The hottest pepper in the world

Hottest Peppers in The World that Burst with Heat and Flavor

By: Holistic Wow Last updated: Feb 2, 2024

Peppers are not just culinary ingredients but a fascination for many due to their intense heat and unique flavors. The quest to identify the world’s hottest peppers has led to the creation of some fiery contenders, each vying for the top spot in terms of Scoville Heat Units (SHU). This article delves into the realm of these scorching peppers, exploring the scale used to measure their heat and presenting a list of the hottest varieties known today.

How is Pepper Hotness Measured?

Pepper hotness is gauged using the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU), which measures capsaicinoid concentration. Developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, it initially relied on human taste tests. Today, high-performance liquid chromatography accurately quantifies capsaicinoids, translating them into SHU for a standardized heat assessment.

1. Apollo Pepper – MAX SHU: 3,000,000

Apollo pepper
SHU2,500,000 - 3,000,000
Median SHU2,750,000
FlavorSweet, earthy and extremely hot
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
OriginUnited States
UsesHot sauce, not for home use or cooking

The Apollo pepper, an incredibly hot chili, tops our list with a staggering maximum SHU of 3,000,000. This pepper is the result of crossing the notorious Carolina Reaper and the equally formidable Pepper X. Its heat is not just intense but also surprising the unprepared with a gradual, escalating burn. The Apollo pepper, known for its extreme heat, also boasts a fruity and slightly floral flavor. While not available commercially as a raw pepper, it has been uniquely incorporated into Last Dab Apollo hot sauce, offering a daring taste experience for enthusiasts of extreme heat.

2. Pepper X – MAX SHU: 2,693,000

Pepper X
SHU2,693,000 - 2,693,000
Median SHU2,693,000
FlavorSweet, fruity and extremely hot and pungent
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
OriginUnited States
UsesHot sauce, not for home use or cooking

Pepper X, developed by Ed Currie of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company, set the Guinness World Record in 2023 as the world’s hottest pepper, with a SHU of 2,693,000. Pepper X, created by the same cultivator responsible for the Carolina Reaper and Apollo pepper, offers a fruity and slightly sweet flavor, rapidly escalating to intense heat. Pepper X is currently available exclusively in the form of hot sauce, making it a sought-after item for hot sauce enthusiasts seeking to experience its extreme heat.

3. Dragon’s Breath Pepper – MAX SHU: 2,480,000

Dragon's Breath Pepper

Dragon's Breath pepper
SHU2,480,000 - 2,480,000
Median SHU2,480,000
FlavorSweet, Fruity
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
OriginUnited Kingdom
UsesExtreme hot sauces

With a scorching maximum SHU of 2,480,000, the Dragon’s Breath pepper is a contender for the world’s hottest pepper title. Developed in Wales, UK, this pepper was initially intended for use in medical treatment for its numbing properties. Due to its extraordinary heat, it must be handled with extreme caution. A sharp, immediate heat characterizes the Dragon’s Breath pepper and is yet to be fully introduced into the culinary world owing to its extreme spiciness.

4. Carolina Reaper Pepper – MAX SHU: 2,200,000

Carolina Reaper

Carolina reaper pepper
SHU1,400,000 - 2,200,000
Median SHU1,800,000
FlavorFruity and sweet, with an intense and lasting heat
SpeciesCapsicum chinense, Hybrid (Naga pepper x Habanero)
OriginSouth Carolina, USA
UsesHot sauces, salsas, chili, marinades, etc.

The Carolina Reaper, previously recognized as the world’s hottest pepper, has a SHU between 1,400,000 and 2,200,000. Bred by Ed Currie in South Carolina, this pepper is renowned for its unique, stinger-like tail. It offers a sweet, fruity flavor that precedes its intense and lasting heat. While incredibly spicy, the Carolina Reaper is popular among heat seekers for its flavor profile and is used in sauces, stews, and spicy challenges.

5. Komodo Dragon Pepper – MAX SHU: 2,200,000

Komodo dragon pepper
SHU1,400,000 - 2,200,000
Median SHU1,800,000
FlavorExtremely hot, fruity
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
OriginUnited Kingdom
UsesHot sauces, dried spice

Matching the Carolina Reaper in heat, the Komodo Dragon pepper, with a maximum SHU of 2,200,000, is known for its delayed heat sensation. Initially, it presents a fruity taste, slowly giving way to an overwhelming heat. This UK-bred pepper has found its way into culinary uses, especially in hot sauces and spicy dishes for those who dare to challenge its fiery nature.

6. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper – MAX SHU: 2,000,000

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper

Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper
SHU1,200,000 - 2,000,000
Median SHU1,600,000
FlavorSweet and fruity
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
OriginTrinidad and Tobago
UsesHot sauces, marinades, and as a seasoning

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper, with a heat range of 1,200,000 to 2,000,000 SHU, is one of the most intense peppers in the world. Originating from Trinidad and Tobago, this pepper is both sweet and fruity, followed by an intense and long-lasting heat. Its name derives from its scorpion-stinger-like tail, and it’s a favorite among those who enjoy a significant spicy kick in their food. Moreover, this pepper is often used in hot sauces and spicy dishes, providing a profound depth of flavor alongside its formidable heat.

7. Chocolate Bhutlah Pepper – MAX SHU: 2,000,000

Chocolate Bhutlah Pepper

Chocolate bhutlah pepper
SHU1,500,000 - 2,000,000
Median SHU1,750,000
FlavorExtremely hot, fruity, smoky and earthy undertones
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
UsesHot sauces, dried spice

The Chocolate Bhutlah pepper, boasting a heat level between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 SHU, is a cross between the Bhut Jolokia and the 7 Pot Douglah. It gets its name from its rich, chocolatey color. The heat of the Chocolate Bhutlah builds slowly but reaches an almost unbearable intensity, making it a challenge even for seasoned chili heads. Its unique flavor profile and creeping heat make it a prized ingredient for hot sauces and spicy culinary experiments.

8. 7 Pot Douglah – MAX SHU: 1,853,986

7 Pot Douglah

7 Pot Douglah
SHU923,889 - 1,853,986
Median SHU1,388,938
FlavorExtremely hot, sweet, fruity, nutty and earthy
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
UsesHot sauces, spice mixes

The 7 Pot Douglah, with SHU ranging from 923,889 to 1,853,986, is famous for its dark brown, almost purple skin. It’s one of the hottest and rarest of the 7 Pot varieties from Trinidad. This pepper is known for its complex flavor profile, blending fiery heat with sweet, fruity, nutty, and earthy undertones. The heat of the 7 Pot Douglah is intense and long-lasting, often used in hot sauces and spicy dishes.

9. Naga Morich – MAX SHU: 1,500,000

Naga Morich

Naga morich
SHU1,000,000 - 1,500,000
Median SHU1,250,000
FlavorExtremely hot, fruity and sweet
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
OriginBangladesh, India
UsesHot sauces, curries, spice mixes

The Naga Morich originates from Bangladesh and is also grown in Northeast India, boasting a heat level of up to 1,500,000 SHU. It is closely related to the Bhut Jolokia or Ghost pepper. Known for its slower but intense heat, the Naga Morich is often used in South Asian cuisine, adding significant heat to any dish. Its fiery nature makes it a popular ingredient in traditional and contemporary recipes, infusing meals with a depth of heat that is both challenging and flavorful.

10. Death Spiral Pepper – MAX SHU: 1,400,000

Death Spiral Pepper

Death spiral pepper
SHU1,300,000 - 1,400,000
Median SHU1,350,000
FlavorExtremely hot, fruity, sweet
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
OriginUnited Kingdom
UsesHot sauces, dried spice

The Death Spiral pepper, with a maximum SHU of 1,400,000, is named for its unique, spiraled shape. This pepper is known for its sweet and fruity taste that quickly turns into an intense, spiraling heat. Adding to its appeal, this pepper is often used in fiery hot sauces and daring culinary experiments, where its dramatic heat can be showcased. The Death Spiral pepper is a challenge for even the most daring chili enthusiasts. Its vibrant color and distinctive shape make it a visually appealing addition to gourmet dishes requiring a fiery component.

11. Naga Viper – MAX SHU: 1,382,118

Naga Viper
SHU1,382,118 - 1,382,118
Median SHU1,382,118
FlavorSweet, fruity, tangy with a very intense heat
SpeciesHybrid of Capsicum chinense x Capsicum frutescence
OriginUnited Kingdom
UsesHot sauces, barbecue sauces, curries, stir-fries etc.

The Naga Viper, with a SHU of 1,382,118, is a hybrid of three of the hottest peppers in the world. It was briefly recognized as the world’s hottest pepper. Alongside its fiery reputation, the Naga Viper is renowned for its challenging heat in competitive eating contests and spicy food challenges. The heat of the Naga Viper is instant and overwhelming, combined with a fruity undertone, making it a popular choice for extreme hot sauces. This pepper’s unique blend of heat and flavor makes it a sought-after ingredient for adventurous chefs looking to push the boundaries of spicy cuisine.

12. Infinity Chili – MAX SHU: 1,250,000

Infinity chili
SHU1,067,286 - 1,250,000
Median SHU1,158,643
FlavorVery hot, fruity, sweet
SpeciesCapsicum chinense
UsesHot sauces, spice mixes

The Infinity chili, with a SHU ranging from 1,067,286 to 1,250,000, once held the title of the world’s hottest pepper. It is known for its immediate and explosive heat, which can be quite a shock even to seasoned pepper lovers. Its extreme heat and flavor that can enhance a dish without overwhelming its inherent tastes make the Infinity chili a fascinating choice for culinary enthusiasts. The Infinity chili is often used in small quantities to add a significant heat boost to dishes. Its versatility makes it a favorite among chefs and home cooks who enjoy experimenting with high heat levels in their culinary creations.

13. Ghost Pepper – MAX SHU: 1,041,427

Ghost Pepper

Ghost pepper
SHU855,000 - 1,041,427
Median SHU948,214
FlavorFruity and slightly sweet, with a very intense heat
SpeciesHybrid of Capsicum chinense x Capsicum frutescens
OriginNorthern India
UsesHot sauces, salsas, curries, pickling, etc.

The Ghost pepper, also known as Bhut Jolokia, hails from India with a SHU of up to 1,041,427. It was once the world’s hottest pepper and is still revered for its intense heat. Beyond its heat, the Ghost pepper is appreciated for its fruity and slightly sweet flavor, which adds a unique dimension to dishes. The Ghost pepper has a slow-building heat that surprises its consumers, making it a staple in Indian cuisine and a popular choice for hot sauces worldwide. Its versatility in traditional and modern cooking has made it an iconic pepper in the spicy food community.

Handling the World’s Hottest Peppers

When dealing with the world’s hottest peppers, such as those on our list, extreme caution is essential. These peppers are not only culinary ingredients but potent natural substances. Here are some guidelines to handle them safely:

  1. Wear Protective Gear: Always wear gloves when handling hot peppers. The capsaicin in these peppers can cause severe skin irritation.
  2. Avoid Touching Your Face: Especially your eyes and nose, as the oils from the peppers can cause intense burning.
  3. Work in a Well-Ventilated Area: The fumes from cutting or cooking these peppers can irritate your respiratory system.
  4. Use Small Amounts: Due to their extreme heat, use these peppers sparingly in cooking to avoid overpowering your dishes and making them inedible.
  5. Have Dairy Products Handy: In case of accidental ingestion, dairy products like milk or yogurt can help neutralize the burn.
  6. Dispose of Waste Properly: Ensure that all remains of the pepper, including seeds and gloves, are disposed of safely.
  7. Educate Yourself: Know the heat levels of different peppers and start with milder varieties if you are new to cooking with hot peppers.


In this exploration of the world’s hottest peppers, we’ve seen a variety of peppers ranging from the formidable Apollo pepper to the renowned Ghost pepper. These peppers are not just about their Scoville Heat Units; they bring unique flavors and culinary challenges. They are revered in various cultures for their heat and flavor and have even found their way into competitive eating and culinary innovations. However, their handling requires care and respect due to their intense heat. Whether you’re a seasoned chili head or a curious food enthusiast, these peppers offer an adventurous journey through the world of spice and flavor.

FAQ about the hottest peppers

What pepper is hotter than a Carolina Reaper?

The Carolina Reaper, known for its extreme heat, has been surpassed by Pepper X and the Apollo pepper regarding Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Pepper X, developed by Ed Currie of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company, set a Guinness World Record in 2023 with a rating of 2,693,000 SHU. The Apollo pepper, a product of crossing the Carolina Reaper with Pepper X, boasts an astounding heat level of 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 SHU. These peppers represent the pinnacle of heat, with Pepper X currently holding the title as the world's hottest pepper and the Apollo pepper following closely behind in terms of sheer spiciness.

What's the hottest pepper 2024?

As of the latest information, Pepper X is the world's hottest pepper, with a Scoville rating of 2,693,000 units. The Apollo pepper, a cross between the Carolina Reaper and Pepper X, is a top contender with a Scoville rating of 2,500,000 to 3,000,000. The chili world continuously evolves, with new varieties and hybrids that could surpass these records. These developments are driven by natural evolution and the innovations of chili breeders like Ed Currie, who continue pushing the boundaries of capsaicin levels in peppers.

What is the number 1 hottest pepper?

Currently, Pepper X is the world's hottest pepper, with a Guinness World Record-setting 2,693,000 Scoville Heat Units. Close on its heels is the Apollo pepper, with its Scoville rating of 2,500,000 to 3,000,000 SHU. The Apollo pepper is an innovative creation by Ed Currie, combining the heat of the Carolina Reaper and Pepper X. These peppers are not only remarkable for their heat but also for the flavors and culinary experiences they offer, making them highly sought after by chili enthusiasts and spicy food connoisseurs.

How hot is 1.4 million Scoville units?

A Scoville Heat Unit rating of 1.4 million, as found in some of the world's hottest peppers like the Carolina Reaper, signifies extreme and intense spiciness. This heat level is exponentially higher than common peppers like jalapeños and habaneros, and consuming a pepper with this SHU can be a profound sensory experience. The sensation goes beyond a mere burn; it can be a complex interplay of intense heat, pain, and even a unique flavor profile. Peppers with this heat level are typically enjoyed by those with a high tolerance for spiciness. They are often used in small quantities to add significant heat to dishes without overwhelming the overall flavor.

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About the Author
Holistic Wow

This content was created by multiple HolisticWow editors. HolisticWow celebrates these natural ingredients for their flavors and significant health benefits, rooted in ancient traditions and supported by modern science.

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