If you’re a fan of peppers, you might have come across the Hungarian Wax Pepper, also known as the Hot Wax Pepper. Many spicy food lovers enjoy the warmth and distinct flavor that Hungarian Wax peppers add to various foods.
The Hungarian Wax Pepper is a medium-heat pepper that originates from Hungary. It resembles a banana when unripe, and most people mistake it for the mild Banana Pepper variant. However, Hungarian Wax Peppers are hotter than Banana peppers, making them a great addition to spicy dishes.
Read on to learn 11 interesting facts about this famous pepper.
Hungarian Wax Peppers, a variety of the Capsicum annuum species, falls the same as the famous Jalapeño on the Scoville scale.
Hungarian Wax Peppers are medium-hot peppers with a Scoville rating of 5,000 – 10,000 SHU. They’re not among the hottest peppers in the world, but they are spicy enough to wake up your palate.
Hungarian wax peppers are slightly hotter than Jalapeños, which have a Scoville rating that ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. And like most peppers, the heat levels of Hungarian Wax Peppers increases as they mature.
Your Hot Wax peppers can attain a rating of about 15,000 SHU if you let them mature for enough time. That’s significantly more than the maximum level Jalapeños can achieve.
But what causes the hot taste in peppers and chilis?
Peppers and chilis contain a chemical substance known as capsaicin that contributes to their pungency or spiciness.
Fun Fact: The Scoville’s Scale inventor, Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacologist, measured the amount of capsaicin in these plants to determine their “heat” levels. He discovered that the higher a pepper’s capsaicin content, the greater its spiciness.
Wilbur invented the Scoville Scale based on how much water he needed to dilute the capsaicin in chilis and peppers to eliminate their heat.
The Hungarian Wax Pepper is a mid-range pepper in terms of spice level. It’s milder than the Habanero Francisca and the Pequin, but hotter than the Cubanelle Pepper and the Anaheim Pepper.
Here’s how the heat from Hungarian Wax Peppers compare to other capsicum species:
|Pepper Species||Scoville Rating||Category|
|Bell Pepper||0 SHU||Mild|
|Cubanelle Pepper||100 – 1,000 SHU||Mild|
|Anaheim Pepper||500 – 2,500 SHU||Medium heat|
|Hungarian Wax Pepper||5,000 – 10,000 SHU||Medium heat|
|Serrano||10,000 – 25,000 SHU||Hot|
|Chile de Arbol||15,000 – 30,000 SHU||Hot|
|Pequin||50,000 – 100,000 SHU||Spicy hot|
|Habanero Francisca||300,000 – 500,000 SHU||Very hot|
|Carolina Reaper||1.5 – 2.5 million SHU||Extremely hot|
If you thought that the Hungarian Wax Peppers’ taste matches their look, you’re in for a shock. We all agree that these peppers resemble your sweet bananas (when unripe). However, biting into their waxy exterior will unravel the mystery in their taste.
Hungarian Wax Peppers have a sweet, slightly hot flavor. They’ll hint at a spicy kick you don’t expect to find in this mild-hot capsicum variety. Their taste is relatively hot but bearable for those who are used to spicy food.
The pepper’s glossy skin is irresistibly crunchy, and a bite into its flesh releases the spice in this mild-hot pepper. However, people who aren’t accustomed to spicy food won’t be able to stand this flavorful bite.
Hungarian Wax Peppers are tangy-sweet. Like other pepper varieties, the Hungarian Wax Pepper gets sweeter as it ages. The Hungarian Wax pepper will give a sweet, spicy touch to any salad or cooked dish.
You can categorize Hungarian Wax Peppers as sweet because they aren’t as hot or spicy as other peppers such as:
- Serrano pepper
- Aji Charapita
- Rocoto Manzano Amarillo
However, they aren’t as sweet as other milder pepper species, such as:
- Sweet bell pepper
- Banana pepper
The hint of sweetness in the flavor of Hungarian Wax Peppers is more pronounced in the Hungarian Sweet Wax variety. With a Scoville rating of 0 to 500 SHU, the Hungarian Sweet Wax Peppers are best eaten raw. With a much lower Scoville rating compared to standard Hungarian Wax Peppers, these are ideal for those more sensitive to hot food.
You can pickle them, use them as a salad topping, or stuff the pepper with cheese or sausage.
The taste of Hungarian Wax Peppers can depend on their maturity stage. Unlike other Hungarian Wax varieties that get hotter exponentially, the Sweet variety becomes sweeter with age. You’ll enjoy their sweetest flavor if you harvest them later.
Hungarian Wax Peppers aren’t the same as Banana Peppers, although they belong to the same species (Capsicum annum). They look very similar, but the Hungarian Wax Peppers are significantly hotter.
Many confuse the two varieties because they look alike, but the confusion is even more significant since they share names.
The Hungarian Wax Peppers also go by the name “Hot Banana Peppers,” while Banana Peppers are also known as “Yellow Wax Peppers.”
Since it’s confusing to distinguish the two pepper varieties, sometimes the only way to tell them apart is by tasting them. The Banana Peppers have a mild taste that is much tangier and sweeter than the hotter Hungarian Wax Peppers.
The heat difference between the two varieties is reflected in their ratings on the Scoville scale. The Banana Pepper has 0 – 500 SHU, while the Hungarian Wax Pepper comes in at 5,000 – 10,000SHU.
Here’s a summary of the features of the Hungarian Wax and Banana Pepper varieties:
|Features||Hungarian Wax Pepper||Banana Pepper|
|Shape||Elongated (curved to straight pods)||Long and tapered (with curved tip)|
|Size||6-8 inches (20 cms) long and 2 inches (5 cms) thick||4-8 inches (10-20 cms) long and 1.5 inches (3.8 cms) thick|
|Color (Unripe) Color (Ripe)||Creamy yellow Orange to red||Bright yellow Green, orange, or red|
|Taste||Sweet-tangy and slightly hot||Sweet-tangy|
|Scoville Rating||5,000 – 10,000 SHU||0 – 500 SHU|
|Scoville Scale Category||Mild-hot||Mild|
|Uses||Pickling, stuffing, salads, stews, soups, and egg dishes||Pickling, stuffing, salads, stews, soups, and jellies|
Hungarian Wax Peppers can have come in a variety of colors depending on their stage of maturity. They’re creamy yellow when unripe, and the color changes gradually to orange and red as they reach maturity.
Although most Hungarian Wax Peppers are yellow when unripe and orange-red when ripe, you might come across other varieties with different colors.
Don’t mistake them for other pepper species—Hungarian Wax Peppers can have different colors depending on their genetic makeup.
Here are some Hungarian Wax Peppers varieties with unique colors:
- Black Hungarian Pepper: This is a traditional Hungarian Wax Pepper variety with a distinct black color when unripe. It turns red upon maturity in approximately 70 days. The mild hot pepper pods have a delicious flavor.
- Boldog Hungarian Spice Pepper: This Hungarian variety is green when unripe and red when ripe. It has a rich color and flavor, especially after ripening. It’s also referred to as the Hungarian Paprika.
- White Hungarian Sweet Paprika Pepper: It’s a sweet Hungarian pepper variety with a cream-white color. It’s perfect for most Hungarian dishes, sandwiches, salads, and stuffings.
You’ll know that a Hungarian Wax Pepper is ripe when it turns color. Almost all Hungarian Wax Pepper varieties become red or crimson when ripe. Most people harvest their Hungarian Wax Peppers before they reach full maturity.
The pepper is only mild-hot when it’s unripe (cream-yellow). You could harvest it at that point if you want to eat it raw as a salad topping or pickled.
Harvesting them early is also advantageous to gardeners who want their pepper plants to produce more fruits. Picking them around 70 days after transplanting will enable your pepper plants to flower and get another round of fruits. This means you’ll harvest about twice or thrice before the season ends.
However, the mild-hot flavor isn’t what spicy food enthusiasts look for, so you might want to let your Hungarian Wax Peppers stay longer on the plant if you’re craving a more zesty hot flavor. The pepper becomes more pungent with age as the capsaicin levels in the fruit increase.
That means mature and ripe pepper pods will be hotter than unripe ones. Mature peppers also have a richer color and their skins are less crisp than immature peppers.
You’ll know it’s time to harvest the fully ripe peppers when they turn dark red or crimson. At this point, you can:
- Dry and grind them to obtain seeds.
- Add them to your favorite meals for a hot, tangy taste.
- Pickle them.
Hungarian Wax Peppers are a vital ingredient in many Hungarian and non-Hungarian cuisines. You’ll notice their flavorful contribution to salads, soups, mole sauces, traditional Latin dishes, and stuffed dishes.
Here are some dishes you might want to try using Hungarian Wax Peppers:
- Hungarian Cheese-Stuffed Peppers: Cheese-stuffed peppers are ideal if you’re a vegetarian
- Lecsó – Hungarian Pepper Tomato Stew: A traditional summer stew, Lecsó is a favorite for both vegans and meat lovers, depending on what ingredients you want to include.
- Pickled Hungarian Wax Peppers: Their tangy kick make pickled Hungarian Wax Peppers a perfect topping for meals and salads.
- Hungarian Mushroom Soup: This yummy soup needs just a few slices of the Hungarian Wax Pepper to bring out its unforgettable flavor.
- Persian Polo: This Iranian rice dish is made from vegetables and fresh herbs. The Hungarian Wax Pepper adds a hint of spice to tickle your taste buds.
- Chicken Paprikash: A traditional Hungarian chicken stew that you serve with dumplings. Hungarian sweet paprika, made from several pepper varieties, is an essential ingredient in this dish.
- Bakonyi Pork Chops: This is a delicious Hungarian dish you prepare with pork chops and mushrooms. It’s best served with a creamy sauce, and you can garnish it with fresh parsley.
- Hungarian Goulash: Another traditional Hungarian soup, the goulash, is specially prepared for visitors. It consists of several ingredients you can play around with to get your desired flavor and thickness. The Hungarian Wax Peppers also come in handy in this recipe to bring out a slightly hot taste.
Hungarian Wax Pepper plants can grow up to 24 inches (61 cms) high. The height ranges from 18 to 24 inches (46 – 61 cms) depending on several factors, including growing conditions and region.
To ensure your Hungarian Wax Pepper plants achieve their maximum size and produce lots of healthy pods, you should:
- Use the correct soil type. Well-drained, well-tilled, loose, and rich soil is the best.
- Use proper irrigation
- Mulch to prevent weeds and help keep the roots at the correct moisture level
- Start growing your peppers indoors before moving them outside. When you do move them outside, make sure to harden the plants off
- Adequate sunlight exposure – 6 to 8 hours daily
- Ideal growing region. These peppers grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 12, but zones 9 and 10 are the best ones.
Hungarian Wax Pepper pods are 2 to 8 inches (5 – 20 cms) in length and 2 inches (5 cms) in width. However, the size of your pods will depend on their variety and growing conditions.
Let’s look at pod sizes for some Hungarian Wax Pepper varieties:
|Hungarian Wax Pepper Variety||Pod Length||Pod Width|
|Black Hungarian Pepper||2 to 3 inches (5 – 8 cms)||0.5 inche (1.2 cms)|
|Boldog Hungarian Spice||5.5 inches (14 cms)||1.5 inch (4 cms)|
|White Hungarian Sweet Paprika||6 to 7 inches (16 -18 cms)||2 inches (5 cms)|
|Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper||6 to 12 inches (16 – 30 cms)||1 to 2 inches (3 – 5 cms)|
|Hungarian Sweet Wax Pepper||6 inches (16 cms)||1 to 2 inches (3 – 5 cms)|
Hungarian Wax Peppers require moist, well-drained soil throughout their growing season. Providing enough water to your pepper plants during the dry season is especially important. But how often should you water them?
You need to water your Hungarian Wax Peppers only when necessary. These pepper plants flourish with approximately 1 inch (2.5 cms) of weekly rainfall or watering. Hungarian Wax Peppers, like most peppers, hate overly soggy soil.
Most Hungarian Wax Peppers take approximately 70 days to start turning red. However, they’ll require 85 to 90 days to reach full maturity. After three months, your pepper pods will attain a richer, deeper red color.
You may opt to harvest your Hungarian Wax Peppers while they’re still unripe, but allowing them to reach maturity while still on the plants increases their spiciness and sweetness.
The Hungarian Wax Pepper comes in several varieties, but most are yellow when not fully ripe and turn red as they mature.
Hungarian Wax Peppers are a common ingredient in various cuisines. Their slight hot tangy-sweet flavor makes all the difference in salads, soups, mole sauces, and stews.
Try this mildly-hot pepper out if you’re not too sensitive to spicy food!