Some people the world over seem to spend their time hell-bent on finding new and unusual ways of putting their tongues (and other resulting body parts!) through a certain degree of trauma, in search of the spiciest foods known to man. Of course, all spicy foods come right back down to the chilies used to create the, so for the real heat, you really have to go right back to the raw ingredients.
That being said, unless you have the desire to undergo hospital treatment it would be a good idea to approach any of the frontrunners raw, in this top ten list of the hottest chili peppers in the world today – and please, no Anthony Kiedis jokes at this point…
10The Standard Bell Pepper
Zero Scoville Heat Units
It would only really be fair to kick off with the most popular and versatile pepper in the world today, which although packs no heat of its own is certainly as important as any other. So, ladies and gentlemen, we kick our list off today with the humble and beautifully understated bell pepper.
9 The Pimiento
100 to 500 Scoville Heat Units
One slight step up in the right direction from the humble bell pepper, the Pimiento might be more commonly known as ‘those little bits of pepper found stuffed into olives’ either by the jay or via a quaint little tapas joint. Either way, these zesty and tasty peppers could not go without a mention, though are hardly likely to see anybody reaching for the fire extinguisher.
8 The Poblano/Anaheim Pepper
500 to 2,500 Scoville Heat Units
Turning up the fire just a tiny notch now comes the slightly lesser-known (at least in global circles) Anaheim Pepper. This is a relatively mild example that originates from deep within Mexico and is a hugely popular staple across the country and indeed the US. An excellent pepper to cook with, dry out or eat raw, most would find the heat acceptable and far from sweat-inducing.
2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units
Moving into more familiar territory now, the jalapeno pepper is perhaps the current world favorite and found in thousands of dishes, salads and garnishes covering every cuisine imaginable. Their heat is moderate and usually serves as an idea base for new chili-heads to build upon – though those preferring their tastes completely mild might find a glass of water is called for when attacking a raw jalapeno.
10,000 to 23,000 Scoville Heat Units
Coming in at up to five times the heat of the now seemingly humble jalapeno, the chipotle pepper is hugely popular in its native land of Mexico. Chipotle peppers are famous for adding a wonderfully smoky taste to the dishes they feature in, with a burn that follows smoothly rather than immediately blowing the heads of those consuming them.
30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Heat Units
Perhaps the most widely used pepper in the world when it comes to sauces and condiments, the cayenne pepper can vary quite significantly from reasonably mild to anything but. Most people will of course have eaten the cayenne at some point or in other, with the heat in general begin described as spic indeed, but far from mind-blowing.
50,000 to 100,000 Scoville Heat Units
Those who enjoy Thai food will likely be familiar with the Thai pepper whether or not they realize it, as this is the number-one pepper used for spicing up dishes across Thailand and parts of India. Heat can vary from reasonably intense to pretty serious, therefore those not used to the burn may find this is where the scale becomes a little too hard to handle.
3Scotch Bonnet Pepper/Habanero Chili
100,000 to 350,000 Scoville Heat Units
Perhaps the pepper at the centre of more anecdotes and social fables than any other, the Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers are all incredibly popular in sauces and recipes today, not to mention being offered as staples by most supermarkets. The fact that these particular peppers come in somewhere in the middle of the scale leads many to assume they can take a big raw bite with no consequences to speak of – the surprise to follow now being well documented in man a YouTube clip of poor taste.
2 Naga Jolkia/Ghost Pepper
855,000 to 1.1 million Scoville Heat Units
A big jump from the third place perhaps but let’s face it, once we’ve moved on from the usefulness and value of the Scotch Bonnet, it really is only heat that matters and flavor takes a back seat. With this is mind, it is time to introduce the world-famous Ghost Pepper, which ranks consistently around an eye-watering 1 million Scoville Heat Units. This is one of those peppers that it has to be said came to be more as an experiment that as one to benefit world cuisine, though the pepper has already made a name for itself in areas away from the dinner plate. Indeed, such is the potency that the Ghost Pepper is regularly used in spiritual medicine, not to mention being smeared on fences and used in smoke bombs to keep wild elephants at bay!
Up to 1.5 million Scoville Heat Units
Well, if a name like that doesn’t scare you aware then you’re a braver soul than most! Coming in at the number one spot is the current world record holder for hottest chili on Earth, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T. Over a full year in the making, the T has come along to blow all other contenders out of the water and force us all to redefine exactly what we consider to be hot in the world of the chili. True, there are currently very few recipes and preparations that really make the best of the T with any practical value, but considering the Scoville level is not far from that of standard issue pepper spray…well, you wouldn’t use that on your supper, would you?