The Hottest Peppers in the World

The chilli (or "chile") pepper is a seed-bearing fruit, bringing heat to the tastes of us mammals with the chemical compound capsaicin. The ghost chilli is probably the most well-known of the more intense cultivars. A few new varieties have appeared in the 2000s, reaching new heights through breeding and selection. While some have been grown with heat or a Guinness World Record in mind, others were created or found by accident. The peppers below are measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU):

A ripe, red, Carolina Reaper chilli pepper with bumpy texture, hanging on the plant

#1: Carolina Reaper

1,569,300–2,200,000[1] SHU
Record Set: August 7th, 2013

Moruga trinidad scorpion chilli, bright red, ripe and ready to be picked.

#2: Trinidad Moruga Scorpion

580,000–2,009,231[2] SHU
Record Set: February 13th, 2012

Two harvested chocolate 7-Pot Doughlah chile peppers on a piece of canvas

#3: Chocolate 7-Pot 'Douglah'

924,000–1,853,396[2] SHU

Trinidad Scorpion (Butch T.) chile and leaves of plant, bright red

#4: Trinidad Scorpion 'Butch T.'

800,000–1,463,700[2] SHU
Record Set: March 2011

Red Naga Viper chile pepper with stem

#5: Naga Viper

1,382,118[3] SHU
Record Set: February 25th, 2011

Closeup of the 7-pot Jonah pepper, red and growing on the plant

#6: The 7-Pot 'Barrackpore', 'Jonah', and 'Primo'

~1,000,000–1,300,000[4] SHU

Dorset Naga Variety of Naga Morich

661,451–1,032,310[4] SHU

A bunch of Infinity Chilli peppers ripe and still growing

Infinity Chilli

1,067,286[3] SHU
Record Set: Early February, 2011

Very Hot Chiles: Under 1 Million SHU

There are dozens of other varieties of peppers that make their way into many dishes, powders, and hot sauces. Many of these chillis are more than hot enough, or still too hot for many people. A spoonful of your average hot sauce made with habanero is often enough to spice up a meal. Around this level of heat is the sweet spot for a lot of spicy products that still want their flavor and other ingredients to be perceptible.

Five glossy Red Savina chilli peppers in a wooden bowl

Red Savina

250,000–577,000 SHU
World Record: 1994–February 2007

Jamaican hot chocolate habanero chilli peppers, also known as congo black

Chocolate Habanero

100,000–350,000[3] SHU

Bunches of white habanero chile peppers growing on a bush.

Peruvian White Habanero

100,000–350,000[3] SHU

Yellow Madame Jeanette chilli peppers in a granite mortar with a clove of garlic

Madame Jeanette Chilli

100,000–350,000[3] SHU

Fatalii hot pepper


125,000–325,000[3] SHU

Devil’s Tongue hot pepper

Devil’s Tongue

125,000–325,000 SHU

Hot to Medium Hot

Just because these chilli peppers do register in the million plus range of Scoville heat units, does not mean that taking a bite out of one freshly picked from a garden is a good idea. You still may find yourself running to find a glass of milk to ease the burning sensation. These range from about 3 to 15 times as hot as a jalapeno.

Thai hot pepper, birds eye, thai dragon, hanging straight down from plant with pale green leaves

Thai (Bird's Eye)

100,000–225,000[3] SHU

Chiltepin pepper


50,000–100,000[3] SHU

Pequin chilli pepper


30,000–60,000[3] SHU

Many Tabasco peppers growing in a bunch outside, facing the sky. In various stages of ripening; yellow, orange, and red.


30,000–50,000[3] SHU

Serrano pepper


10,000–25,000[3] SHU

Mild: The Lower End of the Scale

The heat level can vary greatly depending on where the chilli comes from—the chile peppers from your average supermarket may be exceptionally mild. While the ones from a farmer's market could be 10 times hotter than you were expecting. Here are some of the more well known types of "hot" peppers residing at the lower part of the scoville scale. There are a lot more—they just don't get as much attention with the race to the top and without their own niche.

Yellow apple-shaped manzano peppers growing, highlighted by warm sunlight


12,000–30,000[4] SHU

Dark green poblano peppers freshly picked from the garden, with reflective beads of water, in a colander


1000–1500[3] SHU

Pepperoncini pepper

Friggitello USA: Pepperoncini

0–500[3] SHU