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Which is hotter original or mild Rotel?

Rotel is a popular brand of canned tomatoes and green chilies used to add flavor and spice to many Tex-Mex dishes. Rotel comes in a few varieties, with the main options being original and mild. So which of these is hotter?

The Scoville Scale

To compare the heat level of Rotel original versus mild, it helps to understand the Scoville scale. This scale measures the concentration of capsaicin, the chemical compound responsible for spiciness in peppers and chili products. The higher the Scoville Heat Units (SHU), the hotter the chili pepper or product.

On the Scoville scale:

  • A bell pepper ranks at 0 SHU
  • Jalapeño peppers range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU
  • Habanero peppers are 100,000 to 350,000 SHU
  • The spiciest chili pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper, peaks at 2.2 million SHU

Knowing the Scoville heat units can help estimate how spicy Rotel original and mild will taste in comparison to different peppers and hot sauces.

Rotel Original

Rotel original contains both hot diced tomatoes and spicy green chilies. According to the manufacturer, it ranks around 1,500 Scoville heat units. This means Rotel original is similar in heat level to a jalapeño pepper, registering as moderately spicy but not extremely hot.

The spiciness comes from the green chilies included in the can. Rotel uses a mixture of hot green chilies like serrano and jalapeño to achieve its signature flavor and heat. The tomatoes add extra flavor but do not contain any capsaicin themselves.

Overall, Rotel original packs a punch of heat that is spicy and flavorful, but not overpowering. It adds a nice kick to dishes like queso, chili, and taco fillings.

Rotel Mild

In comparison to original Rotel, the mild version contains less spicy peppers. According to the manufacturer, it ranks around 500-1,000 Scoville heat units. This means it is significantly less spicy than the original.

Rotel mild uses a blend of milder peppers like Anaheim and poblano. While it still contains some heat from jalapeños and serranos, the overall spice level is toned down. The mild Rotel variety has a hint of heat but will not overwhelm those who cannot tolerate very spicy food.

The mild version allows you to add Rotel flavor to dishes without as much burn. It works well for those who want just a touch of spice in their food.

Comparing Heat Levels

To summarize the Scoville heat unit differences:

Product Scoville Heat Units Spice Level
Rotel Original Around 1,500 SHU Moderately spicy
Rotel Mild 500-1,000 SHU Mildly spicy

While both contain some heat, Rotel original is distinctly spicier than the mild version. The original registers over 1,000 more Scoville units for a bolder, hotter flavor.

Factors Affecting Spice Level

Keep in mind that the spice level of any chili product can vary based on a few factors:

  • Batch to batch variation: Depending on the pepper crop, the heat of the chilies used in each batch of Rotel can fluctuate.
  • Individual peppers: There is natural variation between individual peppers, even of the same variety. Some jalapeños are hotter than others.
  • Draining the liquid: Draining the can of Rotel reduces some heat, as the capsaicin compounds tend to concentrate in the liquid.
  • Personal perception: People perceive spiciness differently based on individual taste buds and tolerance to capsaicin.

So while Rotel original generally clocks in around 1,500 SHU compared to 500-1,000 for mild, your personal experience with the heat may vary slightly.

Uses for Original vs. Mild

With their different spice profiles, original and mild Rotel work better for some dishes than others:

Rotel Original

  • Chili con queso dip
  • Tacos, burritos, enchiladas
  • Chili con carne
  • Fajitas
  • Quesadillas
  • Taco salad
  • Any recipe wanting a spicy kick

Rotel Mild

  • Homemade salsa
  • Queso for those who don’t like much heat
  • Casseroles
  • Chicken dishes
  • Soups and stews
  • Any recipe wanting just a touch of spice

Both varieties work well for dishes like nachos, taco soup, casseroles, and Tex-Mex pasta recipes. You can adjust the quantity to dial the heat level up or down as desired.

Combining Rotel Varieties

Another option is mixing original and mild Rotel to achieve your perfect spice level. Try starting with a 1:1 ratio and adjust from there.

The possibilities include:

  • 1 can original + 1 can mild
  • 2 cans original + 1 can mild
  • 1 can original + 2 cans mild

Mix and match until you find proportions that suit your taste buds.


When comparing Rotel varieties, original packs substantially more heat than mild. The original registers around 1,500 Scoville units with its blend of hot peppers like serranos and jalapeños. In contrast, the mild version contains less spicy peppers like poblanos for a more tempered 500-1,000 SHU.

While batch, pepper variation, and personal heat sensitivity affect the exact spice level, Rotel original consistently delivers a spicier punch of heat. Mild Rotel offers great flavor with less burn. Combining the two allows customizing your preferred level of spice and zest.

So which is hotter? When cooking up spicy Tex-Mex dishes, reach for Rotel original to turn up the heat or mild for a tamer version. Adjusting the ratio used lets you find the ideal balance for your taste buds.