The Great Pepper Swap: Fresno Peppers vs Jalapeño

Fresno peppers vs jalapeno

Fresno Peppers vs Jalapeño
Fresno chilli peppers and jalapeño peppers can both add a spicy kick to your meals, but Fresnos are often a bit hotter with a fruitier flavour. While green in their unripe form, Fresnos turn to a beautiful red as they mature. You can substitute jalapeños for Fresnos if you prefer a milder heat and a slightly less fruity taste in your dishes.


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Are you looking for a way to spice up your meals in your plant-based journey? Let’s dive into the world of fresno peppers vs jalapeño. Theses are two popular chili peppers that are both loved for their ability to add that perfect heat to any dish. Whether you’re garnishing your favorite taco or whipping up a fiery salsa, understanding the differences between these two can help you choose the right pepper for your palate and health goals.

What are Fresno Chili Peppers and Jalapeños?

Imagine your garden or the produce aisle filled with an array of vibrant peppers. Among them, the green Fresno peppers stand out, ready to evolve into bright red peppers as they mature. These beauties offer a slightly fruitier flavor compared to their counterpart, the jalapeño pepper. 

Jalapeño peppers are one of the most well-known hot peppers. They are often picked and enjoyed while still green, although they also turn red when fully ripe. 

When you’re faced with choosing between these two, it’s not just about the colour. Consider the heat and the flavor they’ll bring to your meals. The Scoville heat units of each pepper can guide you. Fresnos often pack more punch than green jalapeños, which have a similar heat level to green Fresno peppers but with a milder heat when they’re still green. 

If you’re considering substituting one for the other, know that while they share a similar flavour profile. Red Fresno peppers can bring a slightly more intense heat and a tangier twist to your dishes.

Are Fresnos the Same as Red Jalapeños?

Although they share a similar appearance when ripe, Fresnos and red jalapeños are not the same. The Fresno chili has thinner walls and contains a fruitier flavour compared to the red jalapeño. These tend to have a broader appeal with its mild heat and is often used in hot sauces. While both can turn a vibrant red, the Fresno pepper usually has a sharper spice and a more distinct taste.

Fresno peppers

What are Fresno Peppers Used for?

  • Salsas & Ceviches: Bright color and fruity flavour enhance these dishes.
  • Sauces: Adds a spicy flavour and can be pickled for extra zest. 

Fresno chili peppers are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. They can be used fresh in salsas for a burst of spicy flavour, or cooked into stews and sauces where they add depth with their fruity flavour. They’re also excellent when pickled, giving sandwiches and salads a delightful kick.

Fresno pepper salsa

What are Jalapeños Used for?

  • Mexican Cuisine: Perfect for stuffing, grilling, and making poppers.
  • Roasted Flavor: Offers a smokier flavour for complex-tasting meals.

Jalapeño peppers are commonly used in a variety of dishes to infuse a robust spicy flavour without overwhelming heat. They’re popular in Mexican dishes, from tacos to guacamole, and are delicious when stuffed with cheese and baked. Roasted jalapeños are also a key ingredient in many hot sauces and can add a smoky flavor to your favorite recipes.

Jalapeno hot sauce

Both Fresno and jalapeño peppers bring versatility to the kitchen, letting you play with the flavour profile and heat of your food. Whether you’re aiming for a mild tang or a bold spice, these fresh peppers are your go-to ingredients.

Shopping for Peppers

Where to buy the best peppers:

  • Farmers’ Markets: Great for fresh and local options.
  • Grocery Stores & Specialty Shops: Offer a variety of hot peppers including jalapeños and Fresno chili peppers.

Selecting peppers:

  • Look for firm skin and vibrant color.
  • Choose green jalapeños for mild spice or bright red peppers for more heat.
Fresno peppers vs jalapeño - jalapeno peppers

Some other varieties:

  • Chipotle Peppers: For a smokier flavour.
  • Bell Peppers: If you need a sweet flavour and crunch.


  • Keep in a cool, dry place to preserve flavor and freshness.

Nutritional Benefits and Flavor Profiles

Red Fresno Peppers add a bright pop of color and a fruity flavor to your dishes, along with a boost of health benefits. They’re rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, important for healthy skin and a strong immune system. Plus, they offer antioxidants that help protect your cells.

On the other side, Jalapeño Peppers come with their own perks. Their spicy flavor is matched by a low calorie count, making them a smart addition to a health-conscious diet. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals, offer fiber for good digestion, and contain capsaicin, which some studies suggest may help boost your metabolism.

Heat Level: Spicing Up Your Meals

When choosing Fresno peppers vs jalapeno for their heat, the Scoville scale is essential. This scale helps pepper lovers understand the spiciness level through measuring Scoville units, a way of saying how much capsaicin a pepper has.

  • Fresno Peppers: These rank higher than jalapeños, often having a moderate heat level that adds excitement to any dish.
  • Jalapeño Peppers: They start off with a milder heat as green peppers but can pack more punch when they turn red.

In terms of flavor, each pepper brings its own zest to the table:

  • Fresno Chili Peppers: They’re the choice for adding a lively, tangier flavour to meals.
  • Jalapeño: These peppers are beloved for their consistent and smokier flavour.

And for those wondering about the heat comparison:

  • Is the Fresno chili hotter than jalapeño? Yes, Fresno chilis usually have more capsaicin, which means they can be hotter, especially when they are ripe red Fresno peppers compared to the green jalapeños.

No matter your preference in terms of heat, these peppers can be used to fine-tune the spiciness of your cooking, whether you’re looking for the boldness of the hottest pepper or just a hint of warmth.

Substitutes and Similarities

Substituting Peppers

  • Fresno Chili Peppers can replace jalapeños for a similar heat level and more tangy flavour.
  • Remove seeds from Fresnos for a milder flavour if needed.

Best Substitutes

  • Serrano Peppers: A great substitute for Fresnos with similar heat and a complex taste.
  • Can I substitute jalapeño for fresno? Yes, they’re often interchangeable in recipes.

Key Differences

  • Are Fresnos the same as red jalapeños? No, Fresnos have thinner walls and a fruitier taste despite a similar appearance.

Fresno Peppers Around the World

Beyond the Fresno peppers vs jalapeno debate, there is a world of other peppers out there. The Fresno chili, named after Fresno, California, has made its way into kitchens worldwide. While not as ubiquitous as some other types of peppers, the Fresno chili’s popularity is growing. This is due to its versatility and vibrant flavor. It is becoming more common in grocery stores and markets, though it’s still often confused with the more widespread jalapeño. 

Different types of peppers like bell peppers, cayenne peppers, or chipotle peppers, which are actually smoked jalapeños, each have their unique place in the culinary world, but Fresnos stand out for their particular balance of heat and sweet, fruity notes, making them a special find for those looking to enhance their plant-based dishes.

Growing Peppers

For the green-thumbed and health-conscious considering Fresno peppers vs jalapeno, growing your own peppers can be a fulfilling way to ensure you have the freshest and most flavorful ingredients. 

Green peppers like jalapeños and Fresnos can start off in your garden and, with proper care, will mature into red chilli peppers that are both hotter and sweeter. 

Cultivating these popular chili peppers can be an enjoyable hobby that also contributes to your well-being, providing you with a fresh supply of capsaicin-rich peppers known to boost metabolism and improve health. With a little patience and care, you can turn your garden or balcony into a pepper paradise, filled with green jalapeños and green Fresno peppers waiting to be plucked and enjoyed in your next meal.

Incorporating both jalapeño and Fresno peppers into your diet can do more than just spice up your meals; it can add a new dimension of flavor to your plant-based lifestyle. Each type of pepper, from the milder green bell peppers to the intensely hot cayenne peppers, brings its own set of benefits and taste profiles. 


By experimenting with different types of peppers, you’ll enhance the taste of your dishes. Further, you will also embrace the variety that makes a plant-based diet both enjoyable and healthful. So, whether you prefer the popular chili peppers like jalapeños with their familiar kick or the striking hue and slightly sharper bite of red Fresno peppers, remember that each meal is an opportunity to nourish your body and delight your taste buds.