Peruvian cherry peppers may look harmless, but they pack a surprising punch! These small, tear-drop shaped peppers originating from Peru offer a nice hit of heat along with a hint of fruity sweetness.
So if you’ve been wondering, “Are peruvian cherry peppers spicy?” the answer is yes, rating about as hot as a jalapeño at around 5,000 Scoville Heat Units.
In this article, you’ll learn all about peruvian cherry peppers including:
- Their flavor profile beyond just heat
- How they compare to similar peppers like pimentos
- Where to buy them and how to prepare them
- 10 delicious ways to cook with them
Whether you’re a seasoned
An Introduction to Peruvian Cherry Peppers
Also known as Incan Red Drops or simply cherry peppers, peruvian cherry peppers originated in Peru. They are now grown around the world, but are especially popular in their native South America.
These petite peppers are named for their size and vivid red color. Fully grown, they reach 2-3 centimeters in length. Their smooth, shiny skin turns from green to a deep, ripe red when mature.
Peruvian cherry peppers have a distinct teardrop or chili pepper shape. While they resemble cherries, don’t let looks deceive you. These peppers can bring some serious heat!
How Spicy are Peruvian Cherry Peppers?
So just how spicy are these little guys? On the Scoville scale, peruvian cherry peppers rate around 5,000 Scoville Heat Units.
For comparison, a jalapeño pepper typically ranks around 5,000 SHU as well. So peruvian cherry peppers bring a similar level of heat as the popular jalapeño.
This makes them a medium-hot pepper. They offer a noticeable kick, but likely won’t leave your mouth in agony unless you eat a lot of them.
Of course, spiciness can vary between individual peppers based on growing conditions and genetics. Some peruvian cherry peppers may be hotter or milder than 5,000 SHU.
The Flavor Profile of Peruvian Cherry Peppers
In addition to their spicy bite, peruvian cherry peppers also have a distinct flavor. Along with the heat, they offer just a hint of fruity sweetness.
When raw, they taste vegetal and fresh. Once cooked, their flavors deepen and caramelize to bring out the peppers’ sweet notes.
Peruvian cherry peppers pair well with other ingredients like garlic, olive oil, meat, cheese, and eggs. Their versatility makes them easy to incorporate into many savory recipes.
Peruvian Cherry Peppers vs. Pimentos
Given their small size and red color, peruvian cherry peppers are sometimes confused with pimentos. However, the two types of peppers have some key differences.
Pimentos are significantly milder, rating under 500 SHU. They also have a curved, heart-shaped body compared to the chili pepper silhouette of peruvian cherry peppers.
While pimentos and peruvian cherry peppers can substitute for one another in some recipes, the difference in spiciness is important to note. Pimentos will contribute more sweetness, while peruvian cherry peppers add more heat.
How to Buy Peruvian Cherry Peppers
Wondering where to find peruvian cherry peppers? They can be purchased fresh, dried, canned, pickled, or jarred.
If buying fresh, look for firm, shiny peppers without wrinkles, spots, or mushy areas. Canned or jarred peruvian cherry peppers can be found year-round in the condiments section of most grocery stores.
For the freshest flavor, buy them whole. Pre-sliced or diced peppers lose flavor and heat quickly.
You may also be able to find peruvian cherry peppers at your local farmer’s market during peak summer and early fall harvest times.
Tips for Preparing Peruvian Cherry Peppers
Peruvian cherry peppers can be eaten raw or cooked. Here are some tips for preparing them:
- Wash fresh peppers just before use. Pat dry to remove excess moisture.
- Remove the stem and seeds if you want to reduce the heat level. The seeds contain most of the spicy capsaicin oils.
- Use gloves when handling fresh peppers to avoid skin irritation. Avoid touching your face and eyes.
- Slice or dice peppers to release more flavor. Add them raw to salads, salsa, guacamole, and more.
- Roast or sauté peppers to mellow their
spiceand bring out their natural sweetness.
- Store fresh peppers unwashed in the crisper drawer of your fridge for up to 1 week.
10 Delicious Ways to Use Peruvian Cherry Peppers
Ready to put peruvian cherry peppers to work in your kitchen? Here are 10 tasty ways to use them:
1. Pickle Peruvian Cherry Peppers
Quick-pickle peppers for a spicy sandwich topping or tangy addition to charcuterie boards.
2. Stuff Peruvian Cherry Peppers
Stuff peppers with cheeses like goat cheese or feta, Italian meats like prosciutto, or seasoned cream cheese.
3. Add to Salad
Slice peppers and add to greens or grain salads for a kick. They pair well with citrus, cheese, and nuts.
4. Include in Eggs
Scramble peruvian cherry peppers into eggs, add to frittatas or omelets, or top egg sandwiches.
5. Toss with Pasta
Sauté peppers with olive oil and garlic, then mix into hot pasta. Sprinkle with Parm or Pecorino cheese.
6. Use in Sauces and Salsas
Purée roasted peppers into hot sauce, chili, or hummus. Or dice raw into pico de gallo or salsa.
7. Top Pizza
Add sliced peppers to pizza as a spicy topping. Pair with sausage, pepperoni, and other bold flavors.
8. Grill or Roast
Grill or roast peppers until charred, then add to tacos, sandwiches, dips, or antipasto.
Pickle sliced peppers in vinegar and spices for a sandwich or charcuterie topper.
10. Stuff Peppers
Remove stems and seeds, then stuff peppers with cheese, meat, or seasoned cream cheese.
The uses for peruvian cherry peppers are practically endless! They lend flavor and heat to so many dishes across any cuisine.
Are Peruvian Cherry Peppers Right for You?
Even those with milder tastes can enjoy peruvian cherry peppers. Adjust the quantity to suit your preferences, or remove the spicy seeds before preparing them. Their versatility makes them widely accessible.
So if you’re eager to turn up the heat in your cooking, look no further than the flavorful peruvian cherry pepper. Start experimenting with these little fireballs today to add some sizzle to your meals!