Hottest peppers are those whose ‘heat’ or spiciness ranges from 100,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) and above.
Carolina Reapers holds the title of hottest peppers in the world, followed by Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, 7 Pot Primo, Naga Viper, Ghost Pepper, etc.
But before you join the trend of gulping entire peppers, let’s look at its nature, spiciness, and after-effects, if any.
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How is Spiciness Measured?
Not just pepper, but hotness or heat intensity or spiciness is measured using a scale known as the Scoville scale.
This scale assigns a numerical value to the level of heat based on the concentration of capsaicinoids in a pepper.
Capsaicin is the compound responsible for the sensation of heat in pepper and is expressed in terms of Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
Further, the more sugar solution required, the higher the heat index rating.
Pharmacist Wilbur Scoville invented this scale in 1912, which notes the amount of sugar solution required to dissolve the capsaicin extracted from the pepper until a panel of professional taste testers no longer feel the spiciness.
Top 10 Hottest Peppers in the World
Peppers are botanically fruit but culinarily used as vegetables from boiling and fermenting to stir fry that adds zing to your dish.
As easy as it may sound, the flavor differs based on the hotness of the variety of pepper used.
Let’s look at the top 10 hottest pepper in the world.
|Ranking in 2023||Name of Pepper||SHU Units|
|3rd||7 Pot Douglah||1,853,936|
|4th||7 Pot Primo||1,469,000|
|5th||Trinidad Scorpion "Butch T"||1,463,700|
|7th||Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia)||1,041,427|
|8th||7 Pot Barrackpore||1,000,000|
|9th||7 Pot Red (Giant)||1,000,000|
|10th||Red Savina Habanero||500,000|
1. Carolina Reaper
The Carolina Reaper is the spiciest in the top 10 hottest peppers list, with a Scoville rating of 2.2 million SHU.
It topped the chart of hottest peppers in 2013 and 2018 (reigning).
Due to its extreme heat, the pepper is sparingly used in cooking while frequently used to make spicy hot sauce or flavorings.
Carolina Reapers is the hybrid created by cross-breeding the Ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia) and the Red Habanero, with the pepper size ranging from 2.5-5 cm wide and 5-7.6 cm long.
Carolina Reaper has a fruity taste in the initial bite, but the hotness bursts immediately like molten lava on our tongue.
According to a case report, consuming a single Carolina Reaper could result in mouth burning and numbness, gradually elevating to acute headache and high blood pressure.
Moreover, the bumpy and gnarly texture of the pepper, with the tail shape at the bottom end, gives it a devilish look.
2. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
The Moruga Scorpion is another 2 million SHU pepper, ranking among the top 10 hottest peppers in the world.
It has a hint of sweet fruit, but do not be heavy-handed just because someone suggests adding them to your guacamole or barbeque sauce.
Growing to approximately 2-3 inches in length, this bulbous pepper with a tapered tail has a pockmarked appearance, reddish-orangish skin, and grooves that run from the top to the bottom of the pepper.
The first bite of this pepper won’t be so bad, but the hotness keeps on building.
Further, the pepper is 240 times hotter than a Jalapeno, so your taste buds can lose the sensation for quite a long time.
3. 7 Pot Douglah
The 7 Pot Douglah is one of the rarest hottest peppers that develops a chocolate hue different from a typical red one.
Along with the sweet fruity taste, the hint of nuttiness and earthiness adds umami with the quick blast of heat that lingers.
Many confuse the pepper with Habanero, but Douglah is approximately 2 inches long, wrinkled, and measures 923,889-1,853,986 Scoville Heat Units.
You can cook it into soups and stews or make hot chili powder.
4. 7 Pot Primo
The Pot Primo pepper is a blend between Naga Morich and Trinidad 7 Pot Pepper, created by horticulturist Troy Primeaux from Louisiana in 2005.
It usually matures to a vibrant red color, though this pepper also has yellow and orange varieties.
The pungency of the pepper is quite similar to that of the Bhut Jolokia, with a slightly floral aroma.
Moreover, 7 Pot Primo is 300 times hotter than a Jalapeno.
The seeds are rare if you are wondering about growing them at home. Even when ordering online, you’ll only receive 15 seeds per the international set guidelines.
5. Trinidad Scorpion ‘Butch T’
Further, on the list, we have the previous Guinness World Record Holder (2011) from Australia, the Trinidad Scorpion ‘Butch T.’
Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” smells and tastes extremely fruity before the spice of 1,463,700 hits.
Someone who has swallowed the ex-hottest peppers quotes the experience as burning coal in the mouth.
The name ‘Butch T’ comes from its creator Butch Taylor, the owner of Zydeco Farms in Woodville/Crossby, Mississippi, and a hot sauce company responsible for propagating the pepper’s seeds.
Regarding appearance, Butch T inherits the scorpion-like edgy look with creases on the skin from its parent Scorpion Pepper that gradually mature from green to yellow/orange to red.
Moreover, the 1-2 inch long pepper has a short-lived fruity undertone.
6. Naga Viper
The Naga Viper is a pepper with a sweet plummy initial taste and a zesty aftertaste, originally from the UK.
Although a hybrid of the three top hottest peppers, Naga Morich, Bhut Jolokia, and Trinidad Scorpion, the pepper could only be the world’s hottest pepper (1,382,118 SHU) for a brief period in 2011.
You may use the elongated pepper with a little long tail in hot sauce or salsa and add it to make your bibimbap to raise the spice-O-meter.
People also seem to enjoy this pepper powder from Amazon in different recipes.
Make sure to grow the pepper in moist but not soggy soil.
7. Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia)
People believe the Indian-originated Ghost Pepper, Bhut Jolokia, is still the world’s hottest pepper.
Many others have surpassed this bright red beauty in the race of being the hottest peppers, but it is the first pepper to rank over 1 million SHU.
This pepper is an interspecific hybrid of Capsicum chinense and Capsicum frutescens, closely related to Naga Morich.
The Ghost Pepper has a smoky, earthy taste, a little fruity aftertaste, and a few health benefits.
An article published in 2018 states that capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin from the Ghost Peppers can exhibit anticancerous properties against adenocarcinoma.
Regardless of the bumpy texture, eye-watering and breathtaking spiciness, many netizens hopped on to the challenge of eating a Ghost Pepper.
If you wish to grow this viral pepper, the key is to keep the soil warm between 80-90°F.
Fun Fact: These peppers are smeared on fences or incorporated in smoke bombs as a safety precaution to keep wild elephants at a distance in Northeast India.
8. 7 Pot Barrackpore
The Barrackpore is among the famous 7 Pot above 1 million SHU.
Despite the name 7 Pot, these pepper hold a hint of bitterness and little to no fruity fragrance.
The pepper has a wrinkled surface and a bit of a tail. The elongated pod structure makes it mimic the good old Bhut Jolokia.
Also, the Barrackpore is closely linked to the 7 Pot and Trinidad Scorpion varieties and comes in white, yellow, brown, and red colors.
9. 7 Pot Red (Giant)
The name 7 Pot Red comes from believing that a single chili is hot enough to spice up 7 pots of stew.
You will come through multiple strains of 7 pot varieties as 100’s hybrids are created using the Red (Giant).
Although from a Trinidad, a very different part of the world, it resembles Ghost Pepper in taste but has a more prominent nutty flavor.
Further, the green pepper ripens to a vibrant red (1 million SHU), with the plant longing a typical 3-4 feet tall.
10. Red Savina Habanero
The Red Savina Habanero was one of the longest-running hottest pepper in the world for 12 years from 1994 until 2006.
Although the record no longer belongs to the pepper, this hybrid created in California has 500,000 SHU, which would not go easy on your tongue.
The significant feature of the Red Chili Habanero is its wrinkled lantern shape, high spice level, and heavier and larger fruit resulting from selective breeding over a few years.
Although an easy-to-grow plant, we recommend you start the seed 8 weeks before you plant them in March, especially for Northern Hemisphere pepper enthusiasts.
From Editorial Team
Now that you know some proven and certified hottest pepper, ‘Pepper X, ‘ a hybrid pepper claiming to be twice as hottest as Caroline Reaper, remains to prove the claim to date.
Further, we do not recommend trying these hottest pepper, which can invite serious complications.