Scotch Bonnet vs. Habanero: Are They The Same Thing?


When thinking of the Scotch Bonnet and Habanero, you’ll probably presume, hey, those two are the same, right?

They look so similar and have similar spice levels; they must be exactly the same!

Well, not really.

Short Answer:

They share many similarities, and they come close to being one and the same pepper, but they are two different varieties! The Scotch Bonnet vs. Habanero differences is in their harvest regions, shape, and flavor.

Let’s get more into detail about those key differences below!

What is the Scotch Bonnet?

image of Scotch Bonnet

Scotch Bonnet peppers are one of the varieties falling under the Capsicum Chinese, just like the Habanero. They are also known as Bonney Peppers and Caribbean Red Peppers! (*)

  • Fun fact: Ancestors of Habanero and Scotch Bonnet peppers were first eaten in South America more than 7,000 years ago, though they were most likely domesticated in Bolivia or Mexico over 10,000 years ago. These peppers were domesticated 5,000 years ago.

You can commonly find this pepper present in West Africa and Caribbean countries.

It’s a scorching pepper and has a heat rating of 100,000 to 350,000 SHUs (Scoville Heat Units).

You won’t need to put many of these in recipes; just one may be enough when cooking or baking!

There are other kinds of Scotch Pepper varieties slightly differing in flavor and heat levels, such as the MOA Scotch Bonnet, Scotch Bonnet Freeport, Sweet Bonnet, Bahamian Goat, and the Chocolate Scotch Bonnet.

  • Fun fact: Find Scotch Bonnets in Jamaican hot pepper sauce, jerk sauce, jerk chicken, and other pork dishes. They are also popular in African cuisine, found in soups and stews.

What is the Habanero?

image of Habanero

Habaneros also fall under the very hot chili category, having a similar heat level as Scotch Bonnets (150,000 to 350,000 SHUs). (*)

  • Fun fact: There are different types of habaneros with even higher SHU levels. For instance, the Red Savina or Caribbean Red habanero can reach up to 500,000 SHUs. There are also habaneros with lower heat levels, like pink habaneros or the habanada, which has no heat levels but tastes like the Habanero.

These peppers aren’t popular in Western Africa or the Caribbean, but you may still find them in those areas.

Habaneros would grow up to six inches long, with their leaves appearing green while the fruits are unripe. Once the fruit matures, the leaves will change to orange, red, and white, among other colors.

  • Fun fact: Habaneros taste sweet and are a great source of vitamin C. It also contains vitamin A, calcium, iron, and potassium!

Top 5 Key Differences Between Scotch Bonnet vs. Habanero

We share a comparison table with you to easily spot the similarities and differences between the Scotch Bonnet vs Habanero.

DifferencesScotch BonnetHabanero
OriginScotch Bonnet comes from the Caribbean, specifically in Jamaica.Habaneros are endemic to South America, particularly in Yucatan, Mexico.
Heat Level100,000 to 350,000 SHUs. On average, they are about 260,000 SHUs.100,000 to 350,000 SHUs; however, you may find habaneros reaching 445,000 SHUs.
TasteIt has a sweeter taste compared to Habaneros. Moreover, these taste fruitier.Both Scotch Bonnets and Habaneros taste alike, adding a similar fruity aroma to dishes.   It’s said that habaneros have slightly smoky notes and have a more floral or perfume-like smell.
AvailabilityFresh Scotch Bonnets aren’t as easy to find as Habaneros unless one lives in an urban area with Caribbean pockets and near well-stocked markets.Fresh habaneros are becoming more accessible in supermarkets.
ShapeThe Scotch Bonnet features a squat and globelike structure. As the name suggests, they have a bonnet shape with four defined lobes at the base. They can grow about 7 centimeters long.   Scotch Bonnets are also scarlet red, yellow, green, orange, yellow, peach, or chocolate brown.Habaneros look more like teardrops, being box or lantern-shaped with glossy, smooth skin. They can reach about 6 centimeters long, though they are 2-6 centimeters on average. Habaneros are also red, orange, yellow, white, green, purple, or brown.

There are similarities to note, such as the fact that these chilies are plant cousins, coming from the same plant family and genus. Furthermore, they have similar heat levels!

The peppers can also be cultivated so that you can grow them in your home garden. Since they come from the same family, they share their exact gardening needs.

These plants should stay in environments of at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit, thriving in free-draining and fertile soil in a sunny location.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you still left with questions about these peppers? Keep on reading for our frequently asked questions!

Can you use Scotch Bonnet and Habanero interchangeably?

Yes, it’s possible to use them to replace each other in a recipe. Since they have a similar spice level, you can use equal amounts of it in any dish. Scotch Bonnets may be a tad sweeter, but not many people will notice the difference.

  • Pro-tip: Since these peppers pack a lot of heat, we recommend not using too much of it in your recipes. Half or a quarter of a teaspoon of these peppers will go a long way.

Do these peppers have health benefits?

These peppers have health benefits as they contain capsaicin, a chemical found in most peppers. Capsaicin has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, along with vitamins A and C. (*)

Other than its nutrients, capsaicin helps increase our body temperatures, which increases our metabolism, thus helping with weight maintenance and loss. Furthermore, it may help reduce high blood pressure!

  • Pro-tip: While they are very healthy, avoid overeating these peppers because they can cause heartburn or acidic attacks, like a burning feeling in the stomach.

Wrapping It Up

We hope this comparison guide between Scotch Bonnet vs. Habanero gave you more of an idea of what these peppers are and why they are different.

If you’d like to learn more about spices, food ingredients, and even alcohol, we’ve got you covered here at Nomspedia. Check out more of what we have to offer in our informative blog posts!

image of Scotch Bonnet vs Habanero

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