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9 July 2019

The Carolina Reaper is currently the hottest pepper in the world, measuring over 2 Million Scoville Heat Units. It was developed by grower Ed Currie. Learn more about the Carolina Reaper here.

Scoville Heat Units: 1,400,000 – 2,200,000 SHU
Capsicum Chinense

With a Guinness-submitted 1,641,183 Scoville Heat Units (previously submitted as 1,569,383 SHU average and recently measured peak levels of over 2,200,000 SHU, SMOKIN’ ED’S CAROLINA REAPER® has officially completed its long journey to the top of “superhot” chili charts.

What is the Carolina Reaper Chili Pepper?

This is an extremely hot chili pepper developed by a grower named Ed Currie, and is currently the hottest pepper in the world. It is also called HP22B pepper. As of 2013 it was over 7 generations old. Ed created this chili pepper plant variety by crossing a Pakistani Naga with a Red Habanero type from St Vincents Island in the West Indies. It was bred in South Carolina and tested at over 2.2 Million Scoville Heat Units (with an aveerage of 1,641,000 SHU) by Winthrop University.

The flavor is fruity and similar to a 7 Pot chili pepper. The Carolina Reaper can grow to a height over 4 feet tall.

It is currently listed at the hottest pepper in the world by the Guinness World Records.

How Hot is the Carolina Reaper?

As the hottest chili pepper in the world currently, the heat range is listed from 1,400,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale to a blazing 2,200,000. Compared to your average jalapeno pepper, it measures 175 to 880 times hotter. Compare that to a typical jalapeno pepper, which averages about 5,000 Scoville Heat Units, and the hottest Carolina Reaper is up to 440 times hotter. That is crazy hot!

How Hot is the Carolina Reaper Compared to a Ghost Pepper?

Ghost peppers (aka bhut jolokia) also have an awesome level of heat, and are one of the original superhot peppers, but the Carolina Reaper takes that heat to a whole new level. Ghost peppers range in heat from 855,000 – 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), so the hottest Carolina Reaper is more than twice as hot

Appearance and Description

The Carolina Reaper is a smaller pod, ranging from 1 to 2 inches wide (2.5 – 5 cm) and 2 to 3 inches (5 – 7.6 cm) long. The pods mature to a vibrant red color. The skin tends to sport a bumpy texture, though some can have a smoother texture. One distinctive feature is a typical scorpion-like tail, much like that of a scorpion pepper.

What Does the Carolina Reaper Taste Like?

Despite the extremely scorching heat of this super hot pepper, the Carolina Reaper is surprisingly fruity and sweet. It is outstanding as a dried powder for adding both heat and flavor, and also as a sauce or hot sauce. 

Check out this Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce RecipeThe Hottest Damn Hot Sauce I Ever Made. Despite the “tongue in cheek” name, it is a highly flavorful sauce that mellows with age.

It is best when used sparingly, as a little can go a long way. Consider stirring some into your Thai food dishes to extra heat, or into larger pots of chili, soups or stews.

Try Some of These Carolina Reaper Recipes

Where Can I Buy Carolina Reaper Seeds and Plants?

Check out Ed’s store at The Puckerbutt Pepper Company, or check out my Chili Pepper Plants and Seeds Resources page. Also, here is a link to Amazon (affiliate link, my friends!) – Buy Carolina Reaper Seeds.

Common Questions about the Carolina Reaper

Here are some common questions related to the Carolina Reaper.

Can Eating a Carolina Reaper Kill You?

No, eating Carolina Reapers or other superhot chili peppers will not kill you. However, it is possible to overdose on capsaicin, the chemical that makes chili peppers hot. One would need to eat more than 3 pounds of reapers to achieve this. There have been reports of people ending up in the hospital in extreme situations after eating reapers, particularly those with previous medical conditions. There is also the story of a man who burned a hole in his esophagus from eating super hot peppers, but that is not entirely true.

The truth is that the hole was formed from vomiting after he ate a burger with ghost pepper puree. While it is true that eating extremely hot peppers can cause vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, the reality is that they cannot tear or burn through any of your body parts.

Is There a Pepper Hotter Than the Carolina Reaper?

While no peppers have been officially listed by Guinness as being hotter than the reaper, some peppers have been claimed to be hotter. One report listed the Dragon’s Breath Pepper at 2,483,584 SHU, though it is most likely a hoax. Also, Pepper X, another pepper cultivated by Ed Currie, is reported to reach 3.18 Million SHU.

Would You Eat a Reaper?

Absolutely! I regularly eat reapers, though I respect them enough to use them sparingly. I have once taken a solid bite of a whole reaper and can attest that the heat is extreme. My mouth flamed and eyes watered, and it took at least 30 minutes for the heat to subside. When I normally eat reapers, I cook them into foods, use them for making hot sauces, or dehydrate them for making chili powders, which is how I usually consume them.

I also enjoy making reaper jelly, which works great as a spread or a glaze for grilling meats.

If you’re interested in more superhot chili pepper information, check out my further resources below.

Further Resources Related to the Carolina Reaper

Got any questions? Please let me know. Drop me an email anytime. I’m happy to help. — Mike H.

NOTE: This post was updated on 7/9/19 to include new photos and information. It was originally published on 11/14/2013.

12 comments

  1. Hey! Do you know what chilis are used in the Doritos crisps/chips “Chili Heatwave”? I absolutely love them and I just wanna know what pepper is used.

    P.S. NO WAY WOULD I EVEN TRY A CAROLINA REAPER.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, ChiliGirl. Actually, I have no idea, but suspect they use a combination of them in their powder. If you ever find out the secret formula, I’d love to hear it.

  2. Last year I managed to get about 30 of those babies here in Belgium, after 3 years of growing the plant. I made hot sauces, pickles, used them in various recipes and froze some. I left a few to dry in order to crush them or make powder, but they shrank miserably and lost their bright red color to a brownish orange, which appeared rotten although they were very dry and hard. Do you have a technique to dehydrate them? I was thinking to try and dry them in the oven next time (although my tree didn’t survive the winter, the biggest peppers had some seeds so its successor is already growing 🙂

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Alami. Yes, I dry peppers all the time and recommend a dehydrator. I’m actually the author of “The Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook“. I have a couple pages you can review. One is “How to Dehydrate Chili Peppers and Make Chili Powders”: https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/preserving-chili-peppers/how-to-dehydrate-chili-peppers-and-make-chili-powders/. The other is “Dehydrating Chili Peppers”: https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/preserving-chili-peppers/dehydrating-peppers/. I hope these pages help! There is also information on oven drying in case a dehydrator is not attainable for you. Let me know how it all turns out. — Mike H.

  3. The max ive enjoyed is scotch bonnet. Some of them are really acridly hot. But i think some of stuff you guys are talking are in a different class altogether. I guess you get acclimatized to it but frankly i’m amazed it doesnt etch the glass bottles the sauce comes in.

    Years ago, my mum was an auxillary nurse. She told me there were a lot of people from india in the wards to do with digestive complaints eg stomach cancer, abdominal cancer. She associated with too hot food.
    But maybe they had additional problems which weren’t appreciated then eg H pylori infection of the stomach which is often wrong diagnosed as ulcers Mercifully H pylori can be treated these days. So dont stuffer in silence if your belly’s giving you jip.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Don. Yes, the superhots are so named for a reason. Crazy heat in some of them, and yes, you do get used to it by building up a tolerance. Scotch Bonnets are quite spicy too, though. Respect!

  4. i don’t think it’s safe for live to bite a pinhead-sized piece off of these..

  5. sheldon morgan

    Are you guys getting your carolina reaper stock from puckerbutt growers in south carolina?

    REPLY: Sheldon, no, I grew them from seed. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  6. Each summer I purchase one of each: habanero, jalapeno, tabasco, and Thai chili peppers. Though they are too hot for my consumption, I share them with relatives and friends, but keep a few to make pickled relish.

    I live in the DMV area and usually purchase plants at the local Home Depot, Lowes, etc.; I have never seen any of this variety or any of the other hottest peppers on the list in the stores. Where are the plants available?

    REPLY: Annie, you can find seeds or order these types of peppers online. I hope to set up a resource page soon. Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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