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Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper: The Spicy Showdown You Can’t Miss!

Ghost peppers vs. Carolina Reapers are some of the hottest peppers in the world. They are known to cause severe reactions if eaten on their own or by someone who may have an allergy.

While they are dangerous if consumed incorrectly, they add immense flavor and spice to your dishes if properly prepared.

These peppers are popular in Western cuisine for creating the right level of heat in various brines, rubs, chutneys, curries, and salsas.

So, what’s the difference between them? We’re going to show you here.

Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper: What Are They?

Ghost pepper vs. Carolina Reaper is a long-standing debate on which pepper is hotter and what makes them so spicy.

To understand what these peppers are, we must first determine the heat levels they produce and which pepper reigns supreme on the hotness level.

Ghost Pepper

ghost peppers
Ghost Peppers

Originating in India, the ghost pepper [1] is a hybrid chili pepper known as bhut jolokia-Bhutan Pepper in Assamese. In 2007, Guinness World Records named the ghost pepper as the hottest chili pepper [2] in the world with a rating over one-million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).

Ghost peppers get their name from their Assamese name, “bhut” which means “ghost.” People say that the pepper received this name because the pepper’s heat sneaks up on its victims like a ghost.

The ghost pepper reigned supreme on the hottest pepper scale from 2007 to 2011 when the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper took the title.

Carolina Reaper

carolina reaper

The Trinidad Scorpion pepper held the hottest pepper in the world title until two years later, in 2013, when the Carolina Reaper ripped that title out from under it.

Carolina Reaper peppers [3] were developed by a US breeder, Ed Currie, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Cultivated from the Capsicum Chinense plant, it produces exceptional heat levels.

The Carolina Reaper is a cross-breed between the La Soufriere pepper from Saint Vincent and the Naga Viper pepper from Pakistan. The ‘Carolina’ portion of the pepper’s name is easy to guess, with the pepper originating in South Carolina. ‘Reaper’ comes from the shape of the tail that forms when the pepper grows.

Differences Between Ghost Pepper and Carolina Reaper

While the ghost pepper and Carolina Reaper are both considered one of the hottest peppers in the world, there are several differences between them. These differences include taste, color, shape, and heat index, etc.

Ghost Pepper

Carolina Reaper


Sweet and fruity flavor

Sweet and fruity flavor, hotter than ghost pepper


Longer and have a cone shape with a pointed end

Round with a tail coming out of the bottom


Red, orange, yellow, chocolate


Scoville heat units

855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU

1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU


Cross-bred in India

Developed in South Carolina, USA

Where to buy




When consuming peppers, taste plays an extensive role in your pepper choice. Both the ghost pepper and Carolina Reaper have a sweet and fruity flavor. Various types of hot sauces and salsas incorporate these flavors.

Because of the initial sweetness of the peppers, they can become dangerous if too many are consumed at once. The heat from the peppers doesn’t hit your taste buds until approximately 30 seconds to a minute after consumption. Therefore, it is vital to eat these peppers in small portions.

While both peppers possess a similar taste, it is evident that the Carolina Reaper packs a bigger punch than the ghost pepper as its spice level is almost double.


Even though most ghost peppers and all Carolina Reapers are red, the shape of these two peppers varies significantly, making it easy to tell the two apart. Ghost peppers have an oblong shape similar to a cone, with a pointed bottom. These peppers are covered in rough, thin skin.

Carolina Reapers have a gnarled look, with the top of the pepper being round and symmetrical. One of the unique features of the Carolina Reaper is the bottom part of the pepper. This pepper grows a tail that doesn’t quite seem to fit the rest of the pepper shape. The skin of Carolina Reapers is similar to that of the ghost pepper as it is rough and textured.

ghost pepper


Most ghost peppers and Carolina Reapers are red. However, ghost peppers can come in other colors, such as orange, yellow, and chocolate.

Scoville Heat Units

The question remains: which is hotter, Carolina Reaper or ghost pepper?  The short answer: Carolina Reaper is hotter.

As previously stated, the ghost pepper held the world’s hottest pepper title from 2007 to 2011. The Carolina Reaper swooped in and stole that title in 2013. As a comparison, ghost peppers have a SHU of 855,000 to 1,041,427, whereas Carolina Reapers have an impressive 1,400,000 to 2,200,000 SHU scale reading.

How much hotter is a carolina reaper or ghost pepper than a jalapeno?

When compared to a more well-known pepper like the jalapeno, ghost peppers are approximately 107 times hotter than the hottest jalapeno, and Carolina Reapers, 880 times hotter.

You may like: Habanero Vs. Scotch Bonnet: Which Is Hotter?

FAQs About Ghost Pepper and Carolina Reaper

Want to know more about these spicy devils? Check out some frequently asked questions below.

Is ghost pepper the same as Carolina Reaper?

No, ghost peppers and Carolina Reapers are not the same pepper. Carolina Reapers are more than double the spice of the ghost pepper.

What pepper is hotter than a Carolina Reaper?

There is no official pepper hotter than a Carolina Reaper.

However, the same breeder that created the Carolina Reaper has created two peppers – Dragon’s Breath and Pepper X – that unconfirmed reports show beating the SHU of the Carolina Reaper.

carolina reapers
Carolina Reapers

Do ghost peppers taste good?

Ghost peppers have an initial sweetness before hitting you with the heat. With similarities in taste to other peppers, ghost peppers are often used to make hot sauces and salsa due to their sweet and spicy flavor.

How can you tell the difference between a Carolina Reaper and a ghost pepper?

The easiest way to tell a ghost pepper and Carolina Reaper apart is by the shape of the pepper. Ghost peppers are longer and have a cone shape with a pointed end.

Contrastly, Carolina Reapers are round with a peculiar-looking tail coming out of the bottom.


Ghost peppers vs. Carolina Reapers are two types of peppers that pack some heat. Both peppers have an initial sweet taste before releasing their spicy component. While both peppers are commonly found in hot sauces, salsa, and Western-style dishes, they possess a variety of differences including, shape, taste, and heat index.

With a heat index over two times as spicy as the ghost pepper, the Carolina Reaper takes the cake when it comes to the hottest pepper in the world.

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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