12 Best Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitutes

Scotch Bonnet

If you like chili peppers, you most likely know about the scotch bonnet pepper that is one of the hottest peppers.

This pepper is related to habanero and you will be able to use it in many different ways. Scotch bonnet peppers are used to spice up different dishes and sauces and you can use them fresh or dry.

However, if you don’t have scotch bonnet peppers, there is no need to worry. We found several options you can use instead of this pepper that will still give your meal a delicious flavor.

Keep reading to learn more about the best substitutes for scotch bonnet peppers in your food and how to use them!

Substitutes For Scotch Bonnet Pepper

Use the following scotch bonnet pepper substitutes as you like them according to your taste. Keep in mind that some will have a higher level of heat than others so tasting them before you add them to your food is always a good idea.

1. Habanero peppers

Habanero Pepper

Habanero peppers are the closest in terms of heat and taste to the scotch bonnet ones. Usually, these two types of peppers are used interchangeably.

You will find habanero peppers easily in grocery stores. They come fresh or dry. Use them in the same quantity as you would use scotch bonnet pepper and your meals will taste just as good.

Habanero peppers are also rich in vitamin C and they are a great immune system booster during the cold season.

2. Serrano chiles

Serrano Peppers

Serrano chiles also make a great substitute for scotch bonnet peppers.

However, if you are planning to use this substitute, make sure to consider that it is not as hot as the scotch bonnet peppers.

Even if they add less heat to your dishes, you will keep the same flavor so that your recipe will taste as close to original as possible.

Serrano chiles are not as easy to find worldwide but if you do get them, know that you can use them instead of scotch bonnet peppers successfully.

3. Thai red chiles

Thai Luang peppers

Thai red chiles are popular even outside of Thai cuisine thanks to their rich flavor and delicate hot taste. These red chiles are similar to scotch bonnet peppers in terms of both flavor and heat but they have a milder taste.

Thai peppers have more seeds than scotch bonnet peppers so you will have to pay attention to this aspect when you prepare them for your recipe.

Use the same ratio when you replace scotch bonnet peppers with Thai peppers. You can even add a bit more of your substitute if you want a more intense taste.

4. African bird’s eye peppers

African bird’s eye peppers can replace scotch bonnet peppers as well in any type of recipe.

But you will have to consider that the flavor is sharper and they might even have a smoky taste if you get them dried. They will add the heat you want to your dish and not everyone will notice the difference.

This makes a great substitute for scotch bonnet peppers in your sauces, stews. and soups since they will taste even better in liquid dishes.

Depending on the strain of African bird’s eye peppers that you get and how ripe they are, some can be even hotter than scotch bonnet peppers while others will have a milder level of heat.

So, taste them in order to know how much to add to your dish.

5. Cayenne peppers

Cayenne peppers

Cayenne peppers are very popular thanks to their delicious flavor and flexibility since you can add them to all kinds of dishes.

You can use them instead of scotch bonnet peppers but they will not be as spicy. However, your food will taste great nevertheless. therefore if you don’t have scotch bonnet peppers, definitely give cayenne peppers a try.

Even if they are less spicy, cayenne peppers remain one of the best substitutes for scotch bonnet peppers in terms of flavor.

6. Fresno peppers

Fresno peppers will not disappoint you if you use them instead of scotch bonnet peppers.

As a matter of fact, you might fall in love with these peppers since they can be extremely tasty. They are not as spicy as scotch bonnet peppers, but they still offer a decent amount of heat to your food.

Fresno peppers also have an earthly flavor that will complement perfectly cooked dishes such as stews, soups, or baked recipes.

Use them in the same quantity as you would use scotch bonnet peppers. However, if you want a spicier dish, you can always add more Fresno peppers according to your preferences.

7. Pequin peppers

Pequin chili peppers

If you have pequin peppers, you might be surprised by how well they can substitute your scotch bonnet in any type of recipe.

Pequin peppers are sweeter than scotch bonnet peppers. However, they also add a decent level of heat to your food, even if they are less spicy than scotch bonnet peppers.

You might also be able to find pequin peppers easier than scotch bonnet peppers and if you do, use them with confidence in any type of dish that calls for scotch bonnet peppers.

Maintain the same ratio. However, if you prefer the sweet flavor of pequin peppers, there is no need to be afraid to add a bit more.

8. Paprika

Smoked Paprika

Paprika is one of the most common substitutes not only for scotch bonnet peppers but also for many other types of peppers.

You can find different types of paprika on the market from spicy ones to more mild ones and you can choose the one that will compliment your dish the best.

However, paprika will not add such a rich spicy taste to your foods, even if you choose the hot version. It is still one of the best substitutes for scotch bonnet peppers if you enjoy the intense pepper flavor but not the spice.

9. Chili peppers

Chile de Arbol

Chilli peppers that come as a powder or flakes, can replace scotch bonnet peppers just fine as well. Plus, you will find them fairly easy in all kinds of grocery stores.

Some chili peppers will come with a higher level of heat than others. Thus, you will have to taste them before adding them to your food.

Chilli flakes tend to be the best substitute for scotch bonnet peppers as they are similar in terms of flavor and they add a decent amount of heat to your dish as well.

10. Jalapeno chili peppers


Jalapenos will not look similar to scotch bonnet peppers but they are amazing for adding some heat to any food you are cooking.

Jalapenos are less spicy than scotch bonnet peppers but they have a tasty flavor with a bit of earthy aroma.

Add as many jalapenos as you want once you taste them to see if you like the taste they will add to your dish. These peppers are easy to find in stores both fresh or dry according to your needs.

11. Peri-Peri sauce

Peri-Peri sauce is a hot sauce made traditionally from African bird’s eye peppers.

However, you will find different types of this sauce on the market and they have different levels of heat as well. If you don’t need the texture of scotch bonnet peppers, using this sauce can add your food a great flavor and a decent level of heat.

Add as much Peri-Peri sauce as you like and take into account the fact that it can have salt and other ingredients as well.

12. Sriracha

Sriracha sauce

The last but definitely not the least replacement is Sriracha sauce, which is easy to find in many grocery stores worldwide.

You can use Sriracha sauce in any type of recipe that calls for scotch bonnet peppers and you will not regret it. This sauce is made of a combo of red jalapenos and it is compared in terms of heat with Piri Piri.

It also contains salt, vinegar, and other ingredients that give it the tasty flavor many people love.

Are Scotch Bonnets And Habanero The Same?

Even if scotch bonnets and habanero peppers are very similar, they are not the same.

Both types of peppers have a fruity flavor. However, habanero also has a bitter taste that you will not find in scotch bonnets peppers. The bitterness of habanero peppers is so mild and discrete that not many will notice it.

Also, the sweetness of habanero peppers is milder compared to scotch bonnets.

What Do Scotch Bonnet Peppers Taste Like?

If you never had scotch bonnet peppers, you are missing out on a delicious treat.

They have a high level of heat but also a mild sweetness which makes them so appreciated in different recipes. They also have a fruity mild flavor that is mild but completes the spicy taste even better.

The intensity of the flavor when it comes to scotch bonnets peppers might vary according to the soil conditions and how ripe they are when you prepare them.

Which Pepper Is Hotter Serrano Or Scotch Bonnet?

Serrano peppers add a decent amount of spice to your food but they are not as hot as scotch bonnets.

Scotch bonnets are considered to be some of the hottest peppers on the market while Serrano peppers are milder.

So you will need to add more of them to your food to intensify the spice.

Last Tips

As tasty and spicy scotch bonnet peppers are, they are not irreplaceable. You can use any of the substitutes in this guide and still get a delicious dish.

Make sure you invest in high-quality ingredients for your recipes since any peppers you use will taste much better with the right ingredients in your food.

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