For the adventurous, nothing compares to the adrenaline rush of a perfectly grown, beautifully prepared pepper. In addition to gracing some of our favorite dishes, hot peppers can improve circulation, increase metabolic rate, and boost dopamine. Of course, when it comes to crowning the hottest pepper on earth, every corner of the globe seems to have something special to offer, which is why we decided to seek out the 10 hottest peppers in the world.
The “heat” of peppers is determined using the Scoville scale or Scoville heat units (SHU), which measures the degree of dilution you would need to no longer taste the spice. For some context, Tabasco (at its spiciest) comes in at about 5,000 SHU. Also, note that spiciness can vary from pepper to pepper depending on factors like size.
10. Ghost Pepper
Also known as Bhut Jolokia, the Ghost Pepper is a vicious contender among the hottest peppers in the world. Known for its smoky heat, it’s become a trendy pick as a cooking spice and for alcohol infusions. The Ghost Pepper measures about 1,041,427 SHU.
9. Rusalka's Revenge
At just over 1,100,000 SHU, Rusalka’s Revenge is a lesser-known but wickedly spicy top pick among the hottest peppers in the world.
8. 7-Pot Red Giant
Like a few of the peppers on this list, the 7-Pot Red Giant hails from a strain of ultra-hot peppers native to Trinidad. The “7 Pot” nomenclature was given due to the pepper purportedly being hot enough to spice up seven pots of stew. This pepper comes in at 1,200,000 SHU.
7. 7-Pot Primo
Another memorable member of the 7-Pot clan, the Primo variant isn’t just insanely hot at 1,268,250 SHU, but it also has a daunting, distinctively sharp tail at its base.
6. 7-Pot Barrackpore
The hottest picks of this pepper boast no fewer than 1,300,000 SHU. This one is also of Trinidadian origin.
5. Naga Viper
The Naga Viper clocks in at 1,382,118 SHU, and true to its name, it definitely has a bite. This hot pepper hails from the UK, making it one of the few world’s hottest peppers to have been developed in Europe. It was even briefly named the hottest chili in the world in 2011.
4. Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
At a whopping 1,463,700 SHU, the Butch T held the world record for hottest pepper on earth in 2011, taking the crown from the Naga Viper. This pepper comes from Australia, where it was created by gastromasochist Butch Taylor.
3. 7-Pot Douglah
Known for its unique burgundy tone, the 7-Pot Douglah is the hottest of the famed 7-Pot strain, measuring up to 1,853,986 SHU. Also of Trinidadian origin, this hot pepper is enjoyed in a variety of cooking traditions, both powdered and infused.
2. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
Less than 200,000 SHU shy of the world record, the Moruga Scorpion is one of the hottest peppers in the world at 2,000,000 SHU. It’s also a native of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
1. Carolina Reaper
At 2,200,000 SHU, this pepper is officially the hottest pepper in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The Carolina Reaper was initially developed as a cross between the Red Habanero and Pakistani Naga. As if the bright red exterior wasn’t enough of a warning, this pepper has a distinctive tail at its base that looks like a spear.
Bray M. What is the Scoville scale? The Story Behind the Heat. Pepperscale. Updated September 5, 2019.