What Is the Difference Between Jalapeno vs Fresno? (QUICK ANSWER!)


Imagine if you have to think about Jalapeno vs Fresno chili peppers.

You might now be having difficulty deciding between two things because they seem similar, yet you’re unsure of their differences.

Short Answer: there are two key differences between Jalapeno and Fresno peppers. It’s the taste and the thickness of their walls. Jalapenos tend to be less spicy and smoky compared to Fresno peppers, and they don’t taste as fruity.

In this article, let’s explore more details on the distinct characteristics of Jalapeno and Fresno peppers.

Here are the points we are going to tackle:

  • Composition
  • Color
  • Taste
  • Uses
  • Price

Are you ready?

Let’s dive in…

What Is Jalapeno Pepper?

The Jalapeno, a species of the Capsicum annuum, grows as a medium-sized green pepper before turning red upon maturity. (*)

There are red and green variants of this chili pepper; the red variant has a little extra heat as it is allowed to reach full maturity before picking.

Jalapenos are often used in several dishes as they have a brighter yet earthier taste than many of the other peppers. They also make an ideal hot sauce for any occasion.

Trivia: One unique thing about a Jalapeno is that: throughout its life, it maintains the same level of hotness and taste when compared to a Fresno pepper. A Fresno will change its hotness and taste as it approaches maturity.

What Is Fresno Pepper?

The Fresno pepper, a species of the Capsicum annuum, is a medium-sized chili pepper that matures from green to bright red. (*)

As they grow, they increase in hotness. The green peppers are milder in taste, while the mature red peppers are much hotter.

Fresno peppers are like Jalapeno in how they look, but what makes Fresno peppers stand out from Jalapenos is the hotness.

Although they are identical in taste, Fresno is much hotter than Jalapeno. Fresno peppers, despite not being a fruit, have a fruitier taste when compared to their counterpart.

Fresno peppers taste smoky, spicy, and a bit fruity which makes them more in demand. They are often picked and sold before they reach full maturity. However, mature red peppers still offer a wonderful fruity flavor to many recipes.

What Is the Difference Between Jalapeno vs Fresno?

Here, you’ll learn about the difference between Jalapeno vs fresno: their composition, color, taste, the way we use them and their price

1. Composition

Jalapeno peppers tend to be small, only reaching a length of 3 inches. However, they are larger than Fresno peppers and generally have a thin shape.

They have thicker walls which give them a more defined shape (not as curly) and is the preferred choice in cooking.

Fresno peppers are smaller than Jalapenos. They only reach a length of about 2 inches. They are conical in shape and have much thinner walls.

Due to the thin walls making it more flexible, Fresno peppers tend to be curlier at the tail. The thin walls also make them a better choice for drying.

2. Color

Jalapenos are normally harvested before reaching full maturity. Hence, they are often green in color, not reaching their mature red/yellow color.

Like the Jalapeno, the Fresno pepper is usually harvested and served green. The green pepper tends to be milder on the taste buds compared to the mature red Fresno pepper.

3. Taste

The Jalapeno maintains the same hotness and taste as it ages.

It has a maximum of 8000 Scoville Heat Units which means it packs a punch, but not too much.

It is at a decent level for everyday cooking. In terms of taste, it is not as fruity as the Fresno and not as hot as the mature red version of the Fresno.

Unlike the Jalapeno, Fresno gets hotter as it matures. It can range from as low as 2500 to a high of 10000 Scoville Heat Units. Whether the milder green version or the hotter red version, the choice is left up to the consumer. In terms of taste, Fresno is fruitier and gives a smokier flavor.

4. Uses

Due to the thick walls of the Jalapeno, they are often used in various cuisines and are the preferred choice in cooking.

It is used in pasta, burgers, and even on pizza.

Jalapenos are typically used raw in pickles and salsas. Because the pepper doesn’t dry quickly, it usually is used when a juicy yet spicy taste is desired.

However, Fresno peppers are commonly used for making salsa and ceviche.

The green peppers can be used in general cooking as it adds a unique flavor, while the hotter red pepper can be used as a dip.

It is used to accompany rice and other simple dishes in specific cuisines.

5. Price

Another thing that Jalapenos vs Fresno peppers have in common is the price. Both of them can be relatively cheap or expensive depending on the option that the consumer chooses. There isn’t any significant price difference between the two.

The price is mostly dependent on the source of the pepper and the packaging brand. Whether online or in a supermarket, both ingredients can be easily procured.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which is hotter, the Fresno or the Jalapeno?

The Jalapeno has a maximum of 8000 Scoville Heat Units while the Fresno pepper can range from as low as 2500 to as high as 10000 Scoville Heat Units. Both peppers are around the same heat level with the Fresno being a little hotter on maturity.

2. Can you use Jalapeno instead of Fresno?

Yes, you can use the Jalapeno instead of the Fresno pepper. They are often confused with each other because of how similar they are in their appearance, taste, uses, and moderate heat level.

3. What is a good substitute for Fresno chili?

A good substitute for the Fresno chili is the Jalapeno pepper. They are both from the same family and are similar in many ways.

Another substitute is the cayenne pepper, they are a bit hotter, but they are similar in their wall thickness and taste.

4. What is a good substitute for Jalapeno?

A good substitute is the Fresno pepper. They can be used interchangeably due to their similarities. The cayenne and serrano peppers can also be used to substitute for the Jalapeno’s heat.

5. Can you dry Fresno peppers?

Yes, you can! Here are two simple steps.

  • Place the peppers on a baking sheet and spread them out in an oven at 150˚F oven. Leave the oven door slightly cracked so moisture can escape.
  • Check peppers regularly (30 minutes intervals) while rotating and removing the dry ones.

Final Thoughts

Both the Jalapeno and Fresno are one of a kind. No ideal conclusion can be drawn as to which is better. But what can be said is – ‘to each his own.’

If you’re looking for a firm pepper, then the Jalapeno is your choice. Fresno is your choice if you’re looking for a dash of pepper with a fruitier taste. Overall, both are excellent choices!

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