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Hottest chilies in the world

It started with the news in 2004 that the Dorset Naga was the first to break the million Scoville mark. In the run-up to this, there was some news that was quickly dismissed as rumors. Now in 2017 we are already at over two million SHU with the Carolina Reaper. For the title of the “hottest chili in the world” there has been a fiery race over the last 10 years.

In SHU, sharpness is measured on the Scoville scale. It means Scoville Heat Units. Pure capsaicin has a potency of 16 million SHU. If you put two drops of capsaicin concentrate into a larger swimming pool, you could still taste the sharpness in the water. A pool of 4.5 m diameter has a capacity of about 16,000 liters.

Top Ten of the hottest chili varieties

In the list of the top ten hottest chili varieties, we start right away with the current record holder:

1. Update Oct 2023 - Pepper X - 2.69 million SHU

Now it's official: new record holder is the chili variety Pepper X.

Bred by Ed Currie, also the creator of Carolina Reaper. In 2017, Currie claimed that Pepper X would be "twice as hot as Carolina Reaper," making it the hottest chili in the world with a measurement of 3.18 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

On August 23, 2023, the Guinness Book of World Records officially recognized Pepper X as the world's hottest chili pepper, with a measurement of 2.69 million SHU

1. Carolina Reaper 2.2 million SHU

Until August 2023 (since November 2013) was Carolina Reaper the hottest chili in the world. Registered in the Guinness Book of Records. At the legendary Chile Pepper Institute of the New Mexico State University under the direction of Paul Bosland, her sharpness was measured. Carolina Reaper pods achieved sharpness values of 1.5 mil. to 2.2 mil. Scoville units.

Carolina Reaper

Whether you eat these chili peppers or spray pepper spray in your mouth makes little difference to the degree of sharpness. The official name is Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper® and was bred by Ed Currie in South Carolina.

2.Trinidad Moruga Scorpion 2.09 million SHU

In February 2012, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Chili was declared the hottest chili by the Chile Pepper Institute in New Mexico. A gorgeous chili plant, which should actually come straight from hell. Instead, it comes originally from Moruga in Trinidad and Tobago. On this planet there is only one chili which contains more capsaicin than this variety. You have to imagine: At 2,000,000 Scoville units, that fruit is one-eighth pure capsaicin.

3. 7 Pot Douglah 1.85 million SHU

One of the most beautiful and simultaneously tastiest pods in the top ten of the hottest chilies. The appearance is reminiscent of the Scorpion chili. However, the sting is not as pronounced. The 7 pot Douglah Chili stands out with a beautiful brown color. An incredibly delicious smoky taste could be tasted if pot chilies didn’t hurt so much.

Beautiful plant whose fruits change from poisonous green to dark purple and bronze-brown when ripening. Real recommendation.

4. Trinidad Scorpion Butch T 1.5 million SHU

Butch Taylor bred this variety in Australia. Officially, it carried the title as the hottest chili in the world in the Guinness Book of Records from 2011 to 2013. For a particularly hot chili, the surface is amazingly smooth. For the other hot chilies, a scratchy surface is typical.

Fruits of Trinidad Scorpion Butch T shine in an orange-red color. Bushy plant that grows handsome about 80 cm high.

5. Komodo Dragon 1.4 million SHU

The British are not exactly known for their extremely spicy food. Komodo dragon chili is proof to the contrary. It is bred and cultivated by a company in Bedfordshire, which used to grow cucumbers. The 1.4 mil Scoville units of hot chilies are delivered to supermarkets. Two employees of a supermarket, who tried the chilies at a test meal, regretted the brutal hotness shortly afterwards. However, they were believed no one should eat the chili whole. Here is a report from the English DailyMail. If you don’t understand much English: pictures are worth a thousand words.

6. Naga Viper 1.38 million SHU

The Naga Viper, also from England, made it to the top of the hottest chilies for a short time in 2011. Probably she was crossed from the three varieties Naga Morich, Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion.

Naga Viper seeds are sometimes difficult to obtain. Maybe because she (still) is considered a relatively unstable hybrid.

7. 7 Pot Barrackpore 1.20 million SHU

Among the many 7 pot varieties one of the milder varieties. In the list some 7 pot chilies have been omitted. They were from rank 3 - 10 otherwise the most positions. For example the 7 pot - Burgundy, Jonah, Brain Strain, Primo, Infinity and red, brown, orange, yellow. These chili plants come from the Caribbean, are fiery hot and have a fruity Habanero taste.

8. Bhut Jolokia 1.04 million SHU

With this cross between a Capsicum chinense and frutescens, the fireworks around the throne of the world’s hottest chili began. For the first time the firewall was broken by a million Scoville. Before the Bhut Jolokia (ghost chili) became official in 2007, the rumor mill was bubbling. Many names circulate through the internet.

Chili growers did not believe that such high levels of pungency were possible. After all, chili from Assam (India) was the record holder in terms of pungency from 2007 to 2011. Depending on the cultivation area in northeastern India, it also bore names such as Naga Morich, Bih Jolokia and Naga Jolokia. Some different Jolokia varieties differ only in the size of the fruit.

9. Red Savina Habanero 0.5 million SHU

Maybe there was something like the Red Savina Habanero affair. She made the Guinness Book of Records with 577,000 SHU in 2006. In later measurements the Red Savina Chili had “only” 350,000 Scoville units. Restlessness spread among the breeders. A certification as a leader pays off in big money. In today’s measurements, the top and average values are openly communicated. A scattering of the capsaicin content is completely normal.

The Red Savina Habanero was cultivated by Frank Garcia and his company. GNS Spices and Mr. Garcia bred a particularly beautiful chili plant and probably represents the crowning glory among the Habaneros.

10. Scotch Bonnet 0.35 million SHU

Perhaps many other varieties would have had to occupy 10th place. But because Scotch Bonnet Habanero is one of the hottest chilies in the world, she has the honor of being the last on the top ten list.

Striking is the shape of the Scotch Bonnet from which it also got its name: Scotch Bonnet. The flat chili pepper comes from the Caribbean. It is from there that it gets its fiery fruitiness. Many Habanero chili sauce manufacturers rely on the good taste and juiciness of chili. It is therefore cultivated in large quantities in commercial agriculture on Jamaica. While most of the extremely hot chili varieties listed here reach a growth height of about 80 cm, the tartan-hooded Habanero manages to grow to 1.2 meters.

Comparison with Tabasco

For comparison: Tabasco sauce has about 2500 Scoville. Tabasco pods come to 100,000 Scoville. If there are more than 500,000 pods on the Scoville Scale, a sharpness level of 10+++ is indicated.

Dragon Breath 2.48 million SHU

According to rumors, the “Dragon Breath” should reach 2.4 million SHU. If this is true, this would be a new record. But there are many doubts about it. The university, with which the Welsh Mike Smith is said to have bred and experimented with the chili, has not reported this itself. The bubbly surface that comes from a mutation and is typical for chilies that are exceptionally hot is not visible on the published pictures.

Simultaneously, confirmed publication should also be issued, but this is not the case. All this tempts us to see the news about the dragon breath chili as a duck.

Safety Instructions

You should wear gloves when working with spicy pods. With these insanely spicy varieties, it’s mandatory. When harvesting them, protective clothing is even worn along with glasses and mask. One does not play with the fieriest Capsicum varieties.