Pepper X Vs. Carolina Reaper – How Do They Compare?

Two of the hottest peppers in the world: Pepper X and the Carolina Reaper. These super-hots blow the heat of nearly all other chilies out of the water. But which is hotter? And how do they compare in popularity, taste, and looks? Let’s break down the similarities and differences of these two super-hot chilies, so you know what to expect.

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Quick comparison: Pepper X vs. Carolina Reaper

Pepper XCarolina Reaper
Scoville heat units (SHU)2,693,0001,400,000 – 2,200,000
Median heat (SHU)TBD1,800,000
Jalapeño reference point398 to 1,272 times hotter (approximately)175 to 880 times hotter
Capsicum speciesChinenseChinense
OriginUnited StatesUnited States
SizeApproximately 2 to 3 inches long, stinger tailApproximately 1.5 to 2 inches long, stinger tail
FlavorSweet, FruitySweet, Fruity
Guinness Book World Record Holder2023 (active world record holder for hottest pepper)2013 – 2023

Which is hotter, the Carolina Reaper or Pepper X?

According to the breeder of both peppers (Ed Currie, the founder of PuckerButt Pepper Company), Pepper X can be twice as hot as the mildest Carolina Reaper. Pepper X’s Scoville rating is reported to be about 2.7 million Scoville heat units (SHU) while the Carolina Reaper’s rating is ranges from 1.4 million to 2.2 million SHU, with a median heat of 1.8 million SHU. So on paper that math pans out.

But it’s worth noting that there aren’t many who have tried fresh Pepper X; most of the people who have experienced it have only done so with the pepper as an ingredient in a hot sauce. And Pepper X is not yet stable, so we’d expect some wild swings in overall heat from fruit to fruit.

But no matter what, we’re talking extreme spiciness here. Keep in mind that a jalapeño, a chili most have tried and some find very spicy, sits at a mere 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. You can see how far away these two super-hots sit. If you’re ever to handle either, it’s a must to wear gloves, kitchen goggles, and even a kitchen mask to keep the potential for severe chili burn at bay.

To determine which is the most popular, let’s look to see how often each is searched online in the United States. “Carolina Reaper” (90,500 searches monthly) is far more searched than “Pepper X” (22,500 searches monthly.) But that may change over time, as the Pepper X dethroned the Carolina Reaper in October 2023 to become the official hottest pepper in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. We expect interest in this chili pepper to only grow with this publicity.

How does each of these peppers taste?

Like other super hot peppers, Pepper X is often described as being fruity and sweet alongside its extreme heat. Similarly, Carolina Reapers have a mildly sweet flavor akin to a more subdued version of the scotch bonnet and habanero flavor profiles.

How do they differ in shape and colors?

The shape and size of Pepper X fruits vary considerably. The variance is because the variety is not yet stable. Pepper X shapes range from elongated pods that look like ghost peppers to the lobed, squatter forms similar to the Carolina Reaper. Pepper X even, at times, has the Carolina Reaper’s distinctive pointy tail. The skin of Pepper X is exceptionally bumpy and knotty.

Carolina Reapers usually have more distinctive lobes and the tails narrow to a point (a scorpion-like tail). They, too, have knobby, poll-marked skin. Some critics claim that the reaper pepper has stability issues similar to those seen in Pepper X.

Where did each pepper originate?

Both Pepper X and Carolina Reapers come from the same place: South Carolina, which is the home of a pepper farmer named Ed Currie and his PuckerButt Pepper Company. Ed Currie rose to fame by developing the Carolina Reaper first and then Pepper X. He’s also the man behind the equally-sinister Apollo pepper (potentially as hot or hotter than Pepper X.)

Which is easier to find fresh?

You probably won’t be finding fresh Pepper X, Carolina Reapers, or any other super hot peppers in your local grocery store’s produce section. These peppers have a very narrow range of culinary appeal, and most consumers opt to avoid them.

If you do see them, it is likely to be as novelty items at a farmer’s market or similar venue. Of Pepper X and the Carolina Reaper, you are more likely to encounter the latter. The Carolina Reaper has been around for longer, so it has a reputation, and the seeds are certainly easier to find.

Which is used most often in commercial products?

Unlike other notorious super-hots like the Dragon’s Breath pepper — another possible contender for the world’s hottest pepper — Pepper X is commercially available, even if it’s only in the form of a hot sauce. The Last Dab hot sauce contains Pepper X and is a collaboration between Ed Currie, a hot sauce company called Heatonist, and the YouTube channel First We Feast. The sauce appears to be the only form in which Pepper X is sold currently.

In comparison, the Carolina Reaper is widely available. You can find it in various sauces, in powdered form and used to flavor an assortment of products including nuts and beef jerky.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on October 29, 2023 to include new content.
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