Lovers of spicy food are surely familiar with sriracha sauce and jalapenos, two of the most popular (and hottest) condiments around. But have you ever wondered if there’s a scientific way to tell which one is hotter? The answer is “Yes,” and in today’s blog post we show you how.
The Scoville Scale
From the height of pine trees to the distance between planets, scientists love to measure everything and spicy food is no exception to this rule.
So, believe it or not, there’s a scale designed for the specific purpose of measuring the spiciness of food: the Scoville scale.
The Scoville scale was invented in 1912 by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, who originally intended to use it to improve the production of an ointment whose main ingredient was capsaicin, the substance in chili peppers that creates the sensation of hotness in the mouth.
Today, the Scoville scale is mainly used to grade the spiciness of chili peppers expressed in Scoville Heat Units, or SHUs.
Sriracha or Jalapeno: Which One Is Hotter?
As you might have guessed, the Scoville scale is the ideal instrument to settle the sriracha vs Jalapeno debate. Let’s take a look.
- Jalapeno peppers usually score somewhere in the range of 2,500-8000 SHU (source)
- Depending on the crop of peppers used, sriracha sauce can hit anywhere between 1,000 and 2,500 SHU (source)
In other words, jalapenos are hotter than sriracha as a general rule. Although it’s worth noting that there can be some overlap between the less spicy jalapenos and the hottest sriracha.
If spicy food is your cup of tea, you may be interested to know that one of the world’s hottest chili peppers is the Carolina reaper, with a hotter-than-hot Scoville score of 1,500,000 – 2,200,000 SHU!
And for more interesting facts about spicy food, check out our previous blog: “Which type of curry is the hottest?”
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