More than 140 varieties of peppers are grown in Mexico alone.  Those that follow are most popular in the United States and used in most Mexican cooking recipes.

Scoville UnitsNames
0Bell Sweet Italian
100 – 500Peperoncini Cherry
500 – 1,000New Mexico
1,000 – 1,500Pasilla Poblano Ancho
1,500 – 2,500Rocotillo
2,500 – 5,000Jalapeno Chipotle Guajillo
5,000 – 10,000Yellow Wax
10,000 – 23,000Serrano
325,000 and upHabanero
Bell peppersProbably the most familiar pepper in the United States, the green and red bell peppers are squarish and fist-size.  Green peppers turn red in the fall, becoming sweeter and milder, yet retaining their crisp, firm texture.
Ancho peppersThis chili looks and tastes very much like ordinary bell pepper but can be considerably more peppery at times.  Tapered rather than square, it is firmer, less crisp, more waxy-looking.  It turns a bright red and sweetens up in the fall.  When dry, it assumes a flat, round shape and wrinkles up like a prune.
California green chilies (Anaheim)Fresh, these peppers are 5 to 8 inches long, 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide, tapering to a point, usually a bright, shiny green.  The flavor ranges from mild and sweet to moderate hot.  To use fresh peppers, peel the skin from the chilies.  When using fresh or canned, taste for hotness – they can vary greatly from pepper to pepper.
Chilaca ChilesLook and taste much like the guajillo and guayon chiles.
Chile de ArbolAlso known as the “Cola de Rata”. Often dried, toasted, used to decorate Mexican dishes.
Chipotle ChilesMade from jalapenos that have been dried and smoked. Sold both dried and canned in adobo, or a  rich smoky dark reddids-brown sauce.
Fresno chili peppersBright green, changing to orange and red when fully matured.   Fresno chilies have a conical shape – about 2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter at the stem end.  They are often just labeled “hot chili peppers” when canned or bottled.
Guajillo ChilesSmooth-skinne, brick or cranberry red chiles, a bit spicier than anchos and not as sweet. Because of their tangy brightness, they are often powdered over fruit or vegetables or added to stews and soups.
Jalapeno chili peppersThese peppers have thicker flesh, darker green color, and more cylindrical shape than Fresno chilies; however, the heat level of the two varieties is about the same – HOT!  Canned and bottled peppers are sometimes labeled “hot peppers” with jalapeno as a subtitle.  They are always available in sauce form as salsa jalapena, and pickled.
Mulato ChilesDeep brown, longer and more tapered than the ancho, more pungent also. Often replaces the ancho in recipes.
Pasilla peppersThe true pasilla pepper is a long, thin pepper 7 to 12 inches long by 1 inch in diameter.  Pasillas turn from dark green to dark brown as they mature.
Pequin ChilesTiny, dried red bullets of fiery heat, adding a unique flavor to many dishes. Crumble the dried pod and add.
PimentosThese heart-shaped chilies are purchased canned in the United States.  The flesh is softer and a little sweeter than the common red bell pepper.
Poblano ChilesDark green, about the size of a bell pepper but tapered at one end, can be mild or hot. Often used in “Chile Rellenos”
Serrano ChilesA small 1 ½” fresh HOT pepper.  The smaller they are, the more kick they have.  Most often used in Pico de Gallo.  Dynamite -hot is an understatement for these tiny 1-inch peppers.  When new on the vine, they are rich, waxy green, changing to orange and red as they mature.  They also sold canned, pickled, or packed in oil.   A great source of vitamin C.
Small, whole, red dried hot chilie peppers.Labeled this way on the supermarket spice shelves, many small, tapered chilies about 1 to 2 inches long are sold dried, but there is no one varietal name that applies to all of them.
Yellow Chile peppers.Many short conical-shaped yellow peppers with a waxy sheen go by this name-Santa Fe grande, caribe, banana pepper, Hungarian, Armenian way, floral gem, and gold spike.  Probably most familiar are the canned pickled wax peppers.  Their flavor ranges from medium-hot to hot.
Habanero peppersTo date these are the Hottest chili peppers know to man, HOT – HOT – HOT.   Use extreme caution when using.  Marble-shaped chili peppers, ranges in color from unripe green to full ripe red.

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