Difference between Chili and Pepper

People living in different parts of the world have varied opinions when it comes to their preferred spices, used to bring out more taste in their dishes and make eating them more pleasurable. There are numerous varieties of spices in the world and every nationality and every cuisine has specific choices when it comes to adding spices, including chili or pepper.


Chili is a popular seasoning with very hot flavor. There is a large variety of chilis grown all over the world,  varying in shape, size and even color, but they are all quite hot and are used to add a fiery taste to any food.

On the other hand, pepper is a pungent hot-tasting powder prepared from dried and ground peppercorns, used as a spice or condiment to add flavor to food. Pepper is most commonly black or white in color and adds a powerful aroma to any dish when sprinkled on the top. It is mostly found with salt on the dinner table.

Chili vs Pepper
Dry red chilli that is used in powdered form in cooking (left) and black peppercorns that are ground to obtain black pepper powder (right)

Chili vs Pepper

What is the difference between chili and pepper?   There are many who confuse chili with pepper but with one closer look, a big difference can be observed between the two.

The word chili is mostly used to refer to the red spicy powder that adds fiery flavor to food. It is used in cooking so that it adds spice to meat or vegetables or any other dish and gets absorbed really well. Pepper is lighter in taste but more flavorful and it is also commonly used for sprinkling on food when it is served on the table, to be used according to personal preference.

The choice of chili and pepper is a personal one and it is up to the connoisseurs of food to decide which one of these flavoring agents they want to use in their foods, chili for a hot and spicy taste or pepper for a stimulating and aromatic seasoning. Chili is grown as a vegetable, usually red in color, no matter in which part of the world it grows and how it is used in food, while black pepper is obtain from peppercorns which have an outer black covering.

Dried red chilis are light in weight, long lasting and contain seeds which can be planted anywhere in fertile soil and this is the main reason why red chili is so popular everywhere. This powered chili is used in foods as well as sauces to add a fiery taste to them, especially meats. Red chilli powder cannot be sprinkled on top of food as it is too fiery and causes a burning sensation, as opposed to pepper which is meant to be sprinkled on to enhance the taste of food.

Black pepper is also used for its numerous health benefits and rich taste. While it is used all over the world, it is preferred by people who cannot stand the spiciness that chili offers.  The hottest chilis are particularly loved by people living in the tropics because they induce sweating which helps the body to stay cooler, while pepper is used in all parts of the world by all nationalities.

Comparison Chart

Chili Pepper
Chili is mostly used for a spicy flavor and its good color Pepper is used for its rich taste, good aroma and health benefits
Chili is used during cooking as well as for marinade Pepper is used in cooking but mostly sprinkled on the top once the food is served
Chili is grown in the garden as a vegetable and can be used directly in its original or dried form – this includes green and red chilis Pepper, either black or white, is produced by crushing dry peppercorns derived from an Indian plant

Chili and pepper are different varieties of spices intended to suit the needs of demanding taste buds and satisfy the palate with their zesty and stimulating flavors.