Some of the more common chiles found in local markets, and used in these recipes, and their Scoville heat units (SHU) ranking are as follows (the larger the ranking number, the hotter the chile):
Aji Amarillo (30,000 to 50,000) Bright-yellow chile, about 5–6 inches long. Great for roasting and using in sauces.
Anaheim (500 to 2,500) Bright-green chile, about 6–10 inches long. This chile has a fresh grassy flavor and is excellent for roasting and stuffing.
Ancho (1,000 to 2,000) A poblano that has ripened to red before being dried. This chile has a raisin-like flavor and is one of the three main chiles used in mole.
Cayenne (30,000 to 50,000) Slender, red or green chile, about 2–3 inches long. Generally used in dried powder form.
Chile de arbol (50,000 to 65,000) Small dried chile, about 1–2 inches long. Great for sauces or braising meat and is excellent for grinding into powder and adding to spice mixes.
Chipotle (2,500 to 8,000) A jalapeno that has been smoked and dried. Chipotles can be purchased canned and ready to use in a flavorful adobo sauce.
Fresno (2,500 to 10,000) Similar to a jalapeno in size and shape, this chile turns red as it matures and gets hotter as it ripens.
Guajillo (2,500 to 5,000) Dried, reddish-brown chile, about 3–4 inches long. This chile has a complex flavor with a sweet heat that is perfect for soups, stews, and mole.
Habanero (100,000 to 350,000) Bright-orange chile, about 1–2 inches long. Habaneros have a fruity flavor that goes well with pork, fruit, and desserts.
Hatch (5,000 to 6,000) Bright-green chile, about 6–10 inches long. Similar to an Anaheim chile but grown in Hatch, New Mexico.
Jalapeno (2,500 to 8,000) Green chile, about 2–4 inches long. Arguably the most popular chile in the world, this versatile chile can be roasted, fried, or stuffed.
Mulato (2,500 to 3,000) Dried poblano that has been allowed to fully ripen, making its flavor more complex than an ancho. This is one of the three main chiles used in mole.
Pasilla (1,000 to 2,000) Long, thin chile that turns brown as it ripens, about 6–9 inches long. This dried chile is nicknamed the “little raisin” and is one of the three main chiles used in mole.
Poblano (1,000 to 2,000) Dark-green chile, about 4–5 inches long. Perfect for roasting and stuffing.
Serrano (5,000 to 23,000) Green or red chile, about 1–3 inches long. Looks like a smaller, thinner version of a jalapeno but is much hotter.