In the world of spicy foods, the pepper confidently reigns supreme. There are plenty of heavy-hitting peppers worth mentioning, though none are more iconic than the ghost pepper and the Carolina Reaper.
Not only are these peppers some of the hottest peppers in the world, but they are also some of the most widely recognized spicy peppers.
So for the average person looking into the flourishing subculture of pepper enthusiasts, they might be left wondering which of these is the hottest pepper overall.
Well, long story short, the hottest is the Carolina Reaper, and the competition really isn’t even close. But when comparing these two peppers to several factors, which is the ideal pepper for the average consumer?
Comparison: Carolina Reaper vs. Ghost Pepper
When people look at peppers that measure in the millions on the Scoville scale, it can be easy to get lost in the heat and forget everything else about these peppers that makes them so unique.
This mistake usually leaves people not realizing how incredible these individual peppers are. To alleviate this oversight, let’s go over each pepper in detail to get a better idea of the two.
To get the most fascinating aspect of these peppers out the way, let’s talk about just how disturbingly hot these peppers can be.
To start, the ghost pepper was at one point the hottest pepper in the world. At its peak, the ghost pepper can touch 1.04 million units on the Scoville scale. To put this in perspective, that makes it 400 times hotter than a bottle of Tabasco!
The Carolina Reaper has somehow found a way to not only beat the ghost pepper but to produce double the heat. If you were to chew on the spiciest Carolina Reaper available, you would be munching on a snack that hits 2.2 million Scoville units. That level of heat measures up to 440 times the spice that a jalapeno can produce!
Contrary to popular belief, both of these peppers have some truly incredible flavor. To give you the full spectrum of their flavor, you would, unfortunately, have to try them yourself, but they do offer several similarities.
Before the walls begin to close in around you from the sudden regret of having bitten into one of these peppers, you would notice a pleasant, sweet taste.
That’s because these peppers both take about half a minute to really kick the heat into overdrive, which allows the risky consumer to really get every note of sweetness before smoke comes out of their ears.
While the Carolina Reaper is likely the sweeter of the two, don’t discount the ghost pepper, as both peppers have some surprising depth to their flavor.
Size and Color
The ghost pepper is a fruit that wears several different shades of color. While we know it most commonly for its brilliant reddish coloring, it can also be yellow, white, orange, purple, dark brown, and even green.
A ghost pepper has a very unique shape that starts bulbous at the top and withers downward into a pointed tip, measuring anywhere from 2 to 3.5 inches in length and sitting close to an inch in width.
The Carolina Reaper is a bit more fundamental in its coloring. This chunky pepper is most notably red, though it can also be found in yellow, dark brown, and even orange.
The Carolina Reaper’s wrinkly exterior shares some similarities to its predecessor, yet it has a more squared-off body with an abrupt tail — it sits around 1-3 inches in both length and width.
Difficulty to Buy
Both peppers are popular products due to a recent surge in popularity over spicier foods. Regrettably, this has not made them more prevalent on local store’s shelves.
If you try to find these products locally, you are likely to be disappointed, unless you find a farmers’ market with some ambitious gardeners. Digitally, however, you can find both products relatively easily (seeds included), though it seems that both come dried more often than not.
Difficulty to Grow
If you do get your hands on some seeds for either of these peppers, you probably want to know just how hard it is to grow these seeds into beautiful, red peppers.
Well, if you live anywhere that isn’t India, you are going to have a much simpler and quicker time with Carolina Reapers. This is due to several reasons that mainly involve a very unique climate that ghost peppers require to grow in.
The ghost pepper grows in a very hot and humid five-month period in India and will take 150 days from planting to harvesting to fully finish.
So this plant is also very difficult to grow in a temperate outdoor environment; you will likely need a greenhouse that can maintain high temperatures in the environment and the soil. You also need to consider the fragile nature of these plants and how easily they can be irreparably damaged.
The Carolina Reaper is a bit more straightforward and takes two-thirds of the time required. To start, you are going to need about 100 days for this plant to reach a fully ripe state to harvest. Unlike the ghost pepper, these peppers can grow in a temperate outdoor environment.
The ghost pepper may be the result of the chile pepper, which was likely brought to India through means of trade. The unique climate helped it eventually spawn into one of the most notoriously spicy peppers of all time.
The ghost pepper has a very interesting list of uses outside of consumption that the citizens of India have utilized. These peppers are so hot that people will spread them across their fences to keep elephants out, and it seems to work brilliantly.
The Carolina Reaper is the fusion of the La Soufriere pepper of Saint Vincent and the Naga Viper pepper of Pakistan.
This fusion of unimaginable heat was the idea of South Carolina native Ed Currie, who is the owner of the Puckerbutt Pepper Company. By 2017 the Carolina Reaper had separated itself from the rest of the spice world as the hottest pepper known to man.
If you are crazy enough to ingest one of these bite-sized beasts, please have some dairy at the ready. While the Carolina Reaper stands as the hottest pepper in the world so far (Ed Currie is actively working on a hotter pepper as we speak), both peppers will happily ruin your day if you aren’t ready. If you do end up ingesting them, get ready for a surprising amount of flavor followed by enough kick to jumpstart a Mack truck.