Hot Pepper Heat Scale and the Scoville Scale

Do you know how hot an Aji Amarillo or Chile de Arbol is? Or how scorching a Ghost Pepper or Carolina Reaper is? Do you know how spicy the peppers you are growing are, or why some peppers have sweet flavors but with some spice in it? This is where the Scoville Scale comes into play. Read to learn more about the hottest peppers in the world and their rankings, and how the Scoville Scale was created to determine a pepper ranking.

What is the World’s Hottest Pepper?

So, what is the hottest pepper on Earth? We’re answering all of your fiery questions by providing our list of peppers ranked by type and Scoville Heat Units. From the innocently mild to the screaming hot, check out the Scoville Heat Unit Scale and learn the heat intensity between hot pepper varieties and extracts:

Pepper Joe’s Pepper Heat Table:

Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) Pepper & Extract Varieties Type Heat Rating
15,000,000 - 16,000,000 Pure Capsaicin Super Hot 10
2,000,000 - 10,000,000 Pepper Extracts - i.e. The Source, Blair's Reserve Super Hot 10
8,800,000 - 9,100,000 Norhydrocapsaicin Super Hot 10
6,000,000 - 8,600,000 Homocapsaicin, Homodihydrocapsaicin Super Hot 10
2,500,000 - 5,300,000 US Grade Police Pepper Spray Super Hot 10
2,693,000 Pepper X Super Hot 10
2,000,000 - 2,200,000 Carolina Reaper Super Hot 10
1,500,000 - 2,000,000 Trinidad ScorpionButch T, Naga Viper, Common Pepper Spray Super Hot 9
855,000 - 1,463,000 Ghost Pepper (Bhut Jolokia) Super Hot 9
876,000 - 1,500,000+ Dorset Naga Super Hot 7
350,000 - 855,000 Red Savina Habanero, Indian Tezpur Hot 6
100,000 - 350,000 HabaneroScotch Bonnet, Bird’s Eye, Jamaican Yellow Mushroom Medium 5
50,000 - 100,000 Thai Hot Peppers, Chilitepin, Santaka Medium 4
30,000 - 50,000 CayenneTabascoPequinAji AmarilloAji Charapita Medium 3
15,000 - 30,000 Chile de ArbolManzano Medium 3
5,000 - 15,000 Serrano, Yellow Wax Pepper Mild 2
2,500 - 5,000 JalapenoPoblanoChipotle JalapeñoMirasol Mild 1
1,500 - 2,500 Sandia, CascabellaNuMex Big Jim Mild 1
1,000 - 1,500 Ancho PoblanoAnaheim, Pasilla, Espanola Mild 1
100 - 1,000 Paprika, Mexican Bell, Pepperoncini, Cherry Mild 1
0-100 Sweet Bell PeppersSweet BananaPimento Mild 1

With over 50,000 pepper varieties in the world and new varieties being created every year, it can be overwhelming to keep up with the heat levels of peppers. Even we have to double check hot pepper ratings because we are adding new seeds to our store every year, or a new hot pepper is added to the top 10 hottest peppers of the year.

Growers are producing the hottest hybrids every year with hopes of pushing the Scoville Scale. In 2023, Pepper X officially became the hottest pepper in the world, surpassing the previous holder of the Carolina Reaper. However, there are some serious competition with rumors of even hotter peppers such as the Dragon’s Breath and the Apollo pepper. There is no confirmation that these peppers are hotter than Pepper X, but this just means we’ll have to wait for more official announcements!

List of Peppers from Mildest to Hottest as Measured on the Scoville Heat Scale

Pepper Joe's spicy scale showing the hottest peppers on scoville heat scale

This is not a complete list of peppers, but a pepper heat scale displaying the most popular peppers ranked by heat from mild to hot. Use this guide to find out how many Scoville Units each chili has from our hot pepper scale, or also known as “Pepper Joe’s Heat Scale.” Use our 1-10 heat rating from your Pepper Joe’s seed label to find out how hot your pepper might just be.

What is the Scoville Scale?

We get questions about what the Scoville Scale is, and you may know it as the Chili Heat Scale or the Chile Scoville Scale. The Scoville Scale is a measurement of the heat and pungency of chili peppers where each pepper is recorded in Scoville Heat Units (or famously known as SHUs). The scale is named after its creator, Wilbur Scoville, who created the Scoville Organoleptic Test in 1912.

What Does the Scoville Scale Measure?

Pepper Joe's hot pepper scale use Scoville scale as a hotness scale

It’s quite simple. Scoville heat units are a measurement of sugar and water. The test measures chili heat by figuring out how much sugar-water needs to be diluted into a chili pepper to get to where you no longer feel the heat at all. The creator, W. Scoville, would dilute the solutions bit by it until the taste testers felt no more burn, and then he would assign a number to the chile pepper based on the amount of dilutions needed to kill the heat.

What creates that burning sensation on our tongues and makes us sweat is the capsaicin. It’s the chemical compound found in peppers, and you can find it in the oil residing in the pepper or seeds. Today, we’re not using taste testers (which would be a pretty sweet job). It’s been replaced by the High Performance Liquid Chromatography, HPLC, which efficiently measures the pepper’s heat by determining the exact concentration of capsaicin.

From Mild to Incredibly Hot

You should know that heat scales are purely subjective. Even with a scientific test using Scoville Heat Units, the hotness of peppers can vary in the same variety from plant to plant, and even on the same plant! That’s why you may see a range of hotness for a specific pepper or a possibility that the chili could be hotter than what it claims. If you’re feeling brave to try a super-hot pepper, check out the most scorching, blazing, ear-vibrating hottest pepper seeds. If you prefer to take a walk to the mild side instead, we have the juiciest, yummiest, sweetest pepper seeds great for a variety of culinary uses.

Hot peppers are a lot of fun, this is why we love what we do. But, please take them seriously and handle with care. If you don’t believe how ridiculously spicy some of the hottest peppers in the world are, watch our team eat a Ghost Pepper:


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