The title for “the hottest pepper” is something that’s challenged more often than you may expect. Every year, hot pepper cultivators find a new mix of hybrid, soil, and temperature to create peppers that will combat for the top position, if not beat it. The competition is fierce. Below we break out the top 15 hottest peppers in the world based on potential peak heat (via their total Scoville heat units). Each chili pepper has a range of spiciness possible, so some of the chilies below may rank lower than they would if we measured by floor heat and average overall heat.
IMPORTANT: Let the names of these chilies – like Scorpion and Reaper – be a warning. These peppers are wicked hot, and, as such, they must be handled carefully. If you’re going to dance with the devil, wear kitchen gloves, eye goggles, and take great care throughout the cooking process. Know, too, how to combat chili burn to keep yourself safe.