Pequin pepper, or Piquín, (pronunciation pee/puh-KEEN) is a hot chile pepper cultivar commonly used as a spice. The popular Cholula brand hot sauce lists pequin peppers and arbol peppers among its ingredients.
The Pequin has small fruits that rarely exceed 2 cm (about 1/2 inch – 3/4 inch at the most) in length. Like most chiles, fruits start out green, ripening to brilliant red at maturity. Pequin peppers have a flavor that is somewhat citrusy with a touch of smokiness and they are quite hot. Pequin has a compact habit, growing typically 0.3–0.6 meters tall, with bright green, ovate leaves and small berries that rarely exceed 2 cm in length. Like most chilies, the berries start out green, ripening to brilliant red at maturity. Pequin peppers are very hot, often 5–8 times hotter than jalapeños on the Scoville scale (30,000 to 60,000 Units). Flavor is described as citrusy, smoky (if dried with wood smoke), and nutty.
The name Pequin is thought to come from the Spanish pequeño, meaning small. Its fruit is oblong and is found in the wild from the American Southwest to the Andes. It is grown both wild and commercially harvested in Mexico.
Common uses include pickling, salsas, sauces, soups, and vinegars.
Pequin peppers are highly valued in Mexico, often costing more than 10 times the price of other peppers, but their cultivation is limited due to low seed germination (15% average germination rate) and susceptibility to disease. Pequins prefer moderate shade levels (35% shade) and daily watering, though they are drought tolerant. In the wild, Pequins grow in the understory of trees as perennials
Cobán is a piquín chile that has been smoked. They are also known as ‘dogs teeth’ pepper in Nicaragua.