Serrano Pepper Pronounced “suh rah noh”, these workhorse chiles are a member of the species Capsicum annuum. Most of us are more familiar with this slender jalapeno looking chile in its fresh form where it is easily found in many local supermarkets. Native to the Mexican states of Hidalgo and Puebla, this chile is named as after this area’s mountainous region. Serrano translates to “from the mountains”.
The Serrano, when growing, is green and then ripens to deep scarlet red in color, but they can also occasionally mature to orange, yellow or brown in color. When green, the Serrano is sometimes referred to as Chili Verde. The Serrano chile is tubular in shape, tapers to a point, and measures approximately 1-1/2” to 2” long and ½” wide.
There are approximately 11 chiles per ounce.
When left on the vine to fully ripen, the Serranos are harvested and then smoked dry. Dried red Serranos are also known as “Balin, chico, tipico, and largo” and, in this country, they may also be referred to as dried Serrano peppers or Smoked Serranos. You’ll find some who refer to the dried Serrano as “chile seco”, but that really translates to the ubiquitous term “smoked chiles”.
The Serrano is considered a medium heat chile and comes in at 8,000-18,000 SHU. The flavor profile of the savory Serrano is a crisp, smoky, fruity flavor with citrus undertones and a heat that lingers.
Wildly popular in Mexican cuisine, the Serrano is similar looking to the popular Guajillo Chile, and it’s closely related cousin the Puya Chile. As hardcore chile heads, we love to use this as a great substation chile. While the cayenne chile is used in numerous cuisines, it’s really just for the clean heat that it provides as it has virtually no real flavor so we’ll use the smoky Serrano instead. We’ll also use them in place of Guajillo Chiles when we’re in search of a bit more heat, and because these are smoked chiles they give a nice unexpected flavor when used in place of chipotles.