- Ghost Pepper: It may not be on the milder side of super-hots, but it still packs a punch and interest is always extremely high. It’s more accessible than most extreme chilies.
- Carolina Reaper: Currently the official hottest pepper in the world and a chili with immediate name recognition.
IMPORTANT: Let the names of these chilies – like Scorpion and Reaper – be a warning. These are the spiciest peppers around – holders of multiple Guinness world records and the base for many of the hottest hot sauces around. They all make jalapeño peppers look like child’s play.
And while their differences in Scoville heat units may look vast, your experience will be similar when handling each. These are dangerous chilies, and, as such, they must be handled carefully. If you’re going to dance with the devil, wear kitchen gloves, eye goggles, and take great care throughout the cooking process. Know, too, how to combat chili burn to keep yourself safe.
Ghost Pepper — 855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU
It really says a lot about the state of super-hot peppers when the notorious ghost pepper – once Guinness Book champ – barely cracks the top 15 hottest peppers in the world. The ghost pepper (a.k.a. bhut jolokia) held the Guinness title for the hottest chili pepper in 2007, so it has gotten a lot of fame over the years. In fact, some of its non-culinary uses have given it notoriety. Residents of India use the ghost pepper as a way to keep wild elephants away. They incorporate it into smoke bombs and even smear the pepper onto fences. Those elephants definitely don’t want to tangle with this pepper, but you can if you like!
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T — 800,000 to 1,463,700 SHU
The “Butch T” is a strain of the Trinidad Scorpion pepper, and for 3 years it held the Guinness Book title for world’s hottest pepper. It ranks here at #7 for its peak range, but it tends to average out to a hotter temperature than the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (which has the much higher potential peak heat). The “Butch T” gets its name from Butch Taylor, the developer of this super spicy chili.
Carolina Reaper — 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU
As of November 2013, the aptly named Carolina Reaper has been the Guinness Book of World Record’s official hottest pepper in the world. It’s a United States hot pepper variety (South Carolina) with insane heat, coming in from 1,400,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) up to a mind and taste bud boggling 2,200,000 SHU. That’s essentially 200,000 SHU hotter than the hottest possible Scorpion pepper. Put it another way, it’s a whole habanero hotter in terms of peak spiciness, and at this top level, it blows past many pepper sprays. The Carolina Reaper has a fruitiness to it, and the PuckerButt Pepper Company (founded by Ed Currie, the grower behind the Reaper) have grown it to be a super-hot that doesn’t skimp on the overall flavor. That is if you can handle the heat, and that’s a big ‘if’!
Honorable Mentions (potentially the spiciest of them all)
Our honorable mentions sport chili peppers hotter than even the Carolina Reaper, but don’t have the track record on consistent heat (yet) to take the official throne as the hottest pepper in the world. Still, you should get to know these incredibly super-hot chilies as their names will only grow in prominence.