What is Scotch Bonnet Pepper?

What is Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Image credit: Elizabeth Thomsen via Flickr

When you hear the word “pepper,” the first thing that most likely comes to your head is “hot!” Your tongue might even begin to feel the sensation of this hot spice.

Peppers are one of the most common spices in the world today. They have a lot of varieties and species. Peppers also come in different colors, sizes, and shapes. One of the most common varieties of peppers is the scotch bonnet pepper.

What is scotch bonnet pepper? To do justice to this question, this article will educate you on the origin, alternatives, names, uses, and uniqueness of Scotch Bonnet pepper.

What is Scotch Bonnet Pepper?

The Scotch bonnet pepper is botanically known as Capsicum chinense. It is a variety of chili pepper and is about 1 to 2.5 inches in length and also ranges from 1 to 2 inches in diameter. This chili variety is found abundantly in West Africa as well as in the Caribbean.

Scotch bonnet peppers have different appearances, especially when it comes to their colors. According to Wikipedia, “fresh, ripe Scotch bonnets can change from green to yellow to scarlet red; some varieties of this pepper can ripen to orange, yellow, peach, or even a chocolate brown.”

Scotch bonnet peppers are mostly consumed in Maldivian, West African, Anguillan, Antiguan, Kittitian, St. Lucian, Jamaican, Guyanese, Surinamese, Haitian, Grenadian, etc. cuisines.

The list could go on. This shows you how much scotch bonnet peppers are used in the food industry.

Alternatives names of Scotch Bonnet Peppers

The Scotch bonnet pepper has several alternative names. They are also known as “Bonney peppers” or “Caribbean red peppers.” These alternative names are recognized worldwide.

Other local names of the scotch bonnet peppers include Bahamian, Bahama mama, Jamaican hot, Martinique pepper, boney peppers, Scotty bonus, and goat peppers, among others. 

In a country like Nigeria, the pepper has more traditional names like “Laredo” (Yorubas), “atarugu” (Hausas), and “ose oyibo” (Igbos).

Keeping all the above-mentioned in mind, the next time you hear the question: “What is scotch bonnet pepper?” you will be able to give some alternative names that this pepper bears.

Origin of Scotch Bonnet Pepper

To fully understand the answer to the question, “What is Scotch Bonnet pepper?” it is important to know the origin of the Scotch bonnet pepper itself.

Let’s assume you were guessing that Scotch bonnet peppers originated from somewhere like Scotland (judging by the “scotch” in its name). But no, it is not. 

The scotch bonnet pepper has its roots traced to the lowland jungles of the western Amazon basin, which is now referred to as Brazil.

Yes! That’s right. Scotch bonnet peppers originated from Brazil and not Scotland.

So, why is it called “Scotch bonnet pepper” and not “Brazilian pepper?” Well, the scotch bonnet pepper got its name from its appearance and not its origin.

The pepper looks like the Scottish tam-o’-shanter hat, which is a native hat of the Scottish people.

How Does Scotch Bonnet Pepper Taste?

Scotch bonnet pepper has a distinct smoky flavor and a fruit-like taste (a vague mix of tomato, apple, and cherry). It has a sweeter flavor than its habanero relative (another common chili).

The level of sweetness of the scotch bonnet peppers is, however, dependent on the soil conditions in which they are grown.

Scotch bonnet pepper is a very hot chili. It has a heat rating of 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units, making it about forty (40) times hotter than a typical jalapeno pepper.

That means, on a scale of 1 to 5, one could confidently say that the scotch bonnet pepper is a solid 4 and more!

Therefore, if you are not a fan of spicy or peppery foods, you should include these peppers with caution in your diet.

As an alternative, you can remove the seeds of the scotch bonnet peppers before using them, and this would reduce their hotness by a great deal.

How is Scotch Bonnet Pepper Cultivated?

Scotch bonnet peppers grow naturally in the tropical heat, especially in the Caribbean (Jamaica). The peppers plants have a lifespan of about three to five years with proper maintenance and care. They are perennial crops.

When growing scotch bonnet peppers, it is advised to give them a head start and begin growing the seeds about six to ten weeks before the last frost in your area.

After gradual exposure to outdoor environmental conditions, they should be transplanted when the soil is at least sixteen (16) degrees Celsius.

At infancy, scotch bonnet peppers are usually dark green, and as they mature, they turn a deep chocolate brown color. A fully mature scotch bonnet pepper ranges in color from red-orange to yellow.

What is Scotch Bonnet Pepper Used for?

Scotch bonnet peppers are used in the preparation of many dishes, meals, or cuisines.

This is because of their uniquely smoky, fruity, and sweet nature. Their hotness also makes them desired by people who have a thing for spicy hot foods. 

Scotch bonnet peppers are used in the following dishes: rice and beans, beef patties, rondón, ceviche, jerk sauce, jerk chicken, peppered shrimp, escovitch fish and escovitch sauce, curry goat and curry chicken, beans and sweet potato porridge, beans cake, spicy, juicy BBQ beef burgers, spicy baked jerk chicken, Caribbean pepper sauce, cheesy burger French toast, a spicy savory crepe, tandoori chicken, samosa, curry paste, and so on. 

Trust that we can keep going on making this list and still not exhaust all the dishes that can be prepared with scotch bonnet peppers.

Ultimately, you can include scotch bonnet peppers in all your meals. It just all boils down to your taste.

Adverse Effects of Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Although scotch bonnet peppers have a lot of beneficial qualities, they are not suitable for a lot of people. The severity of the side effects of consuming scotch bonnet peppers is just the difference.

In some people, scotch bonnet peppers cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset. This is because the chemicals (especially capsaicin) send signals to the brain, thus causing the emanation of the problems mentioned above.


In an attempt to help you to find answers to the question: “What is scotch bonnet pepper?” you have read about its origin, what it tastes like, its appearance, the benefits it offers, and the side effects of consuming it. I hope you eventually find this article helpful.

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