The best way to know how hot a pepper is: read the grower’s description, the plant label, or seed packet and look for these descriptors–mild, hot, or very hot. And, of course, tasting is a sure way to understand a pepper’s heat, but it is best to err on the side of caution if you are unsure of a pepper’s pungency—begin with small amount and increase the amount as you get used to it. (The antidote to pepper burn on the tongue: bananas, milk, yogurt, and granulated sugar are often mentioned by pepper lovers.)

Heat Range of Peppers Commonly Grown in Home Vegetable Gardens:

OP=open-pollinated, which means you can save the seeds and plant them again next season; and growing days to maturity from transplanting into the garden)

Bhut Jolokia (also called Ghost Pepper): 1,001,304 SHU (OP, 100 days)
Scotch Bonnet: 100,000-580,000 SHU (OP, 120 days)
Habanero: 100,000-500,000 SHU (OP, 90-100 days)
Jamaican Hot: 100,000-200,000 SHU (OP, 95 days)
Chiltepin: 100,000 SHU (OP, 95 days)
Thai: 50,000-100,000 SHU (OP, 90 days)
Cayenne: 30,000-50,000 SHU (OP, 72 days)
Aji: 30,000-50,000 SHU (OP 85-90 days)
Tabasco: 30,000-50,000 SHU (OP, 80 days)
Serrano: 8,000-23,000 SHU (OP, 75-80 days)
irasol: 5,000 SHU (OP, 100 days)
Jalapeño: 2,500-9,000 SHU (OP, 75 days)
Fresno: 2,500-8,500 SHU (75 days)
Hungarian Wax: 1,000-15,000 (OP, 70 days)
Ancho: 1,000-2,000 (OP, 76-80 days)
Poblano: 500-2,000 SHU (OP, 75-80 days)
Santa Fe: 500-700 SHU (75-80 days)
Anaheim: 250-1,400 SHU (OP-75 days)
Pepperoncini: 100-500 SHU (OP, 62 days)
Paprika (several peppers are used for paprika) 50-200 SHU
Pimento: 0 SHU (OP, 100 days)
Sweet Banana: 0 SHU (OP, 72 days)
Sweet Bell: 0 SHU