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How Much Hotter is a Ghost Pepper Than a Habanero

By Bill Kalkumnerd • Updated: 06/04/22 • 6 min read
How Much Hotter is a Ghost Pepper Than a Habanero

There is so much interest in spicy foods and the factors that make them so exciting. Hot peppers are one of the principal factors responsible for the words “hot and spicy” in food cultures worldwide. As a result, the quest to grow hotter peppers continues to rise, causing people to argue about the heat supremacy of ghost pepper over habanero.

The ghost pepper, also known as Bhut jolokia, is six to ten times hotter than the habanero pepper on the Scoville scale. The ghost pepper measures between 855,000 and 1,041,427 SHU (Scoville heat units), while the habanero pepper measures between 100,000 and 350,000 SHU. 

Whether you plan to take part in social hot pepper eating contests or you are a pepper grower seeking new ways to breed even hotter peppers, knowing the heat difference between two one-time world’s hottest peppers will give you more insight. So, keep reading to learn more!  

Ghost Pepper vs. Habanero: The Battle for Supremacy

The ghost pepper, also known as Bhut jolokia, is not the hottest in the world. Interestingly, the carolina reaper is currently the hottest pepper in the world with a Scoville rating of 1,569,300 SHU and earned that spotlight in 2013, six years after the reign of the ghost pepper in 2007. 

Furthermore, the habanero pepper reigned supreme as the world’s hottest pepper in 1999 before the ghost pepper. Yet one has to wonder what is so significant about the ghost pepper that it continues to be a reference point of comparison with other super hot peppers. 

The reason is that the ghost pepper was the first chili species to set the pace for categorizing the world’s hottest peppers on the Scoville scale by hitting one million Scoville heat units. As a result, it gained so much publicity for its record-breaking achievement compared to other hot peppers at the time.  

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Fun Fact: Grocery store habanero peppers are less spicy than their homegrown counterparts

Ghost Pepper and Habanero Heat Levels Versus Other Hot Peppers

The comparison between the ghost pepper and habanero exists because they are both similar. Since they were both one-time world hottest peppers, let’s see how hot they are compared to other hot peppers and sauces in this list.

List showcasing the ghost pepper heat reference to other hot peppers/hot sauces

Fun Fact: The habanero pepper originated from the Amazon and was considered the world’s hottest pepper in 1999, about eight years before the ghost pepper took over the spotlight in 2007.

Why Is the Ghost Pepper Hotter Than the Habanero?

The ghost pepper is significantly hotter than the habanero pepper because it contains more capsaicin. Also, the habanero has a more fruity flavor than the ghost pepper, and the ghost pepper has a more intense heat that builds up slowly. 

It is somewhat like a surprise ruining agent while enjoying the pepper’s initial fruity flavor. Essentially, the more fruity flavor chili pepper contains, the less spicy or hot it will be. 

Here are a few other factors that affect the heat of homegrown peppers:

Growing conditions and cultivation

Cultivation techniques like applying fertilizers can significantly affect the growth rate of most chilis and their heat consequently. Chili peppers have specific growing needs to produce, develop and retain their capsaicin as hot peppers. For instance, soil deficient in sulfur will make peppers with little capsaicin, and therefore, the peppers will not have much heat.

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Watering schedule

Chili peppers do not need much watering as it can expose them to the blossom end rot and other nutrient deficiency situations.

Climate

The weather condition of a place primarily affects the heat content of chilis, and ghost peppers and habanero require a slightly hot climate condition to thrive.

Plant genetics

Plant genetics refers to the inherent species of the pepper, beginning with their seeds. If you plant a less spicy pepper, you will harvest peppers with less capsaicin.

Plant stress

Believe it or not, plants experience stressful situations like extreme weather conditions, harsh elements, etc. Also, pest infestation can cause stress for the plants.

Ripeness at harvest time

When peppers are harvested before they are entirely ripped, they are not as hot as their ripe counterparts. The reason is that the peppers have not had enough time to build and deposit their capsaicin content to attain maximum heat. Also, the varying degree of ripeness influences the pepper’s overall flavor.  

Ghost peppers vs. Habanero pepper: Table showing Super hot Chili quick fact difference

Hot Chili pepper quick factsGhost pepperHabanero pepper
Scoville heat units (SHU)855,000 – 1,041,427100,00 – 350,000
Median heat units (SHU)948,214225,000
Jalapeno reference point,107 to 417 times hotter12 to 140 times hotter
Capsicum speciesChineseChinese
Origin Northeast IndiaMexico/the Amazon
UsageCulinaryCulinary
Size and Appearance2 to 3 inches long/pod-like and rough/wrinkly1 to 3 inches long,pod-like and smooth
FlavorSweet/fruity/earthy Sweet/fruity/tropical/smoky 

Would Cooking Make The Habanero as Hot as Ghost pepper?

Cooking somehow increases the heat in most hot peppers. However, it depends on the type of peppers and primarily the cooking methods. Even though cooking significantly affects the hotness of most peppers, the habanero will never be as hot as the ghost pepper because they do not have the same quantity of capsaicin deposits. 

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Interestingly, cooking habaneros increases the number of capsaicinoids in them. Deep frying decreases the photochemical in most peppers, while boiling and grilling increases it. Green, unripe habaneros, and ghost peppers are not as hot as their ripe, red counterparts. The reason is that capsaicin deposits increase with increasing ripeness. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a Ghost Pepper Taste Precisely Like a Habanero Pepper?

Although the ghost pepper and habanero have fruity flavors, they do not taste the same because of their capsaicin content. While habanero attempts to balance fruity and hot in one flavor, the ghost pepper has a slow intense heat that slowly builds up when least expected. 

What Facts Can Prevent Your Habanero Peppers From Getting Hot?

Although most chilis are expected to be hot, several factors can affect them. For the habanero, poor soil quality, wrong site, poor seed species, and improper cultivation practices during planting can decrease the heat of your peppers. Also, if your pepper fruits are unhealthy, they will not be hot.

What Is the Most Striking Difference Between a Ghost Pepper and a Habanero?

Aside from their physical appearance, their heat intensity is the principal difference between a ghost pepper and habanero pepper. The Scoville scale helps classify them; thus, ghost peppers measure between 855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU. While habanero peppers measure between 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.  

Final Thoughts

Most people always compare ghost peppers with habaneros because they are so closely ranked on the Scoville scale. Now that you know how much hotter ghost peppers are than habaneros, you can better decide which ones to use depending on how hot you want your cooking to be!

Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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