Many folks who enjoy spicy food have their own boundaries. Some find satisfaction in the gentle heat and delightful flavor of jalapeños, while others crave the intense fiery kick and distinctive taste of habaneros. Then, there are the real daredevils – the chiliheads. People like Johnny Scoville and Smokin’ Ed Currie, who devour the hottest pepper in the world without breaking a sweat.
No matter where you stand on the spicy scale, it’s fascinating to keep up with the ever-evolving world of super-hot peppers. You’ve probably heard of some famous fiery contenders, but there are newer, uncharted varieties waiting to claim their spot on the Scoville scale.
Every year, passionate growers worldwide strive to push the boundaries of heat, and today, we’ve assembled a list ranking the planet’s hottest peppers.
For a more diverse selection of the hottest peppers and their seeds, check out this link.
Why are we interested in the hottest pepper in the world?
Many of us can’t resist staying in the loop about the world’s spiciest peppers. It’s like a test of our taste bud toughness. After that first fiery bite, the thrill of the spiciness kicks in just seconds later. The joy of building up our spice tolerance becomes addictive. And let’s not forget the allure of food that makes you break a sweat – it’s got health perks too.
Eating spicy food regularly, or even just now and then, helps your body fend off various ailments. A study, led by experts from Harvard and the China National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), found that daily spicy food indulgence can actually extend your life. Beyond longevity, the love for hot peppers can also work wonders like soothing migraines and boosting those feel-good hormones. It’s no wonder more folks are falling for spicy cuisine.
So, if you’re curious about your spice tolerance, keep reading. We’ve got a lineup of the world’s hottest peppers for you to explore. It’s the perfect challenge for future pepper aficionados.
What Is the Hottest Pepper in the World?
#1 Hottest Pepper in the World: Pepper X (3,180,000 SHU)
Image Credit: YouTube
Pepper X stands out as the unofficial hottest pepper globally, boasting a scorching SHU rating of over 3 million. Oddly enough, it doesn’t hold an official spot on the hottest pepper lists. Just like the Carolina Reaper, Ed Currie is the mastermind behind Pepper X’s creation. In 2017, he even submitted an official testing request to Guinness World Records, but he’s still waiting for the results. Meanwhile, he insists that Pepper X’s heat surpasses the Carolina Reaper’s.
Ed Currie dedicated almost a decade to nurturing and studying Pepper X before unveiling it to the world. As of now, it goes by the temporary name “Pepper X,” as Ed Currie hasn’t given it a permanent moniker. To distinguish it from other peppers, take a close look at its wrinkly, misshapen appearance.
For those who crave fiery flavors, the only way to experience Pepper X’s taste is through hot sauce. Look for “The Last Dab” featured in the Hot Ones, and when you take a bite, prepare for a fruity burst of flavor followed by an intense chili heat.
#2nd Hottest Pepper in the World: The Buzău pepper
Image Credit: Reddit.com
Romanians have an undeniable passion for spice. They don’t shy away from American, Mexican, or Hungarian peppers. However, these folks are a bit selective, in a charming way, and they decided to craft their very own pepper, aiming not just for the best but the absolute spiciest in the world.
Now, brace yourself, because when you slice this pepper open, it’s not tears of joy or sentiment that will stream down your face, but tears of sheer agony. This chili is so potent that even a faint whiff of its aroma can bring tears to your eyes. If you touch it without protection, you risk some serious burns. No wonder it proudly claims the title of the world’s hottest chili.
Currently, the Romanian pepper clocks in at a mind-boggling 2.4 million Scoville units. Initially, no one anticipated it would be this fiery. Oddly enough, its Scoville ranking wasn’t the initial concern. What mattered most to this chili was consistency – a uniform level of spiciness across the entire plant and its fruits. You see, this pepper wasn’t born out of ambition; it sprouted in response to a request.
It all began with a search for consistent spiciness
The tale began in 1996 when a local sausage maker encountered a spicy predicament. The peppers in his recipe didn’t play nice, each offering a different level of heat. Frustrated by this culinary conundrum, he turned to the experts at SCDL, who embraced the challenge with unwavering determination.
Years rolled on, marked by tireless research, genetic tinkering, and countless experiments. Finally, in 2014, the fruit of their labor emerged. It wasn’t until a global horticulture congress in France that the world took notice of this remarkable creation.
Now, as the product awaits full approval (a process expected to take a few months), you’ll soon spot it in the market and amongst Google’s search results for the world’s spiciest pepper. Some might call it a case of serendipity, as the Romanians not only satisfied the butcher’s cravings but also birthed the planet’s hottest chili. A splendid twist of fate, wouldn’t you agree?
However, was it truly mere happenstance? After all, Romania’s ancient chili variety played a pivotal role in this spicy saga, so the outcome may not be all that surprising. One thing’s for sure: the second hottest pepper in the world is now proudly made in Romania.
#3rd Hottest Pepper in the World: Carolina Reaper Pepper (2,200,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
In 2013, the Carolina Reaper earned its reputation as the world’s hottest pepper, boasting a scorching measurement of over 2 million SHU. The mastermind behind this fiery creation was none other than American chili pepper breeder Ed Currie. He embarked on a meticulous journey, carefully cross-breeding specific species to craft the Capsicum variant we know today as the Carolina Reaper.
Now, let’s not kid ourselves; this endeavor wasn’t a walk in the park. You can’t just stroll into your local grocery store and pick up the ingredients for the world’s hottest pepper. No, sir! To make this culinary legend, you need to become well-acquainted with the Naga Viper Pepper from Pakistan and cozy up to the Red Habanero variant from the West Indies. Understanding their growth patterns is key, but that’s not all. You must also create the perfect environment for these peppers to flourish. It’s like recreating the climate of sunny South Carolina, USA, where the Carolina Reaper found its fiery roots.
Now, if you want to avoid falling victim to chili-related scams, remember this: the Carolina Reaper has some distinctive features. Like its spicy brethren, it takes on a wrinkled, petite appearance, measuring in at 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) wide and 2–3 inches (5–7.6 cm) long. Sporting a vibrant red hue with a slender tail, it’s quite the looker. But the real magic happens when you sink your teeth into it. Prepare your taste buds for a fruity and sweet sensation that dances on your palate when you first bite into food seasoned with Carolina Reaper Peppers. But beware, because shortly after, you’ll feel the chili’s fiery wrath, a burning sensation that lingers for up to 20 minutes, followed by the potential for a stomachache lasting 2–5 hours. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure!
#4th Hottest Pepper in the World: Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper (2,009,231 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper, with its searing peak of over 2 million SHU, always packs a fiery punch. It consistently ranks among the world’s hottest peppers and earned the coveted title of “Hottest Pepper in the World” at the 2012 New Mexico Chile Conference, courtesy of Jim Duffy from Refining Fire Chiles.
True to its name, this renowned pepper hails from Moruga, Trinidad, nestled in the Caribbean. Its journey begins with green skin that matures into vibrant shades of orange and red. The pepper’s surface is notably smooth, lacking prominent bumps. Pepper breeder Wahid Ogeer even developed a yellow variant of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, boasting an SHU scale ranging between 1-2 million.
Now, we brought up the yellow version to safeguard you from potential tricks. These peppers can thrive in various climates without sacrificing their spiciness. To avoid scams, consider acquiring them in the form of hot sauce or peppers themselves. This way, you can savor their full flavor by adding them to barbecue marinades or hot sauce. But heed this advice: don’t attempt to devour a whole Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper. Opt for a chili oil version instead and spare yourself from enduring its long-lasting heat.
#5th Hottest Pepper in the World: 7 Pot Douglah Pepper (1,853,936 SHU)
Image Credit: Amazon
To truly savor the fiery kick of the 7 Pot Douglah Pepper, you’ve got to pluck it when its outer skin turns a rich brown, resembling the classic chocolate hue. You can also go for the ones with a deep purple tint if that’s your fancy. They also go by the moniker “Chocolate 7 Pod” due to their usual color. When you cut one open, you’ll witness those capsaicin oils oozing out – a sight to behold! Make sure to slip on some gloves before meddling with this oil, or else your hands might experience a fiery sensation that lingers for quite some time.
Much like other top-tier contenders for the title of world’s hottest peppers, the 7 Pot Douglah Pepper offers an initial fruity burst of flavor. It’s part of the renowned 7 Pot Chili Pepper family, which always manages to secure a spot on the list of the world’s spiciest peppers. To relish its flavor to the fullest, we recommend getting your hands on some 7 Pot Douglah Pepper powder or chili oil. You can sprinkle it into stews or marinate your dishes to infuse them with a tangy, fruity essence and a hidden dose of heat. Just a word of caution: be prepared for that lingering heat and have a glass of milk ready on standby.
#6th Hottest Pepper in the World: 7 Pot Primo Pepper (1,469,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
While it doesn’t hold the title for the world’s hottest pepper, the 7 Pot Primo has a way of stealing the spotlight among its fellow 7 Pot variations. Its story began with the clever cross-breeding of the Naga Morich pepper, which added a unique, stinger-like tail to its nearly 2-inch long body. These peppers typically come in bright yellow or orange, along with the more familiar dark red variety. The name “7 Pot Primo” pays homage to horticulturist Troy Primeaux, the mastermind behind this creation, and he continues to champion his brainchild through Primo’s Peppers in Lafayette, Louisiana.
We often enjoy the fiery kick of 7 Pot Primo Peppers in dried or powdered form, but don’t let that fool you. Beneath the heat, you can still savor the pepper’s initial citrusy and floral notes, followed by a sweet aftertaste that lingers before the fiery sensation kicks in. When it comes to heat, think Ghost Peppers or other 7 Pot Pepper cousins, but on a whole new level. To put it in perspective, these peppers can be 100-500 times hotter than jalapeños! So, when you’re handling these extremely fiery peppers at home, a word of caution: tread carefully.
#7th Hottest Pepper in the World: Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” Pepper (1,463,700 SHU)
Image Credit: Wikipedia
The Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” Pepper was once celebrated as the World’s Hottest Pepper. It still holds a top spot among the spiciest peppers globally. This fiery gem, like its cousin, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, thrives on the serene island of Trinidad in the Caribbean.
Its name, “Butch T,” pays homage to its origins with Zydeco Farms’ owner, Butch Taylor. He provided chili seeds to Neil Smith of The Hippy Seed Company, who played a pivotal role in cultivating these famous peppers on the Caribbean isle. Impressively, the Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” Pepper reigned as the Guinness World Records’ Most Pungent Pepper for three consecutive years.
What sets this pepper apart from the rest on our scorching list is its immediate impact. As soon as you approach it, its fiery aroma fills your senses. One bite, and your taste buds are engulfed in a blazing sensation, unlike the gradual spiciness of most peppers. The Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” Pepper strikes like a sudden slap to the mouth. To savor its flavor without the intense heat, we recommend trying it in its diluted hot sauce form. This way, you can relish it in salsas or barbecue sauces without being overwhelmed by its instant fiery burst.
#8th Hottest Pepper in the World: Naga Viper Pepper (1,349,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Wikipedia
The Naga Viper Pepper owes its existence to the dedication of chili farmer Gerald Fowler. This fiery creation emerged from the blending of three of the world’s hottest peppers.
It proudly held the title of the “World’s Hottest Pepper” even before the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion claimed its fame. In the UK, the Naga Viper Pepper gained notoriety, thanks to its unique blend of the Naga Morich, the Trinidad Scorpion, and the Bhut Jolokia Peppers.
Growing this chili in your garden can be a bit of a challenge. You’ll need to recreate the greenhouse-like conditions of its original habitat, which can make cultivating more of these plants quite tricky.
When you taste a sauce made with the Naga Viper Pepper, you might be in for a surprise. Like many hot peppers, it starts with a fruity note before delivering a powerful punch of heat. The exact fruit flavor can be a bit elusive, ranging from hints of sourness to sweetness, reminiscent of oranges or peaches. The pepper’s heat builds slowly, hitting you a few seconds after the first bite and gradually subsiding over minutes. But be prepared, because there might be another fiery wave that hits your taste buds after you finish your meal.
#9th Hottest Pepper in the World: 7 Pot Barrackpore Pepper (1,300,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Chilli Seedz
Like many hot peppers on our list, the 7 Pot Barrackpore Pepper thrives on the sunny island of Trinidad. But what sets this 7 Pot variant apart is its special origin in Barrackpore, Trinidad, which is where it got its name. Its outward appearance is a common red, which might make you mistake it for other peppers, but that’s exactly what makes it unique among the 7 Pot family.
This fiery fellow grows into a vibrant red, conical body, roughly about an inch in length. It might be small, but as they say, “size doesn’t matter.” Compared to a habanero pepper, it packs more than three times the heat!
The 7 Pot Barrackpore Pepper stands out from our selection because it comes with a hint of bitterness in its flavor profile. However, it also delivers that initial sweet note we crave when diving into spicy cuisine. Thanks to its generous size, it often finds its way into big stews and soups, adding a fiery kick to these hearty dishes. They also shine as the main chili peppers in large servings of salsa, where their touch of bitterness can beautifully balance the medley of flavors.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try them in pickled form to spice up beloved American dishes like pizza and burgers. This pepper has a knack for adding a zesty twist to your favorite classics!
#10th Hottest Pepper in the World: Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) (1,041,427 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
Unlike most of the world’s top-rated peppers, Ghost Peppers originated as interspecific hybrids in Northeast India. They’re also known as “Bhut Jolokia” in Hindi, and if you find yourself in Assam, India, locals call them “Bih Zôlôkia,” which translates to “poison pepper” due to their fiery nature.
Ghost Peppers come in various sizes, not just the usual red ones. You can also spot them in vibrant yellow and orange hues. When ripe, they typically measure around 2.4–3.3 inches in length and 1–1.2 inches in width. Interestingly, the Indian government even crafted smoke bombs using Bhut Jolokia to quell riots in Jammu and Kashmir, showcasing their intense spiciness.
Before the searing heat kicks in, Ghost Peppers surprise your taste buds with sweet and fruity flavors. However, be prepared for the intense burning sensation, which can lead to hiccups, teary eyes, and shortness of breath. The heat continues to intensify for about 10–15 minutes, and you’ll only find relief once it subsides after 30–40 minutes.
You can savor the unique flavors of Ghost Peppers by using them to create jams or salsas that add a fiery twist to various dishes. But remember, tread lightly when cooking with one of the hottest peppers in the world. There’s a cautionary tale of a man who nearly burned his throat due to the pepper’s intense heat.
#11th Hottest Pepper in the World: 7 Pot Red (Giant) Pepper (~1,000,000 SHU)
Image Credit: YouTube
We’ve got our hands on the 7 Pot Red (Giant) Pepper through a bit of pepper cross-breeding magic. Some folks might also call it the Congo SR 7 Pod Gigantic Red Pepper, but we like to keep things simple and call it the Giant 7 Pot Red Pepper. Just like most of its 7 Pot Pepper cousins, this one hails from Trinidad and Tobago.
Now, what sets this pepper apart is its size. Unlike many other contenders for the “Hottest Pepper in the World” title, this 7 Pot Red Pepper variant can grow up to a hefty 6–7 cm long. But don’t be fooled by its size – it packs a punch. It measures up to about a million on the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) scale. So, size definitely doesn’t correlate with mildness here; it’s nothing like those big bell peppers.
Thanks to its size, the Giant 7 Pot Red Peppers are perfect for whipping up some spicy sauces. Plus, that thick skin adds a satisfying crunch, making them ideal for chili or chunky soups. If you want to spice up a recipe that typically calls for bell peppers, give these a shot. You’ll get that crunch you crave without compromising on heat. Just remember to remove the seeds before tossing them into your pot. Trust us; it’s a spicy sensation you’ll want to handle with care. You can even turn this 7 Pot Pepper variant into a paste for a longer shelf life.
#12th Hottest Pepper in the World: Red Savina Habanero Pepper (500,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Habanero Madness
If you’re in the mood for a hotter Habanero, the Red Savina Habanero Pepper has got you covered. Its distinguishing feature? That vibrant red skin. At first, this Habanero variant was a well-kept secret. It wasn’t until Frank Garcia and his team accidentally imported some cheap local Habanero Peppers that the discovery was made. Among the bunch, they stumbled upon a mutant red Habanero Pepper and decided to nurture it. Through some careful breeding, they introduced the world to the Red Savina Habanero Pepper.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to savor a dish spiced up with the Red Savina Habanero Pepper, brace yourself for a sweet surprise. Its initial flavor carries a hint of sweetness, reminiscent of biting into a ripe apricot. But don’t let that initial taste fool you. As mentioned, this pepper is a fiery alternative to your typical Habanero. Eating it fresh is not for the faint of heart; it’ll leave you with an intense, long-lasting burn.
To make the most of its heat, we recommend chopping it up and making chili oil to preserve that fiery kick. Alternatively, you can dry and grind it to use as seasoning for meats and barbecue.
#13th Hottest Pepper in the World: Habanero Pepper (100,000–350,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
The Habanero Pepper is truly unique, cherished in various cultures for its incredible versatility. It thrives in hot and warm climates found across South America, with its roots tracing back to Amazonas, Peru. But it’s also famously at home in Mexico, where it adds a smoky, spicy punch to beloved Mexican dishes.
What sets the Habanero Pepper apart is its rich history, making it one of the world’s oldest and hottest peppers. It packs a fiery punch, exceeding the spiciness of a Jalapeño Pepper by over 70 times. North America’s prime source for these peppers is the Yucatán Peninsula.
When it comes to the Hottest Pepper in the World title, you’ll mostly find Habanero Peppers on the plate. Unlike some contenders that offer only fresh or hot sauce variations due to their careful cultivation, Habanero Peppers lend themselves to a wide array of culinary creations. From mouthwatering dishes to zesty sauces and salsa, they take center stage.
Some inventive souls even craft chocolate or sugar syrups infused with the flavorful essence of Habanero Peppers. For those who prefer a hands-on approach, you can purchase fresh Habanero Peppers to create sauces that deliver the perfect kick of spice.
If you want to spot the finest Habanero Peppers, pay attention to their exterior. Unlike most peppers, the best Habaneros boast smooth orange skin, not wrinkled ones.
#14th Hottest Pepper in the World: Scotch Bonnet (100,000–350,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
Don’t be fooled by the small size of Scotch Bonnet Peppers, much like other contenders for the Hottest Pepper in the World title. These little peppers hold their own on the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) scale, keeping pace with the heat of Habanero Peppers.
Named for their resemblance to hats, Scotch Bonnet Peppers come from the Caribbean islands. You might spot their hat-like features on Scotsman’s bonnets or Tam o’Shanter hats in Europe. In the Caribbean, locals refer to them as Bahama Mama, Jamaican Hot, or Martinique Peppers.
If you’re a fan of Caribbean cuisine, you’ll likely encounter Scotch Bonnet Peppers in many dishes. These peppers play a crucial role in defining Caribbean flavors, offering a sweet and tropical taste before the fiery heat kicks in.
If you ever come across fresh Scotch Bonnets, consider trying your hand at recreating iconic island dishes. However, a word of caution: these peppers pack a punch, so protect yourself before you start mashing them into a paste. You can also finely chop their dried form and use them as a Habanero Pepper substitute in sauces.
For a safer approach, toss them into a food processor to whip up your homemade sauce or paste.
#15th Hottest Pepper in the World: Thai Pepper or Bird’s Eye Chili (50,000–100,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
Many people may not realize that Thai Peppers come in various shapes and sizes. The ones we often see are the slender red ones, measuring around 1 to 2 inches long. While they haven’t earned the title of the world’s hottest pepper, Thai peppers still deliver a lasting spiciness. Sometimes, we refer to them as Bird’s Eye Chili when we want to talk about their general appearance. Depending on where you are, you might notice differences in the heat levels of Bird’s Eye Chili peppers. That’s why it’s a good idea to use specific terms for this Capsicum. If you’re in Thailand, it’s best to simply call them Thai Peppers.
In Thai cuisine, we typically crush or grind Thai Peppers to add that essential kick to our Thai curry. This allows us to savor their fruity and earthy flavors before experiencing the long-lasting spiciness. If you’re short on time, you can buy them already powdered or crushed. However, please note that the aftertaste may not quite match the spicy kick of fresh ones. On the flip side, dried Thai Peppers often bring a smokier spiciness that pairs well with other Thai dishes.
#16th Hottest Pepper in the World: Cayenne Pepper (30,000–50,000 SHU)
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One of the world’s most famous hot peppers is the Cayenne Pepper. When we’re cooking up some spicy dishes, we often use Cayenne as a substitute for Habaneros or Thai Peppers. This gives our food a milder heat that’s still hotter than Jalapeños and Serrano Peppers. Cayenne Peppers can also help you build up your spice tolerance. Start with Jalapeños, and as you grow more adventurous, explore hotter peppers by checking out SHU lists online. Once you’ve worked your way up to Cayenne Peppers, you can confidently experiment with dishes seasoned with Habanero or Serrano Peppers. This gradual approach helps you train your spice tolerance until you can handle the heat of the world’s hottest pepper.
You’ll often find Cayenne Peppers in dried or powdered form at stores because they’re imported as a spice from South America. That’s why you might sometimes hear them referred to as red pepper instead of powdered or flaked Cayenne. The true peppery flavor really comes through when Cayenne Peppers are dried and crushed. If you cook with fresh Cayenne Peppers, your spicy meals might end up tasting a bit bland.
#17th Hottest Pepper in the World: Tabasco Pepper (30,000–50,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
Tabasco Peppers are famous for their iconic hot sauce. We all enjoy drizzling this sauce on pizza, steak, or grilled meat. It’s a staple in restaurants and food delivery services, adding that smoky, spicy kick we love. But, let’s admit it, we don’t really know much about the peppers that make our favorite hot sauce.
Tabasco Peppers, true to their name, play a vital role in the world’s most famous hot sauce, which hails from the USA. When you grow Tabasco Peppers, you’ll notice something peculiar about their growth. Unlike most peppers, they grow straight up from the vine, defying gravity.
Once these peppers are ripe and ready for harvest, separating the seeds from their red flesh can be a bit of a challenge. That’s why many farmers prefer to either dry them out or sell them fresh.
The Tabasco sauce we adore was first produced by the McIlhenny family in Louisiana way back in 1868. Its fame was so widespread that the family even collaborated with farmers from Africa, in addition to those in Central and South America. That’s the story behind the most well-known hot sauce in the United States.
#18th Hottest Pepper in the World: Serrano Pepper (10,000–23,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
If you tend to mix up Serrano Peppers with Jalapeño Peppers, you’re not alone. Their bright red or green colors and general shape often make them look quite similar. But there are some key differences you can spot by paying close attention to their shapes, aside from their spiciness levels.
Jalapeños have a rounder appearance, while Serrano Peppers are more elongated and pointed. To feel the distinction, you can gently touch and squeeze each pepper. Serrano Peppers tend to have thicker flesh due to a higher number of seeds compared to the lighter Jalapeños. This difference leads Serranos to develop thinner skin to accommodate those seeds within their vibrant green flesh.
Unlike many chili varieties, Serrano Peppers bring a unique grassy flavor, somewhat akin to the taste of fresh Jalapeño Peppers. This makes them a great choice for dishes like pepper poppers. Just be prepared for a spicier kick if you decide to swap them for Jalapeños in your poppers recipe.
If you live in Texas or other urban areas, you’ve likely noticed that Serrano Peppers are more readily available than some other pepper types in stores. This abundance provides an opportunity to challenge your spice tolerance with one of the hottest pepper in the world.
#19th Hottest Pepper in the World: Chipotle Pepper (2,500–8,000 SHU)
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The Chipotle Pepper we all adore owes its existence to Smoked Red Jalapeño Peppers. These peppers pack the same spicy punch as their fresh green counterparts. However, the magic happens when we transform them into Chipotle Peppers, infusing them with a smoky flavor and aroma.
To recreate this at home, simply allow your Jalapeños to ripen fully, turning from green to a vibrant red hue. This process removes the moisture that makes green Jalapeños ideal for pickling. Next, smoke these red peppers in a chamber, much like drying meat. You can take a page from pepper experts and smoke them alongside some meat, imparting a delightful hint of savory goodness to the peppers’ famous smokiness.
But the Chipotle Pepper’s versatility doesn’t stop at its traditional dried form. You can also savor its flavor in powdered form, which keeps it fresh and shelf-stable for future culinary adventures. Sprinkle powdered Chipotle Peppers into your barbecue rubs or marinades for an extra spicy kick. They’re also a stellar seasoning for crafting mouthwatering hamburger patties, homemade sausages, and other grilled delights. And why not spice up your breakfast routine by adding some heat to your own take on Mexico’s beloved Huevos Rancheros? Enjoy!
#20th Hottest Pepper in the World: Jalapeño Pepper (2,500–8,000 SHU)
Image Credit: Adobe Stock
While it might not be the world’s spiciest pepper, the Jalapeño Pepper plays a special role in various cultures and cuisines. This renowned pepper earned its name from the Mexican town of Xalapa, Veracruz. It continues to be cherished by spicy food enthusiasts for its perfect balance of heat.
Jalapeño Peppers often step in as a milder alternative to fiery Cayenne and Habanero peppers. When used as a substitute, they let you savor the full flavor of spicy dishes without overwhelming intensity. You’ll mostly find them in Mexican cuisine due to their abundant growth in Mexico, but they can also be spotted on some farms in the southwestern United States.
Chili pepper enthusiasts often use Jalapeño Peppers to introduce newcomers to the world of spicy food. Typically, these peppers have green skin, unlike the common red skin of ripe ones. Farmers usually sell them while they’re still green to preserve the bitter and peppery flavor we all adore. However, when fully ripened to red, jalapeños also exhibit sweet notes. You can find both varieties, fresh or pickled, at your local grocery store or specialty shops.
Apart from Mexican dishes, you can enjoy Jalapeño Peppers in sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Incorporating them into cream-based recipes adds a delightful kick to heartier meals. So, whether you’re a spice lover or just looking to add some zest to your meals, Jalapeño Peppers have got you covered.
#21st Hottest Pepper in the World: Pepperoncini (100–500 SHU)
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When you travel to Italy or Greece, you might spot people happily snacking on Pepperoncini. Locally, they call it “peperoncini” with one less “p” to spell it. However, Italians often refer to it as “friggitello” to avoid any mix-up with the famous pizza topping, pepperoni. These peppers typically grow to be about 2–3 inches long. Despite their fierce appearance, Pepperoncini doesn’t pack much heat. From a distance, they might remind you of jalapeños or banana peppers due to their similar color and size. When enjoyed fresh, they offer a sweet and peppery flavor that can elevate your favorite sandwich or pasta.
If you’re a fan of pickled peppers, you must give Pickled Pepperoncini a try. Regardless of the pickling recipe you choose, these peppers bring the perfect spicy kick to your brine. Pickled Pepperoncini makes for an excellent addition to antipasto or sandwiches. You can also chop them up and eat them raw as a side dish with steak or grilled meat. Fresh Pepperoncini complements the savory taste of red or white meat with its sweet and peppery notes. It also pairs wonderfully with cheesy dishes like macaroni and cheese or Greek pizza.
Hot Peppers Storage
To keep your hot peppers fresh for 1-2 weeks, store them in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer, but make sure they’re completely dry. Moisture can cause them to spoil.
Here are some other ways to store hot peppers:
- Cut them into strips and put them in freezer bags. If you prefer milder heat, remove the seeds first. Remove as much air as possible from the bag before freezing.
- Freeze them whole, although they might be a bit softer in texture after thawing.
- Roast them, freeze them on a sheet tray, and then transfer them to a freezer bag for later use.
- String them up and let them dry in a warm, dry spot.
- Use a dehydrator to quickly dry the peppers, especially if it’s humid outside. Just remember to set up the dehydrator outdoors to avoid making your home spicy!
- Roast, peel, and store them in olive oil in a jar in the refrigerator.
Here are some handy ways to use hot peppers:
- Create your hot sauce with just peppers, vinegar, salt, and garlic.
- Roast them and add a spicy twist to dishes like salsa, chili, soup, or potato salad.
- Grind or crush dried peppers for an all-purpose flavoring and seasoning.
- If you love the fruity chili flavor without the heat, try dried Mexican chilis like Guajillos, Anchos, or Pasillas; they offer complex earthy sweetness.
- To tone down the heat, remove the pepper’s membrane around the seeds before cooking, as capsaicin is most concentrated there.
A word of caution: When handling hot peppers, wear gloves, and avoid touching sensitive areas like your eyes, nose, or face. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Hot peppers aren’t just spicy; they’re downright delicious! They can also bring a touch of sweetness to your dishes and crank up the flavor to a whole new level. Whether it’s cayenne, pepperoncini, or fiery habanero, a little spice can go a long way.
And here’s the best part: Humans can develop a tolerance for the heat, and that’s a skill worth honing!
What makes peppers spicy?
Peppers get their spiciness from a chemical called capsaicin. It’s a little defense mechanism they developed to dissuade mammals from munching on them (though, it hasn’t been entirely successful). Capsaicin is produced in the spongy white membrane that protects their seeds.
How big of a range of spiciness is there, really?
To figure out how spicy a pepper is, scientists use something called Scoville units. It’s like a spicy-o-meter that tells you how much capsaicin, the spicy stuff, is in a pepper.
Just to give you an idea, a regular bell pepper scores a big fat zero on the Scoville scale because it’s not spicy at all. Now, if you’re up for a little kick, a jalapeño packs a few thousand Scoville units. But if you’re feeling brave, a habanero cranks it up to over 100,000 Scoville units!
And if you’re on a quest for fiery extremes, the hottest peppers on our planet clock in at over 3 million Scoville units. That’s like 1.5 times hotter than pepper spray!
The cool thing is, no matter how much heat you can handle, there’s a chili pepper out there waiting to be your spicy soulmate.
How do you measure the heat of a hot pepper?????
Back in 1912, a fellow named Wilbur Scoville came up with something called the Scoville scale. His mission? To tell us how spicy chili peppers are.
Here’s how he did it: He took some peppers and kept watering them down until a group of brave taste-testers couldn’t feel the heat anymore. Then, he gave each pepper a score in Scoville Heat Units, or SHU. This score tells you how many times a fiery pepper had to be watered down before it behaved.
So, let’s break it down. A mild jalapeño? It only needs to be watered down about 1,000 times to mellow out. But if you’re dealing with habanero peppers, you’ve got to dilute them a whopping 350,000 times to tame the flames!
And hold onto your hats because Pepper X, the spiciest pepper known to humanity, demands an astonishing 3,180,000 dilutions! That’s a one-way ticket to the hospital if you’re not careful!
Did Hot Peppers ALL Come from Mexico!??
I bet you’ve savored spicy dishes from various corners of the globe. Indian cuisine can really bring the heat, and North African nations like Morocco and Algeria are no strangers to the fiery allure of hot peppers. Southeast Asian fare, like what you’ll discover in Vietnam and Thailand, can set your taste buds ablaze. But you know what? All these fiery flavors trace their origins back to one place: Mexico.
It was those intrepid Portuguese explorers, venturing across the world in search of trade, who ensured that hot peppers spread to every corner of our planet. Interestingly, hot peppers got their name because Europeans found their fiery kick quite reminiscent of black peppercorns, the spiciest seasoning known in their time.
Bell Peppers VS Hot Peppers?
You know, bell peppers may be called “peppers,” but they’re quite different from their spicy cousins. They score a big fat zero on the Scoville scale because they contain no capsaicin. But that’s not the only unique thing about bell peppers.
You’ve likely come across green, yellow, red, and even purple bell peppers, right? Well, here’s the scoop: they’re all essentially the same thing. The only difference is the stage of maturity they’ve reached. And when it comes to taste, the ripe red bell peppers are the sweetest. On the other hand, those green ones? They’re known for their satisfying crunch.
Weaponizing Hot Peppers!??
Pepper spray, that stuff for self-defense and keeping crowds in check, isn’t whipped up from the piperine in your regular black pepper, as you might have guessed. Nope, it’s all about the fiery capsaicin from hot chili peppers.
You see, pepper spray is like a capsaicin powerhouse, scoring an eye-watering 2,000,000 to 5,000,000 on the Scoville heat scale. So, here’s the takeaway: save it for self-defense, but definitely don’t try to spice up your dinner with this fiery stuff!
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