Red savina Habanero: The Hottest Habanero Pepper

red savina habanero
As a cultivar of habanero chilis, the red savina habanero is a favorite among pepper growers and enthusiasts for its prolificacy, excellent germination rate, rich flavor, and extreme spiciness. It is more than twice as spicy as a standard orange habanero at its mildest, and it once held the Guinness world record for the hottest pepper for 12 years straight. 

What Are red savina Habanero Peppers?

Red savina habanero peppers are a newer cultivar of habanero chilis, selectively bred in Walnut, California, by Frank Garcia in 1989 to yield larger, spicier, and heavier peppers than standard habaneros. 

The recently developed red savina chilis have become a favorite pepper among growers and enthusiasts for their large size, prolificacy, high germination rates, rich flavor, and spiciness.

The profile of the peppers in terms of size, color, heat, shape, and flavor sets them apart from the 17 other varieties of habanero peppers, all members of the Capsicum chinense species.


As mentioned, red savina habanero chilis originated in the US through selective breeding. The discovery of the pepper was miraculous. Frank Garcia of GNS Spices was plowing down a whole crop of orange habaneros after his buyer quoted him a lower price than earlier agreed.

During the plowing, Frank spotted a strange red pepper growing among the orange habaneros, which he picked and forgot for a while.

Frank later used the red pepper to develop the red savina habanero peppers, which became one of the vegetables to win official protection under the Plant Variety Protection Act in the US.

It’s yet to be publicly known how exactly Frank Garcia developed the red savina chilis. It’s believed the red pepper he found in the orange habaneros field was a mutant of the Caribbean red habanero.


Red savina habaneros are two color-cycle peppers. They start green and ripen to bright red or dark red at full maturity.

Shape And Size

Red savinas are larger than the typical habanero. The pods grow to 1.5-2.5 inches long and about 1.5 inches wide at full maturity.

Red savina habaneros resemble a Chinese lantern—tubular bell-shaped peppers with lobes on the stem side, similar to those you see in bell peppers.

red savina habanero plant
Red savine habaneros are larger than other habaneros and ripen to a brilliant, glossy red.


The skin of red savina peppers is wrinkly and glossy. Indentations or dimples are typical, like the protruding lobes at the top of the pods.


Despite their high heat levels, red savina habanero chilis are sweet and almost fruity.

Longest Hottest Chili World Record

If you have been following the chili pepper industry, you have noticed newer and hotter peppers popping up over the years to unseat the titleholder for hottest pepper.

Red savina habanero peppers hold the unofficial record for the longest time a pepper variety stayed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s hottest pepper.

Frank’s red savina habaneros held the world record as the hottest pepper between 1994 and 2006. They were officially dethroned from the long-time high seat in February 2007 by the bhut jolokia pepper (also called the ghost pepper) at over 1,000,000 SHUs. The Carolina reaper has since been crowned as the world’s hottest chili pepper with 1.4-2.2M SHUs.

But other peppers, like the Apollo pepper, dragon’s breath pepper, and pepper X are currently awaiting official testing and may soon upset the champion again.

How Hot Is A red savina habanero?

Topping out at 577,000 Scoville Heat Units, red savina habaneros are fiery hot peppers capable of tickling your palate despite their sweet, fruity flavor. 

The peppers set the 577,000 SHUs mark in 1994, and the widely accepted heat range is 350,000-577,000 SHUs.

In 2005, researchers at the Chile Pepper Institute of New Mexico State University listed the hottest red savina habaneros they tested at around 500,000 SHUs. They placed the heat level of the peppers at an average of 248,556 SHUs.

Are red savina Habaneros Hotter Than Orange Habaneros?

Red savina habaneros are twice as hot as the mildest orange habaneros. Orange habaneros score 100,000-350,000 Scoville Heat Units and are among the most prevalent habaneros.

What Is The Spiciest Habanero Pepper?

There are 18 varieties of habanero peppers, and the red savina peppers and chocolate habaneros (also up to 577,000 SHUs) are the spiciest.

Habanero peppers strike 100,000-350,000 SHUs on the Scoville Scale, the same level as wiri wiri peppers and scotch bonnet hot peppers. The hottest typical habanero has the same heat level as the least spicy red savina habanero.

Caribbean red habanero peppers are milder than red savinas at 300,000-500,000 SHUs.

How To Cook With red savina Habaneros

The heat of red savina habaneros isn’t to be trifled with. There’s a lot of heat here, and you might hurt yourself if you don’t use the pepper sparingly.

The common culinary uses for red savina habaneros include:

red currant habanero pepper jelly
Tart red currants and fruity habaneros combine to make a sweet and spicy pepper jelly.

Where To Buy red savina Habaneros

Red savina peppers are not typically available in local groceries, but you can find them at specialty stores and online from vendors like Amazon. The most common forms are red savina habanero seeds, plants, powders, and sauces.

Can You Grow red savina Habaneros?

According to hot pepper enthusiasts and growers, red savina habaneros are highly forgiving and easy to grow. Many growers report high germination rates compared to other hot peppers.

You can grow your red savinas from seeds purchased online. Start the pepper seeds indoors 8-12 before the last frost date in bright light. It will take 7-10 days for the seeds to germinate, ideally at 70-95° Fahrenheit.

You can plant the young seedlings in large containers or directly in the garden in the warm season at a spacing of 14-18 inches between the pepper plants.

Red savina habanero pepper plants require full sun with 8-12 hours of sunshine daily and partial sun shade in hot summers.

The pepper plants are highly prolific, producing up to 50 fruits per plant. You’ll know your pods are ready for harvesting when they turn bright red or around 90 days from the transplanting date.

Substitutes For red savina Habaneros

You can substitute red savina habaneros with scotch bonnet and wiri wiri peppers if you want a lower heat level.

Other habanero pepper varieties like orange habaneros and Caribbean red habaneros (300,000-500,000 SHUs) are ideal substitutes for red savinas.


Peppers have become the meeting point for three of Alex's greatest passions—gardening, cooking and writing. He is happiest watching small plants grow big and heavy with produce, and he can't wait to harvest self-grown fresh produce for his kitchen. When he is not taking care of his pepper plants, you'll find him busy cooking and sampling different peppers as he seeks the next hotter pepper.

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