How spicy are ghost peppers?

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There’s no disputing that ghost peppers (aka naga jolokia, bhut jolokia, naga morich) are some of the hottest chilies.  Still, people want to know more about them.  We get a lot of calls asking how many ghost chilies are in a pound, and many calls asking just how hot they really are.

In short, they’re really really hot.  On the scoville heat scale they come in between 300,000 and 400,000 units.

So, are ghost peppers too hot?  Well, it depends on what you’re planning to do with them.  If you’re planning on putting them in your mouth right out of the bag…yes, they’re probably too hot.  However, used carefully, they bring controllable heat and a surprising fruity sweetness to dishes, homemade hot sauce, and even homemade spiced vodka.

If grinding ghost chilies into homemade chili powder, you and anyone else in the room probably want to wear eye and mouth protection.  If making a lot, you should consider buying pre-ground ghost chili powder and saving yourself a lot of potential sneezing (read more: should I buy chili powder or grind my own?).

To give you an idea of how hot they are, here are some (very) rough chile to chile comparisons:

Each ghost pepper is roughly as hot (assuming chilies of equal size) as:

 habanero_xsm 2-4 Habanero Chilies (the hottest chile most people have tried) – scoville rating of 100,000-200,000
 chipotle_xsm 4-42 Chipotle Chilies (smoked jalapenos) – scoville rating of 7,000-25,000
 new-mexico_xsm 80-400 New Mexico Chilies– scoville rating of 750-1,250

Because dried chilies are an agricultural product, their heat level can vary considerably from chile to chile, so we can only offer this imprecise comparison, but it should give you a rough idea of how hot ghost peppers are.

Related Posts:
Chile Heat Scale
Dried Chile Recipes & Tips

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