Humans have a penchant for pain – how else can we explain the desire by many to create a pepper that can reign as the world’s hottest in the world? Every year, mad chili growers try to push the limits of the Scoville heat scale by creating new, incredibly spicy varieties of chili peppers. It’s a reason why the list of the world’s hottest chili peppers continues to evolve every year.
In 2022, the official hottest chili peppers in the world are the Carolina Reaper, the Chocolate Bhutlah, and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Unofficially though, some say the hottest peppers in the world are the Apollo pepper, Pepper X, and the Dragon’s Breath chili.
2022 World’s Hottest Peppers (Official)
|Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
|Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
|1.2 to 2.0 million
2022 World’s Hottest Peppers (Unofficial)
|Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
The Official Top 3 Worlds Hottest Peppers
Carolina Reaper – 2.2 Million SHU
The Carolina Reaper is currently the official Guinness World Record holder for the hottest pepper in the world, coming in at 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The Carolina Reaper pepper was created by “Smokin” Ed Currie of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company in South Carolina. It is a hybrid of a La Soufiere pepper from St. Vincent and the Naga Viper pepper from Pakistan, which by themselves are both incredibly hot peppers.
The Carolina Reaper pepper is not only scary to eat, but also looks pretty gnarly with it’s wrinkly skin and a tail that looks like the curved tail of a scorpion. The shape of the pepper is a warning, alerting you to the danger ahead. The peppers measure between one to a few inches long and come in a variety of different colors, including chocolate brown, yellow, orange, and green when unripe. However, those most familiar with these bad boys know it by its bright red color.
I have yet to have the pleasure (or should I say pain?) of eating a fresh Carolina Reaper pepper, but those that have, report that the pepper has a slight fruity and sweet taste to it, with a hint of cinnamon or chocolate. When I tried a dried version of the pepper, I was surprised by the amount of flavor this pepper packs, in addition to its heat. But that pleasant flavor lasts for only a few seconds before your mouth is overwhelmed by the extreme heat.
Chocolate Bhutlah – 2.0 Million SHU
Following the scorpion tail of the Carolina Reaper is the Chocolate Bhutlah pepper, which measures in at around 2 million SHUs. This pepper once held the title of the hottest pepper in the world, and like the Carolina Reaper, its appearance warns of its heat. This pepper was created by Chad Soleski in Wisconsin by crossing a 7 Pot Douglah pepper with a Bhut Jolokia, or ghost pepper. This explains the name Bhutlah, a combination of Bhut and Douglah.
Unlike the Carolina Reaper, these peppers are longer in shape, much like ghost peppers. They are also wrinkly and gnarled in appearance, starting off green and maturing in to their cholcate brown final color. The peppers grow to be about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cms) in length.
Like the Carolina Reaper and most 7 Pot varieties, the Chocolate Bhutlah tends to have a bit of sweetness to it. But don’t be fooled by the word chocolate in its name – this is solely derived from its color rather than its flavor! People who have tried these peppers raw often describe them as having a nutty and earthy flavor, followed by a wallop of heat. The heat does not build up over time in these peppers but hits you almost right away.
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion – 1.2 – 2.0 Million SHU
At a whopping 2 million SHUs, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper ranks as the third hottest pepper in the world. The pepper is named based on its origin as well as its appearance. The pepper was created by Wahid Ogeer in the small village of Moruga at the southern end of the Trinidad Island.
The pepper itself looks like a rich, bright red smaller cousin of the Bell pepper. It has a shiny appearance due to the oils that coat its skin. The pepper pods are between 2 to 3 inches 5 to 8 cms) long and can be between half to a full inch (1 to 2.5 cms) in diameter. It has a tail at the bottom that extends out of the center of the pod, much like a scorpion’s tail, hence the name. The peppers start out green and then turns yellow, orange, and then finally a deep red when it matures.
A common characteristic this pepper shares with the both the Carolina Reaper and the Chocolate Bhutlah is the slight sweet taste that accompanies the heat. The sweetness hits your mouth first, and then the spice starts to build up, and then intensifies.
Now that we have covered the peppers that officially are the hottest peppers in the world, let’s look at the ones that are unofficially world’s hottest peppers, ranking even higher on the Scoville scale.
The Unofficial Top 3 Worlds Hottest Peppers
Apollo Pepper – 3.2 Million SHU
At the top of the list of unofficial hottest peppers in the world is the Apollo pepper. This pepper was also created by Ed Currie, who created the Carolina Reaper pepper. To make this pepper, he crossbred the Carolina Reaper pepper with his other creation, Pepper X (more on that pepper below). Unfortunately, there is not a lot out there about this pepper, but it is said to be earthy and fruity in flavor, with a powerful kick of heat. Although there are no official photos of the pepper, one can infer that the pepper will likely be wrinkly in appearance and orangish-red in color when fully mature.
If you want to learn a bit more about this pepper, check out my additional posts:
Pepper X – 3.18 Million SHU
Also on the unofficial list of hottest peppers in the world is another one of Ed Currie’s creations, Pepper X. This pepper is said to be 3 million SHUs and was originally created by Ed to fight cancers. It was bred by crossing various hot peppers, but he has not disclosed the list of peppers used to create this spicy pepper. Like the elusive Apollo pepper, Ed has not shared any photos of this hot pepper, so not much is known about its appearance or taste. But, if you’ve tried the Last Dab Reduxx hot sauce by Hot Ones, you can get a sense of the flavor. While the heat definitely kicks in quickly, there are some sweeter notes that come through.
Dragon’s Breath Pepper – 2.48 Million SHU
Our final contender is the Dragon’s Breath chili pepper which comes in at 2.48 million SHUs. This pepper was apparently created by accident in an attempt to win Plant of the Year. A chili farmer named Neal Price and Mike Smith developed the Dragon’s Breath pepper. Neal Price was interested in creating a pepper that could be used as a cheaper alternative to anesthetics. The pepper is short, round and wrinkly in appearance. The peppers are generally around 2 inches (5 cms) long and deep, bright red.
If you want to read more about the hottest peppers in the world I recommend a couple of my other posts on the subject: