About Pepper Heat Levels

While you can blindly taste a pepper to determine its heat, that’s not a recommended method—ouch! Instead, use the Scoville scale. Pepper heat is measured in Scoville Heat Units with the hottest peppers having the highest numbers. You’ll see these numbers listed for all our hot peppers.

The range of Scoville units typically used to call a pepper mild, medium, hot, or extra hot are:

  • Mild (100 to 2,500)
  • Medium (2,500 to 30,000)
  • Hot (30,000 to 100,000)
  • Extra Hot (100,000 to 300,000+)
Here’s a glance at heat levels for some popular hot peppers:
  • Habanero Extra Hot (100,000 to 300,000)
  • Tabasco Hot (30,000 to 50,000)
  • Cayenne Hot (30,000 to 50,000)
  • Jalapeño Medium (2,500 to 5,000)
  • Poblano (Ancho) Mild (1,000 to 2,000)

How does the Scoville test work?

Devised by Wilbur L. Scoville in 1912, the Scoville test was the first lab approach to measure heat in peppers. In this method, human subjects taste a pepper sample and record the heat level. The samples are then diluted in the lab until heat is no longer detected by the tasters. This dilution is called the Scoville Heat Unit. While the method is still subjective, as it depends on the taster's palate and sensitivity, it’s the most accepted, scientific measurement of heat in peppers.

What’s the hottest pepper?

A pepper originating from India called Bhut Jolokia is believed to be the hottest pepper, with a Scoville rating of 855,000 to 1,300,000+ Heat Units. Pepper breeders are trying to surpass that and claim the title of World's Hottest Pepper all the time.

The hottest pepper we sell is the Habanero. It’s plenty hot, with a rating of 100,000 to 300,000 Scoville Heat Units.

Plant genetics determines pepper heat levels, but environment also plays a role. Hot peppers grow hottest during drought and high temperatures.

Posted in: Growing Basics