They’re known as two of the hottest peppers on the planet: the ghost pepper and the Carolina Reaper. However, they’re not the same thing.
As your favorite gourmet hot sauce brand, we decided that our team of experts at Ghost Scream would take this opportunity to compare the two and decide if there’s really a clear winner.
And--while we’re obviously quite partial to the ghost peppers that we use in our specialty hot sauce--we promise to be as impartial as we can throughout the whole process.
Ready to get started? Let’s look at the ghost pepper versus the Carolina Reaper to explore the similarities and differences.
What is a Ghost Pepper?
The real name for the ghost pepper is bhut jolokia, which loosely translates in the Assam language to ghost. It is native to Northeastern India, Bangladesh, and occasional sections of Sri Lanka and has been around for centuries.
There are multiple varieties of the ghost pepper, ranging from the standard red to the chocolate, orange, peach, and purple. And all are just as hot.
While it is still one of the hottest peppers on the planet, the ghost pepper only held the Guinness Book of World Records title from 2007 to 2010.
What is a Carolina Reaper?
The Carolina Reaper is a specially cultivated pepper bred in 2013 by a South Carolina chili enthusiast named Ed Currie. It is a crossbreed of the Pakistani Naga and a West Indies Red Habanero.
Currently, there’s only one variety of the Carolina Reaper. Although, with that much heat, it is probably enough! However, we can’t be sure what Ed’s got cooking up in the garden these days and there very well could be something even hotter on the plant as we speak.
It is also important to note that Carolina Reaper peppers are visibly noticeable thanks to their scorpion-like tail and bright red coloring.
Heat Differences Between the Ghost Pepper and Carolina Reaper
There are very marked differences between the heat levels of the ghost pepper and the Carolina Reaper.
For starters, most ghost peppers typically come in between 855,000 SHU and 1.1 million SHU. If you consider this is a hundred times hotter than the spiciest jalapeno, then you can see why the ghost pepper was once the Guinness Book of World Records’ top spot for hottest pepper.
Of course, it was later dethroned by the Carolina Reaper. It’s heat level? An almost frightening 1.4 million to 2.2 million SHU--that’s nearly double the ghost pepper. Yikes!
Beware of the Slow Burn
When it comes to the taste of both the Carolina Reaper and the ghost pepper, both are widely known for their initial sweet flavor.
Once you’ve taken a bite, the heat doesn’t come on for twenty to thirty seconds. Then it sticks around for around forty-five minutes, which is the reason people are usually clamoring for a glass of milk after they’ve ingested either one of them.
This is why both peppers are known as having what’s referred to by chili enthusiasts as a slow burn. But that’s also what a lot of people like when eating peppers for heat, too.
Finding These Peppers Fresh
When it comes to finding either ghost peppers or Carolina Reaper peppers at your local grocery store, it probably isn’t going to happen unless you’re shopping at a gourmet store.
Why? The heat of both is a lot more than most people can handle. At some point, this becomes a health risk that most grocery chains don’t want to assume.
In addition, the growth of the peppers is a factor, too. Ghost peppers are native to overseas, which makes it harder to ship them fresh. While the Carolina Reaper is native to the United States, it is a recent cultivation with only a few certified growers available.
However, if you’re still clamoring to add either of these two spicy chilis to your favorite recipe, there are plenty of dried options you can buy online.
Using Carolina Reaper and Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce
Now, we mentioned that it might be difficult to find fresh ghost peppers or Carolina Reaper peppers in your local grocery store. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find seasonings or hot sauces.
In fact, there are numerous brands on the market that use either one of the chilis or the other. Since these are clearly marked and marketed as being extremely hot, most retailers have no problem stocking them on the shelves.
Of course, we always want you to just come to us with those kinds of requests. (Have you tried our El Verde Hot Sauce? It’s sure to be your new favorite green hot sauce to keep around the house!)
Carolina Reaper or Ghost Pepper for Recipes?
So, is it better to use a ghost pepper or a Carolina Reaper in your favorite recipes? Well, the choice is ultimately up to your taste and heat tolerance.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Carolina Reaper is nearly double the SHU of the ghost pepper. This means that you had better be ready for that burn should you attempt to use it in your favorite dish.
Meanwhile, the ghost pepper is slightly lower, but still hot enough to satisfy your desire for hotness. In that regard, most people prefer it over the Carolina Reaper, which is more of a novelty heat instead of flavor.
Shop Your Favorite Online Hot Sauce Store
If you’re looking to see just how hot products made with a ghost pepper are, we’ve got you covered. Our Ghost Scream line of specialty hot sauces is here for you to try for yourself. And they all taste great on everything from eggs to in a spicy martini, making them a perfect addition to any chili fan’s pantry.