There are countless types of chili peppers out there, all of which have varying flavors and heat levels. Some people get confused with two of the most popular ones: the Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper. Even we got mixed up with the two peppers before.
So, what makes these peppers different from one another? Read on as we compare the Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper and when they are best used.
- What is Ghost Pepper?
- What is Carolina Reaper?
- Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper (Key Differences)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping It Up
What is Ghost Pepper?
This hybrid pepper comes from crossing the Capsicum frutescens and Capsicum Chinense. It’s native to India, but you can find ghost peppers in other regions around the world.
Fun fact: The ghost pepper is known as the bhut jolokia-Bhutan Pepper in Assamese. Bhut means ghost, and people say it's named the ghost pepper as the heat would sneak up on its "victims" like ghosts!
These peppers once held the Guinness World Record for the world’s hottest chili pepper in 2007. However, it lost to the newer hybrid Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper in 2011.
What is Carolina Reaper?
When you think of the hottest pepper in the world, you’re probably thinking of the Carolina Reaper. This is a manmade hybrid pepper created by Ed Currie, a South Carolina breeder. Ed Currie is the founder of The Puckerbutt Pepper Company. (*)
It’s a cultivar of the chili pepper species, the Capsicum Chinense.
Currie crossed the habanero and ghost pepper, achieving the highly spicy Carolina Reaper! More specifically, it’s crossed between the Naga Viper pepper in Pakistan and La Soufriere pepper in Saint Vincent.
Wondering how hot it is? The Carolina Reaper can reach more than 2,000,000 SHU!
Fun fact: It is named reaper because of the shape of the pepper’s tail as it grows!
Its unique stature helped it hold the Guinness World Record as the world’s hottest chili pepper in 2013, overtaking the Trinidad Scorpion Pepper.
Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper (Key Differences)
While the Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper has once held the Guinness World Record for being the hottest chili peppers, they have very distinct differences. Here are the ones to look into:
Yes, peppers have taste, and they aren’t just spicy! Peppers can bring a lot of flavors, with the Ghost Pepper and Carolina Reaper both having a sweet and fruity flavor, with different salsas and hot sauces incorporating those flavors.
Because of the peppers’ initial sweetness, they may become quite dangerous if you consume a lot at once! Remember the heat from these peppers and other similarly spicy peppers; the heat won’t hit the tastebuds until 30-60 seconds after consumption. Consume these peppers in smaller amounts!
While the ghost pepper and Carolina pepper have a similar flavor, the Carolina Reaper packs an even bigger punch as it has a higher spice level.
While most ghost peppers and Carolina Reapers are red, they have differing shapes.
You can easily tell them apart based on their shape.
Ghost Peppers would have an oblong shape like a cone, having a pointed bottom. Furthermore, the peppers are covered in thin, rough skin.
As for Carolina Reapers, they have a more gnarled look, with the top being round and symmetrical. The Carolina Reaper’s unique feature is its bottom part, as it grows a tail that looks out of place with the entire pepper shape! As for the skin, it appears similar to the Ghost Pepper, being rough and textured.
Most Ghost Peppers and Carolina Reapers are hot red, though Ghost Peppers can come in other colors, like orange, yellow, and even chocolate brown!
4. Scoville Heat Units
Now, on one of the more critical questions: What’s hotter, the Carolina Reaper vs Ghost Pepper?
Based on the description above, the Carolina Reaper is way hotter! It took over the Ghost Pepper and Trinidad Scorpion pepper in 2013. When comparing it to the famous pepper like jalapeno, Ghost Peppers are about 107 times hotter. On the other hand, Carolina Reapers are 880 times hotter than the hottest jalapeno!
The Ghost Pepper was cross-bred from India, while the Carolina Reaper was developed in South Carolina, USA.
6. Cultivation Method
Interestingly enough, you can grow your own peppers, but they can only thrive in the best conditions.
For Ghost Peppers, you should cultivate them in areas where the temperature level stays at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The Ghost Pepper seeds would take about 34 days to grow in warm soils varying from 80-90 degrees F. (*)
As for the Carolina reaper, it must be a tad colder. They thrive in temperatures between 64-68 degrees F.
We recommend growing the chili in 30-40-centimeter pots to restrict the growth, allowing the plant to produce fruits quicker.
7. Where to Buy
This is where the Ghost Pepper and Carolina Reaper share a characteristic.
You can find them on sale in your supermarkets or online stores. However, many people say they can’t find it in their local supermarkets, so your best bet is to get these peppers online.
They are accessible, and there are various products made of these peppers you can avail of, from chips to hot sauces, salsas, to instant noodles!
You can rarely find Ghost Peppers and Carolina Reapers sold fresh because they are too hot to sell in most supermarkets, though you may find them in specialty stores, farmer’s markets, and gourmet supermarkets. Most times, these peppers are sold in dried or powdered form.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions surrounding the Carolina Reaper vs Ghost Pepper? Here are frequently asked questions to look into:
1. What pepper is hotter than the Carolina Reaper?
Right now, there aren’t any official peppers hotter than the Carolina Reaper. That said, the same breeder behind the Carolina Reaper created two new peppers, the Pepper X and Dragon’s Breath. Unconfirmed reports say that these two peppers beat the Carolina Reaper’s SHU, but we’ve yet to compare the two.
2. Do ghost peppers taste good?
Ghost Peppers will initially taste sweet, but they will hit you with that heat! That’s why they are made best for hot sauces and salsa with sweet and spicy flavors.
Carolina Reapers also tastes good, but they are much hotter, so you may not have enough time to taste that initial sweet, fruity flavor because you’re already fanning your mouth from the spiciness!
How can you tell the difference between the Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper?
The easiest way to differentiate the Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper is through their shapes. Ghost Peppers is longer with a cone shape and pointed end. In contrast, Carolina Reapers is round and has an odd-looking tail at the bottom.
3. Can the spice kill you?
Fortunately, NO! Eating Ghost Peppers and Carolina Reapers, or any other scorching pepper for the matter, won’t kill you. But if you have a previous medical condition, like acidity, you may experience serious side effects because of the heat.
Here are some possible side effects: Nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, burning sensation in the gut, or purging. The symptoms vary, but it’s best to speak with your doctor before having overly spicy food if you have a medical condition. Otherwise, you’ll be fine; just don’t eat too many peppers!
4. What can you cook with these peppers?
The Ghost Pepper is a famous pepper to grow and cook with because it has a delicious and fruity flavor to match its intense heat. It pairs well with various fruits and spices, making it excellent for hot sauces. The heat is a little more tolerable, and while still very hot, it’s a more usable pepper in our kitchen compared to the Carolina Reaper.
The Carolina Reaper also has that sweet and floral-fruity flavor we love from the Ghost Pepper, but even people with the highest heat tolerances should get ready.
These peppers are not to be messed with, and many people can’t enjoy this pepper regularly when eaten raw. But the hot sauces made with the Carolina Reaper are enjoyable, particularly those from The Puckerbutt Pepper Company.
You can also find other products that implement the Carolina Reaper as a challenge, such as the Carolina Reaper chips, noodles, and the like.
Wrapping It Up
When thinking of the Ghost Pepper vs Carolina Reaper differences, it all boils down to their shape, spice levels, and at times, their colors. Both peppers would initially taste sweet, only to release their spiciness afterward. But the Carolina Reaper packs more of a punch, being twice as spicier than the Ghost Pepper.
Either way, you can find these peppers for sale in online stores or your supermarkets.