Fresno Vs. Anaheim Peppers: Choosing the Right Chili for Your Recipe

Both the Fresno and Anaheim pepper are named after places in California, US. Therefore, people often get curious about what the differences are. In this article, you will learn everything you might want to know when comparing Fresno vs. Anaheim peppers.

What Are Fresno Peppers?

Fresno Peppers

Despite the name, it might surprise you to find out that Fresno peppers were originally cultivated in New Mexico. They were first grown and named in 1952 by Clarence Brown Hamlin.

The most important characteristics of the Fresno pepper are size, shape, taste, and heat level.

You will find most store-bought Fresno peppers appear red, which means they are mature. You can sometimes find them when they are less mature, which is when they appear green. These differences in maturity affect the flavor too. The mature peppers have a distinct smoky, fruity taste, while the less mature Fresno peppers are brighter and grassier, like a jalapeƱo.

They have a media Scoville heat unit (SHU) rating of 6,250, which makes them mild chili peppers. The SHU rating varies between 2,500-10,000 overall.

Fresno peppers have conical shapes, with a length of around 2 inches and thick waxy walls. The rough diameter of these peppers is about an inch, making them good for stuffing recipes.

You can use Fresno peppers for pickling, stuffing, salsas, hot sauces, ceviche, rice and bean dishes, and more.

What Are Anaheim Peppers?

Anaheim peppers originated in Mexico and are one of the milder chili peppers. They belong to a group of chilies known as the New Mexico chile cultivar.

Anaheims are large peppers with a mild heat level. They can grow up to 5 inches long with a curved body, making them extremely versatile in the kitchen.

In terms of heat, they have a median heat rating of 1,500 SHU. This usually varies between 500-2,500 SHU overall. This makes them milder than jalapeƱos despite often having a similar overall flavor.

Anaheims have a fruity, sweet flavor which becomes more pronounced as they mature to red. However, you will often find them sold as less mature and green if you can find them in the store.

You can use Anaheim peppers in salads, stuffed pepper recipes, relishes, salsas, and any other dish where you’d normally use chili peppers.

What’s The Difference Between Fresno Peppers and Anaheim Peppers?

Fresno PepperAnaheim Pepper
2,500-10,000 Scoville heat units (SHU)500-2,500 Scoville heat units (SHU)
Smoky, FruityFruity, Sweet
Up to 2 inches longUp to 5 inches long
Originally from New MexicoOriginally from Mexico

Considering that these two peppers are both named after Cities in California, US, they were both originally cultivated elsewhere. However, that’s where the similarities begin to end.

Fresno peppers are mild peppers, but at the lower end, they’re about as hot as an Anaheim pepper will ever get. They can be up to 4x as hot as the hottest Anaheim pepper you’ll find.

While they both have a fruitiness to their flavor, the Fresno pepper has a smokier flavor and isn’t quite as sweet as the Anaheim pepper.

How you use them will differ because of the above facts, but then there’s also that Fresno peppers are small-medium sized peppers. In contrast, the Anaheim pepper is large, making it more versatile in different situations.

  • Size: Fresno peppers are small-medium, and Anaheims are large. Fresno peppers are around 2″ long, whereas the Anaheim pepper can reach up to 5″ in length.
  • Appearance: Both of these peppers can appear either red or green depending on the maturity of the pepper. Anaheim peppers have a more curved body than Fresno peppers which tend to have a more conical shape. You will often find Fresno peppers sold mature and red while Anaheim’s are sold unmature and green.
  • Taste and texture: The main difference between the two flavors is that Fresno peppers are spicier on the tongue with more smokiness than Anaheim’s. The Anaheim pepper is sweeter and milder than a Fresno pepper.
  • Culinary uses: Both are regularly used in TexMex, Mexican, and other cuisines. However, they’re not ideal substitutes for one another despite being used in many of the same types of recipes. It all depends on the final flavor you’re looking to achieve.


That’s about all you need to know when comparing the Fresno pepper vs. Anaheim pepper. They’re not as similar as many of us tend to think when we first hear their names. While they can be substituted for one another in desperate situations, it’s better to look for another alternative in most cases.