The world of peppers is a vast and fascinating one, with a wide range of flavors, shapes, and levels of heat. For those who love a little (or a lot) of spice in their life, there is no shortage of options to choose from. But for those who are truly daring, there are a select few peppers that stand out as the hottest of the hot. These peppers are not for the faint of heart and should be approached with caution and respect. Here, we’ll take a look at the top 10 hottest peppers in the world and explore what makes them so special.
Every year, the Guinness Book of World Records updates its list of the hottest peppers in the world. Some peppers (like the #1 Carolina Reaper) have settled into their rank and held onto it for a while. But others are changing as new varieties of chili peppers are discovered and cultivated. It’s always exciting to see what makes the list—which peppers get dethroned and which ones are still going strong after years on the list!
If you’re a chili head, you should stay up to date on the world’s hottest peppers. Here’s the list, complete with Scoville Heat Units (SHU) for each pepper, countries of origin, flavor profiles, and more! It’s a quick look at the World’s Hottest Peppers.
#1 Carolina Reaper
On the Scoville Heat Scale, the Carolina Reaper ranges from 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU. Since 2013, the Carolina Reaper has been the hottest known chili pepper in the world. It’s the only pepper on our list to have surpassed its own record. Three years after being named the World’s Hottest Pepper for the first time, the Carolina Reaper upped its game with an even hotter Scoville Heat Unit score.
Developed by Ed Currie of the PuckerButt Pepper Company in South Carolina, this pepper packs a serious punch, with an average heat level of over 1.5 million Scoville heat units (SHU). The pepper has a distinctive, gnarled appearance and a sweet, fruity flavor that belies its intense heat.
The Carolina Reaper is a hybrid pepper, created by crossing a Red Habanero with a Naga Viper pepper. The result is a pepper that is not only extremely hot but also incredibly flavorful. Despite its intense heat, the pepper has gained a cult following among those who love a good challenge, and it is often used in hot sauce and other spicy products.
#2 Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
At its hottest, Trinidad Scorpion measures 2,009,231 Scoville Heat Units. It’s the only pepper besides the Carolina Reaper to have crossed the threshold of 2 million SHU. It may surprise you to know that this pepper tastes sweet and almost fruity—of course until you feel the burn. Trinidad Scorpion peppers are native to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. More specifically the pepper is commonly referred to as the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper which is named after the central south coast village of Moruga.
This pepper underwent testing in 2012. However, it was not able to be declared the World’s Hottest Pepper by Guinness Worlds Records before the Carolina Reaper was discovered and started dominating the list.
The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion is a relatively new pepper, having only been discovered in 2012. It is named for the town of Moruga in Trinidad, and for its distinctive scorpion-like tail. Despite its extreme heat, the pepper has a complex and nuanced flavor that makes it popular among those who enjoy spicy food.
#3 7-Pot Douglah
The 7-Pot Douglah is a chocolatey brown color, which is a rarity on this list that’s predominately made of red peppers. This pepper gets its name from its extreme heat, which, in theory, is enough to provide spice for seven stews. This pepper starts out green and will eventually turn its smoky brown color. Some even think the color is a little purple. The skin is covered in little bumps, which is another way you can tell this pepper apart from other hot peppers.
This is a rare hot chili that measures 1,853,936 Scoville Heat Units at its hottest. The 7-Pot Douglah’s flavor profile is a delicious combination of fruity, nutty, and sweet.
#4 7-Pot Primo
This pepper is a cross between the Naga Morich and Trinidad 7-Pot. As to not confuse this pepper with the other 7-Pot peppers, it is sometimes just referred to as the Primo after its inventor Troy Primeaux aka “Primo.” This flavorful pepper tastes fruity and floral at the same time while also measuring 1,469,000 on the Scoville scale.
At a glance, you might struggle to tell this pepper from the Carolina Reaper. But if you make that mistake you may be in for much more heat than you bargained for! This pepper also has a thin tail like the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and can come in red, orange, or yellow.
#5 Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T”
The Butch T is just barely less spicy than number four on the World’s Hottest Peppers list. It measures 1,463,700 SHU. This pepper shares its nickname with its original cultivator Butch Taylor. The pepper held the title of World’s Hottest Pepper in 2011. This is another one of the scorpion peppers, however, the pepper has much smoother skin than some of the other Scorpion peppers.
While some hot peppers are deceptively sweet or flavorful at first, this one burns right away—in a big way!
#6 Naga Viper
This rare pepper measures 1,349,000 Scoville Heat Units. This pepper is a unique hybrid of three chili peppers: the Naga Morich, Trinidad Scorpion, and the Bhut jolokia. Each of these peppers is plenty hot in its own right. But when they combine, the result is a deliciously hot Naga Viper. Gerald Fowler of The Chili Company in the United Kingdom pollinated the Naga Viper just for its heat. It took him many years to perfect this pepper.
In 2011, the chili very briefly held the title of World’s Hottest Pepper. You can expect the heat of the Naga Viper to sneak up on you. You won’t feel it at first. But when you do, it will hit in full force!
#7 Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia)
The Bhut Jolokia, also known as the Ghost Pepper, is a pepper native to the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur. It has an average heat level of around 1 million SHU, and its name comes from the fact that it was originally used to make a type of pepper spray for use by the Indian military. The pepper has a distinctive, wrinkled appearance and a fruity, slightly sweet flavor with notes of citrus and chocolate.
Although it’s not the hottest, the Ghost Pepper is probably the most well-known chili on this list. It measures 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units. This pepper was discovered back in 2000 and, since then, has earned a reputation as the perfect chili for hot sauce.
This pepper gets its name from the intense heat’s ability to sneak up on you. It has a pungent scent and a fruity aftertaste. You can find this pepper in a variety of colors including purple, peach, and brown.
#8 7-Pot Barrackpore
This pepper is just a little milder than number eight on the list, measuring around 1,000,000 Scoville Heat Units. This pepper is named after its “hometown”: Barrackpore, Trinidad. In case you weren’t noticing, Trinidad produces some very hot peppers! When you eat a 7-Pot Barrackpore, you’ll notice a unique combination of bitter and fruity tastes. In contrast to the other 7-Pot peppers, the 7-Pot Barrackpore is larger with more wrinkles.
If you try growing your own 7-Pot Barrackpore plants, be prepared to have a lot of peppers to eat. Each plant produces many chili pods.
#9 7-Pot Brain Strain
This pepper is probably a close relative to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. It measures around the 1,000,000 mark on the Scoville Scale. David Capiello brought the seeds of one of these peppers from Trinidad to the United States for the first time in 2010. Unlike other peppers on the list, the 7-Pot Brain Strain is not a hybrid. It is the product of selective breeding where the original breeders collected chili pods that had the characteristics they wanted for this special pepper.
The 7-Pot Brain Strain is rounder and squattier than many of the other peppers on the list. In fact, it looks a little bit like a brain. Like most of the other hot peppers, it is most commonly bright red, but you can also find yellow 7-Pot Brain Strains.
#10 7-Pot Jonah
The last pepper on the top 10 List is a 7-Pot—and this can measure 800,000 Scoville Heat Units or more. This pepper has a fruity flavor, which makes it ideal for recipes that incorporate other fruits into jellies, salsas, or other sauces. Although the most common variety turns from green to red, you’ll also find peppers that are yellow.
These peppers are larger than most of the others on the list, often weighing half an ounce. They are bumpy and textured in appearance. Sometimes (but not always) the 7-Pot Jonah will have a thin scorpion-like tail.
Now hopefully you feel like a hot pepper expert! Each of these peppers has a unique story with a slightly different flavor profile that suits some recipes better than others. But no matter which pepper you try on this list, one thing is for sure: there are some super-hot chili peppers out there!
New Contenders for the World’s Hottest Pepper
Both Pepper X and Dragon’s Breath are currently vying for the title to become certified the world’s hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of World Records. This process can take many years and involves multiple rounds of testing and verification.
Pepper X was created by the same cultivar as the Carolina Reaper, the one and only Ed Currie of Ft Mill South Carolina. Pepper X was tested at 3.18 Scoville Heat Units. You can try Puckerbutt’s Gator X hot sauce that contains Pepper X here.
Dragon’s Breath is also in contention to become the world’s hottest pepper. It was confirmed by testing to have a Scoville rating of 2.48 million SHU though the results are still not accredited. It was bred by Neal Price of Nottingham, the United Kingdom as he was attempting to create a skin anesthetic. From there breeder, Mike Smith of Wales continued to breed the pepper but not for heat but with the stated goal of creating an attractive pepper plant. The pepper is named Dragon’s Breath after the Welsh dragon.