With the constant trend of spicy food, people can’t help but watch out for updates on the hottest pepper in the world. Throughout the years, farmers jumped in on the trend of growing hybrid chilis in hopes of creating the spiciest variant. With new hot peppers, we can raise the spice meter of some of our beloved spicy food. We then enjoy the sweat-inducing flavors of spicy food mixed in savory or sweet dishes. However, not all peppers we know contain high spice levels. We must refer to the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) Scale to know our spice tolerance.
The SHU scale determines the concentration of capsaicinoids within peppers. By measuring the capsaicin content, you can find out the spiciness level of each pepper. If you love spicy food, you may notice your fellow fans refer to the scale when trying out new dishes. However, you must watch out for updates on which capsicum hails as the hottest pepper in the world. The roster changes over time due to pepper hybrids that chili farmers come up with. To learn more, check out the information we gathered about some of the hottest peppers in the world. Plus, we added our discussion about people’s love for spicy food.
Why are we interested in the hottest pepper in the world?
We can’t help but keep ourselves updated about the hottest pepper in the world. With it, we can find out if our spice tolerance can keep up with it when consumed. Once you get a taste of spicy food, you just can’t help but want more. Seconds after your initial bite, you get a thrill when the dish’s spiciness hits you. The bliss and pleasure that comes with building up your spice tolerance make you crave the heat. Plus, the appeal of sweat-inducing food also originates from the health benefits we get while eating.
Regular or occasional consumption of spicy food helps your body build up immunity for various ailments. A study showed that eating spicy food every day helps you live longer. It was conducted by experts from Harvard and China National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC). Aside from longevity, your love for hot peppers can help alleviate migraines and boost the production of good hormones. These factors often become the reasons why more people end up loving spicy food. To check your spice tolerance, you can read on and check our list of the hottest peppers in the world. With this, you’ll be able to challenge yourself by trying out more types of peppers in the future.
Carolina Reaper Pepper (2,200,000 SHU)
In 2013, the Carolina Reaper claimed the title of the hottest pepper in the world after it measured more than 2 million SHU. American chili pepper breeder Ed Currie produced the Capsicum variant by carefully cross-breeding specific species. A meticulous process involving Naga Viper and Red Habanero pepper variants created the scorching-hot flavor of the Carolina Reaper. Sounds easy?
Probably, not! You can’t easily find the chilis used to develop the hottest pepper in the world. You must predict and study the growth of a Naga Viper Pepper from Pakistan. Additionally, you must familiarize yourself with a Red Habanero variant from the West Indies. The ideal environment for the pepper’s development is essential. Plus, you’re good to go if you can match the atmosphere of where it grew in South Carolina, USA.
To keep yourself from getting scammed, you must remember the key features of a Carolina Reaper Pepper. Like most of the spiciest peppers, the Carolina Reaper develops into a wrinkly small-sized pod. Its growth ranges from 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) in width and 2–3 inches (5–7.6 cm) in length. It also appears with vibrant red color and a thin tail at the bottom. In terms of taste, you must prepare your taste buds for a fruity and sweet taste. That palate description serves as the initial flavor you get once you bite food marinated with Carolina Reaper Peppers. The said tastes return after your mouth gets hit with the chili’s intense burning sensation. It lasts up to 20 minutes followed by a possible stomach pain of 2–5 hours.
Pepper X (3,180,000 SHU)
Pepper X hails as the unofficial hottest pepper in the world due to its SHU rating of over 3 million. Despite this, it claims no official spot in official lists of the hottest peppers in the world. Like the Carolina Reaper, Pepper X came into fruition thanks to the efforts of Ed Currie. In truth, he submitted an official testing request to Guinness World Records in 2017. Unfortunately, the chili pepper breeder has yet to receive the results of his work. In the meantime, he continues to claim that Pepper X’s spice level exceeds the Carolina Reaper’s record. Ed Currie cultivated and studied Pepper X for nearly 10 years before its debut. You may taste the pepper in hot sauce forms by looking for The Last Dab featured in the Hot Ones.
Pepper X is the wrinkly light-green pepper’s temporary name. Nobody truly knows when chili breeder Ed Currie decides to name the famous pepper. You can tell it apart from other peppers by looking closely at its misshapen exterior. So far, spicy food lovers can only describe its taste in hot sauce form. When you bite into food dipped in it, expect to taste something fruity before getting hit by the chili’s heat.
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper (2,009,231 SHU)
With a peak of over 2 million SHU, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper always leaves a scorching-hot impression. It barely leaves the high ranks of hottest peppers in the world lists. In truth, it received the “Hottest Pepper in the World” title during the 2012 New Mexico Chile Conference. The prestigious announcement came from Refining Fire Chiles’ Jim Duffy. True to its name, the famous pepper grows locally in Moruga, Trinidad along the Caribbean. The pepper’s growth stage starts from green-colored skin that matures to orange and bright red. Its outer layer is smooth to the touch with barely any bumps. Pepper breeder Wahid Ogeer produced a yellow variant of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Its SHU scale measures between 1-2 million.
We mentioned the yellow version of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion to keep you from getting tricked. These peppers can survive in different climates without damaging their level of spiciness. Both types come from Trinidad island and their seeds look similar. People who want to plant them easily get scammed. We suggest you buy them in hot sauce or pepper form. With it, you can enjoy its full flavor when added to barbecue marinades or hot sauce. Plus, don’t even think about eating a whole Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper. Instead, whip up a chili oil version and spare yourself from a fresh one’s long-lasting heat.
7 Pot Douglah Pepper (1,853,936 SHU)
To fully experience its heat, the 7 Pot Douglah Pepper must be harvested once its outer skin’s color turns brown. The perfect shade must look close to the typical chocolate hue. However, you may also harvest the peppers with a deep purple shade. Because of its common color, the pepper also goes by the name Chocolate 7 Pod. When you slice one open, you’ll instantly see the pepper’s capsaicin oils ooze out. We suggest you wear gloves before attempting to touch the said oil from the 7 Pot Douglah Pepper. Without them, you might subject your hands to a burning sensation that lasts for some time.
Like most higher-ranked hottest peppers in the world, the 7 Pot Douglah Pepper’s initial taste brings a fruity flavor. It belongs to the famous 7 Pot Chili Pepper variety. These types of chili always claim spots in the hottest peppers in the world lists. To fully enjoy its flavor, we advise you to buy 7 Pot Douglah Pepper in powder or chili oil form. You may add it to stews or marinades for sour and fruity flavors with hidden heat. Just remember to be wary of the chili’s lasting heat and prepare a glass of milk on the side.
7 Pot Primo Pepper (1,469,000 SHU)
Despite not claiming a Hottest Pepper in the World title, the 7 Pot Primo can outshine other 7 Pot variants. We came to know of it thanks to the inclusion of the Naga Morich in its cross-breeding process. It displays a distinct pepper tail that we sometimes notice on other famous hot peppers. That stinger-like tail develops along with the pepper’s almost 2-inch long body. Fresh types of this pepper are usually sold in yellow or orange aside from the known dark red variant. Its name came from horticulturist Troy Primeaux who cross-bred peppers to create the 7 Pot Primo. After garnering fame, Primeaux continues to promote his creation with his company, Primo’s Peppers, in Lafayette, Louisiana.
We commonly enjoy spicy food with 7 Pot Primo Peppers in dried or powdered form. Despite this, we can still taste the pepper’s citrusy and floral initial taste notes. You may also notice the sweet aftertaste of the chili, right before the burning sensation hits your mouth. We can compare its intense heat to Ghost Peppers or other 7 Pot Pepper variants. If you use japaleños as a reference, the 7 Pot Primo Peppers offer 100-500 times hotter. Because of this, we urge you to stay cautious in handling this extremely hot pepper at home.
Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” Pepper (1,463,700 SHU)
The Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” Pepper was once hailed as the Hottest Pepper in the World. Because of this, it continues to stay in the top ranks of the spiciest peppers in the world. Like the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, it thrives on the island of Trinidad along the Caribbean. Its name “Butch T” came from the name of Zydeco Farms owner Butch Taylor. He sold chili seeds to The Hippy Seed Company’s Neil Smith. In turn, Smith helped develop the famous peppers on the Caribbean island. For three consecutive years, the Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” Pepper held the Most Pungent Pepper title in the Guinness World Records.
Unlike most of the hottest peppers on our list, the Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” stands out for its instant impression. When you go near the pepper, you instantly smell its spiciness. With just one bite, your taste buds instantly experience a burning sensation from the pepper. It doesn’t work like most peppers that gradually build up spiciness in your mouth. The Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” Pepper hits you like a slap in the mouth. Because of this occurrence, we urge you to try the pepper in its diluted hot sauce form. With this, you can enjoy it on salsa or barbecue sauces without suffering from its instant heat.
Naga Viper Pepper (1,349,000 SHU)
The Naga Viper Pepper came into fruition thanks to the efforts of chili farmer Gerald Fowler. Its development involved the cross-breeding of three types of the hottest peppers in the world. In truth, it claimed the title of the “Hottest Pepper in the World” before the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. The chili pepper first gained popularity in the UK for containing a three-way hybrid of the Naga Morich, the Trinidad Scorpion, and the Bhut Jolokia Peppers. Due to its origin, you may find it difficult to grow in your garden. You must consider and replicate the atmosphere of the greenhouse where the pepper originally came from. Additionally, this complication makes it hard for us to grow more of the pepper’s plant.
When tasting sauce made with the Naga Viper Pepper, you may become confused with its initial taste. Like most hot peppers, the Naga Viper first features a fruity taste before hitting your mouth with intense heat. Because of its unique development, we can’t pinpoint the exact fruit taste. It usually varies between sour and sweet flavors that remind you of oranges or peaches. The Naga Viper Pepper’s heat slowly hits you after a few seconds and subsides after minutes. However, the burning sensation doesn’t stop there. Another wave of spiciness may hit your mouth again after eating your meal.
7 Pot Barrackpore Pepper (1,300,000 SHU)
Like a lot of hot peppers on our list, the 7 Pot Barrackpore Pepper thrives on the island of Trinidad. However, this 7 Pot pepper variant was specially developed in Barrackpore, Trinidad where it got its name. You might confuse it with other peppers due to its common red outer layer. However, that feature makes it stand out from the other 7 Pot peppers. It grows with a vibrant red conical body that’s about 1 inch long. It perfectly fits the famous phrase “size doesn’t matter.” When you compare it to a habanero pepper, it delivers more than three times the heat.
The 7 Pot Barrackpore Pepper stands out from our list for featuring a bitter taste note. It also offers the usual initial sweet note we get when we eat spicy food. Due to its large size, we commonly encounter big stews or soups cooked with 7 Pot Barrackpore Peppers. They also work well as main chili peppers for large servings of salsa. The hint of bitterness can balance the array of flavors we use for the two dishes mentioned. You may also try them out in pickled form to add in beloved American dishes like pizza and burgers.
Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) (1,041,427 SHU)
Unlike most top-rated peppers in the world, Ghost Peppers developed as interspecific hybrids in Northeast India. It also goes by the name go by the name “Bhut Jolokia” which translates to Ghost Pepper in Hindi. If you travel to Assam, India, locals call the pepper “Bih Zôlôkia,” which means “poison pepper” due to its intense spiciness. Because of its origin, you can purchase Ghost Peppers in a variety of sizes. Aside from the usual red variants, you may also find Ghost Peppers with yellow and orange colors. Ripe ones usually measure about 2.4–3.3 inches in length and 1–1.2 inches in width. Due to its extreme spiciness, the Indian government fashioned smoke bombs made with Bhut Jolokia. They did this to alleviate riots in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Ghost Pepper offers sweet and fruity flavors before the intense spiciness hits your taste buds. The burning sensation usually causes hiccups, teary eyes, and shortness of breath. You must also prepare for the intensifying heat that grows within 10–15 minutes. You’ll only be able to recover once the heat subsides after 30–40 minutes. Enjoy the Ghost Pepper’s unique flavors by cooking creating a jam or salsa which you can add to different dishes. However, remember to tread lightly when cooking with one of the hottest peppers in the world. A man once suffered the pepper’s intense heat that almost burned off his throat.
7 Pot Red (Giant) Pepper (~1,000,000 SHU)
We got the 7 Pot Red (Giant) Pepper variant thanks to the cross-breeding of several 7 Pot Peppers. You may also know it as the Congo SR 7 Pod Gigantic Red Pepper. Due to that long name, we prefer to call it the Giant 7 Pot Red Pepper. It also hails from Trinidad and Tobago like most of the 7 Pot Peppers we know of. Unlike most Hottest Pepper in the World titleholders, this 7 Pot Red Pepper variant grows up to 6–7 cm long. Despite its large size, it also offers spicy food lovers a run for their money. We usually associate small peppers with high SHU ratings. However, the Giant 7 Pot Red Pepper’s spice level measures up to about a million on the SHU scale. Because of this, you must not let that large size deceive you. It does not taste like large bell peppers.
Thanks to its size, Giant 7 Pot Red Peppers make great spicy sauces. The crunch you get from its thick skin also makes them the best for chili or chunky soup. We suggest you try to replace recipes with bell peppers with Giant 7 Pot Red Peppers. With this, you can serve spicy meals without jeopardizing the expected crunch from bell peppers. However, you must remember to take out the seeds before adding Giant 7 Pot Red Peppers to your pot. Separating the seeds keeps you from being too shocked by the pepper’s hot sensation. You may also blend this 7 Pot Pepper variant into paste form for longer shelf life.
Red Savina Habanero Pepper (500,000 SHU)
If you want a hotter Habanero variant, then the Red Savina Habanero Pepper can easily match your taste. You can tell it apart with its vibrant red outer skin. At first, no one knew about this Habanero Pepper variant. Thanks to Frank Garcia and his company, we now know about a spicier kind of Habanero Pepper. He and his colleagues got scammed into importing cheap locally-grown Habanero Peppers. After plowing through their purchase, they discovered a mutated red Habanero Pepper and cultivated it. With a selective breeding process, we finally got the Red Savina Habanero Pepper on the market.
If you get the chance to taste food with the Red Savina Habanero Pepper, expect an initial sweet flavor. The familiar sweetness can be compared to the initial taste note of biting an apricot. However, don’t be fooled by the mentioned palate notes. As mentioned, the Red Savina Habanero Pepper serves as a spicier alternative to common Habanero Peppers. Avoid eating it fresh or suffer from an intense burning sensation that causes numbness that lasts for days. We suggest you chop them up and create chili oil with the pepper to preserve its heat. You can also try drying and grinding them up as seasoning to meat and barbecue.
Habanero Pepper (100,000–350,000 SHU)
Due to its versatile development, the Habanero Pepper holds a special place in various cultures. It grows best in hot or warm climates offered in different countries in South America. In truth, the well-loved pepper hails from Amazonas, Peru. However, it also famously grows in Mexico where Mexican cuisine thrives with its smoky spiciness. Its rich history makes it one of the oldest hottest pepper in the world that we know of. Its heat surpasses more than 70 times the spiciness of a Jalapeño Pepper. In North America, you can find the largest supply of Hanapero Peppers in the Yucatán Peninsula.
Compared to the contenders of the Hottest Pepper in the World title, we mostly encounter Habanero Peppers in food. Most chili peppers on our list only offer fresh or hot sauce forms because of their meticulous development. When it comes to Habanero Peppers, you can easily find different dishes, sauces, and salsa centered on the hot pepper. Unusual creations that you might encounter include chocolate or sugar syrups that get added flavor from Habanero Peppers. You may also purchase fresh ones to make sauces that offer the perfect kick of spice. To find the best-looking Habanero Peppers, you must look at its outer layer. Unlike most peppers on our list, the best Habanero Peppers feature orange smooth skin, not wrinkly ones.
Scotch Bonnet (100,000–350,000 SHU)
Like most of the Hottest Pepper in the World titleholders, don’t get deceived by the size of Scotch Bonnets Peppers. Its SHU scale measurement can keep up with that of Habanero Peppers. Despite hailing from Caribbean isles, the Scotch Bonnet Pepper got its name for its resemblance to a hat. If you traveled to Europe, you might notice the pepper’s features on a Scotsman’s bonnet or a Tam o’Shanter hat. Meanwhile, Caribbean locals call the peppers Bahama Mama, Jamaican Hot, or Martinique Peppers.
If you love Caribbean cuisine, you might notice the abundance of Scotch Bonnet Peppers in their food. Thanks to the pepper, we can enjoy Caribbean cuisine standing out with sweet and tropical flavors before the spice hits. If you happen to come across fresh Scotch Bonnets, you can try cooking your rendition of famous island favorites. To prepare them, you must wear protection before you start mashing the peppers into a paste. You may also finely chop its dried form and add it to sauces as a replacement for Habanero Peppers. For safer methods, we suggest you just throw them in a food processor to create a homemade sauce or paste.
Thai Pepper or Bird’s Eye Chili (50,000–100,000 SHU)
Unbeknownst to many, Thai Peppers come in various shapes and sizes. However, we commonly encounter thin red ones that grow 1–2 inches long. Despite never claiming a Hottest Pepper in the World title, Thai peppers still offer a lasting spiciness to consumers. We also call them Bird’s Eye Chili when generalizing its general appearance. Depending on where you live, you might notice the different SHU levels of Bird’s Eye Chili peppers. Because of this, we suggest you use specified terms of this Capsicum. When in Thailand, it’s best to call them Thai Peppers.
We usually crush or grind Thai Peppers to add the essential heat for Thai curry. Doing so makes us enjoy the added fruity and earthy flavors before relishing the long-lasting spiciness. If you’re pressed for time, you may purchase the peppers in powdered or crushed form. However, the aftertaste may not be the same hold the same spicy aftertaste from fresh ones. Although, dried ones often add a smokier spicy taste that goes well with other types of Thai cuisine.
Cayenne Pepper (30,000–50,000 SHU)
One of the most well-known hottest peppers in the world is the Cayenne Pepper. We love substituting it for Habaneros or Thai Peppers when cooking spicy food. When done so, we introduce our friends to a milder heat that still overpowers Jalapeños and Serrano Peppers. You may also use Cayenne Peppers to build your spice tolerance. Use Jalapeños to start and switch to hotter peppers by checking out a SHU lists online. Once you get to Cayenne Peppers, you can make bolder choices and try food seasoned with Habanero or Serrano Peppers. With this, you’re training your spice tolerance until you can withstand the heat of the hottest pepper in the world.
We usually encounter Cayenne Peppers in dried or powdered form in stores. This comes from the fact that it gets imported as a spice from South America. Because of this, you might often refer to it as red pepper instead of powdered or flaked Cayenne. In truth, the familiar peppery flavor only stands out when dried and crushed. If you cook with fresh Cayenne Peppers, your spicy meals might taste bland.
Tabasco Pepper (30,000–50,000 SHU)
We commonly know about Tabasco Peppers due to its famous sauce form. Like us, you probably loved drizzling it on pizza, steak, or grilled meat. We usually encounter it in restaurants or food delivery services when asking for hot sauce. We’re all used to the distinct smoky and spicy flavor we get from the hot sauce. However, we don’t know much about the peppers serving as the main ingredient to our beloved hot sauce. True to its name, Tabasco Peppers play an important role in the most popular hot sauce in the world. Due to its fame, we dubbed it as the most well-known hot sauce from the USA.
When growing Tabasco Peppers, you might notice the unusual growth of the peppers on the plant. Unlike most capsicums, Tabasco Peppers develop with an unusual growth pattern. During development, the peppers grow straight up from the vine instead of drooping down. Once harvested, you may find it hard to separate the seeds from the red flesh. Because of this, most farmers just leave dry them out or sell them fresh. The McIlhenny family from Louisiana famously produces the Tabasco sauce in 1868. Due to the sauce’s fame, the family worked with farmers from Africa aside from those in Central and South America.
Serrano Pepper (10,000–23,000 SHU)
If you usually mistake the Serrano Pepper for a Jalapeño Pepper, we understand why. Its bright red or green hue and overall shape usually remind us of Jalapeños. However, you should look closely at each pepper’s shape to distinguish its main differences. Aside from their spice levels, you can differentiate Jalapeño and Serrano Peppers by looking at their shape and thickness. Jalapeños appear with rounder shapes compared to the long and pointed body of Serrano Peppers. You may also touch and lightly squeeze each pepper to distinguish its thickness. Serrano Peppers develop with bodies packed with seeds compared to the lightness of Jalapeños. Because of this, Serranos grow thinner skin to accommodate the seeds inside their green flesh.
Compared to most chilis, Serrano Peppers offer spicy food lovers with grassy flavors we usually encounter with vegetables. Its distinct earthy flavor may remind you of fresh Jalapeño Peppers. Because of this, you may use Serrano Peppers for pepper popper recipes. Just remember to prepare for a hotter kick when you substitute it for a Jalapeño Poppers recipe. If you live in Texas or other urban areas, you probably noticed more Serranos compared to other peppers in stores. Thanks to this, you may train your spice tolerance with one of the hottest peppers in the world.
Chipotle Pepper or Smoked Red Jalapeño Pepper (2,500–8,000 SHU)
The Chipotle Pepper we know and love came to be thanks to Smoked Red Jalapeño Peppers. Because of this, these peppers feature the same spice level you expect from fresh Jalapeño Peppers. However, the method of creating Chipotle Peppers made them offer a smokier taste and aroma. To accomplish this at home, you must let your Jalapeños fully ripen from green to a red color. This allows the peppers to lose the moisture that makes green Jalapeños perfect for pickling. Afterward, the red peppers undergo smoking inside a chamber. Since this process is similar to dried meat, you may take pointers from pepper breeders and smoke the chilis with meat. With this, you may enjoy hints of savory taste notes paired with its famous smokiness.
Aside from its normal dried from, you may also enjoy the flavor of Chipotle Peppers in powdered form. This extends the pepper’s freshness and shelf life for future use on your favorite spicy meals. You can also add powdered Chipotle Peppers to barbecue rub or marinades for a spicy kick. They also make the perfect seasoning for hamburger patties, homemade sausages, and other grilled meat. You may also try cooking your version of Mexico’s famous Huevos Rancheros to add heat to your breakfast routine.
Jalapeño Pepper (2,500–8,000 SHU)
Despite not being the hottest pepper in the world, the Jalapeño Pepper holds a special role in different cultures and cuisine. The famous pepper got its name from the Mexican town of Xalapa, Veracruz. It continues to receive love from spicy food lovers for offering the right amount of heat in meals. We often use it as the milder alternative for Cayenne and Habanero peppers. When used as a substitute, Jalapeño Peppers let you enjoy the full flavor of spicy meals without the intense heat. We usually encounter it in Mexican cuisine because of its abundant growth in Mexico. However, you may also spot some farms in the southwestern states in the USA.
Chili pepper enthusiasts usually use Jalapeño Peppers to introduce spicy food for interested food lovers. We usually encounter them with green skin instead of the common red skin of ripe peppers. Farmers usually sell them unripe to keep the bitter and peppery flavor we know and love. However, jalapeños also feature sweet taste notes when fully ripened to red. We usually buy both variants fresh or pickled from groceries or specialty stores. Aside from Mexican food, you can also enjoy Jalapeño Peppers in sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Adding them to cream-based recipes also brings a much-needed kick to heavy meals.
Pepperoncini (100–500 SHU)
When you travel to Italy or Greece, you might see people munching on Pepperoncini without a worry in the world. Its local spelling consists of one less “p” making it “peperoncini.” However, Italians commonly call it “friggitello” to avoid confusion with the famous pizza topping pepperoni. During growth, it develops a length of about 2–3 inches. Despite its intimidating appearance, Pepperoncini does not offer much heat to consumers. From afar, it may remind you of jalapeño or banana peppers due to their color and length. You can enjoy its sweet and peppery taste when eaten fresh. You may add it to your favorite sandwich or pasta to enhance its flavors.
If you like pickled peppers, you must try Pepperoncini in its pickled form. No matter what pickling recipe you follow, these peppers offer the best kick of spice you need for your brine. Pickled Pepperoncini serves as one of the best ingredients to add to antipasto or sandwiches. You may also chop and eat them raw as a side dish with steak or grilled meat. Fresh Pepperoncini offers the sweet and spicy taste note that enhances the savory taste of red or white meat. Its sweet and peppery taste also goes well with cheesy dishes like macaroni and cheese or Greek pizza.