Green chili is mild

What is Considered Mild Spicy on the Scoville Scale?

If you’ve ever taken a bite of a spicy pepper and felt your mouth burn, you’ve experienced the Scoville scale firsthand. This method of rating spicy foods lets you know exactly how much heat you can expect from your next culinary adventure.

So what level of spiciness is actually considered “mild”? According to the Scoville scale, mild spice ranges from 100-1,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The average scoville tolerance for most people falls around 500-2,000 SHU before the burning sensation becomes too much to handle. Peppers like the Poblano and Anaheim sit at the mild end of the scale.

In this article, we’ll explore the Scoville ratings for popular pepper varieties so you can find your perfect level of mild spice. You’ll learn:

  • What the Scoville scale measures
  • Examples of mild peppers and their SHU ratings
  • How to increase your tolerance over time
  • A handy spice tolerance chart

Let’s turn up the heat on learning about mild spice!

What is the Scoville Scale?

The Scoville scale measures the heat intensity of peppers and spicy foods. It ranges from barely noticeable heat to extreme, blow-your-head-off spiciness. The ratings are measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The higher the number, the hotter the pepper.

Every pepper variety has been lab tested and assigned a specific number of SHU. For reference, a sweet bell pepper scores a 0, while the spiciest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper, tops out at over 2 million SHU!

Is Mild Spicy Under 1,000 SHU?

On the Scoville scale, a rating of 100 to 1,000 SHU is generally considered mild spice. Peppers in this range add a barely perceptible heat that doesn’t overpower the other flavors in a dish.

Some examples of mild peppers include:

  • Poblano: 1,000-2,000 SHU
  • Anaheim: 500-2,500 SHU
  • Jalapeño: 2,500-8,000 SHU

Peppers at the lowest end of this spectrum, like the poblano, impart just a hint of heat. As you move up towards 5,000 SHU, the jalapeño starts to show some spice, but is still mild enough for most palates.

What is the Average Scoville Tolerance?

Every person’s sensitivity to spicy food is different. The average scoville tolerance in the United States is around 3,500 SHU. This means most Americans start to find a dish uncomfortably hot at around the upper end of the jalapeño pepper.

However, even within the U.S. there is a huge range of spice preferences. Certain regions of the country, like New Mexico and Texas, have a much higher chili pepper consumption than the national average. People who grow up eating spicy food can build up a tolerance over time.

Globally, countries like India, Thailand, and Mexico have the highest average scoville tolerances. Their cuisines incorporate many peppers at the top end of the Scoville scale.

Can You Increase Your Spice Tolerance?

Yes! Start slowly and work your way up. Just like exercising builds muscle, regularly eating mild peppers can desensitize your taste buds over time.

Aim to add a small amount of heat to each meal. Keep challenging yourself by using progressively hotter pepper varieties. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert spice lover!

What’s the Max Spice Level for Humans?

So how much spicy heat can the average person actually tolerate before it’s too much? According to research, most people start to find food painfully hot at around 500,000 SHU.

At this intensity, your mouth feels like it’s literally burning. Your eyes water, your nose runs, and you start sweating uncontrollably. It’s nearly impossible to focus on anything besides the fiery sensation.

As you go above 500,000 SHU, the spice level reaches torturous levels. Only the most hardcore chili-heads can withstand peppers in the 1 million+ SHU range like the Carolina Reaper.

Eating these ultra-hot peppers can cause serious side effects like vomiting, abdominal cramps, and even shortness of breath. Definitely not for the spice-averse!

While everyone’s tolerance varies, most people find 300,000 SHU is around the upper limit before the spice becomes unbearable. That’s about the level of the Habanero pepper.

Aim to stay under 100,000 SHU if you want spicy but not painfully hot cuisine. That’s around the heat level of a Cayenne pepper.

Spice Tolerance Chart

Use this chart as a guide to find your personal spice tolerance and work your way up the Scoville scale:

Scoville RangeSpice LevelExample Peppers
0-700 SHUNo SpiceBell Pepper, Pimento
700-3,500 SHUMildAnaheim, Poblano
3,500-15,000 SHUMediumJalapeño, Serrano
15,000-100,000 SHUHotCayenne, Tabasco
100,000+ SHUVery HotHabanero, Ghost Pepper

Frequently Asked Questions

Are some people born with a “spice hating gene”?

No, but some people are naturally more sensitive to capsaicin, the chemical that triggers spiciness. With gradual exposure, anyone can adapt to enjoy hotter foods. Start with small amounts of mild salsa or Thai dishes before working up to extreme heat levels.

What should you do if you eat too much spicy food?

First, don’t reach for water! It spreads the spicy oils around. Dairy products like milk and yogurt do a better job washing the heat away. Starchy foods like rice and bread can also help absorb some of the excess capsaicin.

The Takeaway on Mild Spicy

If you’re new to spicy cuisine, start in the 100-1,000 SHU range to give your tastebuds a chance to adapt. Look for mild peppers like poblanos and Anaheims or dishes labeled “mild” at restaurants. With regular exposure, even the biggest wimps can work up to a jalapeño or beyond on the Scoville scale!

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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