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Fresno vs. Jalapeño: The Spicy Debate Settled Once and For All!

When it comes to the fresno pepper and jalapeno, they are as similar as they are different.

10-Second to Learn About Them

Fresno peppers are typically a bit spicier than jalapenos. Additionally, they’re known to have a fruitier taste. The green fresno pepper has an earthier, more vegetable-like taste than its red counterpart.

The jalapeno also comes in red and green. Red jalapenos are spicier and have a richer flavor than green ones. Green jalapenos have a bitterness to them.

What Is Fresno Pepper?

green red fresno peppers


Clarence Brown Hamlin cultivated Fresno peppers [1] in 1952. He named the peppers after Fresno, California.

Today, they are grown throughout California but are incredibly illustrious in the San Joaquin Valley.

Compared with Jalapeno

The Fresno pepper looks surprisingly like jalapeno and comes in red and green. In addition to looks, it tastes similar as well.

The Fresno pepper tastes vegetable-like when green, identical to the jalapeno. However, after maturing, it has a fruiter, smokier taste than its famous relative.


It ranks slightly higher on the Scoville charts, with a heat unit rated between 2,500 to 10,000. As a result, it has a spicier heat compared to jalapeno.

Its spiciness increases with age, so if you’re a spice head, it doesn’t hurt to let your Fresno peppers mature.


Fresno peppers are particularly popular in dishes such as ceviche and salsa. They also make excellent sides to pair with rice.

You May Like: What Can You Substitute for Fresno Chili Pepper?

What Is Jalapeño?

green red Jalapeno


Jalapenos originated in Jalapa (also spelled Xalapa) in Mexico. In Mexico, jalapenos are grown [2] across almost 40,000 acres of land in three agricultural zones.

Meanwhile, in the United States, roughly 6,000 acres of land are dedicated to farming this pepper. Most jalapenos cultivated in the United States are grown in Texas and New Mexico.


Jalapenos come in green and red. The red jalapeno is a mature pepper. Red jalapenos received more time to grow than their green counterpart. The green pepper has a very crisp, earthy smell and taste.

On the other hand, mature red jalapenos have a light sweetness to them. For reference, the famous hot sauce Sriracha uses red jalapenos for its base.


You can enjoy Jalapeno peppers in a variety of ways. They are often used in hot sauces and salsas, as well as breaded or stuffed and deep-fried. Because of their light kick, they are sometimes used in salads to provide an extra dimension of flavor.

Perhaps one of the most important uses for the jalapeno pepper is its use in the production of Chipotle pepper. In this process, ripe red jalapenos are smoked and dried.

Pecan wood is traditionally used to smoke jalapeno peppers, but it can be substituted for other woods. Great options for wood substitutes include oak, cherry, and hickory.

As a side note, smoking your jalapeno peppers increases their antioxidant capacity [3].

Differences Between the Fresno Pepper and jalapeño

Despite appearing identical, the Fresno pepper and jalapeno have quite a few differences.


Fresno Peppers






Green, red

Green, red


2-3 inches

3 inches


2,500 to 10,000

2,000 to 8,000


Fruitier, richer



Ceviche, salsa, sauces

Sauces, salsas, breaded, stuffed, deep-fried

Differences in Appearance

The Fresno pepper has thinner walls than the jalapeno. They are a beautiful glossy red when they are fully grown. They typically grow to two inches long, with three being the maximum.

On the other hand, although jalapenos are also red when matured, they are best harvested at around eight weeks old. At that time, the pepper is a gorgeous glossy dark green. They’re firm and roughly three inches long. At its largest, a jalapeno can be up to 6 inches long.

Despite the disparity in size, for their most common uses, jalapenos are smaller than the Fresno pepper. Although Fresno peppers are thinner than jalapenos, they still cannot be swapped at a 1:1 ratio.

Differences in Taste

As mentioned earlier, the Fresno pepper has a richer taste when it’s allowed to mature. It’s fruitier, richer, and is wonderful for use in sauces.

A mature jalapeno pepper is sweeter than when it’s green. It does not have the rich smokey flavor of the Fresno pepper.

FAQs About Jalapeño and Fresno Peppers

As a pepper lover, you’re sure to have questions. You might be curious about how to use the Fresno or jalapeno peppers. You may also wonder where these peppers fall compared to the world’s spiciest pepper.

Don’t worry. We have answers for you!

Can you substitute Jalapeño for Fresno peppers?

Yes, you can substitute the jalapeno for Fresno peppers. The reverse is also true.

Jalapeno peppers and Fresno peppers have similar Scoville heat levels, so swapping one out for the other will have a negligible effect on your dish.

Additionally, their flavor profile is similar. Although, if you’re looking for the smokiness of a mature Fresno pepper, you may want to opt for a chipotle pepper instead. Alternatively, you could choose to lightly smoke your jalapeno peppers, giving them a similar taste.

Because jalapenos are slightly smaller than Fresno peppers, you won’t be able to use them on a 1:1 scale as a replacement to achieve the same taste.

What is a red jalapeno called?

A red jalapeno is exactly that: a red jalapeno. The main difference between a green jalapeno and a red jalapeno is their age.

With that being said, red jalapenos can also be called chipotle peppers. But, this is only under the condition that they were dried and smoked.

What is the hottest pepper on earth list?

The hottest pepper in the world is constantly changing due to new varieties getting cultivated every year.

For now, the Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper in the world. It measures at 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units.

The jalapeno pepper measures between 2,000 and 8,000. The Fresno pepper ranks between 2,500 and 10,000.

Pepper spiciness is rated by Scoville units. The creator of the Scoville scale [4] is Wilbur Scoville, an American pharmacist. The Scoville scale measures the pungency or heat of a pepper based on the concentration of capsaicinoids. The measurement is then recorded in Scoville Heat Units.


Whether you prefer red or green peppers, the Fresno pepper, and the jalapeno share a list of similarities and differences that make eating them exciting.

Are you a fan of earthy vegetable flavors? You can choose between either the jalapeno or the Fresno pepper. If you prefer a deeper, fruity flavor, then mature Fresno pepper is for you.

Although neither of these peppers ranks high in Scoville Heat Units, they are excellent for adding a little kick to any dish.

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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