Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper

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Every year, we have multiple ghost pepper and Carolina Reaper plants growing in our garden. Some may think these two peppers are similar, but they’re actually quite different. We’ve had the pleasure of growing and tasting both of these varieties over many seasons.

If you’re just interested in heat level, the Reaper is much hotter. Up to twice as hot, in fact. But there is more to it than that – flavor, shape, plant size, and productivity. In this article, I’ll share the similarities and differences between the ghost pepper and the Carolina Reaper pepper.

Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper History

Originally from Northeast India, the ghost pepper (bhut jolokia) is one of our favorite peppers. It is thought to be a natural cross between Capsicum chinense and Capsicum frutescens species.

The Carolina Reaper was created by Ed Currie, the founder of The Puckerbutt Pepper Company. This unique pepper was actually the result of crossing a Pakistani Naga pepper and a Caribbean habanero pepper called La Soufrière.

Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper on plant
Ghost pepper and Carolina Reaper peppers.

Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper Scoville and Heat

Let’s get one thing straight – both of these peppers are incredibly hot! The ghost pepper used to be the hottest pepper in the world, before the Carolina Reaper took its place as the new Guinness record holder.

Clocking in at about 1 million SHUs, the ghost pepper will send most people straight to the milk. Compare that to the measly 5,000 SHUs of a jalapeño pepper! They are, however, larger in size than reapers, so eating a whole pepper would be seriously hot either way.

So, how hot is the Carolina Reaper in comparison? About double. The Carolina Reaper has been said to reach over 2 million SHUs on the Scoville scale, doubling the heat of the ghost pepper. Both of these peppers pack a significant amount of heat. There is no wonder they are the star ingredient in so many fiery hot sauces.

Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper Flavor

The ghost pepper is one of our favorite peppers to grow and cook with. This is because of the delicious, fruity flavor and intense heat. The ghost pepper pairs very well with different fruits and spices, making it a great pepper to make hot sauce with.

We love the sweet, floral-fruity flavor of all the ghost pepper varieties we grow. The heat is a bit more tolerable (but still incredibly hot), so we find it is a slightly more ‘usable’ pepper in the kitchen. Still, it demands the use of proper nitrile gloves when slicing!

If you have ever tried a slice of raw Carolina Reaper, you may have briefly tasted the sweet flavor before the scorching heat came through. This is no pepper to mess with – it’s brutal! Most of the hot sauces we have that are made with Carolina Reaper peppers are a bit too spicy for us to enjoy on a regular basis.

However, if you’re looking for a good Carolina Reaper sauce – look no further than the creator of the pepper himself. After trying many hot sauces, we actually found that PuckerButt makes some of the best Carolina Reaper sauces out there.

Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper Appearance

Ghost pepper vs Carolina Reaper

It is not difficult to tell these two peppers apart. When shown side-by-side, you can easily see the differences in their appearance.

The Carolina Reaper appears red, bumpy, and has a very evil looking “stinger” or “tail” at the end. Since its introduction in the early 2010s, the Reaper has been bred into many different varieties.

The purple reaper is one of the most incredible plants we have grown to date. The plant grew to over 5′ tall and was much more productive than the original Carolina Reaper.

Purple Reaper Peppers with Foliage
Purple reapers and plant.

The ghost pepper has a more traditional pepper appearance, albeit with a bumpy texture. The pods tend to be long and slender with a slightly pointed end.

Since it was the original superhot, ghost peppers have also been bred into all sorts of colors and shapes. Some have smoother skin while other ghost peppers have a more bumpy, gnarly texture. We love growing different varieties of the ghost pepper!

Fun fact: The ghost pepper has been crossed with a jalapeno, resulting in the “Ghostly Jalapeno.”

Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper Growing

If you are trying to decide which pepper to grow, we really recommend growing both. In our experience, ghost pepper plants tend to be much larger and more prolific than Reapers. Growing Carolina Reaper plants can be more of a challenge, and we usually end up with less fruit by weight. However, seeing the Carolina Reaper pods come in is incredibly rewarding!

Ghost Pepper vs. Carolina Reaper Ripening

We have a whole guide on how to grow ghost peppers here on Pepper Geek. Be sure to also check out our post on where to buy Carolina Reapers.

If you are not looking to start one of these varieties from seed, you can also buy the plants themselves on Etsy. You may also enjoy this post comparing the Carolina Reaper with the habanero pepper.

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Hopefully this article cleared up some of the differences between the ghost pepper and the Carolina Reaper. We hope you’ll incorporate them both into your garden and share the photos with us!


Crystalyn loves spicy food and getting creative in the kitchen. When she isn’t finding new ways to use hot sauce, shes very busy watching cat videos on the internet.

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  1. I started both peppers from seed at the same time, currently my ghost has a prolific # of fruit on it, but the reaper doesn’t even have flowers yet. Is this normal?

  2. Can you purchase seeds for the Ghostly Jalapeno that you mentioned in your ad? If so can you send me the info.

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