Devil’s Tongue Pepper: Hotter Than Hell

Fruity sweet with no-doubt devilish heat…

Scoville heat units (SHU): 125,000 to 325,000
Jalapeño reference point: 16 to 130 times hotter
Origin: USA
Products and seeds: Devil’s Tongue on Amazon

There’s no hiding what to expect from Devil’s Tongue pepper – it’s all in the name. There’s mega-heat here that’s embodied in a twisted and folded habanero-like shape – like the misshaped tongue of the devil himself. The pepper’s extreme heat, fruity flavor, and vibrant hue make the Devil’s Tongue perfect for extreme-eating salsas and sauces.

How hot are Devil’s Tongue peppers?

These chilies map very well to habanero heat. In fact – it’s likely the case that this chili is a habanero relative that was discovered by-chance, according to pepper lore, in an Amish country habanero patch during the 1990s. It’s an origin story similar to that of the equally infamous Red Savina habanero.

No matter its origin, there’s no denying that the Devil’s Tongue is potent. Its floor (125,000 Scoville heat units) is slightly hotter than a habanero pepper’s floor (100, 000 SHU). But it also doesn’t have the potential to be quite as wickedly hot (325,000 SHU, compared to the habanero’s 350,000 SHU). That’s really nit-picking, though. You eating experience in terms of heat will be about the same. To put it in perspective, in terms of our jalapeño reference point, the Devil’s Tongue is 16 to 130 times hotter than the common jalapeño, depending on the luck of the draw. It’s on equal par with the Madame Jeanette pepper.

What do these chilies look like?

They look quite like another habanero relative – the fatalii pepper. Growing to roughly three inches long, the Devil’s tongue is both curvy and wrinkly. It tapers to a tip, giving it it’s tongue-like appearance (when you stick your tongue out to a point). Its twists and folds provide an often mean-looking exterior – fitting both for the heat in the pepper and its terrifically descriptive name.

Common Devil’s Tongue peppers mature from green to a golden yellow-orange color. It’s vibrant, adding a beautiful burst of color wherever they are grown. There are other varieties, too, that age to different colors. Red Devil’s Tongue peppers tend to be slightly hotter and sweeter, and there’s a chocolate/brown variety as well with a more subtle flavor.

What do Devil’s Tongue peppers taste like?

Like the habanero or fatalii, the Devil’s Tongue is fruity. There’s a citrus sweetness here that very much fits its vibrant color, along with a slightly tangy undertone. They are delicious if you can handle the extreme heat.

How can you use Devil’s Tongue peppers?

First – as with any extra-hot pepper, the Devil’s Tongue should be used with great care. Use gloves when handling to keep severe chili burn at bay. And know your best options to curb chili burn if it occurs.

That said, if you’re used to peppers in this range of the pepper scale, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Devil’s Tongue peppers often have slightly thicker walls than its close relatives, making them deliciously juicy in extreme salsas. They are terrific as a base for a fiery hot sauce, especially those with fruity undertones. Those thick walls also make the Devil’s Tongue a good option for hot pepper pickling. Really, if you have a use case for a habanero, you can easily swap in this comparably wicked pepper.

Where can you buy Devil’s Tongue peppers?

They aren’t nearly as common as habanero peppers, so if you’re in a brick and mortar supermarket, try the habanero for a similar heat and flavor. Look to farmer’s markets and local growers if you want to find them fresh. Or, you can try your hand at growing them yourself. Devil’s Tongue seeds are easy to buy online, and they are prolific growers. Plus, their color really adds pop to a garden or container. For as mean as this pepper can be, it’s a real beauty to behold.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 9, 2022 to include new content.
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