Cooking spicy recipes is a staple of many households. Adding spices and flavor to any recipe kicks it up a notch. For those who love a hot take on food, adding a simple pepper can really change a dish. However, not everyone is sure about what peppers work best with each meal. Both green chiles and jalapeno peppers are great choices when wanting to add spice and flavor, however, there are some differences to know between the two.

Green pepper or chili from the farm, Close up or macro fresh beautiful Green peppers on the market texture and background, a lot of chili on basket for trader and business and establishment
Green chili peppers are very spicy for a typical dish.

©Santirat Praeknokkaew/

What Are Green Chilies

Green chilies are a pepper that begins to grow but is picked in the early stages of the harvesting process. When chili peppers are growing, they start off green. However, once they ripen, they turn red and darker colors. You can pick a chili pepper at any stage, which is why some people enjoy green chilies. These peppers are usually used in southwestern recipes to kick them up a notch with spices.

History of Chili Peppers

Chili peppers have Western origins, originating in Central America and Mexico. Historians pinpoint that the Incas, Mayans, and Aztec Indians used chili peppers in their culinary diet regularly. These types of peppers made their way to Eastern Europe after Christopher Columbus' voyages. After discovering lands in the Caribbean, he brought chili peppers back to Europe. The trade system then spread them out beyond Asia and Africa.

Chili peppers began to incorporate their way into many different cultural dishes all over the world. Thai dishes, Mediterranean dishes, and Central American dishes use chili peppers often and frequently to spice up and flavor recipes. There are many different varieties of chili peppers that are widely used, as well, depending on the dish and the culture.

A mix of red and green Jalapeno peppers from Harvest of the vegetable garden on the farm. Stored in Rustic Woven Basket.
A change in color can change the taste of a jalapeno pepper.


What Are Jalapenos

Jalapeno peppers are a specific type of chili pepper that comes from the town Xalapa, Veracruz. Like traditional chili peppers, they are green when growing and when they fully ripen, they can turn red. Jalapeno peppers are spicy and are oftentimes used in Mexican dishes, as well as other Central American dishes. Despite being known for their “hot” flavor, Jalapenos are not as spicy as many would believe. On the Scoville Heat Scale, they are only between 2,500 to 8,000, which is not as spicy as many other peppers.

History of Jalapeno Peppers

Jalapenos stem from Mexico, named for the city Xalapa located in Veracruz. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs used Jalapenos in their culinary dishes often. The jalapeno pepper is ingrained in Mexican culture and society deeply, representing both rich flavor and rich culture. Jalapenos ended up intertwined in the United States due to trade and barter between Mexico and southern states like Texas. Today, many Tex-Mex dishes use jalapeno peppers in them regularly.

Green jalapeno peppers on wooden table, flat lay. Space for text
Jalapeno peppers originated in Mexico.

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Differences Between Chili Peppers and Jalapenos


While jalapeno peppers are a specific chili pepper, they are vastly different in flavor from green chilis. Jalapenos have a spicier and hotter taste and flavor than green chili peppers. They tend to have a powerful punch to a dish in retrospect. Green chili peppers would be better suited for those with sensitivity to spice, while jalapenos are good for people who enjoy spicy and hot.


Both green chili peppers and jalapenos are taken when green, however, green chili peppers can also be harvested when they are red without impacting the taste as much. Jalapenos, on the other hand, are impacted when changing colors. If a jalapeno turns red, the flavor completely shifts.


Jalapeno peppers are typically smaller peppers. They are usually chopped up and used as a topping, or they can also be cooked and fried. Green chili peppers grow up to double the size of jalapeno peppers.

The Rundown

Overall, jalapeno peppers and green chili peppers are rather similar in some ways. They both grow on vines and jalapenos are a type of chili pepper overall. However, there are subtle, yet important, differences to know between the two. Chili peppers often come larger in size than jalapenos. In addition, they can be picked when green or red without major flavor changes. Jalapenos are spicier and have a more aggressive taste than chili peppers, as well.

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