Chile Peppers

Mexican Chili Peppers - Chile Peppers

Mexican chiles are available by mail-order and can be found in natural foods markets, Latin markets, and some supermarkets in the West and Southwest. Unless otherwise specified, the chiles defined here are of the species Capsicum annuum. Researchers and cooks alike should be forewarned that the chile nomeclature of Mexico is often confusing. Some of varieties have multiple names, and some names are used to describe multiple varieties. We have attempted to sort it out below.

Glossary of Mexican Chiles - Courtesy of Dave DeWitt

Achocolatado. "Chocolatety"; another name for pasilla, probably a reference to its dark brown color.

Acorchado. "Corky"; A cultivated variety of jalapeño. The name is a reference to the "corking," or brown streaks on the pod.

Ahumado. "Smoked-cured"; referring to chipotle chiles.

Altamira. A cultivated variety of serrano.

Amarillo. Any yellow chile, but specifically chilcoxtle.

Amash. A piquín chile that grows wild in Tabasco, Chiapas, and Yucatán. Very hot and consumed in the green form.

Amomo. A variety of piquín chile. This is a botanical name referring to the resemblance to grains of paradise, or malegueta pepper.

Anaheim or California. See New Mexican.

Ancho. "Wide" or "broad"; a dried poblano chile. It is a large, broad, mild chile with a raisiny aroma and flavor. Confusingly, ancho is called pasilla in Morelia, Michoacán, and chile joto in Aguascalientes. It is also called pasilla in some northern states and in California, U.S.A.

Apaseo. A cultivated variety of pasilla.

Balín. "Bullet"; a cultivated variety of serrano chile.

Bandeño. In the state of Guerrero, a name for the green costeño. The name refers to the bank of a river.

Bola. "Ball" or "marble"; see Cascabel. Also, in Jalisco, a word for a round piquín.

Bolita. "Little ball"; see Cascabel.

Boludo. "Bumpy"; see Cascabel.

Bravo. "Brave, wild, savage"; a local name of chile de árbol.

Caballo. "Horse"; another name for rocoto.

Cambray. A long, narrow chaile grown in San Luis Potosí and marketed in Monterrey.

Canario. "Canary"; a yellow variety of the rocoto, or chile manzano.

Candelaria. A cultivated variety of jalapeño.

Capone. An emasculated chile; one with the seeds removed.

Caribe. A variety of güero grown in Aguas Calientes; usually found fresh, it has a conical shape, is about 1 1/2 inches long and is colored yellow.

Carrocillo. A name in central Mexico for the güero.

Cascabel. "Jingle bell" or "rattle"; an allusion to the seeds rattling in the pods of this oval chile about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and dark red in the dried form. In the fresh form it is called bola, bolita, and boludo. Dried, cascabels are also known as coras and guajones. Grown in Jalisco and Guerrero.

Casero. "Homemade"; in the state of Guerrero, a name for the green costeño.

Catarina. A dried chile from the state of Aguas Calientes; it is 1 to 2 inches long, 1/2 inch wide, and the seeds rattle in the pods. Possibly a variety of de árbol.

Chiapas. A name for the chiltepín in Chiapas.

Chilaca. Fresh form of the pasilla chile. This term is also used to refer to New Mexican types grown in Mexico.

Chilacate. A chile eaten both fresh and dry in Jalisco that resembles a small New Mexican type. Also called tierra.

Chilaile. See Mora or Morita.

Chilcoxle. A dried yellow chile used in the mole amarillo of Oaxaca. Also spelled chilcostle and chilcoxtle.

Chile Colorado. Generally, any red chile; usually guajillo hot or ancho mild.

Chile seco. Any dried chile; in various states of Mexico they refer to different chiles. For example, in the state of Colima, the term most often refers to guajillos. In other parts of Mexico it refers to chipotles.

Chilhuacle. A Oaxacan chile primarily used in moles. Some sources say that it is a regional variety of guajillo, but to our eyes it more closely resembles a small poblano. There are three forms, amarillo, rojo and negro. Also spelled chilguacle.

Chilillo. "Little chile"; a variety of piquín in Yucatán.

Chilpaya. A variety of chiltepín in Veracruz.

Chiltepín. A sperical wild chile varying from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in diameter. Extremely hot. Also spelled tepín, chiltepe and chiltipín. Also called chilpaya. They are pickled when fresh or added to soups and stews. Dried, they are a year-round spice.

Chino. Another term for a dried poblano chile, especially in central Mexico and San Luis Potosí.

Chipotle. Any smoked chile, but most often used to refer to a jalapeño that is smoked until it is very dark and stiff. Also spelled called chilpotle and chipocle. A typical chipotle sold in North American markets is a jalapeño that is smoked while green, rather than red, and thus has a whitish, tan color. They are often so dehydated that they need to be reconsituted by soaking in hot water.

Cola de Rata. "Rat's tail"; a term for a long, thin variety of chile de árbol in Nayarit.

Colorado. Another term for a dried red New Mexican chile or Chile Nuevo Mexico.

Comapeño. A small, orange chile consumed both fresh and dry in Veracruz. Also called ozulyamero.

Cora. A cutivated variety of cascabel grown in Nayarit, where it is also called acaponeta and cuerudo. It is eaten both fresh and dry. The name is also the same as an Indian tribe.

Corazón. A spicy, heart-shaped poblano grown in Durango.

Corriente. In the state of Guerrero, a name for the green costeño.

Costeño. A small dried red chile about an inch long that is a variety of chile de árbol. Commonly found in the states of Veracruz, Oaxaca, and Guerrero. Also spelled costeña. Other regional terms for this chile are bandeño, casero, criollo, and corriente.

Cotaxtla. A cultivated variety of serrano.

Cuaresmeño. See Jalapeño. The name refers to Lent, probably an allusion to the agriculture of the chile at that time of year.

Cuauhchilli. In Jalisco, Nayarit, and Aguascalientes, a variety of de árbol.

Cuicatleco. A variety of chile consumed by the indigenous people of the district of Cuicatlán, Oaxaca.

De Agua - Chile de Agua. "Water chile"; a fairly long (to 4 inches) conical chile that grows erect on plants in Oaxaca. It is used both in its green and dried red forms in sauces and stews. Some sources say it is a variety of poblano, but that is doubtful.

De Árbol - Chile de Arbol. "Tree chile"; the bush resembles a small tree. The hot pods are red and about 1/4 inch wide by 1 1/2 inches long. Also called puya, cuauhchilli, alfilerillo, pico de pájaro, and cola de rata. Grown primarily in Jalisco and Nayarit.

De Chorro. "Irrigated chile"; a variety of poblano that is so named because each plant is irrigated separately. Grown only in Guanajuato and Durango. The pods are used only in the green form.

De Color. "Of color". There are two types: chile pasera, a dried poblano that is left on the plant until the pods turn red and then are removed and dried in the sun, and chilessecadora, which is a green poblano that is removed from the bush are dried in a dehydrator.

De la Tierra. Another term for a dried red New Mexican chile.

De Monte. "Hilly chile." A general term for wild chiles, the chiltepínes.

De Onza. "By the ounce"; a small dried, brick-red Oaxacan chile about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. It is used in moles.

De Siete Caldos. A chile from Chiapas that is supposedly so hot that one is enough to spice up seven pots of soup.

Diente de Tlacuache. "Oppossum tooth"; The name for chiltepín in Tamaulipas.

Dulce - Chile Dulce. "Sweet"; a term for bell peppers and pimiento.

Esmeralda. "Emerald"; a cultivated variety of poblano.

Espinateco. "Spiny:; a cultivated variety of jalapeño.

Flor de Pabellón. "Flower of the Pavillion"; a cultivated variety of poblano.

Gachupín. Name for piquín in Veracruz.

Guajillo - Chile Guajillo. A common chile in Northern and Central Mexico, it resembles a small dried red New Mexican chile. It is used primarily in sauces. Grown primarily in Zacatecas, Durango, and Aguascalientes.

Güero - Chile Guero. "Blonde"; a generic term for yellow chiles. See Xcatic. Other terms are carricillo, cristal, and cristalino.

Habanero - Chile Habanero. "From Havana"; the hottest chile in the world, this pod is of the species Capsicum chinense. The fresh pods, usually orange, are about an inch wide and an inch and a half long, with a distinct aroma reminisicent of apricots. Grown in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Huauchinango. Another term for a large jalapeño; term for chipotle in Oaxaca.

INIA. A cultivated variety of habanero.

Jalapeño - Chile Jalapeño. The familiar small green chile about 3/4 inch wide and 1 1/2 to 2 inches long. Of medium heat, it is often called chipotle in its dried, smoked form. Also spelled xalapeño. Also called cuaresmeño.

Japón - Japon Pepper. "Japan"; a small, pointed chile grown in Veracruz and San Luis Potosí.

Joto. The term for chile ancho in Aguascalientes mild.

La Blanca. "The white one"; a cultivated variety of mirasol.

Loco. "Crazy"; a term for mutants and hybrids, especially those chiles hotter than normal.

Largo - Chile Largo. "Long or large"; a cutivated variety of serrano.

Loreto 74. A cultivated variety of mirasol.

Macho - Chile Macho. "Manly"; nother name for piquín hot.

Manzano or Manzana. "Apple"; of the species Capsicum pubescens. Grown in the states of Michoacán, Chiapas, Guerrero, and México, these chile resemble small apples and are usually used in the red form. One variety is yellow and is termed canario. They have thick flesh and black seeds. The variety is also called cirhuelo in Queretaro. The manzano is also called cera, malinalco, and rocoto.

Max. Another name for piquín in Yucatán.

Meco. A blackish-red smoked jalapeño.

Miahuateco. Grown only in the states of Puebla and Oaxaca, this large variety of poblano is used only in its green form.

Mirasol. "Looking at the sun"; the erect (sometimes pendant) pods are 2 to 4 inches long, are quite hot, and are used both fresh and dry. It is primarily grown in Zacatecas. Also called miracielo.

Mora - Chile Morita. "Mulberry" or "blackberry"; a smoked red serrano or jalapeño that is pliable. Also called morita in many parts of Mexico and chilaile in Quintana Roo.

Morelia. A variety of poblano that is grown only in Queréndaro, Michoacán. The pods dry to a black color, so it is also known as chile negro. Named for the capital of Michoacán.

Morita. A cultivated variety of jalapeño, small round.

Morrón - Chiles Morrones. Generally, a bell pepper but also another name for pimiento.

Mosquito. "Mosquito chile"; another name for the piquín.

Mulato - Chile Mulato - Chile Negro. A variety of dried poblano chile that has very dark brown--almost black--pods. Grown primarily in Jalisco, Guanajuato, and Puebla.

Negro - Negro Pepper. "black"; see Morelia. Also sometimes refers to a dark pasilla chile.

New Mexican - Chile Nuevo Mexico. Formerly called Anaheim, this pod type is grown in Chihuahua and other northern states and then imported into the U.S. It is a long (to 8 inches), fairly mild pod that is used both in green and red forms.

Pabellón 1. A cultivated variety of pasilla.

Pánuco. A cultivated variety of serrano. Named for a river in northern Veracruz.

Papaloápan. A cultivated variety of jalapeño.

Parado. A name for piquín in Oaxaca.

Pasado. In Mexico, another name for chilaca; in New Mexico, roasted and peeled New Mexican chiles that are sun-dried.

Pasilla - Chile Pasilla - Pasilla Pepper. "Little raisin"; a long, thin, mild, dark Mexican chile that is used in mole sauces. It has overtones of chocolate and raisin in its flavor. Fresh, it is called chilaca (green chile). They are grown primarily in Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, and Jalisco.

Pasilla oaxaqueño. A smoked pasilla in Oaxaca.

Pátzcuaro. A dark variety of pasilla grown in Michoacán. Named for the famous lake.

Peludo. "Hairy"; a cultivated variety of jalapeño.

Pequín - Chile Piquin or Pequin. See piquín.

Perón. "Pear-shaped"; a regional name for the rocoto or manzano chile.

Pichichi. A name for piquín in Puebla.

Pico de Pájaro. "Bird's beak"; another name for chile de árbol; also, pico de paloma, "dove's beak."

Pimiento - Pimento Pepper. The familiar, sweet, mild, olive-stuffing pepper.

Piquín - Chile Piquin. Small, erect pods 1 inch or less in lenth; quite hot. Usually used in dry form. Also spelled pequín. Very Hot.

Poblano - Chile Ancho. "From Puebla"; one of the most common Mexican chiles, it is heart-shaped and dark green, about three inches wide and four inches long. Called miahuateco in southern Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula. The dried form is ancho. Mild.

Pochilli. Náhuatl name for smoked chiles.

Pubescens. The species of Capsicums that includes the Mexican rocotos.

Pulga. "Flea chile"; another name for pequín chiles.

Pulla - Chile Pulla. See Puya. Very hot.

Puya - Puya Pepper. See de árbol. Also, a form of mirasol or guajillo. Very Hot.

Ramos. A cultivated variety of poblano in Coahuila.

Real Mirasol. A cultivated variety of mirasol.

Rocoto. The Peruvian name for Capsicum pubescens that are grown in mountainous regions of Mexico, where they are called manzana and canario (when yellow). The pods are thick-walled, quite hot, and have black seeds. Also spelled rocote.

Roque. A cultivated variety of mulato.

Serrano - Chile Serrano or Serrano Peppers. "From the highlands"; a common, small, bullet-shaped chile about 1 1/2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide used in salsas. Also called balín and serranito. It is the chile most commonly canned in Mexico. Grown all over Mexico, but primarily in Nayarit, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas.

Siete Caldos. "Seven broths"; a very hot chile used in soups in Chiapas.

Tabiche. A Oaxacan chile similar to a jalapeño, consumed both fresh and dry.

Tampiqueño-74 - Chile Tampiqueno. A cultivated variety of serrano.

Típico. A cultivated variety of jalapeño.

Travieso. "Naughty," another term for guajillo.

Trompo. "Child's top"; another term for a cascabel.

Tuxtla. A piquín from southern Mexico.

Uxmal. A cultivated variety of habanero.

Veracruz . A cultivated variety of serrano.

Verde - Chile Verde. "Green or unripe"; any green chile, but typically serrano.

Verdeño. A pale green, cultivated variety of poblano.

Xcatic. A fairly mild chile grown in the Yucatán Peninsula that is related to yellow wax and banana chiles. Sometimes called güero ("blonde") it usually is yellow in color.

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