Pounds measure how much you weigh, gallons measure how much liquid one has, and scoville heat units measure spiciness, though you can refer to them as SHUs. You might think you know all about spicy peppers – especially if you’ve ever been a pregnant woman doing all the things that are supposed to send you into labor near your due date – but you probably don’t know that these 20 peppers are the hottest in the world.
(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Carolina Reaper 1,600,000 SHU
It’s the hottest pepper in the world. It was created by a South Carolina resident by the name of Ed Currie as a hybrid chili pepper. It’s red and bumpy and looks like no pepper you want to eat, which you probably don’t considering it’s approximately 200 times as spicy and hot as everyone’s favorite jalapeno pepper.
Naga Viper 1,382,118 SHU
This is also a hybrid pepper. However, this one was created by mixing the seeds of many different hot peppers together by a man by the name of Gerald Fowler in England. Eating a pepper of this nature is like eating an entire jalapeno pepper in one bit, except it’s just a little more of 400 times hotter.
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion 1,200,000 SHU
It’s a reddish color pepper that doesn’t look too appetizing. Unlike the two hottest peppers on the list, this one is completely natural pepper in the world. It’s from a little place in the Caribbean called Trinidad and Tobago.
Infinity Chili 1,067,286 SHU
This is another hybrid pepper created by Nick Woods in England. This pepper is hot enough that the people who cook with them require medical masks to keep away from the fumes, as they’ll burn their faces. Gloves are, without a doubt, absolutely necessary when handling these peppers.
Bhut Jolokia 1,000,000 SHU
This one is known more frequently as the Ghost Pepper from India. It’s an orange pepper that grows around 3 inches long. It was called the hottest pepper in the world in 2007, though some hybrids have outshined it in the years since. It’s more than 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.
Red Savina 577,000 SHU
The red savina is red in color and it belongs to the habanero family. However, it’s twice as hot as it’s regular habanero family, and it’s from California. This is the kind of pepper that can heat several pots of stew at once. Eating one of these is a lot like taking a half of a habanero pepper and eating it without thinking twice.
Fatalii 400,000 SHU
This yellowish pepper is similar to the habanero – but hotter – and it’s from the central and southern African area. It’s around 2 inches in length and it’s one of the hottest peppers in the world. It’s often used in native dishes that feature sauce-like ingredients.
Habanero 350,000 SHU
Everyone loves a habanero pepper, especially in habanero chili sauce. The orange-color pepper is from Mexico and it’s one of the hottest in the world. It’s commonly used in dishes in Mexico, but also all across the United States as well. When you want a little spice to your dish, a little habanero can make a big difference.
Madame Jeanette 350,000 SHU
It’s easy to mistake this hot pepper for a traditional yellow bell pepper. Until you take a big bit of it, that is. They are from the country Suriname. It was named the hottest pepper in the world in the 90s for several years. However, more than a few new peppers have been discovered and several hybrids have been created since.
Scotch Bonnet 300,000 SHU
These Caribbean-natives are yellow in color and very similar to a habanero. The name comes from it’s resemblance to a Scottish Tam o’Shanter hat. It flavors many condiments and sauces created throughout the world.
Guntur 300,000 SHU
Grown in the southeast Asia area, India and Sri Lanka, the Guntur is a red chili. It grows to be around an inch to an inch and a half in length, though it’s a little on the thin side in diameter. It’s most popular in Asian cuisine, known as the spice found in most of your favorite Asian take out dishes.
Datil 300,000 SHU
Much sweeter than a habanero, this sweet pepper is surprisingly hot. It’s thought that this one originated somewhere in Spain and/or Chile, even though they’re cultivated primarily in Florida. Though you might not recognize the name, it’s a pepper commonly used in many native dishes in the south.
Rocoto 250,000 SHU
This hot pepper is sometimes referred to as the locoto and it’s also known as capsicum pubescens. It’s from Central and South America. It looks a lot like an apple or a red bell pepper, though it has black seeds and even a little hair. Don’t let this one fool you, however, because it has a sweet taste that quickly turns into a blast of heat.
Piri Piri 175,000 SHU
These hot peppers are found mostly around the different parts of Africa, from places such as Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Ethiopa. They look like red chilis, but they’re much hotter. They’re native in many dishes, including the kind that families make for dinner at home. It’s commonly used as a day-to-day spice in these areas.
Siling Labuyo 100,000 SHU
It’s named after a Tagalong word that means wild chili and it’s found in the Philippines. These Phillipino chilis are not as hot as some of the other chilis on this list, but Philippine natives would disagree. They use this pepper in special dishes such as salsas and sauces.
Chiltepin 100,000 SHU
This pepper is known as a Bird’s Eye Pepper, and it’s similar to red chili’s even though it’s actually green. They grow mostly in parts of Texas and Mexico. You’ll find this pepper more frequently in Mexican dishes than you will anywhere else in the world, though some southern cities around the Mexican border will use it more frequently than other cities.
Cayenne 50,000 SHU
Cayenne pepper is used in many dishes for cooking. It adds a bit of spice and flavor to just about anything. It’s typically broken down and cooked into powder form so that it becomes a spice. They’re from French Guinea.
Tabasco 50,000 SHU
Tabasco is a pepper, though most people only know it as a sauce. This pepper is grown primarily in Louisiana and used to create the sauce so many southwestern people love. Tabasco is one of the most famous sauces in the world, and the people who make the sauce from this pepper don’t have to wear medical masks to make it, but they do wear gloves when handling these peppers.
Serrano 23,000 SHU
From Mexico, these Serrano pepper is yellow or red, and it’s often used as an addition to sauces and salsa. Most Mexican restaurants in the US use this chili to make their salsas, sauces, and other ethnic dishes a little hotter, a little spicier and a little more interesting.
Jalapeno 8,000 SHU
The jalapeno pepper is one of the most famous, most well-known peppers in the world. They’re from Mexico and they’re used for many dishes, particularly in Mexico and the south. One way people love to use this pepper is by cutting out the veins and the seeds and filling it with cream cheese, wrapping it with bacon and cooking it for around a half hour before consuming. It’s hot without being overwhelming.