Scotch Bonnet Vs. Habanero

In the world of chili peppers, few chilies get confused as often as the scotch bonnet and habanero. It’s common to wonder what the exact differences are and how they differ in appearance, taste, and usage. In this article, we’ll compare the scotch bonnet vs. habanero.

What Are Scotch Bonnets?

Scotch Bonnets are a hot chili pepper most used in Caribbean cuisine but are also popularly used in recipes worldwide.

Sometimes known as Bonney peppers or Caribbean red peppers, they are small-medium size chilies with a contorted, sometimes squashed-looking appearance. Visually, they also vary in color, including green, orange, red, and brown.

In terms of size, scotch bonnets are around 1 to 2.5 inches long with a diameter between 1 and 2 inches.

Thought to originate in Brazil, today, the scotch bonnet is grown across the Americas, especially in the Caribbean region, where they are used in hot sauces, condiments, jerk dishes, ceviche, and more.

They have a spicy and sweet flavor that makes them popular in creating distinctive dishes that are often considered delicacies.

The scotch bonnet has a Scoville heat unit rating of between 100,000 – 350,000 units. This differs based on the maturity of the pepper, among other nuanced differences such as size. Either way, they’re considered very hot.

What Are Habaneros?

Habaneros are a popular chili pepper that originated in the Amazon rainforest, now being grown all across South America, Central America, and parts of the United States, such as New Mexico, Texas, and California.

The name comes from La Habana in Cuba, also known as Havana in English. The biggest producer of the habanero is the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

They are around 3⁄4–2+1⁄4 inches long, with a diameter of 1 to 2 inches in size. They can vary in color from white, brown, yellow, green, purple, red, orange, and sometimes brown. They have pod-like smooth skins.

With a SHU rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville, habaneros are a very hot chili pepper. They do have some additional flavor, not only the heat. With a famous taste with some fruity, citrus-like notes and a subtle smokiness – this pepper is loved in hot sauces, chili powders, and more.

You can use habaneros to make chili pastes, hot sauces, salsas, jams, curries, and other sauces.

What’s The Difference Between Scotch Bonnet and Habanero Chili Peppers?

Scotch BonnetHabanero
100,000 – 350,000 Scoville heat units (SHU)100,000 – 350,000 Scoville heat units (SHU)
Sweet, Fruity, EarthySweet, Fruity, Smoky
1-2.5 inches long with thin-medium skins0.75 – 2.25 inches long with thin-medium skins
Originally from BrazilOriginally from the Amazon

One of the biggest differences between the scotch bonnet and habanero pepper is the visual characteristics. Scotch bonnets are often a little longer but share similar diameters. Habaneros have a pod-like shape with smooth skins, whereas the scotch bonnet has a more round shape with deep curvatures that can make them look squashed.

The other difference is the overall taste because while they are both sweet and fruity, the habanero is not as sweet as the scotch bonnet. The habanero also has a subtle smoky flavor.

  • Size: Overall, the two peppers are similar in size, but the scotch bonnet is typically a little longer.
  • Appearance: The habanero has a broader range of colors than you might find with the scotch bonnet. It also has a more pod-like shape than the round shape of the scotch bonnet. You also see deep curves and grooves with scotch bonnets that set it apart from the habanero.
  • Taste and texture: The habanero has smoother skin, but it’s a minor difference. The main difference in taste is that the scotch bonnet is slightly sweeter, and the habanero adds a smoky flavor that the scotch bonnet does not possess.
  • Culinary uses: Both can be used in similar recipes; they make excellent substitutes for one another. While the scotch bonnet is often used in Caribbean cuisine like jerk dishes, the habanero is often used for hot sauces and other sauces.


Our comparison between the scotch bonnet vs. habanero is finished; now you know the main differences. You should know that they are more similar than different, making excellent substitutes for one another in most dishes. The habanero is more widely available in America than the scotch bonnet pepper, so you should feel free to use them as 1:1 substitutes when needed.