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All About the Rattling Cascabel Pepper

The cascabel pepper, also known as ‘chile cascabel,’ is a mildly hot chile. This chile pepper is a staple ingredient in many Mexican dishes, such as salsas and sauces. In addition, it can also be used in main courses, like soups or stews, for a spicy twist!

Cascabel peppers are part of the capsicum annum family, known for their “rattle,” and “bell” sounds when you shake the dried-out pods. They are one of only five species of peppers that were specifically cultivated for human consumption.

These delicious peppers are native to all of Mexico but are most commonly found in Guerrero, Durango, and Jalisco. Although they used to be hard to get ahold of outside of Mexico, they are relatively easy to find these days!

From ground chile powder to salsa, read on to learn everything you need to know about the cascabel pepper, including its health benefits, delicious recipes using the chile, and where to buy it.

cascabel pepper in a stone bowl

Characteristics of the Cascabel Pepper


Chile cascabel pods are around 2-3 cm and have a roundish-oval shape that tapers off toward a blunt, curved tip. These plump little peppers start out green, and as they ripen, they turn red, with the shade darkening to a deep reddish brown color.

The skin of a fresh cascabel pepper feels tough, a bit like leather, but it is also smooth and glossy. It is speckled with gold and orange patches on the outside. You will find a thin layer of reddish-orange flesh underneath the surface that encases a hollow cavity chock full of vibrant golden-yellow seeds.

Dried cascabel pepper pods are not much different in appearance than fresh pods. They don’t become as shriveled as other dried chiles do, but you will find some indentations and creases on the pods.


The cascabel pepper is mildly hot, on par with the spiciness of regular jalapeno peppers, and it has a smoky, earthy flavor with a nutty and slightly acidic undertone.

These chiles dry have a fruity, savory, woodsy aroma with a peppery hint. They are perfect for a mildly spicy salsa and can also be enjoyed in many other dishes. Ground into a chile powder, cascabel peppers enhance the flavor of soups, sides, and more.

No matter what recipe you decide to use these delicious peppers for, the perfect blend of spicy and peppery flavors will add a fantastic touch to any meal.


variety of dried chilis and their powders, including the cascabel pepper

Cascabel chiles are a staple ingredient in many households because they add just the right amount of spice! These peppers pair well with many recipes.

Chile Cascabel Salsa

Salsa is always a hit at gatherings and parties!

For a delicious spin on your typical tomato salsa, try out this recipe for Chile Cascabel Salsa! Using tomatillos, Chile de Arbol, and dried cascabel peppers as base ingredients, this salsa is sure to satisfy your taste buds.

This salsa is superb when enjoyed with fresh, warm tortilla chips. It can be stored in the fridge for up to five days or freeze it for six months!

Chile Cascabel Beef and Potatoes (carne con papa)

The flavors in this savory stew bursts across your taste buds with a delicious spicy twist.

Chile Cascabel Beef and Potatoes blend the flavors of tomatoes, dried cascabel peppers, and tomatillos into a hearty dinner to remember! The thick and chunky stew packs a flavorful punch with a touch of spice.

This recipe is delicious and served with warm flour tortillas, rice, and beans.

Cascabel Taquera Sauce

This thick, smokey-flavored sauce is phenomenal when used as a topping on tacos, mixed in with rice, soups, or stews, and when paired with grilled meats like pork ribs.

Cascabel Taquera Sauce is a mildly spicey, chunky authentic Mexican sauce featuring a blend of roasted cascabel peppers, tomatillos, garlic, and tomatoes.

You will love every flavorful bite of any dish you cook incorporating cascabel taquera sauce!

Health Benefits

Cascabel peppers contain many vital nutrients and are a low-calorie food that increases the body’s metabolic rate. These peppers have been linked to an overall reduction in weight gain.

Dried pepper pods contain a substance called Capsaicin, which is what gives peppers their spice, but it also contains anti-inflammatory properties.

These little peppers are a fantastic source of vitamin A and Vitamin C, which strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation, aiding the body in maintaining healthy organs.

They are chock full of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, copper, riboflavin, potassium, and niacin.

What’s more, they provide fiber to regulate the digestive tract, iron to aid in oxygen transport through the blood, vitamin K for faster healing, and vitamin B to turn consumed food into energy.

The health benefits of the cascabel pepper are astounding! They are a tasty and healthy choice.

Where to Purchase

cascabel pepper and its seeds

These tasty peppers can be found fresh for purchase in Mexican grocers or in the produce section of some grocery stores, most likely in small, organic shops that sell fresh ingredients.

They are much easier to find these days than they used to be, but if you can’t find them locally, you can definitely find them on Amazon, both fresh and dried varieties!

They are not only a delicious, health-conscious choice to incorporate into your snacks, appetizers, and meals but are also often used for kitchen decorations.

Give the Cascabel Pepper a Try!

If you are looking to create authentic Mexican cuisine, the cascabel pepper is a must. Roasted or fresh, you are in for a spicy treat!

Commonly prepared with tomatillos, this chile is a great addition to any salsa, sauce, or marinade.

The cascabel pepper is not overly spicy, so it’s good for those who prefer milder flavors. But, if you prefer something hotter, you can also increase the heat level of any dish prepared by adding more peppers or incorporating another variety of chile, such as Chile de Arbol.

To learn more about different varieties of peppers, where they are grown, and how to grow them yourself, check out our Pepper Plants page.