Carolina Reaper

It’s a real scorcher.

The world’s hottest Chilli

The world’s hottest Chillies are cultivated by hot pepper growing enthusiasts that crossbreed very hot cultivars to create a new variant. The Carolina Reaper, a crossbreed between the La Soufriere pepper (from the Carribean) and the Naga Viper Chilli (from Pakistan), was bred by “Smokin” Ed Currie, proprietor of the PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

With a massive average of 1.64 million SHU (Scoville heat units), the Carolina Reaper is officially the world’s hottest Chilli. Unbelievably, it may recently have been overtaken by a boiling Chilli called the “Dragon’s Breath” – which is reported to measure an unbelievable average of 2.48 million SHU.  (This however still needs to be officially confirmed)

The Dragon’s breath hot pepper, which strictly speaking is not an eating Chilli, was bred by Mike Smith of St Asaph, working with Nottingham Trent University. His purpose for breeding it was reportedly for use in medical applications – as a low-cost anaesthetic. It is so hot it effectively numbs the skin, in doing so alleviates pain.

When one considers that an everyday Chilli like the Jalapeño has a SHU of between 3500 and 10000 SHU, it becomes clear that these Chillies are very hot indeed.

The Carolina reaper grows to five feet high and four feet wide in a single season. It is a slow maturing plant that can take up to 250 days before it produces any fruit. For this reason, it may be worth considering overwintering the plant where an already developed plant is placed in a position to continue its growth in a second season. In this way, a greater yield of fruit can be achieved.

The uniquely shaped Carolina reaper Chillies are said to have an initial fruity taste rapidly overtaken by extreme heat. The Carolina Reaper uses in cuisine are mainly in Chilli powders, flakes and hot sauces, but other potential uses include as an ingredient in Phall (the world’s hottest curry). Chefs tend to use Carolina Reapers only in powder form to add pungency to cooking. Using them fresh poses too much of a risk of making food too pungent.

While the name of this hot pepper comes from its tail, I have no doubt that when contestants eat it in Chilli eating competitions, the association is more with the Grim Reaper!

Not a Chilli to be taken lightly! Take extreme care when handling them.


Ed Curry claims to have developed an even more pungent Chiili than the Dragon’s Breath called Pepper X  . It apparently registers 3, 18 million SHU