Dragon’s Breath Pepper Vs. Carolina Reaper: PepperScale Showdown

The Dragon’s Breath pepper and the Carolina Reaper both sit easily among the world’s hottest peppers. These are two nasty-hot chilies with rockstar names that draw people to them. So, how do their heat levels compare? How easy are each to find fresh? Which is the most popular? Let’s dive into the similarities and differences between these two chilies.

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Which is hotter, the Dragon’s Breath or the Carolina Reaper?

The Dragon’s breath chili’s heat level has been reported to be a scorching 2.48 million Scoville heat units (SHU), which would make it hotter than the Carolina Reaper, which offers 2.2 million SHU at its peak (a range from 1.4 million to 2.2 million SHU). The difference between the two is that the Dragon’s Breath rating is unofficial, while the Carolina Reaper has been confirmed as the world’s hottest pepper.

Even if the Dragon’s Breath Scoville rating were to be confirmed, it still might not be at the top since Pepper X’s Scoville rating — also unconfirmed — is even higher, at 3.18 million SHU.

Why unconfirmed when they could be hotter than a Reaper? The Dragon’s Breath line, like Pepper X, is currently considered unstable, meaning its looks, taste, and heat can vary wildly, and they can be difficult to germinate. It can take generations of chilies to reach stability, and some never do.

Let’s compare these two super-hot chilies by how often they are searched on Google. Which is the more popular of the two? It’s the Carolina Reaper, and it’s not close. The Carolina Reaper is searched roughly 396,000 times globally each month, while the Dragon’s Breath is searched roughly 16,000 times.

It’s a large gap, but that’s not to say the Dragon’s Breath isn’t popular. 16,000 searches monthly is still rather high compared to many other chilies. It just so happens that the Carolina Reaper is the most searched chili currently by a wide margin compared to any other chili.

How does each pepper taste?

Few have tried the Dragon’s Breath pepper but early reports suggest that it is somewhat fruity along with its extreme heat. The Carolina Reaper has a reputation for being one of the more flavorful super-hot peppers, with plenty of fruitiness (if you can get beyond the heat), and some even detect notes of chocolate and cinnamon.

How do their shapes and colors differ?

The Dragon’s Breath chili is tiny, measuring only 1/2 inch long. Aside from its size, it looks a lot like the Carolina Reaper in that it has the same red color and wrinkled and bumpy exterior. The resemblance has led to speculation that the pepper is just an overwintered Carolina Reaper with tinier fruits. The Carolina Reaper is between one and three inches long and one to two inches across.

Where did each originate?

The Dragon’s Breath pepper was the product of a collaboration between Neal Price, NPK Technology and Nottingham Trent University. The plant would later be cultivated in Wales by a pepper breeder named Mike Smith. Because both Price and Smith were Welsh, they named the pepper after the Welsh dragon. The pepper was developed for use as a topical anesthetic for people who are unable to tolerate other kinds of anesthesia.

The Carolina Reaper was invented by the pepper Breeder Ed Currie who says that he invented the super-hot chili by accident. The reaper was named the world’s hottest pepper in 2017 by the Guinness Book of World Records. The Carolina Reaper’s parent plants are either the Red Savina habanero or the La Soufriere pepper (referenced as a Caribbean habanero) — depending on which source you want to believe — and the ghost pepper.

Because the La Soufriere pepper only seems to ever get mentioned when talking about the Carolina Reaper and does not seem to exist as a pepper variety, it is most likely a veiled reference to the Red Savina. The Red Savina was the world’s hottest pepper for 12 years and was succeeded by the Reaper’s other parent, the ghost pepper.

Which is easier to find fresh?

You most likely won’t be able to find Dragon’s Breath or Carolina Reapers fresh in your local grocery stores. The Dragon’s Breath does not appear to be sold fresh anywhere. The Carolina Reaper may show up at a produce stand or farmer’s market, but it won’t be easy to find either.

Which is used most often in commercial products?

Aside from seeds for sale, Dragon’s Breath Peppers do not appear to be available in any commercial preparations. Carolina Reapers are easily found dried and in powder form online. And they are used in multiple commercial products, including sauces, powders, and jerky. Challenge chips, pickles, and salsas are also made with Reaper chilies. It’s one of the most popular chilies to use commercially because of its high popularity and very marketable name.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 9, 2022 to include new content.
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