Hottest Chili Peppers and Chilli Sauces with Scoville Ratings

Red Hot Chillies

If you’ve ever bitten into a hot chili pepper unprepared, you have probably never forgotten the experience. Mouth burning, tongue burning, lips on fire, and no amount of water (or anything else) helps to quell the pain. Yes, chilies are certainly spices to respect, and some can be lethally hot.

There is even a hot chili sauce called “Insanity Private Reserve” which is presented for sale in a small coffin. And, no, you’ve never tasted it. If you had, you would be wagging the charred remains of your tongue around your mouth, fondly reminiscing about the days when you still possessed the sense of taste. Yes, it is that hot.

It is not commonly known, but that there is in fact a scientific way to measure the hotness of chilies. They are graded according to the heat they generate on the palette, and this scale is called the Scoville scale, which was devised by the American chemist Wilbur Lincoln Scoville in 1912.This has since become the industry standard. The higher the number, the hotter the chili in question, and the more respect it deserves.

So, here you will learn about the different types of chili, their origin and use, and most importantly, how hot they are.

For comparison, the well known Red Tabasco sauce, rates 2’500 to 5’000 on the Scoville scale.

A Poblano Chili Pepper
A Poblano Chili Pepper

Poblano Chili

Origin: The poblano is a relatively mild chile pepper originating in the State of Puebla, Mexico.

Appearance and Use: An immature poblano is dark purplish green in color, but eventually turns a red so dark as to be nearly black. Dried, it is called an ancho chile.It can be prepared a number of ways, commonly including: dried, coated in whipped egg (capeado) and fried, stuffed, roasted, or in mole sauces, and is often ground into a powder used for flavouring recipes.

Hotness: 1,000 to 2,000 on the Scoville scale

Green Jalapeno Chili
Green Jalapeno Chili
Red Jalapeno Chili
Red Jalapeno Chili
Red Fresno Pepper
Red Fresno Pepper

Jalapeno Chili

Origin: It is named after the city of Xalapa in Mexico, interestingly where they are no longer grown although they are still extensively grown throughout other regions in Mexico.

Appearance and Use: Jalapeno peppers are initially green, but ripen to a red colour. Jalapeno are usually eaten in the green stage, fresh or pickled, but when allowed to ripen, jalapeños are amazingly sweet. Used extensively in Mexico on nachos, the rest of the world on Pizza's.

Hotness: 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale.

Red Fresno

Origin: Grown in Fresno, California.

Appearance and Use: Red Fresno chili peppers are similar to jalapeños, but they are less meaty and have thinner skin, making them very suitable for use in salsas. There are also green fresnos, which are milder.

Hotness: The Red Fresno rates between 2,500 and 8,000 on the Scoville index.

Green Serrano Chili Pepper
Green Serrano Chili Pepper

Serrano Chili

Origin: the mountainous regions of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo.

Appearance and Use: the serrano chile is green in color at first, and ripens to red, brown, orange, or yellow. Serrano chile peppers don't dry well, since they are too meaty. They don't need to be steamed or peeled before using, making it the easiest chili pepper to use for salsas

Hotness: The serrano chilli rates between 8,000 and 23,000 Scoville scale.

Manzano Chili
Manzano Chili

Manzano Chili

Origin: Manzanochile peppers are originally from South America, and are relatives of the hot South American rocoto peppers.

Appearance and Use: One variety turns from green to red and the other from green to orange with the latter being more flavorful. Manzanos are used most often in fresh form because the pods are so thick they are difficult to dry. They are great for making hot salsas. The manzano is unusual in that it has black seeds.

Hotness: The manzano rates between 12,000 and 30,000 on the Scoville scale.

Chili de Arbol
Chili de Arbol

Chile de Arbol

Origin: Chile De Arbol Peppers are named in reference to the woody stems attached to the pod. The Spanish translation of the name means "treelike."

Appearance and Use:. Chilies de arbol are narrow, curved chilies that start out green and mature to bright red. The arbol chile is very hot, and related to cayenne pepper. The attractive bright red colour of these peppers makes them ideal for craft work such as chile wreaths or ristras. Used in salsa, hot sauce, tacos, soups, stir fry, Thai curry.

Hotness: 15,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale.

Cayenne Chili Pepper
Cayenne Chili Pepper

Cayenne Chili

Origin: Long, thin fruit that was transported by the Portuguese to China and India, where it is used widely.

Appearance and Use: Long and thin red pepper. Often dried and ground into powder, sometimes pulped and baked into cakes, and made into cayenne pepper. Used for spicy dishes and in Sichuan Cuisine. Also used for medicinal purposes.

Hotness: 30,000 to 50,000 on the Scoville scale

Habanero Chili Pepper
Habanero Chili Pepper

Habanero Chili

Origin: most widely cultivated in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Other modern producers include Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, and parts of the United States including Texas, Idaho, and California.

Appearance and Use: Unripe habaneros are green, but the colour at maturity varies. Common colours are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen. The habanero is very, very hot. The oil in the habanero can be very painful if you get it in your eyes or on open wounds on your hands. It is recommended to wear gloves while handling them.

Hotness: most habaneros rate 200,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale. That's super hot!!

However, there is a version of the habanero called Red Savina Habanero Chili. This chilli rates 350,000 to 575’000 on the Scoville scale. That's super, super hot!!

The Naga Jolokia - the worlds hottest chili
The Naga Jolokia - the worlds hottest chili

Bhut Jolokia Chili, naga jolokia, dorset naga, ghost pepper, naga morich

Origin: These are all names for the same variety of chilli pepper. It is a naturally occurring inter-specific hybrid originating in the Assam region of north-eastern India It also grows in the Indian states of Nagaland and Manipur. It was originally named “King Cobra Chili” by the Naga people after the most venomous snake found in the region, the pepper's fierce "bite" being considered to be like the venom of a king cobra.

Appearance and Use: wide with an orange or red colour. They are similar in appearance to the habanero pepper, but have a rougher, dented skin — a main characteristic of the Naga.[5]

Hotness: 1’000’0000 units on the Scoville scale. This chilli holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s hottest spice, and is almost twice as hot as the red savina habanero.

Speciality Chili Sauces and Extracts

This is also a growing market for ”speciality sauces” made from the hottest peppers, or even directly from the capsaicin extract, which is what gives the chilli its hotness. These sauces are many times hotter than the hottest naturally grown peppers and come with various warning notices, such as “Use this product one drop at a time. Keep away from eyes, pets and children. Not for people with heart or respiratory problems. Use extreme caution.”

Dave's Private Reserve which comes in a coffin-shaped package and has been reported variously as from 500,000 to 750,000 Scoville units.

His most recent release is a super-limited holiday edition. It is called “Limited-Edition Insanity Private Reserve” and is two to three times as hot as his private reserve, (that makes it over 2’000’000 Scoville units) and was limited to 200 bottles total, selling for $199 per bottle.

And, believe it or not, there are even more insane sauces and pepper extracts on the market:

Some examples:

Scoville index
Common Pepper Spray
Mad Dog 44 Magnum Pepper Extract
Police Grade Pepper Spray
The Source
Blair's 16 Million Reserve
Pure capsaicin

So, if you really do want to burn your tongue to a crisp, dissolve your stomach lining, or disintegrate your intestines, now you know how to do it.


Copyright (c) 2009. All rights reserved.

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Comments 15 comments

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

Great information...I love the photos so we can picture the chiles mentioned.

pinto2011 profile image

pinto2011 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

Great hub. So deep insight of a subject that it is captivating and I cannot live it without finishing it.

jonnyjonnyuk profile image

jonnyjonnyuk 5 years ago from Moscow, Russia

Great hub and so much information! Perfect for a hot head like me:) Now the hottest chiili in the world is the Trinidad scorpion (Butch T) cultivated in Australia and this beast rates at 1,463,700 scoville units!!!!! Now that's hot!

scoville scale 5 years ago

The hottest I'll go on the scoville scale is habaneros. Great pepper info! I learned a few things!

Japemwellows profile image

Japemwellows 6 years ago from 5ifth Dimensi0n

Love this hub, I'm totally addicted to everything Chilli!!

sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago Author

IE - thank you so much!

IntimatEvolution profile image

IntimatEvolution 6 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

Such a neat idea for a hub. Great work at putting it together too. I adore it. So I bookmarked it, and sent a tweet out about it.

Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 7 years ago from London, UK

Mmmmmh. Hot stuff!

Now I know which ones to avoid. Thanks.

Hot Hub:)

cally2 profile image

cally2 7 years ago from Paraparaumu, New Zealand

I knew a Korean guy who used to eat this chili sauce on crackers like peanut butter or jam. I am a bit of a chili nut so I tried a little little dip on my finger. Both finger and tongue took a couple of days to recover. I couldn't pronounce the name of the sauce but it was by far the hottest thing I have ever tasted.

sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 7 years ago Author

chenmikehk - thanks for the info. 50'000 to 100'000 is VERY hot, and it deserves a mention. I will add some info about it to the article.

chenmikehk profile image

chenmikehk 7 years ago from North Borneo, Malaysia

Wiki calls it birds's eye chilli

50,000 to 100,000 on the Scoville pungency scale.

sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 7 years ago Author

Chenmikehk - I have neve heard of padi? I like hot spices too, but apparently these so celled Insanity sauces can kill if not respected! Thanks for your comment.

chenmikehk profile image

chenmikehk 7 years ago from North Borneo, Malaysia

I eat some hot stuff. But these are way beyond hot. In Malaysia, we have this chili padi that is small but boy is it lethally hot!

sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 7 years ago Author

Flightkeeper, thanks for the comments - so are you tempted to guzzle down a bottle of Insanity Sauce?

Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 7 years ago from The East Coast

Sannyasinman, as I was reading your hub my mouth was watering and pursing up at the same time. Good hub!

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