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What Is a Ghost Pepper and How Hot Are They?

Ghost pepper

What Is a Ghost Pepper and How Hot Are They?

Perhaps you've watched talk shows where the host challenged a guest to eat a ghost pepper as part of an attention-grabbing segment. If you don't know anything about these super hot peppers, you might think it's an ordinary occurrence.

Ghost peppers are some of the world’s hottest peppers — way hotter than jalapeño peppers or even habanero peppers — which means it's fairly impressive when someone can withstand the spice to eat one. In fact, in 2007, Guinness World Records labeled the ghost pepper the world’s hottest chili pepper.

Let's explore more about this pepper and everything you need to know before trying one. Then, we'll show you more ways to incorporate spice into your favorite meals for elevated home cooking.

Where Do Ghost Peppers Come From?

Ghost peppers are a hybrid pepper made from Capsicum Chinense and Capsicum Frutescens, and they're part of a family of peppers known as the Capsicum Chinense variety. This spicy pepper shares this classification with habanero, scotch bonnet, and red savina.

This kind of pepper is grown all over the world. However, they originate from northeast India, where they are a featured ingredient in curries.

Ghost pepper plants are technically called bhut jolokia peppers (translated as “Bhutan pepper” in Assamese). It has also earned the nickname bih zôlôkia in Assam, which means “_poison chili”. In Nagaland, this pepper is called _naga jolokia, which means “Naga chili.”

Are Ghost Peppers Healthy?

You may wonder if there are any nutritional benefits to eating ghost peppers. If you can stand the heat, this pepper has several nutritional benefits.

First, ghost peppers are low in calories and fat, making them an attractive addition to spicy dishes. Additionally, ghost peppers also include vitamin C and antioxidants, which can help fight free radicals throughout your body.

How Hot Are Ghost Peppers?

You may have heard of this infamous pepper and are curious about trying it yourself. If you're someone who can handle the spice, trying this pepper could be an exciting bucket list activity for you.

Before you try this pepper, it's worth understanding how hot it can taste. Let's talk about the Scoville Heat Scale to understand how hot ghost peppers are.

Scoville Rating

The Scoville Heat Scale is a system that ranks peppers, hot sauce, and other spicy foods according to Scoville Heat Units, or SHUs. The scale is named after Wilbur Scoville, who created the scale in 1972 to compare the heat of chili peppers based on capsaicinoids.

On this scale, bell peppers maintain a ranking of 0 SHUs, having no spice whatsoever.

In 2007, the ghost pepper was crowned the spiciest pepper on the Scoville Scale at 800,000-1,001,300 SHUs. However, since then, cross-breeding peppers have caused the ghost pepper to lose its top-ranked position. Despite this, it remains an impressive spice level, nearly three times as hot as habaneros.

Today, the Carolina Reaper pepper has earned a spot at the very top of the scale with 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units.

What Are the Pros Eating a Ghost Pepper?

Want to try a ghost pepper for yourself? Before you make the decision to try this pepper, you may want to weigh the pros and cons. Then, you can know for certain whether ghost peppers are for you or if you should stick with other spicy dishes to satisfy your cravings.

Ghost Peppers Are Safe for Some People

Beginning with the pros, it's worth noting that some people can eat bits of this pepper with little discomfort. The rule of thumb is that you may be able to eat them every day as long as the amount you consume is under 1/50th of your body weight.

Though you may be able to eat parts of a ghost pepper every day, you probably want to avoid eating an entire ghost pepper regularly since the sensation can be intense and even painful.

Ghost Peppers Can Give You Bragging Rights

Another potentially positive factor of trying ghost peppers is the bragging rights that can accompany the experience.

Since these peppers have a reputation as one of the world's hottest-known foods, taking a bite of one is impressive. If you think you can take the heat, eating part of a ghost pepper could be a conversation starter that leaves people stunned.

What Are the Cons of Eating Ghost Peppers?

Let's discuss the possible cons of eating a ghost pepper.

Ghost Peppers Can Cause Physical Discomfort

As we have mentioned, this pepper has earned its ranking toward the top of the Scoville heat scale, making it a food not many can try comfortably.

After trying this pepper, some people report feeling that their whole body feels as if it is on fire. Here’s a disclaimer: if you plan on trying this food, it's best to wear gloves and goggles since even the oils on the outside of the pepper can cause a burning sensation.

Ghost Peppers Can Cause Adverse Reactions

When deciding whether you want to try this pepper, it's a good idea to keep the possible side effects in mind. For one, eating this pepper in large quantities can lead to hospitalization, so it's not a pepper to play around with.


If you still think eating this pepper is something you want to try, be aware that capsaicin is the primary factor that makes peppers hot. This substance activates the pain sensors in your nerves, and too much of it has caused some to experience seizures, heart attacks, or hallucinations. The essential guiding principle for this pepper is that everything is best in moderation.

Recipes To Make With Ghost Peppers

Are you still feeling adventurous? If you want to give ghost peppers a try in small quantities, you can do so with a few easy recipe ideas. Let's take a look at dish ideas you can try if you have a predisposition for spice.

  • Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce: Do you want to take your burritos to new spice levels? You can combine ghost peppers, tomatoes, vinegar, and olive oil to create an extra extra-hot hot sauce.
  • Pineapple Ghost Chili Sauce: This hot sauce adds some sweetness from pineapple to counteract the blast of heat from the ghost peppers. 
  • Ghost Pepper Jelly: Did you know you can make jelly from ghost peppers, sugar, pectin, and cider vinegar? Spread it on toast if you dare.

Ghost Pepper Tip: If you plan on preparing ghost pepper hot sauce, chili, jelly, or spread, try adding very little amounts of the pepper initially. You can always add more if you want an extra fiery sensation, and adding little bits at a time can ensure you achieve a brilliant fire-to-flavor ratio.

More Spicy Meal Ideas

Perhaps you're a lover of all things spicy, but you need more time to be ready to traverse into the territory of the ghost pepper. If you want to indulge in more flavorful, decadent hot sauces and spicy home-cooked meals, we've got a few easy ideas to make your dreams a reality.

Try Adding Hot Sauce to Your Snack Platters

What makes the perfect snack tray for guests visiting your home? Having several flavors on deck can make for a well-rounded tasting experience.

If you've already planned sweet and savory dishes, consider adding some spice to the mix for a tantalizing, mouth-watering touch. TRUFF Luxury Hot Sauces make the perfect match for burritos, wings, and even snacks like popcorn.

Cook Spicy Italian Dishes

The savory, bold flavors of traditional pasta dishes make Italian cuisine popular in many households. Still, even the most well-loved dishes could use a tune-up now and then. If you want to add a personal touch to some of your favorite Italian recipes, consider using TRUFF Black Truffle Arrabbiata Sauce.

TRUFF Black Truffle Arrabbiata Sauce is a high-quality pasta sauce that has a vibrant tomato flavor combined with elegant truffles and bold red chili peppers. Try substituting your usual pasta sauce for this alternative for an elevated Italian dish that brings the heat.

Add Heat to Your Sandwich Game

What separates an incredible sandwich from a boring one? Often, the quality of the ingredients hold a significant influence, but the condiments steer the ship when it comes to flavor.


Our TRUFF Spicy Mayonnaise includes all the high-quality ingredients of our usual truffle mayonnaise with added spice. Include this spicy spread on your favorite sandwiches, and you'll be addicted to each bite.

Elevate Your Home Cooking With TRUFF

Trying ghost peppers is one way to branch out and experience fiery flavors, but it's not for everybody.

When you want to enjoy your dish with mild or moderate spice that doesn't overpower other flavors, adding TRUFF sauces into the mix is the way to go. Spicy TRUFF sauces can enhance your favorite meals with the best-quality ingredients and indulgent truffles in every bite.

Sources:

[The Ghost Chili | University of Wisconsin ](http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/f2012/ramuta_ryan/)

[Is that chile pepper hot or not? - AgriLife Today | Texas A&M University](https://agrilifetoday.tamu.edu/2022/01/28/is-that-chile-pepper-hot-or-not/)

[Ghost pepper | PolyCentric | Cal Poly Pomona](https://polycentric.cpp.edu/tag/ghost-pepper/)

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