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11 Popular Thai Chili Peppers: Essentials for Cooking

Although many people believe that there is only one type of Thai chili pepper, there are actually over 79 different Thai peppers with varying spice levels and flavors. You can use these peppers to add unique flavors, textures, and spice to Thai and other dishes. But, what type of Thai chili pepper goes with what dish? Read on to learn more!

Some of the most popular Thai chili peppers include Prik ban chang, Prik yuak, and Prik mun. Other varieties that are also essential for cooking are Prik noom, Prik chee fah, and Prik lueng. These Thai chili peppers add unique flavor as well as spice to any dish.

This article will discuss each type of Thai pepper, outlining the heat level, origin, appearance, size, taste, weight, colors, and uses for all of them. Adding Thai peppers to your cooking does not have to be difficult, and that’s why we are here to make adding spice to your life all the easier.

Many small green Thai chili peppers sitting in a brown bowl on top of a brown placemat
Photo by Bhofack2

Prik Ban Chang

Prik ban chang are known for their mildness and they generally have a Scoville score between 30,000 and 60,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). They are grown in the Ban Chang district of Samut Songkhram, which is why they are called Ban Chang peppers.

Although they are now grown in Ban Chang, they are initially from South America, the original location of all chili peppers.

Prik Ban Chang has an oblong shape and smooth skin, and usually grows to be slightly larger than a prik mun, often growing to be 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cms) long. Prik Ban Chang has a mildly spicy, peppery taste that contains hints of freshness and the pepper generally weighs around 1.23 ounces (35 grams). While they have red or green skin, depending on their ripeness, the green prik ban chang is often milder than the red one.

Sundried prik ban chang is a popular snack and garnish for stews, rice, and soups. Since they do not have many seeds, they are also used in curries and chili pastes.

Scoville Heat Units30,000 to 60,000 SHU
OriginBang Chang, Samut Songkhram
AppearanceOblong, smooth skin
Size5 inches to 7 inches (13 to 18 cms)
TasteMild, fresh
Weight1.23 ounces (35 grams)
ColorsGreen, red

Prik Yuak

Prik yuak peppers are some of the mildest Thai peppers, with their spice level usually falling at 0 SHU on the Scoville scale. They originally grew in Central and South America but were introduced to Thailand in the 1600s.

Prik yuak, also called Thai sweet peppers, are mild and sweet and are considered the Thai Banana pepper or Bell pepper. They usually grow to be between 4 and 7 inches (10 and 18 cms) long when they are mature and weigh around 1.16 ounces (33 grams) at maturity. They are light green, and their color does not change as they ripen.

It is a wonderfully sweet, tangy pepper that is excellent for cooking mild dishes but makes a great substitute in dishes that call for spicier peppers.

They are mild enough that they can be eaten raw and are often added to stir fries to add color and texture. They are also often used as stuffed peppers, called prik yuak sord sai, or pickled and used as condiments on noodles, stews, and soups.

Scoville Heat Units0 SHU
AppearanceOblong, waxy
Size4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cms) long
TasteSweet, mild, tangy
Weight1.16 ounces (33 grams)
ColorsLight green

Prik Mun

Prik mun means “oily chili.” These peppers have an oily texture that make them an excellent condiment or topping on many dishes.

While the Prik mun pepper is not very spicy, it still has a peppery taste with a bit of heat, usually falling between 20,000 and 50,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. They are grown all over Thailand and are a customary relish and condiment that you can find at almost any Thai restaurant.

They have a glossy, oily-looking skin and an oblong, straight shape with a thick body and measure 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 cms) in length, and generally weigh around an ounce (about 30 grams) per pepper.

They taste sweet but have a spicy kick that makes them the perfect topping or additive to various dishes, and their skins are usually a very dark green or deep red color. Prik mun is often cut into slices and pickled and can be found as a relish-like condiment at most Thai restaurants.

Scoville Heat Units20,000 to 50,000 SHU
AppearanceGlossy, smooth, oblong
Size3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 cms)
TasteSweet, oily, spicy
Weight1 ounce (about 30 grams)
ColorsDark green, red

Prik Noom

Prik noom is a mild chili pepper with a heat level of around 500 to 600 SHU on the Scoville scale. Most commonly grown in northern Thailand, Prik noom is a delightfully mild pepper with a crunch that adds texture and color to various dishes.

It is a very long, narrow pepper with shiny and bumpy skin, while the end usually curls up. Prik noom usually measures between 5 and 8 inches (13 and 20 cms) in length and generally weighs around one ounce (30 grams) per pepper.

These peppers are related to Banana peppers as they have the same tangy, sweet flavor while having a slightly spicier, peppery taste. They have a light green color that becomes more yellow as they mature.

Since it is not a spicy pepper, Prik noom is often eaten raw, pickled, or used as a topping on soups, salads, and stews. It is also used to make nam prik noom, a delicious and popular green chili dip.

Scoville Heat Units500 to 600 SHU
OriginNorthern Thailand
AppearanceLong, slender, pointy
Size5 to 8 inches (13 to 20 cms)
TasteMildly spicy, tangy, sweet
Weight1 ounce (about 30 grams)
ColorsLight green

Prik Chee Fah – Spur Chili

Prik chee fah means “chili that points to the sky” because when the pepper grows, it points upwards. Prik chee fah, called the spur chili by many people in the West, usually has a Scoville score of between 900 and 1,100 SHU, making them pleasantly spicy without being too intense.

Prik chee fah peppers have a low spice level, although you can still taste the spice they provide to various dishes. They are often grown in Thailand where people usually give these peppers to children when they start to eat spicier foods, as they are used to help children build up a tolerance to heat.

Prik chee fah peppers are slender, oblong, and they have a pointy, upward curled end. At full maturity, they are 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cms) long and weigh just under an ounce (28 grams).

They have a tangy, mildly spicy taste that makes them an excellent ingredient for milder dishes and can be eaten when they are green or red. The green Prik chee fah are less mature than the red ones, and they have a bit less spice.

Prik chee fah peppers are the ingredient in red curry that helps give it its red color. They are also used in other curries, especially milder versions of green curry. You can also find pickled Prik chee fah pepper quite often, eaten fresh, or used as a garnish on top of soups, stews, noodles, and rice.

Scoville Heat Units900 to 1,100 SHU
AppearanceSlender, oblong, pointy
Size5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cms) long
TasteTangy, mildly spicy
Weight1 ounce (28 grams)
ColorsGreen, red

Prik Lueng – Thai Yellow Chili

Prik lueng, called the yellow chili, is a variety of Banana peppers that are far spicier than standard Banana peppers. Still, they are pretty mild compared to most other Thai peppers, with their spice level usually falling between 50,000 and 100,000 SHU.

Prik lueng is commonly sold in large heaps at Thai markets, but can also be found in the U.S., Australia, and Europe.

They are oblong, cone-shaped peppers with thick bodies and smooth, glossy skin and are usually between 2 and 3 inches (5 and 8 cms) long, making them relatively small peppers. Prik lueng peppers usually weigh around 0.5 ounce (14 grams) per pepper.

Like Banana peppers, Prik lueng has a sweet, tangy taste, but they also have a medium heat level. Because they are bright orange, they are predominantly used to add color to salads, soups, fried rice, and stir fries, or are ground up and used to make chutneys, salsas, and sauces.

Scoville Heat Units50,000 SHU to 100,000 SHU
OriginThailand, North America, Australia
AppearanceCone-shaped, thick, smooth, glossy
Size2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cms) long
TasteMedium spice, sweet, tangy
Weight0.5 ounce (14 grams)
ColorsBright orange

Prik Jinda – Thai Jinda

Thai Jinda is a hot chili pepper that is one of the most commonly used peppers in Thai dishes. They are hot peppers, with their heat rating falling between 50,000 to 100,000 SHU, and are usually used in smaller quantities as a milder substitute for Prik kee nok.

Thai jinda peppers are commonly grown in Thailand, where they are a significant ingredient in many medium-heat dishes.

Prik jinda peppers are narrow, oblong peppers with a pointy tip and smooth, glossy skin, and grow to be between 5 and 8 inches (12 and 20 cms) at full maturity. They usually weigh around 1 ounce (about 30 grams), and they have a bright red color when ripe.

Thai jinda peppers have a distinct, fresh taste that accompanies their high spice level, making them taste a bit milder than they are.

Prik jinda is used in many different dishes, sauces, chutneys, and dips and is common in curries, soups, stews, meat dishes, stir fries, and fried rice. Jinda peppers are usually added to foods to make them spicier.

Scoville Heat Units50,000 to 100,000 SHU
AppearanceOblong, narrow, pointy, smooth
Size5 to 8 inches (12 to 20 cms)
TasteFresh, grassy, spicy
Weight1 ounce (about 30 grams)
Photo of small red Thai chili peppers placed in a row facing alternative directions against a white background
Photo by Antonio Riberio

Prik Kee Nok – Bird’s Eye Chili

Prik kee nok are called the ‘bird’s eye pepper’ because of their small, round shape and because birds spread their seeds.

They are hot peppers, and their Scoville score usually falls between 50,000 and 100,000 SHU. They are frequently grown in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and parts of Africa where they are often used for cooking.

The shape of the Prik kee nok is round and small, and they usually only grow to be an inch to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cms) long. Since they are small, they only weigh around 0.14 ounce (4 grams). Their skin color can vary, and they come in red, orange, green, purple, and black shades.

Prik kee nok are very spicy peppers, and it is difficult to taste the pepper’s flavor over its intense spice.

Prik kee nok peppers are some of the most popular Thai peppers due to their spice level and are used in hot sauces, salsas, and condiments.

They are also ingredients in many stir fries, soups, noodle dishes, and meat dishes. Besides its cooking uses, Prik kee nok is also used for many medicinal purposes, such as treating arthritis, toothache, rheumatism, and flatulence, and has been used to make insect repellants in Thailand.

Scoville Heat Units50,000 to 100,000 SHU
OriginCambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, parts of Africa
Appearancesmall, round
Size1 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cms) long
TasteVery spicy
Weight0.14 ounce (4 grams)
ColorsRed, yellow, green, black, purple

Prik Kee Noo Suan – Variant of Bird’s Eye Chili

Prik kee noo suan is one of the best-loved Thai chili peppers worldwide. Prik kee noo suan, also known as Prik kee nu, is slightly smaller than the Prik kee nok chili, and its name means “mouse-dropping chili” because it is very small.

Prik kee noo suan may be small, but it packs a powerful punch of spice, with its Scoville heat rating falling between 80,000 and 100,000 SHU.

Prik kee noo suan is commonly grown in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, where it is a very popular pepper. Prik kee noo suan peppers are small, only growing to be 2 inches (5 cms) long and are very narrow with rounded tips. They weigh about 0.1 ounce (2 grams), making them tiny little peppers and the skin is glossy and a little bumpy.

Prik kee noo suan peppers are very spicy and are generally used in high-heat dishes. It is difficult to taste the pepper’s flavor over its intense heat.

They can be found in red, green, or orange colors, depending on the pepper’s ripeness. Generally, the green peppers have more immediate spice, but the red ones leave an aftertaste that is just as spicy. Prik kee noo suan is one of the main ingredients in green curry, tom yum, and spicy salads.

Scoville Heat Units80,000 to 100,000 SHU
OriginThailand, Malaysia, Indonesia
AppearanceSlender, rounded, bumpy, glossy
Size2 inches (5 cms) long
Weight0.1 ounce (2 grams)
ColorsGreen, orange, red

Prik Kaleang

Prik kaleang is another one of the spiciest Thai peppers, with its spiciness falling between 50,000 and 100,000 SHU. The pepper’s heat generally builds up gradually, but once you feel it, you may be fanning your mouth and chugging water! Typically, this pepper is only used in the spiciest of dishes.

Prik kaleang is a small, oblong, and bumpy pepper with a dull-looking skin texture. They are about the same size as a Prik kee noo suan, usually measuring between an inch and 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cms) long, and since they are such small peppers, they usually only reach a weight of 0.1 ounce (2 grams).

They have a very hot taste with a little flavor other than their spiciness. They come in many colors, and as they mature, they turn from light green to yellow, orange, and then red.

You can add Prik kaleang to many foods. Still, it is primarily used to add intense heat to various dishes such as stir fries, curries, soups, stews, noodle dishes, and chili sauces.

Scoville Heat Units50,000 to 100,000 SHU
Origin  Thailand
AppearanceSmall, oblong, bumpy
Size1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cms) long
Weight0.1 ounce (2 grams)
ColorsLight green, yellow, orange, red

Prik Haeng – Dried Chili (Usually Dried Prik Jinda or Prik Chee Fah)

Prik haeng is a dried or dehydrated pepper of any variety. The most common dry peppers are usually Prik jinda or Prik chee fah, but they can also include hot peppers such as Prik kee noo, Prik kaleang, or Prik kee noo suan.

Since Prik haeng is made from various peppers, their taste, size, appearance, and weight vary greatly, but Prik haeng usually will have a deep red color.

You can rehydrate them to make chili pastes and hot sauces, or as pepper flakes, table seasoning, or as seasoning to almost any dish. Some of the most popular things to add Prik haeng to are soups, stews, stir fries, rice, and noodle dishes.

Scoville Heat UnitsVarious depending on pepper used
Origin  Various
AppearanceDehydrated, bumpy, flaky
TasteMedium to Hot
ColorsGreen, Red

Closing Thoughts

Since there are so many types of Thai peppers, there is sure to be one that suits your taste. No matter what kind of dishes you are cooking, some Thai peppers can add a bit—or a lot—of spice to them. Using them in Thai and Asian recipes is an excellent way to give your cooking an authentic flavor.