Latin American cuisine uses hundreds of varieties of peppers to create beloved smoky and spicy dishes that transcend borders -- from poblanos to jalapenos to pasillas. Why, you ask? Well, not only do they add flavor, but peppers are actually good for you! The vitamins and minerals they contain can potentially serve anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic purposes. But watch out for the peppers on this list, as their high rankings on the Scoville scale (used to measure that familiar spicy heat) mean they are no joke. Consider yourself warned; a bite of any one of these rare little guys will get you a one-way ticket to the emergency room, so proceed with caution.
Tabasco Chili Pepper
Let's start off with a familiar face. The Tabasco Chili Pepper, named after the Tabasco region of Mexico, is very commonly used in hot sauces all over the world. Use this as a frame of reference: this small, thin, bright red pepper hits the Scoville scale with a measure of about 30,000-50,000 SHU. Pretty darn hot, right?
Native to Brazil and Portugal, this pepper ranks from 60,000-100,000. Warning: Do not confuse this for malagueta, the Spanish word for allspice. Brewing your morning cup of coffee with a pod or two of malagueta is lovely and aromatic. Malagueta pepper? Not quite as pleasant.
This tiny, round, bright red pepper grows in the Mexican wilderness, usually in the mountains. They almost look like acerolas, or Caribbean cherries, but do not get them confused! The Tepin or Chiltepin weighs in at about 75,000 SHU, or a little hotter than the common Tabasco pepper.
Habanero Chili Pepper
With the 30,000-50,000 SHU of the Tabasco pepper in mind, we present to you the Habanero Chili Pepper common to Mexico, Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica. This one ranks anywhere between 100,000 to 350,000. In comparison, Tabascos are a tall glass of water.
Don't let the darling and sweet name fool you! This is one of the world’s biggest misnomers and world's spiciest peppers. This gorgeous and bright yellow pepper is found mostly in the Caribbean islands and the Maldives, and though some sweet versions of Scoth Bonnet are grown (called Cachucha peppers), Scotch Bonnets are some of the meanest peppers around. Scoville ranks this bad boy from 100,000 to 350,000.
Red Savina Chili
Ranked between 350,000 to 580,000 at it's mildest (ahem; that's 12 times as hot as a Tabasco), the Red Savina Chili from North and Latin America held the Guinness World Record for hottest pepper from 1994 until 2006 when it was de-crowned by the Naga Jolokia Pepper of India.
Chocolate 7 Pot Douglah
Mmmm, chocolate. Tempting, yes? No! No, no, no, no, no! Not this chocolate. The Chocolate 7 Pot Douglah has an average rating of 1,169,000 on the Scoville scale. Though surprisingly, many who have tried this dark colored Trinidadian pepper say it has a nice flavor in addition to its sharp spicy bite. (But, we're just going to take their word for it.)
Naga Viper Pepper
Deadly name. Deadly pepper. The Naga Viper is a deep red, lab-made hybrid pepper from England that combines the Naga Morich and Bhut Jolkia peppers of India with the Trinidad Scorpion. This one ranks in at a staggering average of 1,359,000 SHU. Thankfully though, scientists still haven't worked out the kinks in the Naga Viper, so it can't reproduce. Worry not, you won't accidentaly stumble upon this little guy the next time you are wandering around the English countryside.
Trinidad Butch Scorpion
Ranked between 500,000 to 1,500,000 (that's 1.5 million!), this tiny pepper has a pointed end that resembles the stinger of a scorpion, its namesake. This pepper is so hot that chefs must use face masks to cook it and many have reported numbness in their hands even after using safety precautions. This pepper held the Guinness World Record for hottest pepper in 2011, but the glory was short lived when it was quickly replaced by the…
Trinidad Scorpion Moruga
Officially the hottest pepper in the world, this is rated at about 2 million SHU. The scientists responsible for its cultivation needed to wear several layers of gloves when handling these peppers because merely touching them caused the unstable chemicals to penetrate their skin while wearing standard latex gloves.
And there you have it, the world's hottest peppers. Some edible, some...well...deadly.