Habanero Pepper vs. Jalapeño

Written by Heather Hall
Published: September 30, 2022
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Key Points

  • A habanero is much hotter and spicier than a jalapeño.
  • Both peppers require hot temperatures to grow and six to eight hours of full sun per day.
  • Jalapeños have 4,000 to 8,500 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Habanero has 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville Heat Units.

Both the habanero and jalapeño are members of the Capsicum family and are culinary favorites. You might wonder what the differences are between them, especially if you are new to cooking with or growing peppers in the garden.

In this article, we will thoroughly compare and contrast them, so you have an understanding of them individually. We will review the growing requirements, taste, origins, and more. Let’s get into further detail below.

Comparing Habanero vs. Jalapeño

SpeciesCapsicum chinense cv. HabaneroCapsicum annuum cv. Jalapeño
Origin of NameNamed after the Cuban city La HabanaJalapeño means “from Xalapa,” which is the capital city of Veracruz Mexico
Plant OriginsAmazon, spreading to MexicoCentral America and Mexico
Scoville Heat Units100,000 to 350,000 SHU4,000 to 8,500 SHU
Size of PepperThree-quarter to 21-quarter inchesTwo to four inches
Growth Requirements70-90 degrees Fahrenheit, six to eight hours of full sun, only water when dry, dislikes moist soil70-90 degrees Fahrenheit, six to eight hours of full sun, only water when dry, dislikes moist soil
Plant Size 24 inches wide 16-18 inches wide

Key Differences Between Habanero Pepper and Jalapeño

Habanero Pepper vs. Jalapeño: Species and Cultivar

One difference between these two peppers is that they are different species and cultivars. The habanero is Capsicum chinense cv. Habanero, while the jalapeño is Capsicum anuum cv. Jalapeño.

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Habanero Pepper vs. Jalapeño: Name and Origins

Jalapenos Chili Peppers or Mexican chili peppers

The word jalapeño itself means “from Xalapa,” a city in Mexico.


Another difference is the origins of their name. Discoverers named the habanero after a city in Cuba called La Habana, which is interesting because it isn’t a very popular pepper in that area. It is most popular in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

The Spanish named the jalapeño; the word jalapeño itself means “from Xalapa,” a city in Mexico. The jalapeño is very popular in Mexico, so the name fits. It is also prevalent in Texas; they named it the state pepper of Texas in 1995.

Habanero Pepper vs. Jalapeño: Size of Plant

habanero pepper growing in garden

The habanero can grow as tall as eight feet in a tropical climate.

©iStock.com/Aleksandr Rybalko

If space is an issue, you will want the much smaller jalapeño plant. They grow about two feet tall and one and a half feet wide. The habanero is twice that size, reaching a height of four feet and a width of two feet. If the habanero is grown in a tropical climate, it can grow as tall as eight feet. Can you imagine how many peppers a plant that tall would produce?

Habanero Pepper vs. Jalapeño: Heat

habanero peppers isolated

The habanero measures 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.

©iStock.com/Kateryna Bibro

The most significant difference between these two peppers is the heat they produce. Pepper growers measure the spiciness of peppers in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a measurement of the amount of capsaicin. Wilbur Scoville developed the test in 1912. Modern-day scientists use High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to determine the exact concentration of capsaicin in a pepper.

If you are looking for mild to moderate heat, the jalapeño rates 4,000 to 8,500 on the Scoville scale. For a hotter pepper, the habanero measures 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. For comparison, pure capsaicin is 16,000,000 SHU and pepperoncini comes in at 900 SHU.

Habanero Pepper vs. Jalapeño: Growing Requirements

Lucky for you, both the jalapeño and habanero have identical growing requirements. If you are planting a pepper from seeds, wait until two weeks after the last frost date or a soil temperate of 60 0F. If planting seedlings or transplants, wait until the daytime temperature is 70 0F.

Peppers come from hot, dry regions; the most critical requirement is never to overwater. They don’t like wet feet! Wait until the soil is dry in the top two to three inches before watering; in the summer, this is usually only once per week or so. After the plant has produced small white or yellow flowers, apply a balanced fertilizer. Small green fruits will start to form. The fruits will mature from green to orange and then to red. Most people eat jalapeños green but wait for habaneros to turn red.

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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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