Not all chiles are created equally. Each of these six peppers has a unique flavor, and a lot of heat.
Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Chiles make the chili. Here are favored hot pepper varietiescited by contestants in the Great Miller Lite Chili Cook-Off.Scoville units measure each chile's heat level; the higher thenumber, the hotter the chile. For perspective, a bell pepperregisters 0 Scoville units.

Pasilla―Most often dried, this pepper gives chili adeep reddish-black color and smoky flavor.
4,000 Scoville units

Chile de arbol― This hot, slender, bright red pepperis related to cayenne. In powdered form, it can crank up the firein a chili powder mix.
23,000 Scoville units

New Mexican chiles―Many cultivars of thispod―often found dried― are used in chile verde.
4,500-5,000 Scoville units

Serrano―This small, hot chile is prized for its "backheat" that registers at the back of the throat.
25,000 Scoville units

Jalapeño―The most widely used hot pepper adds abright, forward heat. Pickled jalapeño rings can show up amongchili toppings.
5,500 Scoville units

Habanero―Some chili cooks cautiously addhabanero―the hottest chile around―or a habanero hotsauce to their recipes. This pepper has distinct sweetness butintensely hot spice. Tip: Orange habaneros are hotter than redones.
150,000-210,000+ Scoville units