Cayenne / Tabasco Pepper

30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units
Cayenne aka Tabasco Pepper
photo: James Diedrick

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. Most people have eaten the cayenne at some point or another with the heat, in general, being described as spic but far from mind-blowing.


Thai / Indian Pepper

50,000 to 10,000 Scoville heat units
Thai / Indian Peppers
photo: Wikimedia (user: Eric in SF)

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.


Scotch Bonnet Pepper / Habanero Chili

100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units
Scotch Bonnet Peppers
photo: Wikipedia

Perhaps the pepper at the center 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 several videos on YouTube.


Naga Jolokia / Ghost Pepper

855,000 to 1.1 million Scoville heat units
Naga Jolokia / Ghost Pepper
photo: Wikimedia (user: Vikramjit Kakati)

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 the 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 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!


Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper

Up to 1.5 million Scoville heat units
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Pepper, The King Of Chili Peppers
photo: Wikipedia (user: Kouya)

Well, if a name like that doesn’t scare you away 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?


  1. I’m surprised you didn’t write that Chipotle peppers are smoked Jalapenos. Thus, they’re the same heat level.


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