Carolina Reaper vs. Ghost Pepper – What’s the Difference?


These two peppers pack a punch, and if you can’t tell them apart, you may be in for a fiery experience you won’t soon forget! Differentiating these two types of peppers tends to be a challenge among many people, but there are distinct differences between these peppers.

Carolina Reapers and Ghost Peppers are both extremely hot. However, Carolina Reaper’s heat level is double that of Ghost Peppers. There are also differences in their taste, color, size, shape, and origin.

A bunch of freshly picked Carolina Reapers sitting in the palms of two hands
This was my first harvest from my Carolina Reaper plant. Photo by Spicy Trio

Heat Level Difference Between Carolina Reaper and Ghost Peppers

Carolina Reapers have twice the level of heat compared to the Ghost Pepper.

Since both peppers are so hot, it can be quite difficult to accurately tell the difference in heat between these two peppers!

The two peppers are so hot that it’s best to wear gloves when cutting them. In fact, the Ghost Pepper is so hot that the Indian military used them for weapons development.

The Carolina Reaper ranges on a blistering scale between 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 Scoville heat units making it officially the hottest pepper in the world.

As for the Ghost Pepper, it ranges between 855,000 to 1,041,000 SHU on the Scoville heat scale.

Carolina Reaper vs. Ghost Pepper: Flavor Profiles

The Ghost Pepper has a sweet and fruity flavor. When eating the Ghost Pepper, you’ll first taste the fruity sweetness of the pepper, then after about 30 seconds, you’ll feel an intense spicy pain come over your mouth and throat.

The Carolina Reaper has a sweet fruity flavor profile like the Ghost Pepper. From my experience, I’d say the spiciness kicks in faster than the Ghost Pepper. Instead of waiting around 30 seconds to feel the burn, the Carolina Reaper pepper’s spice hits you in about 10 seconds.

While both peppers have intense heat, they are both quite flavorful peppers, if you can overcome the spice!

Carolina Reaper vs. Ghost Pepper: Size and Shape Differences

One way you can tell the difference between the Carolina Reaper and the Ghost Pepper is their size. Ghost Peppers are slightly larger than Reapers, with a length of 2.4 to 3.3 inches (6-8.3cm) and a Carolina Reaper is 2 to 3 inches (5 – 7.6cm) long.

However, the shape is the easiest way to distinguish the two peppers. To identify Carolina Reapers, look for a gnarled look with lumpy, bumpy, red skin. The top of this pepper is symmetrical and round.

The Carolina Reaper is also exceptional—as this pepper develops a tail! You won’t find this tail-like appendage on many other peppers. Some say the tail resembles a scorpion— a sure warning of the heat!

Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)
Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)

A Ghost Pepper has a shape similar to an oblong cone, it’s gnarled a bit like the Carolina Reaper but doesn’t have the same characteristic stinger on the end of the pepper.

Color Differences

While the original version of the Carolina Reaper was a fiery red, you can now get both of these peppers in a variety of different colors that range from yellow, orange, and chocolate brown depending on the variety grown.

Two Carolina Reaper peppers sitting on the counter
Carolina Reapers have an amazing deep shade of red when fully ripe. Photo by Spicy Trio

Growth Rates of Carolina Reapers vs. Ghost Peppers

Both Carolina Reapers and Ghost Peppers take similar amounts of time to grow.

Ghost peppers take around 4 – 6 months to grow and start producing pepper pods.

Under the right conditions, Carolina Reapers can grow in 90 – 100 days, but sometimes it can take longer. The Carolina Reapers we grew this season took about 5 months or 150 days to produce pepper pods. We grew them indoors in a grow tent using LED grow lights.

Origins: Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper

Ghost Peppers have been around for many decades and originated from the Northeast part of India, where they are known as Bhut Jolokia. With their popularity, you can now find these all over the world. In 2007, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized these peppers as the hottest chili pepper—however, they no longer hold that title.

Ghost Peppers belong to the Capsicum Chinense family, the same family as Habanero peppers. People now sell these peppers worldwide, and the peppers are famous ingredients in delicious sauces and powders.

Ed Currie created the Carolina Reaper in South Carolina, U.S., and it currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest pepper.

These days you can easily buy Carolina Reaper seeds online and grow your own, like we did!

Can I Use Carolina Reapers Instead of Ghost Peppers in a Recipe?

You can use Carolina Reapers instead of Ghost Peppers in a recipe when you want more spiciness in a meal. Carolina Reapers tend to be hotter when compared to Ghost Peppers. While Carolina Reaper peppers are delicious for some who enjoy hot foods, others may find the heat intolerable. These peppers are pretty interchangeable if you’re looking to add an intense amount of heat in any dish. 

Supriya

Hi! I'm Supriya. I'm a home cook, bulldog mom, spicy food lover, and founder of The Spicy Trio. I have been a home cook for about 15 years and have been growing plants for the past six years.

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