What Is the Hottest Chili Pepper in the World-Ranked by Scoville Heat Units
The Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency (spiciness or “heat”) of chili peppers, as recorded in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), based on the concentration of capsaicinoids, among which capsaicin is the predominant component. The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, whose 1912 method is known as the Scoville organoleptic test. The Scoville organoleptic test is the most practical method for estimating SHU and is a subjective assessment derived from the capsaicinoid sensitivity by people experienced with eating hot chilis.
An alternative method, using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), can be used to analytically quantify the capsaicinoid content as an indicator of pungency. As of 2011, the subjective organoleptic test has been largely superseded by analytical methods such as HPLC.
What are the hottest peppers in the world, and which are the mildest? We ranked 110 different types of peppers to find the hottest ones on the Scoville heat scale. While some peppers are considered to be sweet, with a Scoville Heat Units (SHU) measurement of 0, others have reached more than 2 million on the Scoville heat scale and are considered to be the hottest peppers in the world. This hot pepper scale has become something of a challenge in recent years, with growers trying to create the next hottest pepper and claim the world title. With Scoville units reaching into the millions, our hot pepper list is not for the faint of heart! Which is the hottest pepper on this list that you’ve tried?
How Are Scovilles Units Measured?
The Scoville scale is a measurement of the heat of chili peppers and other spicy foods. The concentration of capsaicin, the chemical responsible for adding spicy heat to foods, is measured and recorded in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The Scoville heat scale was created by Wilbur Scoville, an American pharmacist. In 1912 he created a method called the Scoville Organoleptic Test. This method would extract capsaicin oil from a dried pepper and then dilute it with sugar water until a panel of professional taste-testers could no longer detect the heat. The amount of dilution needed to reach that point would determine the assigned Scoville units for each pepper.
The Scoville Organoleptic Test was imprecise due to human subjectivity, so in the 1980s, this spicy scale began to be measured using high-performance liquid chromatography. This measures the concentration of capsaicinoids, and the results are converted to Scoville Heat Units by multiplying the parts per million by 16.
The Scoville Heat Ranking of 20 Different Types of Common Peppers
- Pepper X: Scoville rating of 3,180,000
- Carolina Reaper: Scoville rating of 1,400,000–2,200,000
- Ghost Pepper: Scoville rating of 800,000–1,041,427
- Habanero: Scoville rating of 100,000–350,000
- Scotch Bonnet: Scoville rating of 100,000–350,000
- Charleston Hot: Scoville rating of 70,000–100,000
- Thai Pepper: Scoville rating of 50,000–100,000
- Tabasco Pepper: Scoville rating of 30,000–50,000
- Cayenne Pepper: Scoville rating of 30,000–50,000
- Serrano Pepper: Scoville rating of 10,000–23,000
- Sport Pepper: Scoville rating of 10,000–23,000
- Jalapeño: Scoville rating of 2,500–8,000
- Chipotle Pepper: Scoville rating of 2,500–8,000
- Cherry Bomb: Scoville rating of 2,500–5,000
- Poblano: Scoville rating of 1,000–2,000
- Ancho Pepper: Scoville rating of 1,000–1,500
- Peppadew: Scoville rating of 1,100–1,200
- Pepperoncini: Scoville rating of 100–500
- Banana Pepper: Scoville rating of 0–500
- Sweet Bell Pepper: Scoville rating of 0
What Is the Hottest Pepper in the World?
The certified hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper, at 2,200,000 Scoville units. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper as the hottest chili pepper in the world in 2018. It beat its own 2013 record by 71,000 SHU to regain its title as the hottest chili pepper in the world. To put this amount of heat into perspective, the Carolina Reaper pepper is 200 times hotter than a jalapeño.
While the Carolina Reaper is currently recognized as the hottest pepper in the world, it has some serious competition on the hot pepper scale. Pepper X, which was also grown by Smokin’ Ed Currie, has taken 10 years to develop, but it is supposed to be far hotter than the Carolina Reaper. While it’s currently awaiting verification from the Guinness World Records committee, the Pepper X Scoville units are said to have topped the hotness scale at 3,180,000; that’s almost one million Scoville units hotter than the Carolina Reaper!
The Dragon’s Breath pepper, rumored to clock in on the Scoville heat scale at 2,480,000 SHU, has never been officially tested, and an application to Guinness World Records is still awaiting confirmation. This pepper is not meant for commercial consumption and instead was developed to be used as a natural anesthetic for those with allergies to the typical anesthetics used in medical procedures.
Top 10 Hottest Peppers in the World
- Pepper X: Scoville rating of 3,180,000
- Dragon’s Breath Pepper: Scoville rating of 2,480,000
- Carolina Reaper: Scoville rating of 1,400,000-2,200,000
- Komodo Dragon Pepper: Scoville rating of 1,400,000-2,200,000
- Trinidad Moruga Scorpion: Scoville rating of 1,200,000-2,000,000
- Trinidad Scorpion Chocolate: Scoville rating of 1,200,000-2,000,000
- 7 Pot Douglah: Scoville rating of 923,889-1,853,986
- 7 Pot Brown: Scoville rating of 800,000-1,853,396
- Dorset Naga: Scoville rating of 544,000-1,598,227
- Naga Morich: Scoville rating of 1,000,000-1,500,000
Can the Hottest Pepper Kill You?
Yes, some of the hottest peppers on this chart could kill you, but you would need to eat a good amount at once for this to happen. Studies have found that 3 pounds of dried and powdered capsaicin-rich peppers, like the Ghost Pepper or the Carolina Reaper, eaten by a 150-pound person in a short period of time would be enough to kill them.
Capsaicin is a neurotoxin, and large quantities of it can cause difficulty breathing, seizures, heart attacks, and death if enough has been ingested. While eating a single pepper of a million-plus Scoville units won’t kill you, it could cause hours to days of discomfort as your body tries to digest the pepper. This is why many recommend just flavoring your food with these super-spicy peppers, rather than eating them whole.
What Is the Sweetest Pepper in the World?
The sweetest pepper in the world is the sweet bell pepper, with an SHU of 0. Bell peppers are part of the capsicum species, yet they are the only capsicum that doesn’t produce the spicy chemical capsaicin that’s found in a majority of peppers.
Bell peppers can be found in a range of colors depending on how early they were picked during their growing cycle. Green is the least ripe and therefore the most bitter, orange and yellows are sweeter, and red is the sweetest bell pepper due to being fully ripe when picked. The Purple Beauty pepper, the purple version of the common sweet bell pepper, comes in alongside it on the list of the sweetest peppers in the world, with an SHU of 0 as well.
Top 10 Sweetest Peppers in the World
- Sweet Bell Pepper: Scoville rating of 0
- Purple Beauty Pepper: Scoville rating of 0
- Gypsy Pepper: Scoville rating of 0
- Italian Sweet Pepper: Scoville rating of 1-100
- Melrose Pepper: Scoville rating of 1-100
- Tangerine Dream Pepper: Scoville rating of 0-100
- Shishito Pepper: Scoville rating of 50-200
- Carmen Italian Sweet Pepper: Scoville rating of 0-500
- Banana Pepper: Scoville rating of 0-500
- Pimento Pepper: Scoville rating of 100-500
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