7 Best Types of Cayenne Peppers 🌶 [& How Hot They Are]

Cayenne peppers, also known as hot peppers or chili peppers, add amazing flavor to dishes and are even great to munch on by themselves (if you have some guts). They’re also known as the cow-horn pepper, and the bird pepper, which are also cultivars, if that wasn’t already confusing 🙂

It’s a type of Capsicum annum, which means Cayenne’s are in the same family as:

  • Jalapenos
  • Bell Peppers
  • Poblano pepper (ancho chile)
  • Serrano pepper
  • And plenty more

When it comes to cayenne peppers there’s a lot more than just red ones out there, although that is what most people think of when they hear the term, “cayenne pepper.” There are plenty of different varieties you can grow (over 50!), but here are some of the more popular and unique ones.

The 7 Best Types of Cayenne Peppers

Red Ember Peppers

red ember cayenne
Photo by Johnny’s Seeds

Color: Red

Days to Harvest: 75 days

Pepper Size: 4-5 inches

Yield: Heavy producer

Scoville Heat Units: 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville units

Red ember cayenne peppers are one of the most popular variations of cayenne pepper out there. They grow about 6 to 8 inches long and are pretty spicy.

The walls are pretty thick, so you do get some crunch action if you dare bite into one right off the plant. If you’re looking for a good hot pepper that still isn’t super spicy, these are a great option.

Dragon Cayenne

dragon cayenne pepper

Color: Red

Days to Harvest: 75 days

Pepper Size: 1-2 inches

Yield: Heavy producer

Scoville Heat Units: 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville units

Dragon Cayenne peppers are quite a bit hotter than Red Ember peppers. These grow 7 to 10 inches long and are pretty spicy, so they’re more for people who like things hot.

A cross between Thai and cayenne peppers. Can be considered ornamental because the peppers are really small, but the plants produce a LOT of these.

These peppers are a great choice if you’re looking to clone Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

Sweet Cayenne Peppers

Color: Red

Days to Harvest: 75 days

Pepper Size: Up to 12 inches long

Yield: Heavy producer

Scoville Heat Units: 0-1000 Scoville units

Sweet cayenne peppers are a little different than the other types of hot peppers because they’re sweet, and have a slightly earthy flavor that makes them really good in salsa.

Being as this is a much more mild pepper and they get really long, they are great to use in stir-fries.

Golden Cayenne Peppers

yellow cayenne pepper

Color: Yellow

Days to Harvest: 75 days

Pepper Size: Up to 12 inches long

Yield: Heavy producer

Scoville Heat Units: 30,000-50,000 Scoville units

The Golden cayenne pepper is yellow in color, making it strikingly different from other red varieties. The yellow cayenne pepper is considered a moderately hot cultivar, matching many other varieties with its Scoville units.

This long, thin pepper are very productive and can produce 30-40 peppers at a time!

Orange Cayenne Peppers

orange cayenne peppers

Color: Orange

Days to Harvest: 80 days

Pepper Size: 4-6 inches

Yield: Good producer

Scoville Heat Units: 30,000-50,000 Scoville units

Orange cayenne peppers ripen from a dark green color to a bright orange color. The flavor of these peppers is a bit more fruity than other cayenne cultivars.

Joe’s Long Cayenne Peppers

joe's long cayenne pepper

Color: Red

Days to Harvest: 80 days

Pepper Size: 8-12 inches

Yield: Good producer

Scoville Heat Units: 50,000 Scoville units

Joe’s Long Cayenne pepper is said to have come out of Calabria, Italy, eventually making it over to a grower named “Joe” in New York.

These peppers are definitely one of the spicier varieties and are thin but super long cayennes.

Red Rocket

cayenne pepper ripening

Color: Red

Days to Harvest: 77 days

Pepper Size: 4-6 inches

Yield: Heavy producer

Scoville Heat Units: 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville units

This bright red pepper is one I grew this year and it was phenomenal. Not too spicy, but not too mild either. It comes out great in its dried form, but is great fresh as well.

Purple Cayenne Pepper

purple cayenne pepper

Color: Purple

Days to Harvest: 77 days

Pepper Size: 3-5 inches

Yield: Heavy producer

Scoville Heat Units: 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville units

This one is just super cool. They’re cayenne peppers that change from green to purple instead of red. They are just as hot as a typical cayenne but have a sweet flavor to them as well.

This great flavor makes them perfect as an addition to most dishes in need of a spicy yet sweet pepper.

Great Ways to Use Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne peppers are one of my favorite types of peppers, and for good reason. They are spicy, but the heat doesn’t last long, so it’s perfect if you want to semi-enjoy your food 🙂

Here are some great ways you can use cayenne peppers:

  • Hot sauces (cayenne pepper sauce and tabasco sauce)
  • Cayenne powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Stir fries and Asian dishes

Cayenne plants are pretty easy to grow and with the right conditions can begin producing peppers in as little as 6 weeks after germination. They are also considered one of the easiest plants to grow, so if you’re just starting out, cayenne peppers are a great place to start!

TL;DR Help With Choosing a Variety

If you want some that are hot and spicy sooner, then go with the Sweet Cayenne or the Golden Cayenne varieties. Those two start out pretty mild but can heat up fast within a couple months of growing.

If you’re looking to have a supply of cayenne peppers for cooking, then go with the Red Rocket variety. They taste great and are awesome in stir-fries!

If you want a variety that looks good as well as produces fast, go with a Yellow Cayenne pepper or Golden Cayenne Pepper. The bright orange to yellow color is beautiful and they’re pretty easy to grow.

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