What Is the Spiciest Pepper in the World?
What Is the Spiciest Pepper in the World?
If you’re a spice lover like we are, you might be looking for your next fiery pepper to enjoy, or perhaps you’re just curious about chili peppers in general. Read on, and we’ll tell you all about the world’s spiciest pepper, its predecessors, and its competitors.
The Carolina Reaper
If you’re a pepper enthusiast, or even just someone who engages with spicy food internet content — like the popular hot sauce-tasting Youtube series Hot Ones — chances are you’ve heard of the beast that is the Carolina Reaper pepper.
The Carolina Reaper has just been called the hottest chili pepper in the world, thanks to the Guinness World Records. The Carolina Reaper was created in South Carolina by a man named Ed Currie, who crossbred a red habanero pepper with another chili pepper breed known as the Naga Viper.
Many who have tried the Carolina Reaper reported having severe side effects and intense experiences due to the pepper’s extreme heat. Some side effects included mouth burning, mouth numbness, and, in rare cases, vomiting and intense headaches.
Now, we’re not trying to stop you from enjoying your spice; we just want you to be aware of the dangers that can come with powerful spice and implore you to know your peppers before you eat them.
To assist you with this further, we’ll dive into how you can easily identify the amount of heat in different peppers, so you can pick options with heat that you can handle.
But first, we’ll talk about some of the hottest peppers on the planet — and there’s a twist. Despite its recognition and praise as the record holder for the world’s hottest chili pepper, the Carolina Reaper has been reportedly dethroned by other chili peppers that seem to be even hotter!
Carolina Reaper Competitors
The pepper that is most recognized as the spiciest pepper in the world by chili pepper aficionados is known as Pepper X.
Pepper X was created by none other than Ed Currie, the creator of the Carolina Reaper. He created Pepper X by cross-breeding various chili pepper types to create a heat that is hotter than the Carolina Reaper.
But if this is true, why is the Carolina Reaper more famous than Pepper X? That’s because Pepper X is yet to be confirmed as the world’s hottest pepper by the Guinness World Records. So, for the time being, the Carolina Reaper remains our confirmed world’s hottest pepper.
The other chili pepper coming in second on the list of peppers hotter than the Carolina Reaper is known as the Dragon’s Breath pepper. Dragon’s Breath, like Pepper X, still has yet to be confirmed by the Guinness World Records as one of the world’s hottest chili peppers, though it has been measured as hotter than the Carolina Reaper many times.
But without confirmation and a record-holding stance, how can you even tell what pepper is hotter than another?
How Do You Measure How Hot a Pepper Is?
There is a method of measurement for heat levels in different chili peppers. This method is known as the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale labels chili peppers with different heat levels using Scoville heat units (SHU).
Considering all the chili peppers that have been measured with this scale, Scoville ratings can range from the lower hundreds to just over two million (as seen in superhot peppers like Pepper X).
So how exactly does the Scoville scale work, and what does it specifically measure?
The scale measures the amount of heat in chili peppers through a test of diluting a chili pepper extraction with sugar water. An extract sample is taken from a chili pepper and consumed by taste testers. The sample is continually diluted with sugar water until the heat is as close as possible to being undetectable by the taste testers.
The number of times a solution is diluted determines its ranking on the Scoville scale. Spicier peppers require more sugar water to remove their heat and therefore have a higher SHU ranking.
Basically, the test determines the amount of capsaicin in a chili pepper. Capsaicin is one of the main capsaicinoids, which are chemical compounds that create the sensation of heat in chili peppers. Thus, the Scoville scale helps us determine the level of heat in spicy peppers by identifying the amount of capsaicin they have.
Other Spicy Peppers
Although they’re no Pepper X or Carolina Reaper, it’s only fair that we recognize some of the other spicy peppers that exist in today’s world and how they rank on the Scoville scale in comparison. In fact, some of them are still considered remarkably hot despite being ranked much lower than those at the top.
Here is a list of some popular chili peppers and their heat rankings in Scoville units:
Jalapeño Pepper: It’s not quite the hottest pepper on this list, but it's certainly a commonly used chili pepper. A jalapeño pepper’s heat can rank anywhere between 2,000 to 8,000 SHU.
Cayenne Pepper: Often used as a household spice, the cayenne pepper is typically around 30,000 to 50,000 SHU.
Habanero Pepper: A pepper often used in many hot sauces, the habanero pepper typically ranges from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.
Scotch Bonnet Pepper: Similarly to the habanero pepper, Scotch bonnet peppers are usually around 100,000 to 350,000 SHU, if not slightly hotter, around 400,000 SHU.
Red Savina Pepper: Created by crossbreeding the habanero with other peppers, the Red Savina pepper is more intense than its parent habanero and can be found around 350,000 to 577,000 SHU.
Ghost Pepper: Native to India, these hot peppers, also known as bhut jolokia, were popularized for their incredible spice. The ghost pepper has been measured to have a heat of around 1,041,427 SHU.
Naga Viper Pepper: You may recognize the name of this chili pepper from earlier. The Naga Viper is the pepper used to create the Guinness World Records’ hottest pepper in the world — the Carolina Reaper. The Naga Viper itself is said to have a whopping heat level of 1,382,118 SHU.
Komodo Dragon Pepper: One of the hottest peppers in the world and ranking close to the Carolina Reaper and its friends, the Komodo Dragon pepper typically has a SHU of 1.4 to 2.2 million. For reference, the Carolina Reaper ranges around 2.2 million SHU, while Pepper X has a heat ranking of 3.18 million SHU.
Another important chili pepper type to recognize if you’re interested in super spicy peppers is the 7-Pot pepper originating in the Caribbean, specifically in Trinidad. The name comes from the idea that any one of these peppers is so hot, it could flavor seven pots of stew.
Some widely known variations of the 7-pot pepper include:
- 7-Pot Dougla
- 7-Pot Jonah
- 7-Pot Barrackpore
- 7 Pot Primo Pepper
Do note that 7-Pot peppers are different than other peppers from Trinidad, such as the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper or the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T. This is because the Trinidad Scorpion peppers tend to be less fruity than 7-Pot peppers as well as less plump.
What’s so special about chili peppers, and why should you care about how spicy they are?
Chili peppers can create heat even in dishes that are usually milder or sweeter. So the next time you find yourself making a recipe like Homemade Crab Ragoons With Sweet Chili Sauce TRUFF Dip, remember that just because it has sweet in the name doesn’t mean it can’t pack a powerful kick.
Chili peppers are also an essential ingredient in all hot sauces, like our TRUFF Hotter Hot Sauce. They provide that punch of heat and are a huge part of the hot sauce’s flavor. Honestly, without chili peppers, so many of the spicy foods you know and love today would be completely different — if they existed at all.
But chili peppers aren’t just good for tasting; they’ve also been found to have many health benefits, like their antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory qualities. Plus, their major chemical component, capsaicin, has been found to act as a powerful pain relieving agent and has been used in various tests as a less harmful alternative to most anesthetics.
How To Dine With Peppers
Now that you know how to pick and choose your own mild or smokin’ hot peppers based on your preference and the Scoville scale, what can you do with those peppers?
You may want to jump straight in and take a bite of some of the world’s hottest peppers just as a challenge. If you’re not into scorching heat, you can also enjoy chili peppers in a gentle hot sauce with a lower Scoville ranking for a comfortable and decadent eating experience.
You can try our truffle-infused TRUFF Original Hot Sauce for a decadent spicy flavor that comes from our special chili pepper blend. It’s around 2,500 to 3,000 SHU, so feel free to add less or more to your dishes, depending on your spice tolerance. We suggest trying it in something like our Turkey Pumpkin Chili to get more out of the luxurious flavors.
But feel free to spice it up however you’d like!