Carolina Reaper VS Ghost Pepper: Spicy Showdown

Carolina reaper and ghost pepper have both received their share of attention. While some of it is for their culinary uses, a lot of it comes down to how insanely hot these peppers are. In some ways, Carolina reaper vs ghost pepper comparison is a whole lot about how spicy they are.

But let’s not forget the culinary path either. These hot peppers make for some wonderful dishes. Let’s see what the differences are between these two peppers and how they actually compare.

Carolina Reaper VS Ghost Pepper
Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper

The Heat – Where Do These Two Super Hot Peppers Stand

The heat is where the comparison between both these peppers is the most common. While this metric is important from an interest or academic point of view, it isn’t really all that important for the average recipe. 

Both of these are insanely hot chilies. So hot that it’s best to wear a glove even if you’re simply holding either of these. Keep in mind, both these peppers have held the Guinness World Record for being the hottest chili in the world.

How Hot Is A Ghost Pepper?

Ghost peppers score a remarkable 855,000 to 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). For comparison, an average green chili scores between 2000 to 5000 SHU. The average jalapeno lies somewhere between 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. 

Heat from ghost peppers is fairly consistent. Apart from the recorded upper and lower limits, most measurements arrive at a median of 948,215 SHU.

In 2007, Guinness World Records reported and certified the ghost pepper as the hottest chili pepper in the world. At that point, it was also the first chili pepper to go beyond a million SHU.

This sparked off an enduring legacy and popularity for this chili. Around that time, there were also several YouTube videos and challenges centered around the ghost pepper or eating it. These helped increase interest in this pepper and the ghost pepper cemented its place as a legend. 

There’s also an interesting story behind the name of this pepper. Ghost pepper is primarily cultivated in India, where it is known as bhut jolokia. As the pepper gained attention of the wider world, its name saw a very literal translation to ghost pepper. The Hindi word bhut translates to ghost and jolokia to pepper.

Ghost pepper is largely cultivated in Assam and other north-eastern states of India. In some parts of the country, it is also known as bih jolokia (poison pepper) and naga jolokia (cobra/snake pepper). These names are probably a reference to the shape and intense heat of the pepper. Another common name for this pepper is King Chili. 

In any case, this is one seriously hot pepper!

How Hot Is The Carolina Reaper?

Bhut Jolokia’s crowning as the world’s hottest pepper was somewhat short-lived. The title was taken by Trinidad Scorpion “Butch T” pepper in 2011. This, in turn, gave way to the current hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper in 2013.

This super hot chili originated in the state of South Carolina as a hybrid (crossbreed) from two other very hot peppers. These are the La Soufriere pepper and Naga Viper pepper. It was bred in a greenhouse by the proprietor of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company.

The minimum reported heat of the Carolina pepper is 1.4 million SHU, while the highest is at 2.2 million SHU. 

Carolina Reaper’s SHU (heat level) is hot enough to match, or even supersede, several law-enforcement grade pepper sprays. Most pepper sprays fall in the range of 2,000,000 – 4,500,000 SHU. Some can even be lower and that’s comfortably below the numbers of Carolina reaper chilis. Note, that the observed median heat of Carolina Reapers is 1.8 million SHU.

Calling this pepper hot is an understatement. Its whopping high heat is practically off the charts. 

Carolina Reaper gets its name from the shape of its tail, and of course, from the name of the state where it was first developed.

Taste Test Of These Super Hot Chili Peppers

What taste could one expect from crazy hot peppers like these? At this point, I’ll say again. These are both super hot peppers and eating them raw can seriously affect your health. Take note of the comparison with pepper spray above, and the fact that it’s recommended that people wear gloves when touching these peppers.

As for the question of taste, there is plenty of information. People have downed these chilis, if only for the sake of those challenges. So, we can go by their wisdom or rather their experience.

Apparently, the super hot Carolina Reaper starts with an almost sweet and fruity taste. Immediately after that, its heat comes to the fore, and it feels like molten lava according to claims. Well, yeah, it’s not actual molten lava, but with several people using that expression, you can imagine how hot it would feel.

Bhut jolokia, or ghost pepper, provides a similar effect. You start with a somewhat sweet flavor and immediately get hit by a wave of heat. 

Compared to ghost pepper, Carolina reaper has a higher initial sweetness, followed by a hotter and more intense flavor.

While eating these chilies by themselves is not recommended, there are recipes that benefit from their qualities. For example, several hot sauces and chili sauces pair these chilies with tropical fruit or other sweet ingredients. 

This takes advantage of their initial sweetness for a better flavor, while also utilizing the intense heat of these chilies and bringing it down to a more comfortable level for human consumption. 

Where Can I Purchase Carolina Reaper And Ghost Pepper?

The popularity of these chili peppers means that they are available for purchase in several locations, shops, and online stores. It is very difficult to find fresh peppers of either variety as most stores find them too hot to handle. However, if you need some, it might be useful to look at specialty stores or farmers’ markets in some locations.

More commonly, you can buy Carolina Reapers or Ghost peppers as dried chili peppers, powders, or flakes. Dried peppers are relatively easy to buy and are available in several stores, or can be ordered online.

What Is The Hottest Pepper In The World – The Top 10

A discussion on Carolina reaper vs ghost pepper won’t feel right without listing the hottest chilies in the world. After all, these peppers are more about how hot they are, rather than being developed and cultivated solely for culinary use.

While we know what is the hottest pepper in the world, listing the top 10 isn’t as easy. Facts and claims tend to get mixed up and the lists aren’t completely authoritative. Yet, it isn’t all that mixed up either.

So, let’s see what the hottest pepper are:

  1. Carolina Reaper
  2. Chocolate Bhutlah – A brown chili packing so much heat is an exception to the norm
  3. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
  4. 7 Pot Douglah 
  5. Dorset Naga
  6. Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
  7. Naga Viper
  8. Ghost Pepper (King chili, Bhut Jolokia) 
  9. 7 Pot Barrackpore
  10. 7 Pot Red (Giant)

Enjoying The Mega Hot Peppers

There is certainly no doubt that Carolina pepper is the hottest chili pepper available at the moment. While bhut jolokia (ghost pepper) shot to fame as the first chili to go beyond one million SHU, it has since been dwarfed by Carolina reaper. 

In fact, as we see in the list of hottest peppers, there are several peppers that can claim to be hotter than the bhut jolokia. 

While both these peppers are famous for their heat, the touch of sweet and fruity taste they offer shouldn’t be ignored. It is the combination of their heat and fruity-sweet taste that encourages the use of these peppers in recipes, especially hot sauces.

As the basics of Carolina reaper vs ghost pepper go, both these peppers are super hot. Yet, they manage to have that touch of a fruity-sweet flavor as well. 

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