfect substitute for scotch bonnet in this recipe because it takes less time to cook, and this fits the profile of habanero pepper.

Substitute for Scotch Bonnet Peppers in Jamaican Jerk Spice

This spicy mixture for Jamaican Jerk Spice is commonly used in Jamaica for seasoning pork or chicken. This rub is sometimes dry and sometimes more of a paste. Store refrigerated for up to 3 months. Here, Thai pepper will easily substitute for scotch bonnet because they have the same hotness level, and the Thai pepper can endure the shelve life of this recipe.

Frequently Asked Question [FAQs]

Is scotch bonnet good for you?

Yes, they are. Scotch bonnet peppers are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, b, phytochemicals, etc.

How to store Scotch Bonnet Peppers?

There are many ways you can store these hot peppers, so they don’t go wrong – one way is by storing them in oil or vinegar, which will preserve their flavor for up to six months. Another option is freezing them in ice cube trays with some oil inside for later use when cooking recipes that call for scotch bonnets.

Which is hotter habanero or scotch bonnet?

The scotch bonnet is hotter. The habanero chili pepper is about 260,000SHU, whereas the scotch bonnet pepper is about 445,000 SHU.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers are waxy orbs that come in different sizes and have a unique look that’s quite unlike any other pepper in the world. They are of Caribbean ancestry, and they are also popular in other regions of the world including Africa, and Brazil.