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Top 10 Hottest Peppers on the Scoville Scale

Top 10 Hottest Peppers on the Scoville Scale

Posted by Ghost Scream Hot Sauce on Jun 4th 2021

ghost chilli scale

Some like it hot and we agree. However, if you didn’t already know, some peppers have a more intense flavor than others. Why is this?

Well, it all comes down to cultivation. With many crossbreeding enterprises popping up, it is becoming more common than ever to see a ton of flavorful peppers with an intense amount of heat.

Keep reading to learn about the ten hottest peppers according to the Scoville scale, a measurement of the pungency of peppers in “Scoville Heat Units”.

10. Red Savina - 500,000 SHU

Developed in California, the Red Savina Habanero Pepper is considered the tenth hottest in the world. With a Scoville Heat Unit rating of just over 500,000, it is a commercial favorite for specialty hot sauce makers around the globe. As a fun fact, the Red Savina held the Guinness Book of World Records top spot for twelve years, from 1994 to 2006.

9. 7 Pot Jonah (Red Giant) - 1,000,000 SHU

Originating in Trinidad, the 7 Pot Jonah has a whopping 1,000,000 SHU. The pods are said to grow as large as a tennis ball and can season up to seven pots of meat per pod. This pepper variety is also known for a slightly fruity flavor, which makes it ideal for use in chili sauces and other condiments.

8. 7 Pot Barrackpore - 1,000,000 SHU

Also hailing from the country of Trinidad, the 7 Pot Barrackpore is like the Jonah, but has a bit different flavor. With right around 1,000,000 SHU, it is slightly more bitter than other varieties from the same family line. However, it can grow slightly larger and in less time than other 7 Pot peppers.

7. Ghost Pepper - 1,042,000 SHU

ghost chilli scale

Of course, you already know we’re awfully fond of the variety that comes in seventh on the hottest peppers list. The Ghost Pepper ranks around 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units and is primarily grown in India. From 2006 to 2010, it was deemed the hottest pepper in the world, taking over the title from Red Savina. Of course, sometimes you want flavor and not just an insane amount of heat. That’s why we primarily use Ghost Peppers in our  gourmet hot sauces .

6. Naga Viper - 1,349,000 SHU

ghost chilli scale

Interestingly, the Naga Viper comes from England, a country that is not typically known for growing peppers. With a Scoville Scale rank of 1,349,000, it is a cross between three other hot peppers: Naga Morich, Ghost Pepper, and the Trinidad Scorpion. It has not competed for the title of the hottest pepper but makes our list.

5. Scorpion Butch - 1,464,000 SHU

If you’re looking for a sweet flavor and tons of heat, then you’ll love the Scorpion Butch from Trinidad. With 1,464,000 SHU, it took over the top spot on the list of hottest peppers in 2011. These plants often grow over three foot tall, providing a bountiful harvest for those who love spicy peppers.

4. Primo - 1,469,000 SHU

Developed by a cultivator named Troy Primeaux, the Primo Pepper originates from New Orleans, Louisiana. While it hasn’t competed for the top spot, the story behind this spicy pepper is quite entertaining. As a member of a local band, Primeaux took a leave of absence to try his hand at pepper farming. The results? Fans of the band decided to market the spicy pepper, making it a Cajun favorite.

3. 7 Pot Douglah - 1,854,000 SHU

Next on the list, we have the 7 Pot Douglah. If you’re noticing a trend here, you’re right. These 7 Pot varieties come from the same farmers in Trinidad, who have made it their mission to continue to outdo themselves with hotter and hotter peppers. With a whopping 1,854,000 SHU, this one is also called the Chocolate 7 Pot, thanks to a dark purple-like exterior.

2. Moruga Trinidad Scorpion - 2,009,000 SHU

ghost chilli scale

The Moruga Trinidad Scorpion is a specialty pepper deemed the world’s hottest in 2012. Later overtaken by the Carolina Reaper, it is known for having a fruity sweet or cotton candy aroma. However, the massive 2,009,000 SHU makes it far from enjoyable as a treat! The moderate size and intense flavor make it easy to use for sauces or other recipes.

1. Carolina Reaper - 2,200,000 SHU

ghost chilli scale

Deemed the hottest pepper around in 2013, the Carolina Reaper comes in at the top on this scale with a massive 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units. Developed in South Carolina, the intense flavor has garnered this pepper tons of attention over the last few years. Despite the extreme heat level, it is said to have a bit of a cherry or chocolate undertone, which is why it has really gained popularity for use in specialty hot sauce products.

Try Our Ghost Pepper Gourmet Hot Sauces

Are you feeling adventurous? Then you’ll love trying out the 10 super-hot pepper varieties we’ve included on this list. In fact, we have multiple options in our hot sauce store for you to try out.

Our  Original Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce contains (you guessed it!) ghost peppers. In addition, we have a  truffle hot sauce variety that features the wonderful flavor of black truffle oil.

If you’re looking to try out the Carolina Reaper, you’ll love our  Ghost Reaper Hot Sauce . As one of two green hot sauce varieties we offer, it is one of the spicier options in our verde hot sauce inventory.

Itching to try out the Moruga Scorpion pepper? Then you’ll love our  Ghost Scream Vindaloo Curry Hot Sauce . It contains fresh Moruga Scorpion peppers, plus curry powder and honey.

Conclusion: The Hottest Pepper Varieties on the Planet

ghost chilli scale

The toughest part about ranking the top pepper varieties on the planet by Scoville Scale is that the list is constantly changing. As new farmers and cultivators get in on the goal of trying to outdo each other, hotter peppers are becoming available. But that's okay! We'll be here to create new ghost pepper sauce recipes featuring these new creations.

While the information presented here is based on 2020 standards, there’s no doubt that summer crops this year will likely yield even hotter variations. Stay tuned to find out if the Carolina Reaper is bumped or it can hang on another year at the top spot!

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The Ghost Pepper on The Scoville Scale

The Ghost Pepper on The Scoville Scale

For the true aficionado of hot and spicy, the ghost pepper deserves a special place in their culinary hall of fame. Reaching up to an impressive 1 million units on the Scoville scale , this fierce pepper has earned its place as one of the hottest naturally occurring ingredients around.

But why are we so obsessed with eating something that is literally burning hot? Let's talk about what makes this chili so ferocious, how it's used in popular dishes, and some ghost pepper hot sauces to try!

What is the Scoville Scale and How Does it Work

If you have ever bitten into a chili pepper and felt the intense heat spreading throughout your mouth, that heat in all peppers is caused by one simple natural ingredient... capsaicin. The compound called capsaicin is found in varying levels in peppers and is what causes the burning sensations you feel.

The Scoville Scale is a measurement of how spicy a pepper is based on its capsaicin content. It was developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912 and originally measured through a taste test.

Today, the Scoville Scale is calculated by using high-performance liquid chromatography to determine the capsaicin concentration in a pepper. The higher the concentration, the spicier the pepper. So, the next time you're in the mood for something spicy, you can check on the Scoville Scale to get a rough idea of how hot that chili pepper may be.

a collection of ghost peppers

The Bhut Jolokia Ghost Pepper on the Scoville Scale

The infamous ghost pepper, also known as the Bhut Jolokia, is one of the hottest peppers around. It's so hot that it was once used to make tear gas! Just kidding, we just made that up... but it is HOT.

It stands tall on the Scoville Scale at around 1,041,427 SHU. But with any pepper that can range depending on how the pepper was grown, where it was grown, and many other factors. On the low end, the bhut jolokia ghost pepper can also be around 855,000.

Jalapeños have a Scoville rating that ranges from 2,500 to 8,000. While this may seem low compared to some of the hotter peppers like the 7 pot primo or Carolina reapers, jalapeños still pack a decent amount of heat.

To put its heat into perspective, here is the Scoville rating of the jalapeño pepper alongside some other well-known peppers:

Bell pepper: 0 SHU

Jalapeño pepper: 2,500-8,000 SHU

Serrano pepper: 10,000-25,000 SHU

Ghost Pepper: 1,041,427 SHU

So yeah, it's hot!

the ghost pepper plant

History of The Ghost Pepper

The Bhut Jolokia ghost pepper comes from the Northeast region of India and the name “Bhut Jolokia” literally translates to “Ghost Pepper.” It was officially discovered in 2000 and has since become a popular ingredient in many spicy dishes, sauces, and snacks worldwide.

In 2007 it made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest chili pepper on Earth with an average score of 1,041,427 SHU. However, it has since been surpassed by the Carolina Reaper.

Ghost Pepper Hot Sauces

If you're brave enough to try it out for yourself, there are quite a few recipes online that require the use of this hot chili pepper.

For those who just want to add some heat without cooking up something themselves, there are plenty of amazing ghost pepper hot sauces out there. Here are a few of our personal favorites:

Mikey V's - Sweet Ghost Pepper

Ghostly Garlic Hot Sauce

Texas Ex's

sweet ghost pepper hot sauce

The Different Types of Ghost Peppers

Although the Bhut Jolokia is the most popular, there are actually several varieties of ghost pepper out there. The red ghost pepper that most people are familiar with is just one of many.

Red Ghost Pepper

The red ghost pepper is also often called Naga Jolokia and Bih Jolokia has long pods typically with a bumpy texture.​ Its flavor can be smokey and slightly fruity.

Green Ghost Pepper

The green ghost pepper is a younger and immature version of the red ghost. Taste wise it can have a grassy, fruity, and floral taste. Typically the green ghost pepper won't have as much heat as the red.

Peach Ghost Pepper

The peach Bhut Jolokia tends to have longer pendant pods than the other ghost peppers. Pods on it can start by growing green but eventually turn into a pinkish, peach color. Some even turn orange if left for too long.

Yellow Ghost Pepper

The yellow ghost pepper is unique as it was a natural variant and not a hybrid. Again, the pepper will start green but will grow yellow as it begins to ripen. Tastewise, you'll find it very similar to the red ghost pepper.

White Ghost Pepper

​The white ghost pepper is a rare version that you won't see very often. It also has a more unique look to it as it doesn't have bumps much like the others. It comes with a slightly citrus flavor.

Chocolate Ghost Pepper

The chocolate ghost pepper is not a chili pepper covered with chocolate... but rather naturally grows and turns into a chocolate color. They tend to be a bit smoky and can be very aromatic!

Purple Ghost Pepper

Lastly, we have the purple ghost pepper. Some of these will start off growing with a purple color and eventually turn red. Others can start off green and then turn purple and then red. They have your typical bhut jolokia tastes and flavor profiles, but they can bit a bit more timid with their heat levels.

Chocolate Ghost Pepper

Are You Going To Try The Bhut Jolokia Ghost Pepper?

The Bhut Jolokia ghost pepper is one of the spiciest peppers out there. It can range from 1,041,427 SHU on the Scoville Scale and comes in a variety of colors. From red, green, peach, yellow, white, chocolate, and purple - there are plenty of options for anyone looking to get a bit of heat.

Whether you're looking to add heat to a dish or just curious about the Bhut Jolokia ghost pepper, there's a lot of information out there to learn and explore. From its history, different varieties, and hot sauces .

So if you ever find yourself feeling brave enough to try out the heat of a ghost pepper, grab some gloves and go for it! Just make sure you know what your tolerance level is first.

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Hot pepper heat scale and the scoville scale.

Do you know how hot an Aji Amarillo or Chile de Arbol is? Or how scorching a Ghost Pepper or Carolina Reaper is? Do you know how spicy the peppers you are growing are, or why some peppers have sweet flavors but with some spice in it? This is where the Scoville Scale comes into play. Read to learn more about the hottest peppers in the world and their rankings, and how the Scoville Scale was created to determine a pepper ranking.

What is the World’s Hottest Pepper?

So, what is the hottest pepper on Earth? We’re answering all of your fiery questions by providing our list of peppers ranked by type and Scoville Heat Units. From the innocently mild to the screaming hot, check out the Scoville Heat Unit Scale and learn the heat intensity between hot pepper varieties and extracts:

Pepper Joe’s Pepper Heat Table:

With over 50,000 pepper varieties in the world and new varieties being created every year, it can be overwhelming to keep up with the heat levels of peppers. Even we have to double check hot pepper ratings because we are adding new seeds to our store every year, or a new hot pepper is added to the top 10 hottest peppers of the year.

Growers are producing the hottest hybrids every year with hopes of pushing the Scoville Scale. While the Carolina Reaper is currently known as the hottest pepper in the world, there are some serious competition with rumors of even hotter peppers such as the Dragon’s Breath and Pepper X . There is no confirmation that these peppers are hotter than the Carolina Reaper, but this just means we’ll have to wait for more official announcements!

List of Peppers from Mildest to Hottest as Measured on the Scoville Heat Scale

Pepper Joe's spicy scale showing the hottest peppers on scoville heat scale

What is the Scoville Scale?

We get questions about what the Scoville Scale is, and you may know it as the Chili Heat Scale or the Chile Scoville Scale. The Scoville Scale is a measurement of the heat and pungency of chili peppers where each pepper is recorded in Scoville Heat Units (or famously known as SHUs). The scale is named after its creator, Wilbur Scoville, who created the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912.

What Does the Scoville Scale Measure?

Pepper Joe's hot pepper scale use Scoville scale as a hotness scale

It’s quite simple. Scoville heat units are a measurement of sugar and water. The test measures chili heat by figuring out how much sugar-water needs to be diluted into a chili pepper to get to where you no longer feel the heat at all. The creator, W. Scoville, would dilute the solutions bit by it until the taste testers felt no more burn, and then he would assign a number to the chile pepper based on the amount of dilutions needed to kill the heat.

What creates that burning sensation on our tongues and makes us sweat is the capsaicin. It’s the chemical compound found in peppers, and you can find it in the oil residing in the pepper or seeds. Today, we’re not using taste testers (which would be a pretty sweet job). It’s been replaced by the High Performance Liquid Chromatography, HPLC, which efficiently measures the pepper’s heat by determining the exact concentration of capsaicin.

From Mild to Incredibly Hot

You should know that heat scales are purely subjective. Even with a scientific test using Scoville Heat Units, the hotness of peppers can vary in the same variety from plant to plant, and even on the same plant! That’s why you may see a range of hotness for a specific pepper or a possibility that the chili could be hotter than what it claims. If you’re feeling brave to try a super-hot pepper, check out the most scorching, blazing, ear-vibrating hottest pepper seeds . If you prefer to take a walk to the mild side instead, we have the juiciest, yummiest, sweetest pepper seeds great for a variety of culinary uses.

Hot peppers are a lot of fun, this is why we love what we do. But, please take them seriously and handle with care. If you don’t believe how ridiculously spicy some of the hottest peppers in the world are, watch our team eat a Ghost Pepper:

Want more heat information on peppers?

  • How to Grow Peppers for the Best Results
  • How Hot is the Carolina Reaper?
  • The Top 10 Hottest Peppers in 2020

Want to expand your growing list?

  • Carolina Reaper Pepper Seeds
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  • Ghost Pepper Seeds

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Learn more about Pepper Joe's spicy scale with the hottest peppers in the world

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What Is a Ghost Pepper and How Hot Are They?

Ghost pepper

Perhaps you've watched talk shows where the host challenged a guest to eat a ghost pepper as part of an attention-grabbing segment. If you don't know anything about these super hot peppers, you might think it's an ordinary occurrence. 

Ghost peppers are some of the world’s hottest peppers — way hotter than jalapeño peppers or even habanero peppers — which means it's fairly impressive when someone can withstand the spice to eat one. In fact, in 2007, Guinness World Records labeled the ghost pepper the world’s hottest chili pepper.

Let's explore more about this pepper and everything you need to know before trying one. Then, we'll show you more ways to incorporate spice into your favorite meals for elevated home cooking.

Where Do Ghost Peppers Come From?

Ghost peppers are a hybrid pepper made from Capsicum Chinense and Capsicum Frutescens, and they're part of a family of peppers known as the Capsicum Chinense variety. This spicy pepper shares this classification with habanero, scotch bonnet, and red savina.

This kind of pepper is grown all over the world. However, they originate from northeast India, where they are a featured ingredient in curries. 

Ghost pepper plants are technically called bhut jolokia peppers (translated as “Bhutan pepper” in Assamese_)._ It has also earned the nickname bih zôlôkia in Assam_, which means “_poison chili”. In Nagaland, this pepper is called naga jolokia , which means “Naga chili.”

Are Ghost Peppers Healthy?

You may wonder if there are any nutritional benefits to eating ghost peppers. If you can stand the heat, this pepper has several nutritional benefits.

First, ghost peppers are low in calories and fat, making them an attractive addition to spicy dishes. Additionally, ghost peppers also include vitamin C and antioxidants, which can help fight free radicals throughout your body.

How Hot Are Ghost Peppers?

You may have heard of this infamous pepper and are curious about trying it yourself. If you're someone who can handle the spice, trying this pepper could be an exciting bucket list activity for you. 

Before you try this pepper, it's worth understanding how hot it can taste. Let's talk about the Scoville Heat Scale to understand how hot ghost peppers are. 

Scoville Rating

The Scoville Heat Scale is a system that ranks peppers, hot sauce, and other spicy foods according to Scoville Heat Units, or SHUs. The scale is named after Wilbur Scoville, who created the scale in 1972 to compare the heat of chili peppers based on capsaicinoids. 

On this scale, bell peppers maintain a ranking of 0 SHUs, having no spice whatsoever. 

In 2007, the ghost pepper was crowned the spiciest pepper on the Scoville Scale at 800,000-1,001,300 SHUs. However, since then, cross-breeding peppers have caused the ghost pepper to lose its top-ranked position. Despite this, it remains an impressive spice level, nearly three times as hot as habaneros. 

Today, the Carolina Reaper pepper has earned a spot at the very top of the scale with 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units.

What Are the Pros Eating a Ghost Pepper?

Want to try a ghost pepper for yourself? Before you make the decision to try this pepper, you may want to weigh the pros and cons. Then, you can know for certain whether ghost peppers are for you or if you should stick with other spicy dishes to satisfy your cravings.

Ghost Peppers Are Safe for Some People

Beginning with the pros, it's worth noting that some people can eat bits of this pepper with little discomfort. The rule of thumb is that you may be able to eat them every day as long as the amount you consume is under 1/50th of your body weight. 

Though you may be able to eat parts of a ghost pepper every day, you probably want to avoid eating an entire ghost pepper regularly since the sensation can be intense and even painful. 

Ghost Peppers Can Give You Bragging Rights

Another potentially positive factor of trying ghost peppers is the bragging rights that can accompany the experience. 

Since these peppers have a reputation as one of the world's hottest-known foods, taking a bite of one is impressive. If you think you can take the heat, eating part of a ghost pepper could be a conversation starter that leaves people stunned.

What Are the Cons of Eating Ghost Peppers?

Let's discuss the possible cons of eating a ghost pepper. 

Ghost Peppers Can Cause Physical Discomfort

As we have mentioned, this pepper has earned its ranking toward the top of the Scoville heat scale, making it a food not many can try comfortably. 

After trying this pepper, some people report feeling that their whole body feels as if it is on fire. Here’s a disclaimer: if you plan on trying this food, it's best to wear gloves and goggles since even the oils on the outside of the pepper can cause a burning sensation. 

Ghost Peppers Can Cause Adverse Reactions

When deciding whether you want to try this pepper, it's a good idea to keep the possible side effects in mind. For one, eating this pepper in large quantities can lead to hospitalization, so it's not a pepper to play around with. 

If you still think eating this pepper is something you want to try, be aware that capsaicin is the primary factor that makes peppers hot. This substance activates the pain sensors in your nerves, and too much of it has caused some to experience seizures, heart attacks, or hallucinations. The essential guiding principle for this pepper is that everything is best in moderation.

Recipes To Make With Ghost Peppers

Are you still feeling adventurous? If you want to give ghost peppers a try in small quantities, you can do so with a few easy recipe ideas. Let's take a look at dish ideas you can try if you have a predisposition for spice. 

  • Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce: Do you want to take your burritos to new spice levels? You can combine ghost peppers, tomatoes, vinegar, and olive oil to create an extra extra-hot hot sauce.
  • Pineapple Ghost Chili Sauce: This hot sauce adds some sweetness from pineapple to counteract the blast of heat from the ghost peppers. 
  • Ghost Pepper Jelly: Did you know you can make jelly from ghost peppers, sugar, pectin, and cider vinegar? Spread it on toast if you dare.

Ghost Pepper Tip: If you plan on preparing ghost pepper hot sauce, chili, jelly, or spread, try adding very little amounts of the pepper initially. You can always add more if you want an extra fiery sensation, and adding little bits at a time can ensure you achieve a brilliant fire-to-flavor ratio.

More Spicy Meal Ideas

Perhaps you're a lover of all things spicy, but you need more time to be ready to traverse into the territory of the ghost pepper. If you want to indulge in more flavorful, decadent hot sauces and spicy home-cooked meals, we've got a few easy ideas to make your dreams a reality. 

Try Adding Hot Sauce to Your Snack Platters

What makes the perfect snack tray for guests visiting your home? Having several flavors on deck can make for a well-rounded tasting experience. 

If you've already planned sweet and savory dishes, consider adding some spice to the mix for a tantalizing, mouth-watering touch. TRUFF Luxury Hot Sauces make the perfect match for burritos, wings, and even snacks like popcorn.

Cook Spicy Italian Dishes

The savory, bold flavors of traditional pasta dishes make Italian cuisine popular in many households. Still, even the most well-loved dishes could use a tune-up now and then. If you want to add a personal touch to some of your favorite Italian recipes, consider using TRUFF Black Truffle Arrabbiata Sauce.

TRUFF Black Truffle Arrabbiata Sauce is a high-quality pasta sauce that has a vibrant tomato flavor combined with elegant truffles and bold red chili peppers. Try substituting your usual pasta sauce for this alternative for an elevated Italian dish that brings the heat. 

Add Heat to Your Sandwich Game

What separates an incredible sandwich from a boring one? Often, the quality of the ingredients hold a significant influence, but the condiments steer the ship when it comes to flavor.

Our TRUFF Spicy Mayonnaise includes all the high-quality ingredients of our usual truffle mayonnaise with added spice. Include this spicy spread on your favorite sandwiches, and you'll be addicted to each bite.

Elevate Your Home Cooking With TRUFF

Trying ghost peppers is one way to branch out and experience fiery flavors, but it's not for everybody. 

When you want to enjoy your dish with mild or moderate spice that doesn't overpower other flavors, adding TRUFF sauces into the mix is the way to go. Spicy TRUFF sauces can enhance your favorite meals with the best-quality ingredients and indulgent truffles in every bite.

The Ghost Chili | University of Wisconsin 

Is that chile pepper hot or not? - AgriLife Today | Texas A&M University

Ghost pepper | PolyCentric | Cal Poly Pomona


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Ghost Pepper Scoville Units: How To Calculate The Heat Level Of A Ghost Pepper

Ghost peppers are among the hottest chilis on earth. They're also very rare, so finding one in the wild isn't easy. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy them at home. Here's how to measure the heat level of a fresh ghost pepper.

What Is The Scoville Scale? The Scoville scale measures the heat level of a food based on the amount of capsaicin (the chemical compound responsible for spicy flavors) found within it. The higher the number, the hotter the pepper.

How Does The Scoville Scale Work? The Scoville unit was developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, an American pharmacist who worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He wanted to find a way to measure the heat levels of peppers so he could determine which ones were the hottest.

Buy Melinda's Ghost Pepper Wing Sauce Here Buy Melinda's Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce Here

How Do You Find Out The Scoville Rating Of A Ghost Chili?

In order to calculate the heat level, you need to multiply the grams of capsaicin per 100 millilitres of liquid by the Scoville units assigned to each measurement. The ghost pepper ranks at 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) at the top end of the scale.

How Much Can I Eat? If you eat one gram of capsaicin, you will feel an intense burning sensation in your mouth and throat. However, the actual amount of capsaicin required to cause pain varies between people. This means that the same amount of capsaicin can produce different levels of discomfort in different individuals.

What is Melindas Ghost Pepper Sauce Scoville ?

Melinda's Ghost Pepper Sauce is made with Bhut Jolokia. And according to Guiness Book of Records, it is one of the world's hottest chili peppers.  Melinda’s takes this super hot pepper and blends it with fresh and all-natural ingredients including habanero peppers to make their sauce extra hot.  The Melindas ghost pepper sauce scoville(SHU) ranges between 50,000 – 250,000.  

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Home » Chili Pepper Types » Superhot Chili Peppers » Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) - All About Them

Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) - All About Them

by Mike Hultquist · Jul 6, 2021 · 10 Comments ·

The ghost pepper (aka the Bhut Jolokia) is one of the hottest peppers in the world, topping over 1 Million Scoville Heat Units. Learn more about it.

Ghost Peppers

Ghost Pepper Scoville Heat Units: 855,000 – 1,041,427 SHU Capsicum Chinense

What is a Ghost Pepper?

The ghost pepper (aka the Bhut Jolokia) is one of the hottest peppers in the world, topping over 1 Million SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

It was awarded the distinction of the World's Hottest of All Spices by the Guinness World Records in 2006, topping the  Red Savina Habanero , though was eventually toppled several times over. The current record holder for the hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper .

Ripe peppers measure 2.5 to 3.3 inches long and are usually red, though there are red, yellow, orange, white, purple or chocolate color varieties. They originate in Northern India and the peppers have been around for generations, though only cultivated in the western world since the turn of the century.

History of the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost Pepper)

The ghost pepper was in the running for the hottest pepper in the world for quite some time - in fact, it actually held the Guinness Book of World Record's record for the world's hottest pepper from 2007 until 2010.

The bhut jolokia is a naturally growing pepper that can be found primarily in northeastern India and neighboring Bangladesh.

However, species can also be found in Sri Lanka occasionally. Due to the fact that "bhut" means "ghost" in the Assam language, this pepper is often called the "ghost pepper," in the Western world. These peppers have dented skin that is very thin and easy to tear.

Why is a Ghost Pepper Called a Ghost Pepper?

The word "bhut" means "ghost", given from the Bhutias people, possibly because the heat sneaks up on you like a ghost.

It is also known by the following names - Naga Jolokia, Bhut Jolokia, Bih jolokia, Nagahari, Raja Mircha, Raja chilli, Borbih jolokiai or Ghost Chili.

Note: "Naga" mean "Cobra Snake" in Sanskrit.

How Hot is a Ghost Pepper? (Ghost Pepper Scoville Rating)

The Ghost Pepper measures in at 1,000,000 + Scoville Heat Units. It offers up some intense heat.

They were officially the hottest peppers around, declared the World's Hottest of All Spices by the Guinness World Records in 2006, though was eventually dethroned by a new wave of superhot chili peppers .

The hottest ghost pepper is 416 times hotter than the mildest  jalapeno pepper , which averages about 5,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale , and about 208 times hotter than the average jalapeno pepper and about 3 times hotter than the hottest habanero pepper. Quite hot!

A Pile of Ghost Peppers

Carolina Reaper Vs Ghost Peppers

You can certainly compare a ghost pepper to a Carolina Reaper propagated by Ed Currie as both are intensely hot and both offer up a sweet, fruity flavor. However, as hot as the ghost pepper is, the Carolina Reaper has more than double the heat of the ghost pepper when it is as it's hottest.

Ghost peppers top out at 1,041,427 SHU, where the Carolina Reaper reaches 2.2 Million SHU. 

Ghost Pepper Taste and Heat

Ghost peppers offer an intense fruity, sweet chili flavor. The heat does not kick in for 30 - 45 seconds. Once the heat kicks in, expect sweating, watery eyes, hiccups and shortness of breath. The burning generally intensifies over 10 - 15 minutes and subsides after 30 - 40 minutes.

I personally enjoy them for their fruitiness and the fact that the peppers don't sting you with heat like a scorpion pepper (see this superhot - Trinidad Moruga Scorpion ). Instead, they offer a wonderful blooming heat that blooms. It is pleasurable if you can stand that level of heat.

You can reduce some of the heat by removing the pepper innards before cooking, but with superhots, much of the capsaicin (the chemical that makes peppers hot), reaches into the flesh, so they'll still be hot. Consider using them sparingly, or introducing a dairy, which helps to tame the heat.

Cooking with Ghost Peppers (Bhut Jolokia)

Because of their intense heat, but also because of their fruity flavor, ghost peppers are great for making hot sauces , for dehydrating into powders or chili flakes , or for chopping and cooking into larger meals, like pots of stew or pots of chili .

The heat will really bloom in a large pot. A little goes a long way. Use them as you'd use a habanero, but remember that they are much hotter, up to 5 times the heat level. Use caution when cooking with them. Wear gloves and protect your eyes.

See this post on Cooking with Superhot Chili Peppers for more ideas.

Can Eating Ghost Peppers Kill You?

Eating extremely hot chili peppers in large enough amounts can harm you, but it would take A LOT. According to Dr. Paul Bosland of the Chile Pepper Institute, if you ate a large amount in a short period of time, it could kill you.

He said, "A research study in 1980 calculated that 3 pounds of extreme chilies in powder form eaten all at once could kill a 150-pound person," Bosland, told Live Science. "However, one's body would react sooner and not allow it to happen." Potential results could be seizures, heart attacks, and even death. 

However, 3 pounds of chili powder is an incredible amount, and it would be practically impossible to consume. That would be roughly equivalent to 12 pounds of fresh ghost peppers. 

That said, eating them in moderation can be good for you, as chili peppers offer all sorts of health benefits . 

I eat them all the time and love them. 

Growing Ghost Peppers

Growing these peppers can be difficult, as ghosts like more humidity and heat. They are native to India and that particular climate, so grow best in those conditions. I've been able to grow them in my own home garden in Zone 5 with good success. The peppers grow to a good size and have great heat to them, and the plants are quite productive.

You might consider growing them in a greenhouse where you can control temperature and humidity more directly. Plant them 18-24 inches apart. They prefer warm soil and full sun. The seeds typically germinate around 35 days and mature 100 days after planting. 

Pepper plants grow from 24-48 inches in height. The fruit of the ghost peppers measure 2-3 inches long.

Learn more about growing chili peppers here .

How Much Does a Ghost Pepper Weigh?

An average sized pepper is about 1/3 ounce, so be sure to plan your recipes accordingly.

Bhut Jolokia Chili Peppers

Handle Ghost Peppers with Caution

When working with any  super hot peppers, it is important to wear gloves when handling the peppers both in raw and dried forms. The oils can get on your skin and cause burning sensations. 

Also, the fumes from the chili peppers and/or the fine pepper powders may get into the air if you are not working in a well ventilated room. Work with a fan and open windows, if possible. A mask and goggles can help in extreme situations to keep oils and fumes from your skin and eyes. Superhot chili peppers , truly, are called superhots for a reason.

If you do experience burning sensations, see my post on  How to Stop the Chili Pepper Burn On Your Skin .

Ghost Pepper Recipes

I love cooking with the heat and flavor of ghost peppers and have a number of spicy foods recipes to share with you. 

  • Ghost Pepper Jelly
  • Ghost Pepper Salsa
  • Fresh Ghost Pepper Salsa
  • Sweet and Spicy Ghost Pepper Candied Bacon
  • Sweet Ghost Pepper-Pineapple-Pear Hot Sauce
  • Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce
  • Spicy Chicken Curry
  • Ghost Pepper Chicken Wings
  • Pineapple-Mango Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce
  • Roasted Ghost Pepper Sauce
  • Homemade Ghost Pepper Chili Hot Sauce
  • Homemade Ghost Pepper Chili Powder
  • Homemade Ghost Pepper Chips
  • Phaal Curry (the Hottest Curry in the World)

Learn More About Superhot Chili Peppers

  • Chili Pepper Types - Here is a list of chili peppers
  • What is the Hottest Chili Pepper in the World?
  • A List of the Hottest Chili Peppers in the World
  • Carolina Reaper
  • Brain Strain Peppers
  • Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
  • Chocolate Bhutlah

List of Chili Peppers Organized by Heat Levels

  • Sweet and Mild Chili Peppers
  • Medium Heat Level Chili Peppers
  • Medium-Hot Chili Peppers
  • Hot Chili Peppers
  • Superhot Chili Peppers

Got any questions? Feel free to contact me anytime. Happy to help!

NOTE: This content was updated on 7/6/21 to include new information. It was originally published on 10/23/13.

Reader Interactions

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Pallabi says

September 08, 2021 at 9:18 pm

lorraine Johns says

September 02, 2021 at 5:20 am

Hi Would they be ok in a jerk seasoning?

Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

September 02, 2021 at 5:37 am

It would be great, Lorraine. Nice and hot!

August 16, 2021 at 1:42 pm

Great info! My ghosts are starting to ripen and turn red! Would you recommend ghosts for a salsa? I’m planning on making hot sauce, but not sure if it will go well with salsa? Thanks!

August 20, 2021 at 6:32 am

Absolutely! The post includes links to a couple ghost pepper salsa recipes . Enjoy!

Jérémie says

July 06, 2021 at 11:26 am

July 06, 2021 at 11:31 am

Thanks, Jérémie! I love ghost peppers so much!

Naveen bhandari says

July 12, 2020 at 12:03 am

Hi Mike, is there a degradation in flavour or taste or color to this ghost chilli pepper when subjected to 180 degree temperature ? Can this handle this kind of cooking temperature ? We want to use this as one of the ingredient in our final product called “khakra”which is like roasted wheat crisps.

July 12, 2020 at 11:27 am

Naveen, you'll still get plenty of heat and flavor after cooking with ghost peppers. Great ingredient to work with! Let me know how it goes with the crisps. Sounds wonderful!

Kris Swanson says

August 07, 2017 at 1:08 am

I am trying to find the bhut jolokia pepper in my local grocery store and it's hit and miss. I'm looking for the dried pepper. I grind it up and use it in my artisan cheese. Am I able to order direct through you? Thank you.

REPLY: Kris, sorry, but no, we don't sell pods. Check the Resources link at the top. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.


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