Scorpion Pepper Vs. Carolina Reaper: PepperScale Showdown

The scorpion pepper — also known as the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion or just the Moruga Scorpion — and the Carolina Reaper have been listed among the world’s hottest peppers for more than a decade. Which one is hotter? How do they differ? Which is easier to find? Read on to learn more about these two super-hot chilies, compared head-to-head.

Which is hotter, the Carolina Reaper or the scorpion pepper?

Both scorpion peppers and Carolina Reapers are classified as super-hot chilies, so they are both far hotter than your average jalapeño. That said, Carolina reaper is the hotter of the two by a significant margin.

The scorpion pepper was formerly the hottest in the world, but was surpassed by the Carolina Reaper in 2013. The Carolina Reaper took the top spot where it continues today despite potential challengers in the forms of unstable hybrids like Pepper X and Dragon’s Breath. The average scorpion pepper measures about 1.2 million Scoville heat units (SHU) with the hotter examples measuring up to about 2 million SHU. The Carolina Reaper averages 1.6 million SHU but tops out at 2.2 million SHU.

In either case, these are heat levels that most people shouldn’t seek out. This is spiciness left to extreme eaters, and handling either of these super-hot peppers should be done with great care. It’s best to wear kitchen gloves, goggles, and even kitchen masks to protect you from severe chili burn.

Which is more popular?

We’ll settle the popularity contest by considering global monthly internet searches. It will give us a good sense of general interest in each chili.

“Carolina Reaper” (396,000 global searches monthly) is far more searched than both “Scorpion Pepper” (23,000 searches monthly) and “Trinidad Moruga Scorpion” (12,000 searches monthly) combined. In fact, the Reaper is arguably the most searched chili pepper in the world. Though, it should be noted that 35,000 total searches for those two scorpion pepper terms is nothing to scoff at. That’s still a very high volume of interest, just nowhere currently near the internet interest level that the Reaper has.

How does each of these peppers taste?

Scorpion peppers have a fruity quality similar to the flavor of scotch bonnet peppers, but with considerably more heat. The scorpion pepper’s heat is similar to that of other super-hot peppers in that you don’t feel the full effect of the capsaicin right away. It builds over a few seconds so that you might be tempted to continue eating, applying more and more of the fiery chemical to your mouth only to have it escalate to panic-inducing levels.

Similarly, Carolina Reapers have a mild fruity flavor that is usually quickly overpowered by the pepper’s intense heat. The Carolina Reaper has the same kind of delayed spiciness that slowly increases to ever more painful levels over time.

How do they differ in shape and colors?

Scorpion peppers are bright red and have a squat shape with lobes similar to those on Scotch bonnets. They also have a narrow, pointed tail. Scorpion peppers measure approximately 1.5 inches wide and between two and three inches long.

The appearance of Carolina Reapers can vary a lot, leading some critics to question the variety’s stability. Some Carolina Reapers have the same lobed appearance as scorpion peppers and scotch bonnets, but other varieties are more elongated similar to ghost peppers (AKA the bhut jolokia.)

Where did each pepper originate?

Scorpion peppers were first developed in Moruga, a village in Trinidad. They were developed by a self-taught farmer named Wahid Ogeer. The Carolina Reaper comes from Ed Currie, a pepper farmer from South Carolina (and the founder of Puckerbutt Pepper Company) who has cultivated — along with his peppers — a reputation for breeding super hots including the aforementioned Pepper X.

Which is easier to find fresh?

As fresh produce, neither scorpion peppers nor Carolina reapers are easier to find than the other in most places. The hottest super-hot peppers have limited appeal to most consumers, so you won’t find them in many mainstream grocery stores. You might occasionally see super-hot peppers as a novelty item at a farmer’s market or independent grocer.

Which is used most often in commercial products?

Scorpion peppers are only used in a few commercial products these days — they have long been eclipsed by the Carolina Reaper both in terms of SHU rating and in the marketplace. Carolina Reaper commercial products include numerous hot sauces, salsas, and powders along with flavored nuts and chips.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on April 18, 2022 to include new content.
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