What is the Difference Between Serrano and Jalapeno Peppers?
Have you ever wonder, what is the difference between a serrano and jalapeno peppers? Well, today, I will discuss both in detail. As a cookbook author, I cook with chiles almost every day. I am so excited to dive into this!
Jalapeno VS Serrano Peppers:
Serrano peppers and jalapeno peppers are both often used in Mexican and Hispanic cooking. Let’s look at each pepper individually.
I am personally used to cooking with unripe, green, serrano peppers. However, as they ripen, they can turn into a beautiful red color. Serrano peppers originate from the Mexican states of Hidalgo and Puebla. These states have many mountains or sierras, which is where the name serrano originates from. Serrano peppers are smaller and thinner than jalapeno peppers. They are also hotter. Because of this, I like to use serranos in cooked salsas, like a salsa roja or a tomatillo salsa. When cooking with serranos, be sure to cut off the stem, and remove any seeds or veins. The seeds and veins can cause your dish to have a bitter taste. We do not want a bitter flavor! Rather, we want that prickly heat which makes Hispanic meals so fun to eat!
Jalapenos come from the Mexican state of Veracruz. The capital of Veracruz is Xalapa (also spelled Jalapa). Since this pepper was originally cultivated from Xalapa, it was named jalapeno. It is amazing to think of the history and Nahautl word behind this pepper which is such a big part of my everyday cooking. Indeed, I do a lot of cooking with green jalapeno peppers.
Jalapenos are bigger and thicker than serrano peppers. This makes jalapenos a great pepper to stuff. Jalapeno poppers anyone? The jalapeno pepper itself has a more mild flavor than the serrano pepper does. Because of this, I like to use jalapenos raw, like in a fresh pico de gallo. In my kitchen, you will also find canned jalapenos. These are great to add on top of nachos, or to any meal that needs a quick kick. I prefer to shop for jalapenos that come in a glass, resealable jar. When shopping for peppers in this way, I try my best to ensure the package is BPA free. I typically shop for something like this.
- Either pepper will give an authentic kick to your Mexican or Latinx dish.
- Fresh jalapenos are bigger and thicker than serranos and have a more mild flavor. This is why they can be enjoyed stuffed with cheese, etc.
- Serranos are hotter than jalapenos.
- Due to the flavor, serranos work well in cooked salsas
- Fresh jalapenos work great in raw dishes, like when minced and added to guacamole
- Canned jalapenos can give a quick kick to any dish
Serrano VS Jalapeno: Conclusion
Which is your favorite between the two? I personally often have both in my fridge ready to go. At the end of the day, it simply depends on what I am cooking and eating. That is how I decide which pepper to use. Also, sometimes, I may use them interchangeably when I have one and not the other.
Which team are you on? Jalapeno or serrano? Or are you like me and love to enjoy both? Here, at Herencia Cookbook, we would love to know! Also, are there any other peppers you would like us to break down? Hit us up in the comments to let us know. Finally, would you like more tips on how to cook with these peppers? Be sure to check out my blog and my book for authentic Salvi Mex recipes with a modern (and sometimes healthy) twist. Until next time, Buen Provecho! Herencia Cookbook is currently available for sale on Amazon.