Scotch Bonnet Vs. Habanero: What Are The Differences?

Scotch Bonnet Vs. Habanero: What Are The Differences?

There are plenty of similarities when you compare scotch bonnet vs. habanero, but how are they different?

Habanero pepper originated in South America – in the Amazon basin – where it spread to Mexico. It was named after the capital of Cuba, La Habana (Havana).  Even though Cuban cooking  doesn’t use habaneros,  the pepper gets its name because Havana used to be where it was traded.


The scotch bonnet chili is the Caribbean red pepper.  It hails from Jamaica and is the predominant hot pepper  of the Caribbean islands.  Despite its name, it has nothing to do with Scotland  – it was named because its shape resembles the traditional Scottish hat. They’re also sometimes called Bonney peppers or Bahama mamas.


The Scoville scale measures the heat of peppers in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). For reference, bell peppers rate 0 units on the Scoville scale because they’re  not at all hot.  The hottest pepper in the world, Pepper X, rates at 3.18 million units. Habaneros and scotch bonnets have a similar heat level of around 100,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale. This is a huge range, and it depends  on the region they were grown,  the process, the ripeness, the subspecies, and other factors.


Both peppers have smooth, glossy skin and thin, waxy flesh. When ripe, they usually have an orange or red color.  Habaneros have a slim, elongated teardrop shape, with a thick top and a thin tip. Fully ripe, they measure 1–2.5" in size. On the other hand, scotch bonnets are round, full, and have a shape similar to the traditional Scottish hat. They are a bit bigger and can ripen to 1.5–2" in size. 

Shape,  size,  and color

Habaneros have a slightly bitter flavor compared to scotch bonnets and a more floral scent. There’s a distinct impression  of smokiness in its taste. Scotch bonnets have a much more sweet and fruity taste familiar to those who enjoy  Caribbean cuisine.


Habaneros are frequently used in hot pepper sauces. Don’t forget that these are the hottest peppers used in cooking, so you should tread carefully.  Wearing kitchen gloves is recommended if you cut them. Cutting them and removing the seeds will make them much less spicy,  and the pieces can be used to enrich stews, soups, and hot sauces.


Habaneros are much more common and can be  found in most supermarkets. Scotch bonnets are usually  only available in stores that stock Caribbean ingredients.


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