Shishito peppers: What Are They & Are They Hot?

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Shishito peppers are Japanese peppers from the Capsicum annuum chili peppers family. These peppers are considered to be mildly spicy and they’re used in a lot of Japanese recipes.

The peppers are long and thin, usually about two to three inches in length. They’re bright green when they’re young, but they turn red as they mature. Also, they have a wrinkly appearance.

As with Spanish padrón peppers, the blistering of shishitos is a popular tapas dish, but they’re a lot milder than jalapenos.

Blistering shishito peppers are commonly served as appetizers in Japanese restaurants. If you like to grill peppers, you’ll enjoy this roasted pepper snack.

And, since most shishito peppers are mild, it’s a crowd-pleasing appetizer. You might not even realize how quickly you can get through a small bowl of smoky peppers.

What are Shishito peppers

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What does shishito mean?

The word shishito refers to this small type of pepper. But, shishito is also known as lion head peppers.

That’s because the Japanese word for lion, shishi, refers to the folded crease at the pepper’s tip that looks like a lion’s head.

Koreans call shishito peppers kkwari-gochu. This word means groundcherry pepper and the reason for this name is that the peppers look very wrinkly.

The name is thought to come from the fact that the peppers resemble a lion’s head.

The peppers are also sometimes called “bara shishito” which means rose pepper.

This is likely due to the fact that the peppers turn red when they’re ripe.

The word “blistered” in the name of the dish refers to the fact that the peppers are usually cooked until they blister and char. This is what gives the peppers their signature taste and texture.

What do shishito peppers taste like?

Japanese shishito peppers have a slightly sweet and smoky flavor with a touch of heat.

They’re not as spicy as other chili peppers, but about one in every eight peppers is actually hot.

Origin of shishito peppers

You might be wondering what the origin of roasted blistered shishito peppers is. The peppers are a popular dish in Japan and they’ve been around for centuries.

The first recorded mention of the peppers was in the 15th century, but they likely existed long before that.

The peppers were originally grown in China, but they made their way to Japan via Korea.

What to dip shishito peppers in? The best dipping sauces revealed

You can go all out with dipping sauces but there’s a very simple dipping sauce you can pair with the roasted peppers and it’s very fresh and flavorful.

Mayo and yogurt sauce

For a really fresh, light, and tangy dipping sauce, combine mayonnaise (regular or Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise), yogurt, hot sauce, and a dash of lemon juice.

You can also substitute the yogurt with sour cream and use lime juice instead of the lemon juice.

Aioli (garlic) dipping sauce

This is a really simple dipping sauce that only requires four ingredients: mayonnaise, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. You can also use a food processor or blender to make this sauce.

Sriracha dipping sauce

This is another simple dipping sauce that only requires two ingredients: sriracha and mayonnaise. Just combine both ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.

You can also add a bit of lime juice or rice vinegar to this sauce to give it some acidity.

Some people add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes to make this a true restaurant-style dipping sauce.

Ranch dip

For a more classic dipping sauce, you can use ranch dressing. Just combine some store-bought ranch dressing with some chopped chives or green onions.

You can also add a bit of lemon juice or lime juice to this sauce.

Enjoy your roasted shishito peppers with any of these delicious sauces! And don’t forget to garnish with some sesame seeds, green onions, or cilantro before serving.


How to pick shishito peppers?

When picking out your peppers, look for ones that are bright green and have a glossy appearance. Avoid the peppers that are dull in color because they’re probably overripe.

Also, try to pick peppers that are about the same size so they cook evenly. When peppers are of different sizes, the smaller ones will be overcooked by the time the larger peppers are done.

What is the nutritional value of shishito peppers?

When it comes to the nutrition information about these peppers, you’ll be glad to know this is a healthy dish.

Japanese shishito peppers are a good source of vitamins A and C. They also contain fiber, potassium, and manganese. One cup of shishito peppers has only 40 calories.

Are shishito peppers hot?

It is said that one in every ten shishito peppers is spicy, but on average they are not.

These peppers are definitely much milder than Jalapenos, for example.

Are shishito peppers hotter than jalapeno?

No, shishito peppers are not hotter than jalapeno. In fact, they are milder in heat, with only about one in ten shishito peppers being spicy.

The spiciness of peppers is calculated in Scoville heat units. Shishito peppers range from 50 to 300 SHU, while jalapeno peppers range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.

Therefore, it’s clear that shishito peppers are much milder than Jalapeno peppers.

Where can I buy shishito peppers?

You can find shishito peppers in most Asian markets. You can also find them in some Western supermarkets, usually in the section where they sell other types of peppers.

Look for them at your local farmer’s market too as they’re in season from summer to early fall.

How do you store shishito peppers?

Store your peppers in the fridge if you’re not going to use them right away. They should keep for a few days. If you want to store them for a longer period of time, you can freeze them.

Cooked shishito peppers will last in the fridge for up to three days but they lose that crunchy crispiness and go mushy. I don’t recommend storing roasted peppers. Just eat them while they’re fresh.

How to make shishito peppers crispy ?

Add oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add shishito peppers.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are blistered all over. The secret to crispy roasted shishito peppers is to flip them constantly so they don’t get overly mushy and deflated.

Remove from skillet and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately.

How to make shishito peppers in an air fryer

You might own an air fryer and you’re probably curious if you can skip the oven and use this appliance to cook healthy shishito peppers.

The answer is YES!

Simply add oil and peppers to the air fryer basket. Cook at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes, shaking the basket a few times during cooking.

The air fryer does an amazing job at roasting these peppers and they come out nice and crispy.

How long to roast shishito peppers?

It only takes about 10 minutes to roast these peppers. You want to cook them until they’re blistered all over.

If you broil the peppers in the oven, it can take as little as 5 to 6 minutes.

How many shishito peppers are hot?

As I mentioned earlier, only one out of every ten peppers is spicy.

So don’t be too worried about eating a hot pepper. Just enjoy the mild ones and save the spicy ones for someone who can handle the heat.

What to do with leftover roasted shishito peppers?

There are many ways to use up leftover roasted peppers. You can add them to scrambled eggs, omelets, quesadillas, or tacos.

You can also use them as a pizza topping or toss them in a salad.

Or you can simply eat them as a snack! They’re addictively good.

Why are shishito peppers so popular?

I think it’s because they’re so easy to cook and they have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. They’re also very healthy since they’re low in calories and fat.

Plus, they’re just plain fun to eat! It’s always a surprise to bite into one and get a spicy pepper.

Why do shishito peppers turn red?

The peppers will turn red as they mature. They’re usually picked when they’re still green, but you may see some red peppers mixed in with the green ones at the market.

Red shishito peppers are just as edible as the green ones, but they tend to be a bit milder in flavor. Redness is a sign the peppers are overripe.

Why are some shishito peppers spicy?

As I mentioned earlier, only about one out of every ten shishito peppers is spicy.

The peppers get their spice from Capsaicin, which is the same compound that makes Jalapenos and other hot peppers spicy.

Capsaicin is an irritant, so if you bite into a hot pepper, you might experience a burning sensation in your mouth.

If you’re sensitive to Capsaicin, it’s best to avoid eating the hot peppers.

Sometimes, a shishito pepper plant contains more capsaicin than others and this makes it spicy.

It can also be because it was growing beside a hot pepper plant and got cross-pollinated.

How to pick the best shishito peppers?

When you’re at the market, look for peppers that are bright green and have a glossy sheen. Avoid peppers that are wrinkled, dull in color, or have brown spots.

What is the difference between shishito peppers and other peppers?

Shishito peppers are a type of Capsicum annuum, which is a species of chili pepper that includes bell peppers and jalapenos.

The shishito pepper is believed to have originated in China or Japan and it’s now grown in many countries around the world.

These peppers are usually picked when they’re about 3 inches long and they’re thin-skinned with a small point on the end.

They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor, and only about one out of every ten peppers is spicy.

Shishito peppers are often used in Japanese cooking, but they’re becoming more popular in other cuisines as well.

They’re most similar to Spanish or Mexican peppers, such as the Padron pepper.

How to make shishito peppers less spicy?

If you find a shishito pepper that’s too spicy for your taste, you can remove the seeds and ribs from the pepper. This will help to reduce the heat.

You can also blanch the peppers in boiling water for a minute or two before cooking them.

How many shishito peppers per plant?

A shishito pepper plant can produce dozens of peppers, but the exact number will depend on the size of the plant.

Where do shishito peppers grow?

Shishito peppers are native to East Asia, but they’re now grown in many countries around the world.

In the United States, they’re often grown in California, Florida, and Hawaii.

How many shishito peppers in a pound?

There are usually about 40 to 50 shishito peppers in a pound.

How many shishito peppers are in a serving?

There are usually about 10 to 12 shishito peppers in a serving.

How many calories are in a shishito pepper?

There are only about 4 calories in a shishito pepper.

What else to do with shishito peppers?

In addition to roasting them, you can also saute, grill, or stir-fry shishito peppers.

They’re often used as a garnish or appetizer, but they can also be added to soups, stews, and other dishes.

You can also pickle shishito peppers or use them to make a hot sauce.


As you can see, shishito peppers are not that spicy, and that’s because the Japanese don’t really like their food to be that spicy.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.