The title of “hottest pepper in the world” is something that’s challenged more often than you may expect. Every year, farmers and other hot pepper cultivators find new ways to hybridize chilies and utilize their environment (soil, water, sunlight) to create peppers that will combat for the top position, if not beat it. Below we break out the hottest peppers based on potential peak heat on the Scoville scale (via their total Scoville heat units or SHU). Each chili pepper has a range of spiciness possible, so some of the chilies below may rank lower than they would if we measured by floor heat and average overall heat. See our full hot pepper list here to see our heat rankings of 150+ chilies.
The five most popular hottest peppers (by interest on PepperScale)
- Ghost Pepper: It may not be on the milder side of super-hots, but it still packs a punch and interest is always extremely high. It’s more accessible than most extreme chilies.
- Carolina Reaper: Currently the official hottest pepper in the world and a chili with immediate name recognition.
- Pepper X: A dark horse for the hottest title with an ominous name.
- Apollo Pepper: Made by the same maker as Pepper X and the Reaper, but drawing popularity of its own.
- Dragon’s Breath Pepper: It’s one of the tinier super-hots, but it sure delivers on heat.
Hottest peppers in the world (in maximum SHU order)
|CHILI PEPPER||MINIMUM SHU||MAXIMUM SHU|
|7 Pot Jonah||800,000||1,200,000|
|Trinidad 7 Pot||1,000,000||1,200,000|
|7 Pot Primo||800,000||1,268,250|
|7 Pot Barrackpore||1,000,000||1,300,000|
|7 Pot Brain Strain||1,000,000||1,350,000|
|Death Spiral Pepper||N/D||1,500,000|
|7 Pot Douglah||923,889||1,853,986|
|Trinidad Moruga Scorpion||1,200,000||2,000,000|
|Apocalypse Scorpion Pepper||1,400,000||2,000,000|
|Komodo Dragon Pepper||1,400,000||2,200,000|
|Dragon’s Breath Pepper||N/D||2,480,000|
IMPORTANT: Let the names of these chilies – like Scorpion and Reaper – be a warning. These are the spiciest peppers around – holders of multiple Guinness world records and the base for many of the hottest hot sauces around. They all make jalapeño peppers look like child’s play.
And while their differences in Scoville heat units may look vast, your experience will be similar when handling each. These are dangerous chilies, and, as such, they must be handled carefully. If you’re going to dance with the devil, wear kitchen gloves, eye goggles, and take great care throughout the cooking process. Know, too, how to combat chili burn to keep yourself safe.
Ghost Pepper — 855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU
It really says a lot about the state of super-hot peppers when the notorious ghost pepper – once Guinness Book champ – barely cracks the top 15 hottest peppers in the world. The ghost pepper (a.k.a. bhut jolokia) held the Guinness title for hottest chili pepper in 2007, so it has gotten a lot of fame over the years. In fact, some of its non-culinary uses have given it notoriety. Residents of India use the ghost pepper as a way to keep wild elephants away. They incorporate it into smoke bombs and even smear the pepper onto fences. Those elephants definitely don’t want to tangle with this pepper, but you can if you like!
7 Pot Jonah — 800,000 to 1,200,000 SHU
7 Pot peppers abound among the hottest peppers in the world. The 7 Pot Jonah is much like the traditional 7 Pot pepper below, but bigger in size and (some say) even fruitier in flavor (if you can get past the extreme heat). They can dip down in heat below the level of a ghost pepper, but at their peak, they’ll easily beat out the ghost by over 150,0000 Scoville units.
Trinidad 7 Pot Pepper — 1,000,000 to 1,200,000 SHU
The common variety of the Trinidad 7 Pot pepper is a killer in the kitchen. It equals the peak heat of the Jonah strain, but with a higher heat floor that guarantees this chili is close to the top end of a ghost pepper, no matter what. 7 Pot peppers get their name for how far their extreme heat can go. One chili can easily spice up seven pots of stew – hence 7 Pot peppers.
Infinity Pepper — 1,067,286 to 1,250,000 SHU
For a brief 2 weeks in 2011, the Infinity pepper held the Guinness Book of World Records title as the hottest pepper in the world, before being replaced by the Naga Viper. It stole the crown from the ghost pepper, and it’s easy to see that both it and the ghost have been relegated far down the super-hot line since that time. Infinity pepper is a good name as the chili has a slow burn, like the ghost pepper, that seems to last a lifetime.
7 Pot Primo — 800,000 to 1,268,250 SHU
The Primo hybrid is a cross between a Naga Morich and a Trinidad 7 Pot pepper. Its heat level is at minimum the level of a ghost pepper with the chance to cross into the world of hotter chilies like the Moruga Scorpion. The 7 Pot Primo is known for its pronounced scorpion-like tail, giving the chili a real edge in the looks department, even among the hottest peppers around. This chili was founded by Troy Primeaux (hence the “Primo” name.)
7 Pot Barrackpore — 1,000,000 to 1,300,000 SHU
Coming in bigger and hotter than most other 7 Pots, the 7 Pot Barrackpore is a real force among the world’s hottest peppers. What it has extra in heat, though, it loses some in overall flavor. It’s a little more bitter and less fruity than other super-hot chilies.
7 Pot Brain Strain — 1,000,000 to 1,350,000 SHU
The name’s the thing with this super-hot chili strain. The 7 Pot Brain Strain truly strains the brain in heat-factor, but the pod also looks a lot like a human brain in shape, folded and round. It’s a popular 7 Pot because of its fun look and mega-spiciness.
Naga Viper — 900,000 to 1,382,118 SHU
The Naga Viper has quite the pedigree behind it. It’s a hybrid cross between three super-hot chilies – the ghost pepper, the Naga Morich, and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. In 2011 it took the official Guinness Book title as world’s hottest chili pepper, beating out the Infinity pepper. It lost the title in 2012, but still few chilies have held the title making the Naga Viper one to know among super-hots. It has the high heat of a scorpion pepper with the slow burn of a ghost pepper.
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T — 800,000 to 1,463,700 SHU
The “Butch T” is a strain of the Trinidad Scorpion pepper, and for 3 years it held the Guinness Book title for world’s hottest pepper. It ranks here at #7 for its peak range, but it tends to average out to a hotter temperature than the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (which has the much higher potential peak heat). The “Butch T” gets its name from Butch Taylor, the developer of this super spicy chili.
Naga Morich — 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 SHU
A relative of the ghost pepper, the Naga Morich (also known as the serpent chili), starts in heat where the ghost pepper ends. Its floor is 1 million SHU, compared to the ghost pepper’s peak heat of 1,041,427 SHU. It has a sweet, almost floral flavor and a slow burn heat.
Dorset Naga — 1,000,000 to 1,598,227 SHU
The Dorset Naga is sort of a super Naga Morich. It was developed by choosing the seeds of the best possible Naga Morich chilies, creating a popular pepper in itself with a little extra heat. But the flavors (sweet and floral) are similar between these two peppers.
7 Pot Douglah — 923,889 to 1,853,986 SHU
The 7 Pot Douglah is not your typical 7 Pot pepper. It ages to a chocolate-brown and has more of a sweet and nutty flavor than fruity. And in terms of heat, it’s a major uptick from other 7 Pots – at its peak it nears the 2 million Scoville heat unit mark, which only a few chilies ever come close to (or surpass).
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion — 1,200,000 to 2,000,000 SHU
Sporting a killer name, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion is from Trinidad and Tobago and gets its moniker from its scorpion-like “tail” that looks like the stinger of, you guessed it, a scorpion. Its heat at its potential peak hits 2 million Scoville heat units which places the Moruga Scorpion among the peppers that can be hotter than many pepper sprays. The Trinidad Scorpion chocolate (the brown sub-variety) falls also within these Scoville heat boundaries as well.
Komodo Dragon Pepper — 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU
With comparable heat to our #1 hottest pepper in the world, the Komodo Dragon has face-melting spiciness. There’s a sneaky sweet heat to this super-hot pepper – like the ghost pepper it’s a slow burn that doesn’t hit you upon the first bite, but builds over time into a firestorm. Interestingly, the Komodo Dragon chili is unique in the fact that it found its way into a major supermarket’s store shelves. It’s sold at TESCO stores in the United Kingdom.
Carolina Reaper — 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU
As of November 2013, the aptly named Carolina Reaper has been the Guinness Book of World Record’s official hottest pepper in the world. It’s a United States hot pepper variety (South Carolina) with insane heat, coming in from 1,400,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) up to a mind and taste bud boggling 2,200,000 SHU. That’s essentially 200,000 SHU hotter than the hottest possible Scorpion pepper. Put it another way, it’s a whole habanero hotter in terms of peak spiciness, and at this top level, it blows past many pepper sprays. The Carolina Reaper has a fruitiness to it, and the PuckerButt Pepper Company (founded by Ed Currie, the grower behind the Reaper) have grown it to be a super-hot that doesn’t skimp on the overall flavor. That is if you can handle the heat, and that’s a big ‘if’!
Honorable Mentions (potentially the spiciest of them all)
Our honorable mentions sport chili peppers hotter than even the Carolina Reaper, but don’t have the track record on consistent heat (yet) to take the official throne as hottest pepper in the world. Still, you should get to know these incredibly super-hot chilies as their names will only grow in prominence.
Death Spiral Pepper: 1,300,000 to 1,500,000 SHU
Otherwise known simply as the Death pepper, this super-hot chili is a hybrid of a Naga Bubblegum and a Naga Viper. It’s a wicked mix and rather unpredictable at the moment. The heat ranges widely, but tends to hit near the Carolina Reaper range. Its colors and shape, too, vary from fruit to fruit. At some point, when the strain is stable, we’ll see where it lands, but for now know it’s among the hottest peppers around.
Apocalypse Scorpion Pepper — 1,400,000+ SHU
Also simply called “Apocalypse pepper”, this scorpion chili packs around the same weight as the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, but the jury is still out on its consistent performance on heat. It could top the Carolina Reaper, but it’s likely not going to touch one of the incredibly hot contenders further down on the list. Still, it’s one wicked looking (and tasting) chili, with a sweet, floral flavor behind its extreme spiciness.
Dragon’s Breath Pepper — 2,480,000 SHU
The Dragon’s Breath has received a lot of attention in 2017 for its potentially record-breaking spiciness. Put it this way, the Dragon’s Breath was originally grown for medicinal use, to use its high level of capsaicin as an anesthetic. Initial tests indicated a peak Scoville rating of 2,480,000 SHU. That would easily beat the Carolina Reaper, but more testing and official Guinness records judging are in order to definitively declare the Dragon’s Breath chili as the winner of the hottest peppers top spot. For now, it’s an honorable mention as an extreme chili even among extreme chilies.
Pepper X — 3,180,000 SHU
The Puckerbutt Pepper Company – the makers of the #1 ranking Carolina Reaper – have another trick up their super-hot sleeve. Pepper X is said to be double the heat (yes, double) of the Reaper and a hefty 700,000 Scoville heat units above even the Dragon’s Breath. This is a maddening level of heat, yet – like the Dragon’s Breath – it has not been verified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Time will tell if this chili meets the standards needed to take the top spot among the hottest peppers in the world.
Apollo Pepper — 3,000,000+ SHU
Smokin Ed Currie (the founder of Puckerbutt) is en fuego with another crazy-hot chili. The Apollo pepper is a hybrid of the Pepper X and the Carolina Reaper, and all signs point to it being a contender for the title of hottest pepper. But, like Pepper X, the Apollo pepper has not been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. We shall see if this serious chili has the super-hot staying power to grab the title.
Must-read related posts
- What Is Capsaicin? Learn all about the compound behind chili pepper spiciness.
- What is the Scoville scale? Discover the story behind the famous pepper heat scale.
- What are Scoville heat units? We talk about SHU a lot, especially when discussing the hottest peppers out there. Know what’s what about SHU.
- What is Capsicum Chinense? This species of chilies holds the hottest of the hot. Learn all about it.
- How To Grow Hotter Peppers: If you have a green thumb and love extreme chilies, then you’ll want to consider how to maximize their overall heat while growing them.
- Does Cooking Peppers Make Them Hotter? What happens when you cook a chili? This is excellent intel if you’re trying to maximize spiciness in a dish.