Can you handle the heat? The Carolina Reaper has a fruity taste with chocolate/cherry undertones—you also get tongue-burning, face-melting, ear-vibrating, mind-altering heat.
The Carolina Reaper pepper became the World’s Hottest Pepper in 2013, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and maintained this record up until August 2023, when Pepper X took the crown away from it. We are going to tell you all about this hot pepper, including its origin, how to grow the Carolina Reaper, and we will even give you some recipes for cooking with this super hot pepper below.
Carolina Reaper Origin, History, and Heat Level
Where did the Carolina Reaper come from? And when did it become the World’s Hottest Pepper? How hot is it anyway? Let’s find out!
A grower by the name of Ed Currie first developed the Carolina Reaper. He didn’t set out to create the World’s Hottest Pepper, but he did. Currie created this pepper in South Carolina by crossing a Pakistani Naga and a Red Habanero pepper.
In 2013, the Guinness Book of World Records named the Carolina Reaper, also called the HP22B pepper, the hottest chili pepper in the world. This pepper comes in between 1,569,300 and 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).
This pepper really brings the heat, but it also has some other flavors to contribute. The Reaper has a fruity and sweet flavor with chocolate/cherry undertones. You also get tongue-burning, face-melting, mind-altering heat.
How to Grow the Carolina Reaper
At Pepper Joe’s we are passionate about hot peppers. We love to eat and cook with hot peppers, but first, we like to grow them. We have Carolina Reaper seeds for sale, and we are about to help you learn how to grow this hot pepper.
How to Plant Carolina Reaper Seeds
You will need soil, water, your pepper seeds, and a germination tray to get started planting your pepper seeds. (Look into our pepper growing supplies including temperature controllers, seed trays, heat mats, and grow lights to successfully grow superhot peppers from seed. You can purchase them individually or save by getting our complete indoor grow kit.)
To get started, pour water in the bottom of your germination tray, and then, place the seed starting tray over top. Fill the seed starting tray with soil and make a ¼-inch hole in each seed starting cell. Then, place seeds in each hole and cover them with soil.
How to Germinate Carolina Reaper Seeds
Germination of a seed is the process when the seed sprouts into a seedling. After you have planted your seeds, you want to be sure to keep your soil moist but not too wet. You can place a dome or plastic over the seeds and soil to keep moisture in. You will also want to keep your seeds and soil warm, which you can do by placing your seeds on a heat mat. You will want your soil temperature to stay between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit for the best germination.
For super hot peppers like the Reaper, germination can take some time. These seeds can germinate in as little as seven days, but it can take longer, so you should allow for up to six weeks for these seeds to germinate. Your patience will be worth it when you have pepper pods of your very own!
How Long it Takes Carolina Reaper Peppers to Grow
Once your seeds have germinated and your seedlings have started to grow, you will want to get ready to put these seedlings into pots. You can start to put these peppers into pots once the seedlings are a few inches tall.
You need to keep your peppers indoors if the temperatures are cold because pepper plants do not like temperatures below 60 degrees. Once it starts to get warmer, you can start by taking your plants outside for a few hours a day in the sun to get them used to the outdoors.
When the temperatures are consistently warm, you can plant your peppers outside in soil or in containers in an area of full sun. You can plant your pepper plants about 30 inches apart. Then, make sure your plants are getting the sun, water, and warmth they need to thrive.
Super hot peppers like these can take a while to grow. Your Reaper seeds could take 100 days to get to the point of producing fruit. For more details on growing your hot pepper seeds and plants, check out our Grow with Joe video series.
Carolina Reaper Pepper Characteristics
Your Reaper plants can get as tall as five feet, and when your plant starts to produce flowers, you are getting close to getting fruit. Your peppers will start out green and then slowly turn orange before finally becoming their distinctive red color. The pepper gets hotter as the color changes from green to orange to red, so don’t pick this pepper early!
The Reaper has a red, gnarled look to it with a bumpy texture. This pepper is known by its great red color and pointed tail. The pepper pod itself has a diameter of around an inch.
If you don’t want to grow the Reaper all by yourself, we also sell Carolina Reaper plants during the spring to help you get a jump-start on growing this pepper. We do the work for you and send it your way, so you can enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Other Carolina Reaper Pepper Seed Varieties:
The original Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper, but there are different variations of the Reaper. Check them out here:
- Chocolate Reaper – Coming in at between 1,500,383-2,200.000+ SHUs, the Chocolate Reaper is a cross between the Carolina Reaper and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper.
- Yellow Reaper – The Yellow Reaper is a cross between the Ghost Pepper and the Golden Habanero. Like the Carolina Reaper, this pepper is fruity and HOT. It comes in at 1,569,383 - 2,200,000 SHUs.
- Peach Reaper – This is a relatively new Reaper pepper variety. It is a cross between the original Carolina Reaper and Jay’s Peach Ghost Scorpion Pepper. This pepper has a citrusy flavor with plenty of heat, coming in at around 1,500,000+ SHUs.
- BTR Butch T Reaper Scorpion – Combining the Carolina Reaper and the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T creates this Butch T Reaper Scorpion pepper that carries a heat level of 1,500,000+ SHUs.
- CPR Chocolate Primo Reaper – This delicious pepper was created by accident by Butch Taylor, and it can give you a heat of up to 1,900,00 SHUs.
Cooking with the Carolina Reaper
Now that you know how to grow it, let’s talk about eating the Carolina Reaper. We have you covered with some great Reaper recipes, as well as some hot sauces and other consumable products you can buy.
You can use the Reaper pepper in any recipe where you want to add extreme heat. This could be nachos, fajitas, chili, hot sauce, and even ice cream, try our Blueberry Reaper Hot Sauce and you’ll know what we’re talking about (however, we do recommend using gloves when cooking with this pepper). You can also dehydrate this pod to make into powders or flakes for adding spice to any dish. We have a couple of recipes for you below using our very own Carolina Reaper Powder and Flakes.
Pepper Joe’s Reaper Recipes:
- Fear the Reaper Chili – Gear up for game day with our terrifying take on this classic comfort food. Reaper Salsa acts as your base and Reaper Flakes and Powder add next-level heat. Just for good measure, it’s garnished with a generous portion of our famous Reaper Cheddar. This meaty chili will warm your bones and melt your soul. Get the recipe here.
- Grim Reaper Chex Mix – This easy recipe is hard to pass up! Reaper Flakes and Powder turn this classic snack into a painfully delicious experience.
Reaper Hot Sauces, Salsas, and More!
If you don’t want to do the cooking yourself, we can help you out with some great Carolina Reaper consumable products. We’ve perfected some Carolina Reaper hot sauce recipes, including the Blueberry Reaper hot sauce, Carolina Reaper Pineapple hot sauce, and our traditional Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce. We also have a great Carolina Reaper salsa to spice up nachos, tacos, breakfast burritos, and more.