What are the World’s Top 10 Hottest Chilli Peppers?

worlds hottest chilli's

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Everyone loves a little spice, right? I definitely do. Not enough to take part in a viral Chilli Eating challenge but enough for some cayenne fries. This raises the question, however: who was the first person to come across chilli pepper? I wonder what their reaction was. Stop, drop and roll? Did they prank the rest of their tribe? I know I would. Before my imagination runs wild, let’s get into the top 10 hottest chilli peppers in the world this year as ranked by PepperHead®.

The spice level of chilli peppers is measured using the Scoville Heat Unit, or SHU, which was devised in 1912 by an American pharmacist. This quantifies heat levels by measuring the concentration of capsaicin; a chemical responsible for that spicy sensation in peppers and other foods. Without further ado, let’s spice things up!

10. Red Savina Habanero

World hottest peepers

We weren’t going to make it easy for you! In last place is the Red Savina Habanero, which is the original cultivator for larger, sweeter and hotter variations. This variation was actually discovered by Frank Garcia from GNS Spices in Walnut, California, when he was ploughing a large field of orange habaneros before coming across this strange fruit. He saved this mutant plant and created this strain using selective breeding. Despite sitting at the bottom of the pile, the Guinness World Records book ranked the Red Savina as being the hottest chilli in the world from 1996 to 2006. While the SHU is said to reach heights of 577,000 SHU, Professor Paul W. Bosland from the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico University conducted a study in 2005 and found that the pepper averages an SHU of 248,556. Imagine that, a whole department dedicated to chilli peppers!

9. Trinidad 7 Pot/Pod

chilli peppers

This pepper is part of the 7 Pot pepper group, which are named for their ability to spice seven stews using only one pod. While there are hundreds of varieties of this group, including the 7 Pot Barrackpore, 7 Pot Jonah and 7 Pot Douglah; they can all be traced back to the Trinidad 7 Pot/Pod. The rounded shape is commonly associated with the habanero pepper but possesses a pimpled exterior. In regards to flavour, this pepper has a nutty and fruit-like taste before turning up the heat to an average SHU of 1,000,000.

8. Pot Barrackpore

Scoville scale

Coming in at exactly 1,000,000 SHU is the aforementioned 7 Pot Barrackpore from Chanuagas, Trinidad and Tobago – many of the “super hots” come from this region. In comparison to the other 7 Pot chillies, this variation is large and elongated with a wrinkled appearance. Commonly found in shades of red, they can appear in white and yellow hues. Enjoy the fruity flavour before the heat blows your head off!

7. Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper)

ghost peppers

The Bhut Jolokia is cultivated in the Nagaland and Assam regions of north-eastern India, where it has been associated with various names over centuries. Apart from the pepper that sits in the top spot, the Bhut Jolokia is the most famous pepper due to a viral 2015 YouTube challenge. So much so that people still believe that this pepper is the hottest in the world! In 2007, the Guinness World Records book certified this with a 1,041,427 SHU – the first pepper to scientifically exceeded one million SHU. Now sitting in seventh place, this is clearly not the case. The word Bhut is a Sikkimese translation for ‘Ghost,’ which is used to describe the intense heat that creeps up on you once bitten. Ripe peppers can grow anywhere from 2.5 to 3.3 inches long in vibrant hues of yellow, red, orange, white and purple. 

6.Naga Viper

naga viper pepper

At number six is the Naga Viper – such a cool name! In November 2010, the Warwick HRI Mineral Analysis Laboratory conducted tests on the pepper to determine the 1,349,000 SHU. This briefly placed the Naga Viper in the Guinness World Record’s book during 2011. It’s cultivated in the UK by farmer Gerard Fowler from the Chilli Pepper Company in Card, Cumbria. As we all know, British weather is temperamental so the peppers are grown in a greenhouse during colder climates. The Naga Viper is a hybrid of the Naga Morich, Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion, with the cross-pollination process taking years to cultivate; therefore makes this one of the rarer peppers.

5. Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T”

trinidad scorpian

The Trinidad Scorpion is cultivated by Butch Taylor at the Zydeco Farms in Mississippi. With a 1,463,700 SHU, this pepper was ranked the hottest in the world until 2012, when it lost the title to the Moruga variation. The Butch T boasts a sharp, burning sensation and is recognised by its pointed tail, making this pepper all the more menacing.

4. 7 Pot Primo

primo pepper

Louisianan Horticulturist, Troy Primeaux, created the 7 Pot Primo in 2005 by crossing the Naga Morich and Trinidad 7 Pot Pepper. During the growing process, the pepper gets really lumpy and distorted but is widely recognised for its long, skinny tail. In this sense, Primeaux is a pioneer, as many farmers have replicated the long-tail breeding to make their peppers appear menacing. Although the SHU peaks at 1,469,000, you can expect a fruity-to-floral flavour.

3. 7 Pot Douglah (Chocolate Douglah)

7 pot douglah

Nicknamed ‘Chocolate,’ the 7 Pot Douglah is no sweet treat. Despite being ranked at third with a 1,853,936 SHU, this Trinidadian pepper is well-known in the pepper community as having the best flavour – sweet, fruity and nutty. Here’s a fun fact: this is the hottest pepper that is not red. The unripe pepper is green then gradually turns into a dark brown or deep purple with several pimples developing onto the surface.

2. Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Blend (Moruga Scorpion)

scorpion pepper

This pepper has only recently been identified by the New Mexico State University in 2012. The Moruga Scorpion is measured at 2,000,000 SHU and was created by a farmer called Wahid Ogeer from Moruga, Trinidad and Tobago. Although the pepper sits second on our list, it has not been certified by the Guinness World Record’s book. That doesn’t take away from its flavour. It has a fruity taste but with just one bite, the heat continuously intensifies. Scorpion is a cool name but I am definitely sensing a reptilian theme here.

1. Carolina Reaper

carolina reaper

Drum roll, please! The Carolina Reaper was entered into the Guinness World Record in 2013 as the hottest pepper in the world; however, it was beaten in 2018 by… Itself! After another test, the Carolina Reaper tested 71,000 SHU higher for a whopping total of 2,271,000 SHU. To put this into perspective, that is 200x hotter than a jalapeño. The pepper was originally named “HP22BNH7” but was subsequently changed because of its pointed tail. The story behind it is even cooler. Ed Currie bred this pepper at Fort Mill, South Carolina after finding an interest in the health benefits of spicy peppers. His family has a long history of heart disease and cancer but found that indigenous cultures, who eat hot peppers around the world had extremely small cases of these diseases. The Carolina Reaper has a sweet and fruity undertone before the heat levels start rising.

Would you try any of the peppers on this list? Let us know in the comments below.

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