16 Awesome Scotch Bonnet Substitutes (That Bring the Spice)


All set to make your favorite hot sauce but can’t find scotch bonnet peppers in your pantry?

What if I tell you that you can get the same sizzling spicy flavor in your recipes without using scotch bonnet peppers? Here are 15+ equally amazing substitutes that you must give a try.

Since I love to play around with different spices and peppers,  I have myself tried more than 7 of these ingredients in my own recipes, only to find out that they not only give your dishes an excellent flavor but are also more readily available than scotch bonnet peppers.

So, let us quickly discuss our first substitute. 

16 Scotch Bonnet Substitute

1. Habanero Chiles

Because the Habanero Chiles perfectly match the high heat level of scotch bonnet peppers, they are its best substitute.

However, they would not give you the same fruity taste. Hence, the final flavor of your dish will not be entirely the same.

How to Substitute

Take an equal quantity of habanero chiles to replace scotch bonnet peppers.

Try this Simple Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe:

2. Serrano Chiles

The Serrano chiles have a milder flavor than scotch bonnet peppers.

They’re still a great substitute if you don’t want to add high heat to your recipe.

How to Substitute

For every 1 parts of the scotch bonnet, take 8 parts of Serrano.

Here’s how you can make a Serrano Pepper Salsa:

3. Jalapeno Chili Pepper

Most easily available substitute

Jalapeno chili has an earthy aroma and a delicious taste but it is less spicy than the scotch bonnet.

However, it is available all throughout the year in both fresh and dry forms. So, it’s a good substitute.

Fully ripened red jalapeno chili gives out a lightly sweet taste that adds a great twist to your dishes.

How to Substitute

To replace 1 part of the scotch bonnet, you can use 10 parts of jalapeno.

Watch to video to make tasty Jalapeno sauce:

4. Red Cayenne Pepper Powder

The closest substitute in terms of flavor

Red Cayenne Peppers have an almost similar flavor to scotch bonnets with less intensity of hotness and spiciness. 

You can easily add them to almost any recipe that requires scotch bonnet without observing a significant change in the flavor.

How to Substitute

Start by adding only ¼th teaspoon of red Cayenne Peppers to the dish and then gradually increase the amount according to the taste you desire. 

Try out this Homemade Cayenne Pepper Hot Sauce Recipe:

5. Thai Red Chile Paste

If you want to add some fragrance and versatility of flavors to your stir-fries and soups, then Thai Red Chile Paste is a good option. It contains a mixture of spices and red chiles. 

But packaged Thai red chile paste might also have seafood extract, so it isn’t suitable for vegetarians.

Check out this Thai Red Curry Recipe:

6. Thai Red Chiles

A good substitute for pickles

Thai Red Chiles closely resemble the flavor profile and heat levels of the scotch bonnet.

Except, they have a milder taste. Still, they are a widely used alternative not just in Thai but in many other cuisines.

How to Substitute

Use an equal amount of Thai red chiles to substitute scotch bonnet. You can also increase its quantity if you desire a highly intense chile taste.

Watch this video to make Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce:

7. Chili Pepper/Chile Powder

You can find chile peppers in both powder and flake form. They are easy to find in any grocery store.

Sometimes, they might contain a higher heat level, so ensure that you adjust the taste of your recipe accordingly.

Generally, chili pepper mix contains a variety of spices like onion powder, oregano, cumin, garlic, paprika, etc.

So, it produces a combination of mildly spicy, sweet, and fruit-like flavors that enrich your dish with an excellent taste.

Watch this chile prawn recipe made using pepper powder:

8. Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco sauce contains vinegar and salt mixed with tabasco pepper. It has the same hot heat as a scotch bonnet and is, therefore, a great alternative.

It instantly adds the right level of thickness and gives your dishes a spicy touch. 

Since it is a very hot sauce, you must add only a teaspoon of it initially.

Here’s how you can make Tabasco Chicken Wings using Tabasco sauce:

9. Piri Piri Sauce/Peri Peri Sauce

If your recipe doesn’t necessarily require scotch bonnet’s texture, then using peri-peri sauce is a great idea. It contains a good heat level and a delicious flavor.

Sometimes, it might also contain added ingredients like salt and other spices. So, you must adjust its quantity accordingly.

Piri-Piri sauce has lemon, garlic, vinegar, oil, and some herbal, citrusy as well as fruity flavors. So, it’s a great alternative.

Check out this video to learn How to Make Nandos Chicken With Peri Peri sauce:

10. Paprika

Ideal for baked dishes

Having a sweet and fruity flavor like the scotch bonnet, paprika is another great alternative if you don’t want an overly hot and spicy taste in your dish.

It is less spicy than most other chili powders and fits perfectly into marinades, rubs, sauces, and smokes that need a rich earthy flavor.

Try this Crispy Baked Wings Recipe:

11. Sriracha

Great for meat preparations

Sriracha sauce contains a combination of red Jalapenos and has the same level of heat as Piri Piri sauce. It also contains vinegar and salt, which give a delicious flavor.

It is a mildly spicy sauce with a touch of sweetness and is generally used in Asian cuisines. 

Here’s how you can make Pan Fried Sriracha Noodles:

12. Fresno Pepper

Fresno peppers deliver a good amount of heat and have an aromatic earthy flavor that fits perfectly into both baked and cooked dishes.

You can use them for making a variety of soups and stews. 

However, since they don’t have the same spiciness as scotch bonnet, you must use a larger quantity of Fresno peppers while using them as a substitute.

Try this Fresno Chile Hot Sauce Recipe:

13. African Bird’s Eye Chile

 African Bird’s Eye Chiles have a sharper taste than scotch bonnets.

The dried form of them contains a smokey flavor. They are a good alternative if you want to add almost the same level of heat to your recipe.

They are great for preparing liquid dishes, particularly soups and stews. 

Sometimes, this pepper may contain a higher level of heat than a scotch bonnet. So, you must always taste them before use.

Check out this recipe to make Bird’s Eye Chili hot oil:

14. The Rocotillo Pepper

A similar-looking substitute

The sweet and fruity flavor of the rocotillo pepper mimics the taste of scotch bonnet peppers. It also has a very similar appearance to it. Therefore, it is a good alternative.

Try this Long Italian Roasted Sweet Peppers Recipe:

15. Pequin Pepper

Having a sweeter taste and lesser spiciness than scotch bonnets, pequin peppers are another great alternative that can add a significant amount of hotness to your dishes.

They are also more easily available.

How to Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio of pequin and scotch bonnet peppers.

Here’s how you can make a chile pequin salsa:

16. Guajillo Peppers

Guajillo peppers have a mixture of fruit-like, sweet, and tangy flavors with hints of smokiness. 

Their earthy flavor with mild hotness makes them a great alternative to use for making rubs and pastes. They also fit well into salsas and meat marinades.

Watch this video to learn how you can make a Guajillo Sauce:


Q1. Is habanero and Scotch bonnet the same thing?

Ans. Habanero and Scotch bonnet are not the same. They differ slightly in their spice levels and taste. Even though both of them contain a similar sweet and fruity flavor, habaneros also have a hint of bitterness which the Scotch bonnet peppers do not have. 

Q2. How can I make Jerk chicken without a scotch bonnet?

Ans. You can use habanero peppers in place of a scotch bonnet while preparing jerk chicken. 

Q3. Which is a good mild substitute for scotch bonnet pepper?

Ans. If you need a milder substitute, then you can use Jalapeño peppers or serrano peppers.

Bottom Line 

So the next time you can’t find a Scotch Bonnet pepper, don’t sweat it.

There are plenty of substitutes that will work just as well in your dish.

Be sure to share this article with your friends and family – they may need some help finding the perfect Scotch Bonnet substitute for their next dish. And as always, happy cooking!



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About Barbara Foster

Barbara is a traveler who has traveled to more than 25 countries. She loves the variety of food she gets to experience on her trips and maintains detailed journals of her travels which she plans to publish as a book someday. She loves to bake. Her favorite cuisines are Italian, French, and Mexican.

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