Serrano Pepper Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Serrano Pepper

Serrano pepper, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

Small in size but packed with mouth-sizzling heat, serrano peppers add a pungent spice and health benefits to your cooking. Used for medicinal purposes for ages, you will find serrano peppers in grocery and Mexican specialty food stores throughout the United States. They come in a shiny, bright green color and a slightly curved shape, resembling the more well-known and longer-in-length jalapeño peppers.

You might want to try switching them out with other peppers in your recipes, as they not only punch up the flavor profile of your home-baked dishes, but they can potentially provide a host of health benefits.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided for one cup of chopped Serrano pepper (105g) and is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 34
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 11mg
  • Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Fiber: 3.9g
  • Sugars: 4g
  • Protein: 1.8g

Carbs in Serrano Peppers 

As a low-calorie, health-filled food, a serving of serrano peppers contains a mere 34 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates. The majority of these complex carbs come from fiber, which controls your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Fats in Serrano Peppers 

If you are trying to lower your fat intake, serrano peppers provide a minor .5 grams of fat per serving, composed mostly of healthy polyunsaturated fat.

Protein in Serrano Peppers 

Serrano peppers do not contain much protein, only 1.8 grams per serving. To ensure a balanced diet, be sure to add healthy proteins to your meals such as salmon, legumes, lean meats and nuts.

Micronutrients in Serrano Peppers 

Serrano peppers provide a healthy dose of Vitamin A, which helps boost your immune system. Also, about 100 grams of serrano peppers provide nearly 80 percent of your vitamin C requirement (also necessary for keeping your immune system strong), 5 percent of your recommended daily iron and 5 percent of your recommended daily magnesium. Iron helps transport red blood cells for proper oxygen flow and magnesium is vital for proper muscle contraction.

Health Benefits

Antioxidants

Antioxidants play a role in optimal body function and cellular response against daily stress. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, fresh and processed serrano peppers provide positive antioxidant activity. If possible, you should choose fresh peppers for cooking, as they offer a higher level of antioxidants than processed ones. 

Prostate Cancer

Capsaicin, the mouth-searing component of serrano peppers, was found to hinder prostate cancer cell growth in a 2006 study from the University of California Los Angeles and published in Cancer Research. The researchers note this data suggests capsaicin might play a role in prostate cancer management. However, the study was only conducted on mice (not humans); therefore, more studies would be needed to confirm the effects.

Cardiovascular Health

Some studies show that capsaicin may be able to help lower your cholesterol by reducing its accumulation in your body and increasing its breakdown, according to research presented at a 2012 American Chemical Society meeting. Scientists reported that this heart-healthy food offers protection against the number one cause of death in the United States. In addition, capsaicin can block the movement of genes that makes arteries contract and restrict proper blood flow to the extremities. 

This study, conducted on hamsters, is intriguing. However, human studies need to be conducted to further validate the cardiovascular claims. 

Shingles

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost one out of three people in the United States will develop shingles at some point in their lives. Capsaicin can provide relief from the discomfort of shingles in low topical concentrations, as the compound provides pain reduction by acting on the impaired nerves that cause irritation after shingles, per a patient education review published in the Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy.

Common Questions 

How Should I Store Serrano Peppers? 

You should store these peppers in the refrigerator inside a sealed plastic bag (you can even put them between paper towels inside the plastic bag). This will keep them fresh for up to three weeks. To avoid getting the oils into your skin, handle the peppers with rubber gloves.

Where Can I Purchase Serrano Peppers? 

You can buy serrano peppers at most local grocery stores and Mexican specialty food stores. To choose the freshest ones, look for smooth, firm skin that does not have any moisture. 

How Hot Are Serrano Peppers Relative to Other Peppers? 

The Scoville scale measures the heat of chili peppers and other foods based on the level of capsaicin—the active component that makes chili peppers so hot. The following shows the heat units of where certain peppers fall:

  • 0 to 100: Bell pepper
  • 100 to 1,000: Banana pepper
  • 1,000 to 10,000: Jalapeño pepper
  • 20,000 to 30,000: Serrano pepper
  • 10,000 to 100,000: Cayenne pepper
  • 100,000 to 350,000: Habanero pepper

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Not everyone can handle the heat level provided by a serrano pepper's intense spice. To remove a bit of the fiery flavor, you actually should add more heat—in the form of temperature. Boiling or frying them can eliminate some of the scorching flavor, and removing the seeds can help with this as well. 

Using a sharp knife, you should cut out the seeds and membranes, which contain the majority of the capsaicin. If you do love spice, you can cook with every part (except the stem).

In most recipes calling for jalapeños, you can substitute serrano peppers for an extra spicy kick.

The following recipes can get you started using this mouth-blazing ingredient:

Allergies and Interactions

Allergies to spices affect 2 to 3 percent of the population, according to allergists at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration does not regulate spices, and because of this, food such as peppers will often not show up on labels.

This makes having a spice allergy one of the most challenging to deal with and identify. If you roast, fry, or boil them, you can reduce peppers’ allergy-causing agents. If you do have severe allergies, you should avoid spices altogether.

To determine if you have a spice allergy, you should watch for the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain ranging from mild to severe
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin inflammations, especially on your fingers from touching the pepper oils (This can range from mild rashes to burning sensations. You might feel as though your hands are on fire.)
  • Swollen tongue and lips, which can lead to anything from difficulty breathing to anaphylaxis 
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Article Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Alvarez-Parrilla E, de la Rosa LA, Amarowicz R, Shahidi F. Antioxidant activity of fresh and processed Jalapeño and Serrano peppers. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jan 12;59(1):163-73. DOI: 10.1021/jf103434u.

  • Bacon K, et al. Antibacterial activity of jalapeño pepper (Capsicum annuum var. annuum) extract fractions against select foodborne pathogens. Food Sci Nutr. 2017 May; 5(3): 730–738. DOI: 10.1002/fsn3.453.

  • Goswami A. Patient Education and Self Advocacy: Questions and Answers on Pain Management. Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy. 2012;26:373–375. DOI: 10.3109/15360288.2012.734901

  • Mori A, et al. Capsaicin, a component of red peppers, inhibits the growth of androgen-independent, p53 mutant prostate cancer cells. Cancer Res. 2006 Mar 15;66(6):3222-9. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-0087