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The “heat,” “bite,” or “pungency” associated with hot chili peppers is what most people notice while eating them—and why most people eat them. The “hot” of chili pepper is typically described as sharp, piercing, stinging, biting, scorching, or penetrating.
Chili pepper heat is caused by chemical compounds known as capsaicinoids. There are more than 22 known capsaicinoids, with capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin normally the most concentrated. The remaining 20 capsaicinoids occur in smaller concentrations and are minor.
Most chili peppers and foods with chili pepper additives are labeled as “mild,” “medium,” or “hot.” These designations describe the heat one can expect when eating these foods. These classifications are broad and may be subjective, depending on the methods used to measure and rank heat and how hot the pepper is.
Methods To Determine Pepper Heat
Heat measurement in the hottest peppers can be done in various ways, from crude to scientific. Taking a chili pepper fruit and tasting it is a standard method of determining the general heat profile. While quick and inexpensive, this procedure may leave a lot to the taster’s imagination.
Scoville Organoleptic Test to show the hottest chili
The Scoville Organoleptic Test was the first laboratory test to assess chili peppers’ heat. It is a progressive, systematic approach. It was also what was used to create the hottest pepper chart or the spiciest pepper chart.
Human subjects are asked to taste a series of prepared chili pepper samples to measure the heat level. The samples are diluted in the lab until the tasters can no longer sense heat.
A Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) is a single unit of dilution and is what is used in the hottest peppers.
High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Measuring the Top 15 Chili Peppers
High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is the most accurate method for assessing how hot a chili pepper is. Fruit is dried and then ground in this method. The heat-causing compounds are extracted, and the extract is put into the HPLC for examination.
This approach is more expensive than the Scoville test, providing a more objective heat measurement. This approach determines the total heat present and the amounts of particular capsaicinoids.
Furthermore, many samples can be evaluated in a short amount of time. The NMSU Chili Pepper Breeding and Genetics Program has used this technology to test over 5,000 samples and found it reliable and consistent.
The Top 15 Peppers in The Hottest Pepper Chart 2022
|#||Hottest Pepper Variant||SHU (million)||Origin|
|3||Dragon’s Breath Pepper||2.48||UK|
|5||Komodo Dragon Pepper||2.2||UK|
|6||Chocolate Bhut Jolokia (Chocolate Ghost)||2.0||Northeastern India|
|7||Trinidad Mogura Scorpio||2.0||Trinidad & Tobago|
|8||7 Pot Douglah (Chocolate 7 Pot)||1.85||Trinidad|
|10||7 Pot Primo||1.47||USA|
|11||Trinidad Scorpion Butch-T||1.46||USA|
|12||Pot Brain Strain||1.3||Trinidad|
|13||Peach Bhut Jolokia (Peach Ghost Pepper)||1.0||Northeastern India|
|14||Red 7 Pot||0.78||Trinidad|
|15||Red Savina Habanero||0.50||Mexico|
Pepper X – Reportedly 3,180,000 Scoville Heat Units – Unconfirmed
Ed Currie of PuckerButt Chili Pepper Company, the creator of the official record holder (according to the Guinness Book of Records), the Carolina Reaper chili pepper, one of the hottest peppers of 2021, has now cultivated a hybrid that promises to be an uncontested champion for decades to come. At 3,180,000 SHU, it is almost twice as strong as Ed’s Carolina Reaper. So what’s the hottest pepper in 2022? Who knows
Pepper X has been challenged by many because it is not in the Guinness World Record book for the hottest chili as of the date of writing. These pepper plants get large and carry a lot of peppers to keep their owners in fruit for some time.
Apollo – +3,000,000 Scoville Heat Units – Not yet Stable
The Apollo is a cross cultivar of Ed Currie’s Pepper X and his Carolina Reaper chili pepper. Tests show a consistent score above 3 million SHU. This is CRAZY hot. These peppers can put someone in the hospital to prevent their throats from swelling. This is possibly the hottest chili in the world, but until the cultivar stabilizes, we won’t know.
The Apollo takes 2nd spot in our hottest peppers list, and is it any wonder why? It’s a beautiful pepper that’s insanely hot with an excellent taste if you can taste it before the heat kicks in.
Dragon’s Breath – 2,480 000 Scoville Heat Units
Mike Smith of St Asaph, Denbighshire, Wales, grew the Dragon’s Breath pepper plant, claiming that he wasn’t trying to breed the chili pepper for record heat or to become the world’s hottest pepper but rather to grow an attractive pepper plant. The 3rd hottest pepper was named Dragon’s Breath after the Welsh dragon.
I was born in Wales and still live here until this very day. So, of course, this pepper had to make my list. Why would I not promote something named after our country’s flag? However, this pepper doesn’t need my help to be on the hottest chili list.
Carolina Reaper – 2,200,000 – The Current Official Champion
The hottest chili pepper is Smokin Ed’s ‘Carolina Reaper,’ grown by Ed Currie of PuckerButt Pepper Company (USA), which rates at an average of 1,641,183 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), according to tests conducted by Winthrop University in South Carolina, USA, throughout 2017.
This pepper is a crossbreed between a “scorching” La Soufriere pepper and Naga Viper pepper, and it got its name Carolina Reaper Pepper due to the tail that is part of the pepper and the location it was bred.
The Guinness Book has not yet approved the other hybrids listed above of Records. Does the reaper pepper deserve the top spot in the world’s hottest peppers list? So up until now, this is the world’s hottest chili pepper and the official hottest pepper.
Komodo Dragon 2,200,000 Commercially available in supermarkets in the UK
Another super-hot pepper contender from the United Kingdom, The Komodo Dragon pepper, is available in stores nationwide. It reportedly packs a prolonged punch that lingers. It belongs on the spicy peppers list.
Another dragon pepper, this time named after the Komodo dragon, our largest lizard. They have a nasty bite, just like this pepper. The Komodo dragon chili pepper even went on sale in the Tesco superstore in the UK. How amazing is it to start finding some of the world’s hot peppers in superstores? It just shows how much their popularity is increasing. This takes 5th place in our hottest peppers list.
Chocolate Bhut Jolokia (Chocolate Ghost) – 2,000,000 Scoville Heat Units
There are several Bhut Jolokia pepper hybrids. This one matures to a dark chocolate color and is the stronger of the other hybrids tipping the 2-million SKU scale. The Chocolate Ghost Pepper / Bhut Jolokia is a natural variant of the red Bhut Jolokia Pepper.
The heat from this hot pepper may not even develop for around 45 seconds after eating. It can throw you into a false sense of security, thinking it’s not hot. Then BAM, the heat starts to build, and you are crying, sniffing, and wondering what you were thinking.
The Ghost pepper is one devil of chili, but it is hot. But there are so many hotter chili peppers ahead of it.
Trinidad Mogura Scorpion – 2,000,000 Scoville Heat Units
The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper (Capsicum chinense) is a chili pepper unique to Trinidad and Tobago’s Moruga town. The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was named the hottest pepper in 2012 by New Mexico State University’s Chili Pepper Institute, with 1.2 to 2.0 million SHU.
I grew Moruga peppers last year; wow, they are a crazy hot plant. I must admit the Moruga peppers were about the same as the scorpion peppers; at least, I could not tell. But maybe that is because I am useless with heat.
I can’t believe that this hot chili pepper is number 7 on our hottest peppers list, as it packs a serious and extremely hot punch.
7 Pot Douglah (Chocolate 7 Pot) – 1,850,000 Scoville Heat Units
Though its appearance and flavor give it a distinct edge at the top of the pepper scale. It turns a cocoa brown color as it ages, rather than the conventional flash red, and has a fruity and nutty flavor. In terms of color and flavor, it’s a one-of-a-kind pepper and is hot.
I have a friend Shaun aka (Chillichump), who has made many hot sauces with this chili pepper. It is fruity and has a great flavor. It is hot and will pack a serious punch. It is fantastic in the hot sauce, so I am told.
Dorset Naga – 1,500,000 SHU
Another super hot contender of the Naga pepper variant. The Naga Viper pepper was the world champion before the Carolina Reaper pepper was crowned in 2013.
The Dorset Naga chili was created in Dorset, England, by Joy and Michael Michaud in 2001. I remember watching them talking about it when I was much younger on a British tv program called River Cottage with Huw Fernlywhittingstall. I think that’s how you spell his surname anyway, lol.
I remember the interview well. Michael was showing Huw how best to grow the Dorset Naga, and later in the series, they took their harvest to Portabello Road in London to sell. I remember even back then Michael saying that it was the then World Record Chili pepper.
7 Pot Primo – 1,470,000 SHU
The 7 Pot Primo pepper is another cross between a Naga pepper (this time the Morich) and a Trinidad 7 Pot pepper. It was created by Troy Primeaux (nickname Primo), a horticulturist from Louisiana. He began crossing the Naga Morich pepper and Trinidad 7 Pot pepper seeds around 2005. It certainly deserves a place on our hottest peppers list.
Trinidad Scorpion Butch-T – 1,460,000 SHU
A Capsicum chinense cultivar that is among the hottest peppers in the world. It was named by Neil Smith from The Hippy Seed Company after he got the seeds originally from Butch Taylor. The “scorpion” pepper naming refers to the pointed end of the pepper, which resembles a scorpion’s stinger.
This was the first hot pepper I grew around 12 years ago. I remember friends chowing down on the pepper only to be guzzling pints of milk right after. It certainly deserves its place on the hottest peppers list
7 Pot Brain Strain – 1,300,000 SHU
Plants producing the needed features (hot) were chosen for development. David Cappiello created this hybrid pepper five years ago after obtaining seven pot seeds from a Trinidad and Tobago producer. He chose the pods with Moruga scorpion-like characteristics and dubbed them Brain Strain.
Peach Bhut Jolokia (Peach Ghost Pepper) – 1-million SHU
The Peach Bhut Jolokia pepper (Peach Ghost Pepper) is a new color for the pepper once known as the “World’s Hottest.” Like all Jolokias, this pepper is incredibly spicy, hot, productive, and flavorful, but it’s also more crunchy and solid-bodied than the others. This pepper has a tinge of sweetness that reminds you of a ripe peach when you bite into it. It deserves Number 14 on our hottest peppers list.
Red 7 Pot – 780,000 SHU
The Red 7 Pot pepper is the oldest of the 7 Pot pepper varietals, with rough skin and a scorching hot intensity. The flavor of the 7 Pot pepper is comparable to that of a Ghost pepper. 7 Pot peppers are classified as extra hot due to their high level of spiciness.
Red Savina Habanero – 500,000 SHU
The Red Savina Habanero pepper was developed to generate a pepper that is larger in size, heavier in weight, and has a hotter flavor. Although this pepper is number 15 on our hottest peppers list, it still packs a punch; at 500,000 Scoville heat, you will know you have eaten it.
The 15 Hot Peppers and When Were They Created
|1. Pepper X||September 2017|
|2. Apollo Pepper||August 2020|
|3. Dragon’s Breath Pepper||October 2017|
|4. Carolina Reaper||January 2012|
|5. Komodo Dragon Pepper||Month Unknown 2015|
|6. Chocolate Bhut Jolokia (Chocolate Ghost)||Month Unknown 2000|
|7. Trinidad Mogura Scorpion||July 2012|
|8. 7 Pot Douglah (Chocolate 7 Pot)||August 2016|
|9. Dorset Naga||July 2001|
|10. 7 Pot Primo||August 2005|
|11. Trinidad Scorpion Butch-T||March 2011|
|12. Pot Brain Strain||July 2008|
|13. Peach Bhut Jolokia (Peach Ghost Pepper)||Jan 2009|
|14. Red 7 Pot||August 2005|
|15. Red Savina Habanero||July 1992|
Can Hot Pepper Plants be Overwintered?
Hot peppers can be overwintered extremely well, but some factors must be considered. Overwintered pepper plants can yield much more fruit in subsequent years. Here is how to get your pepper plants through winter.
Do you have to lift hot peppers/chili pepper?
You are best lifting these plants to overwinter as they will be much easier to wrap and protect.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are the hottest peppers bred?
The hottest peppers are bred when growers select the flower and pollen from one form of pepper and pollinate another with its pollen. Growers carefully select their required characteristics, IE, heat, shape, color, and size.
Are hot peppers good for you?
Studies suggest that capsicum in the hottest peppers is an antioxidant that can help the body fight off all sorts of ailments and reduce inflation. Hot peppers contain vitamins such as A, B6, C, E, calcium, and Iron.
Are Hot Peppers Bad For You?
Hot peppers can be bad for some people depending on their heat tolerances. They can make some people vomit, cause diarrhea, and burn the esophagus. Potentially putting you in hospital.
Which country has the hottest chili in the world?
Pepper X, the hottest pepper, originates from the USA; it has a Scoville rating of 3.18 million SHU.
The Worlds Hottest Peppers Scorpion Vs. Pepper X
The video below shows two hot chili peppers fighting for the number one spot. Hot, hot, hot!
Above are the 15 hot peppers you will find in 2022, most of them of the Capsicum Chinense genus. If you want to know how to grow the hottest peppers yourself, follow the link.