13 Best Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitutes For You

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If you have clicked on this article, I am sure you simply adore spicy food. You are done with the regular bland, dull recipes and are craving to spice things up (these are all assumptions, of course!).

Scotch Bonnet Pepper

Pepper, in that case, must be your angelic ingredient, and Scotch bonnet pepper should be your abode.

The Pepper family is bounteous with varieties of pepper. That simply means you get to choose the level of spiciness you desire. If you wish to experiment with the highest level of hotness, there is no game without Scotch bonnet peppers.

But what happens in the improbable scenario in which you are out of Scotch bonnet peppers? Can you disappoint that friend visiting you for dinner or that surprise you planned for your partner? I am here with an array of substitutes that can help you win the game whatsoever.

Wondering which are those? Some of the best substitutes for Scotch bonnet pepper are habanero, jalapeno, cayenne, Thai red chili, and serrano peppers.

Shall we explore scotch bonnet pepper before we get on to its substitutes?

Quick Peek: Scotch Bonnet Pepper?

Scotch Bonnet Pepper

The following scribbles tell you what Scotch bonnet pepper is, its flavor, texture, culinary uses, and health benefits.

What Is Scotch Bonnet Pepper?

Scotch bonnet pepper is a chili pepper variety with a ridiculous spiciness that can literally make you run on your heels *whoa*. Originating from the Caribbean lands, Scotch bonnet pepper is a cousin of the habanero pepper (another hot pepper).

Bonney pepper, Caribbean red pepper, Scotty Bons, Bahama Mamma, the Jamaican Hot, the Bahamian, and the Martinique pepper are its informal tags.So, what is up with its name? Scotch, bonnet, and pepper?

Well, it gets its name due to its resemblance to a Scotsman’s bonnet (also known as the Tam o’Shanter hat). Nothing else relating to Scots or Scotland. This Bahaman Mamma is an exclusive favorite of the Caribbeans and those who relish spicy food.

Describing Scotch Bonnet Pepper: Flavor and Texture

Scotch bonnet pepper has a smooth, waxy, squashed look and comes in green, yellow, and scarlet red hues. It has the Scoville heat units (SHU) within the range of 100,000 to 350,000

(SHU indicates the amount of capsaicin present; the higher the SHU, the spicier your dishes). 

Scotch bonnet pepper renders a unique flavor to your dishes. Apart from the spiciness, it also registers subtle hints of sweetness. So, it has a spicy, sweet, earthy flavor!

Uses of Scotch Bonnet Pepper

With its incredible hotness, Scotch bonnet pepper is used in dishes to heighten the spicy touch. But it is the sweetest spicier pepper you will ever find (quite ironic, huh). It is a prominent ingredient in Caribbean cuisine as well as in jerk dishes comprising chicken, beef, pork, seafood, or veggies.

Scotch Bonnet Pepper on The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope

Scotch bonnet pepper doesn’t disappoint you when it comes to the well-being radar. With a high spice factor, it is popularly sought after in the pharmaceutical industry to treat arthritis.

It helps in weight management and alleviates different kinds of pain. Also, it reduces the risk of cancer. Amazed, you must be!

Why Should We Substitute Scotch Bonnet Pepper?

Although Scotch bonnet peppers are easily available, you might not have the time to grab them from the grocery store when you are out of it.

If you wish to spice things up a little bit, you will have to make up for Scotch bonnet pepper by substituting it with other ingredients. These ingredients could be either pepper-based or not based on pepper.

Scotch bonnet pepper is a fairly healthy pepper variety, but in case you are allergic to capsaicin, you definitely have to find suitable alternatives. 

Let us talk about the best substitutes for Scotch bonnet pepper with no further delay.

Other Food Substitutes You Can Try

13 Best Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitutes

Here are the thirteen best substitutes for Scotch bonnet peppers that you can use in a recipe:

1. Habanero Pepper


Habanero, the fiery cousin of Scotch bonnet pepper, is its closest alternative. In terms of spiciness, habanero is unparalleled. It is easy to find owing to its usage in many cuisines. 

But, habanero doesn’t give you that fruity flavor of Scotch bonnet pepper, which might also alter your recipe’s flavor. Nevertheless, it can be used on a 1:1 ratio in your cooking.

2. Jalapeno Pepper


Jalapenos are spicy peppers in the pepper family. These have a Scoville heat unit ranging between 2,000 to 8,000. These are considered medium-heat chilies due to the spiciness they give to recipes. They have an earthy, tasty flavor. 

Jalapenos are mild chili varieties that you can use if you can’t tolerate the extreme spiciness of Scotch bonnet pepper. Make sure you remove the seeds to avoid bitterness in your dishes.

3. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a variety of capsicum annuum. It is lean in shape with a glossy exterior and comes in green, orange, red, and yellow colors. It has a spicy flavor with fruity undertones. Cayenne pepper has a SHU ranging between 30,000 to 50,000.

The closest substitute for Scotch bonnet pepper among these is red cayenne pepper. It adds a unique, delicious flavor to your dishes, ensuring a decent heat level. Did you know they are available in powdered forms as well?

4. Thai Pepper

Thai Pepper

Thai pepper is a chili pepper variety extensively used in various cuisines for spiciness. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just one variety – the term that pepper constitutes around 79 varieties of peppers!

Thai pepper also ensures a considerable amount of hotness in your dishes alongside great flavor and taste, making it a good substitute for Scotch bonnet pepper. They can be substituted victoriously for an intense spicy touch in your recipes.

Thai red paste is also a great option for replacing Scotch bonnet pepper.

5. Paprika


Paprika pepper is a cone-shaped pepper that is dried and used as paprika powder. It has a mild, fruity flavor with spicy undertones.

There are many varieties of paprika pepper, each having various spice levels. The most commonly used is the sweet red paprika. 

Want the flavor and taste of Scotch bonnet pepper devoid of spiciness? Paprika must be your definite choice. Paprika’s easy availability, mild undertones, and less intense hotness make it a great substitute for any type of pepper in general. 

6. Serrano Pepper

Serrano Peppers

Serrano is a Mexican Chile pepper that is the name of the mountainous regions in Mexico from where they originated. It has a spiciness similar to jalapeno. It has a ranking of 5,000 to 15,000 Scoville heat units. Got the idea about its spiciness, now? 

Serrano is a mild alternative for Scotch bonnet pepper that ensures spiciness without dominating the taste of other ingredients in your recipe. If you swap it with Scotch bonnet pepper, it has to be used in double amounts. 

7. African Bird’s Eye Pepper

African's Bird Eye Pepper

African bird’s eye pepper also goes by the names Peri-Peri or Piri-Piri and African Red Devil Pepper. As the name suggests, this chili pepper comes to us all the way from Africa.

It is a small chili pepper but doesn’t let the size fool you. It has a range of 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville units on the heat scale.What is great about African bird’s eye pepper is that it can be used to get the desired spiciness depending on its ripeness.

Want to emulate the spiciness of Scotch bonnet pepper? Use African bird’s eye pepper after drying it. If not, use the unripe strain of this pepper for a mild version.

8. Rocotillo Pepper 

Rocotillo pepper is a mild chili pepper that has its origin in Peru but is now cultivated in Puerto Rico and the southern United States. It is deemed to be a habanero-type pepper that is medium in size, wrinkled in structure and red.

Rocotillo pepper has a 1,500 – 2,500 SHU. It has a mild spicy flavor with slight fruity undertones.

Rocotillo pepper looks similar to Scotch bonnet pepper, and with its mild heat level, it can be a good substitute for scotch bonnet pepper in recipes. 

9. Pequin Pepper

Pequin pepper is a hot chili pepper native to the United States. It is an oblong-shaped small pepper with 40,000 to 60,000 Scoville heat units.

Pequin pepper is a popular ingredient used to make sauces and salsas due to its amazing blend of flavors – both sweetness and spiciness. It has a spicy flavor with smoky, floral undertones.

Pequin peppers are not as spicy as Scotch bonnet pepper. However, they can work as good alternatives due to the distinctive flavor that is a combination of sweet and spicy flavors.

10. Fresno Pepper

Fresno Pepper

Fresno chile or Fresno chili pepper is also a type of capsicum annuum. You shouldn’t confuse Fresno chili pepper with Fresno bell pepper.

Fresno is also confused with jalapeno pepper due to its similar appearance. It has thin walls and a manageable heat level. It is spicier and smokier than jalapenos.

Much like jalapeno, Fresno is a mild chili variety that adds subtle spiciness to your dishes. Fresno can be used as much as Scotch bonnet pepper for an earthy, hot flavor. Adding more will ensure you get enhanced hotness in your recipes.

11. Chili Powder

When I said chili powder, it is not the power of the blend or ground of just chilies (which is basically chili powder). Chili powder refers to the powdered version of spices that are finely ground.

Chilies, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, and onion powder are blended to create this spicy chili powder. Chili powder will have a heat level based on the amount of cayenne pepper used in the making. Basically, it has a mild, spicy flavor.

Varieties of chili powder can be considered for the desired spiciness before fixing one among them for replacing Scotch bonnet pepper. 

12. Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco sauce is a brand of American hot sauce prepared using tabasco peppers, vinegar, and salt. This sauce has a serious spice level that is worth mentioning beforehand! Do you know what makes this sauce so damn hot? 

The peppers are mashed and kept in oak barrels, covered in dense salt layers. After fermentation for three years, you get the unique, spicy tabasco sauce. (That’s too much oak trouble!)

Tabasco sauce has a considerable heat level similar to Scotch bonnet pepper, making it one of the worthy alternatives for Scotch bonnet pepper. Add sparingly, in the beginning, to not give your mouth a roller-coaster ride in the spicy theme park!

13. Sriracha Sauce

Sriracha is a popular condiment used in Asian cuisine but is now prominently used by many across the globe. It is a variety of chili sauces made using jalapeno peppers, distilled vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic.

Sriracha has a dense, oily texture and a spicy flavor with a tinge of sweetness, making it a considerable substitute for Scotch bonnet pepper. You needn’t worry about sriracha ruining your dish with hotness since it truly isn’t capable of that. *laugh*

Short Recap

That was all about the best Scotch bonnet pepper substitutes. Care to make it easy to remember with the help of a few points?

Flavor: The best substitutes for Scotch bonnet pepper in terms of flavor would be habanero, jalapeno, cayenne, Thai red chilies, red paprika, and pequin.

Texture: The best substitutes for Scotch bonnet pepper in terms of texture would be habanero, jalapeno, Fresno, and ocotillo

Availability: The substitutes for Scotch bonnet pepper which are easy to find, are jalapeno and serrano peppers.

Non-Pepper Based Substitutes: Chili powder, tabasco sauce, sriracha, and African Thai red chili paste are some of the non-pepper-based substitutes for Scotch bonnet pepper.

Final Musings

Choosing a Scotch bonnet pepper substitute for brewing a perfect dish is always a hefty task, but I have made it easy for you, right? Go for these substitutes based on the nature of your recipe and relish the spicy kick.

Use these substitutes as per your preferences, and let me know what worked out the best. Happy eating, folks!

How To Use Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitutes In A Recipe

Scotch Bonnet Pepper

Scotch Bonnet Pepper Substitutes

The Pepper family is bounteous with varieties of pepper. That simply means you get to choose the level of spiciness you desire. If you wish to experiment with the highest level of hotness, there is no game without Scotch bonnet peppers. But what happens in the improbable scenario in which you are out of Scotch bonnet peppers? You put some of its best substitutes to use!
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  • Habanero Pepper
  • Jalapeno Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Thai Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Serrano Pepper
  • African Bird’s Eye Pepper
  • Rocotillo Pepper
  • Pequin Pepper
  • Fresno Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Sriracha Sauce


  • Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
  • Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
  • Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Scotch bonnet peppers hotter than jalapenos?

Scotch bonnet peppers are hotter than jalapenos with a SHU of 100,000-350,000 units.

Are habanero and Scotch bonnet the same?

Habanero and Scotch bonnet pepper are not the same. They have different spice levels and flavor profiles – both are spicy and sweet in flavor but habanero has a slight hint of bitterness in it.

How to get the scotch bonnet pepper flavor without the heat?

You can use cayenne, fresno, pequin, serrano and Thai peppers for a close flavor of Scotch bonnet pepper without the heat.

Are Scotch bonnet and ghost peppers the same?

Although Scotch bonnet pepper and ghost pepper come from the same family, they are not the same. The former is a variety of Capsicum Chinense while the latter is hybrid of Capsicum Chinense and Capsicum frutescens.

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