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Is There a Pepper Hotter Than the Carolina Reaper?

If you are a fan of scorching hot peppers, you might have heard of the Carolina Reaper pepper, the hottest pepper in the world. But is it still the hottest pepper in the world? New hot pepper varieties are developed every year, so is the Carolina Reaper still the king of the fiery mountain? The answer is both yes, and well, no… let me explain.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, officially there is no pepper hotter than the Carolina Reaper. The Carolina Reaper, created by Ed Currie, founder of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, South Carolina, has an average of 1.6 million Scoville Heat Units. Some Carolina Reapers have been measured to have as high as 2.2 million Scoville Units (that’s 275 times hotter than some of the hottest Jalapeño peppers). So, that’s the end of it, right? Nothing is hotter than a Carolina Reaper… well, that might not be the case.

Carolina Reaper peppers are some of my favorites to write about, so for more information on them check out the quick links below:

Photo of super hot peppers ripening on the vine

Peppers Unofficially Hotter than the Carolina Reaper

That’s right, there are peppers unofficially hotter than the Carolina Reaper. Currently, there are three peppers that could potentially be hotter than the Carolina Reaper. The table below compares the alleged Scoville Units of these peppers to the Carolina Reaper.

PepperMakerScoville Heat Units
Apollo PepperEd Currie3.2 million+
Pepper XEd Currie3.18 million
Dragon’s BreathMike Smith & Neal Price2.48 million
Reference – Carolina ReaperEd CurrieUp to 2.20 million

Apollo Pepper

Apollo peppers were also created by Ed Currie. Ed combined two of the world’s hottest peppers: the Carolina Reaper and Pepper X. Not much is known about the Apollo pepper because Ed Currie tends not to reveal too much information about his new ultra-hot peppers. The pepper is said to taste both earthy and fruity. I have written several articles on the Apollo pepper and have even tried a hot sauce made from them; check out the posts below to learn more about this elusive pepper!

Pepper X

Ed Currie initially tried to create a pepper with cancer-fighting sub-capsinoids. Sub-capsinoids are substances found in chili peppers that are chemically similar in structure to capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their heat.

He created the Pepper X by crossbreeding various peppers. He said, “Our geneticists believe we stumbled upon the right mixture of genes to increase capsaicin production.” He claims the pepper took over 10 years to cultivate and stabilize. Pepper X comes in various colors ranging from yellow, orange, off green, and chocolatey brown.

Ed Currie has not disclosed which peppers were crossbred to create Pepper X. A hot sauce was made with Pepper X called, The Last Dab Triple X. One of my first posts on the Spicy Trio was a hands-on review of this uber spicy hot sauce!

Dragon’s Breath

Neal Price, a chili farmer, and Mike Smith developed the Dragon’s Breath pepper. Dragon’s Breath was created by accident in an attempt to win Plant of the Year. Mike Smith has continued to grow the Dragon’s Breath pepper to try and win the Chelsea Flower Show for Plant of the Year, to which the pepper did make the Shortlist in 2017.

Neal Price originally developed the pepper as an alternative anesthetic for countries that cannot afford standard anesthetics or for people allergic to anesthetics used today.

Peppers Officially Hotter than the Carolina Reaper

There are currently no peppers officially hotter than the Carolina Reaper. All the peppers that are allegedly hotter than the Carolina Reaper haven’t been officially certified.

In the world of spicy peppers, the Guinness Book of World Records determines which pepper is the hottest. Since August 11, 2017, the Carolina Reaper has maintained its certification as the world’s hottest pepper.

Why it’s Hard to Know for Sure if There is a Pepper Hotter Than the Carolina Reaper

Although there are individuals that submit peppers they claim are hotter than the Carolina Reaper, they have not been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records for one reason or another.

This could be because it is challenging to consistently maintain extremely high Scoville Units across multiple peppers. Think about it, a Jalapeño pepper can range between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville Units, which means one pepper could be 320 percent hotter than another. The same variability exists with super-hot chili peppers. Even though the Carolina Reaper has been measured up to 2.20 million Scoville Units, the Guinness Book of World Records lists the Scoville Heat Unit at 1,641,183, which is the average level of many tested Reaper peppers.

Where to Test Your Peppers to Find Out if they are Officially the Hottest?

To have your peppers’ Scoville Units officially tested, you need to send them off to a specific lab that studies peppers. The lab will liquify your pepper and test its components to see how hot it is. There are a number of testing facilities but two highlighted in Cayenne Diane’s post on the subject are Southwest Bio Labs in Las Cruces, New Mexico and Winthrop University in South Carolina. The cost of running a test is around $65 but can vary depending on the testing facility.