Scorpion Pepper: Guide To One Of The World’s Hottest Peppers

scorpion peppers
One of the primary contenders for the world's hottest pepper is the Scorpion Pepper. Also called the Trinidad Scorpion pepper, this pepper and its cultivars can reach more than two million SHUs, which is enough to set your mouth and the record books on fire. Scorpion peppers originate from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago and have become a favorite of spice lovers and daredevils alike.

What Are Scorpion Peppers?

Scorpion pepper, scientific name Capsicum chinense’ Trinidad Scorpion Butch T” is a cultivar within the broader classification of peppers called Capsicum chinense. They are a close cousin of the more widely known scotch bonnet, although the Scorpion boasts a much more extreme heat. 

The origin of these peppers can be traced back to the village of Moruga on the island of Trinidad, although the Scorpion pepper as we know it was not widely known until the late 1990s and 2000s.

During that time frame Butch Taylor, owner/operator of a farm and hot sauce company based in Mississippi cultivated and propagated the Scorpion pepper. His efforts earned him the honor of having his name included as part of the official name of the pepper – Trinidad Scorpion Butch T.

Besides its blistering heat, the Scorpion is known for its bright red (sometimes yellow) color, odd, wrinkled appearance and tail reminiscent of a scorpion’s stinger. It will reach 2-3 inches in length as it grows and ripens from green to red.

scorpion pepper

The Scorpion pepper has gained notoriety for its ability to scorch the mouths of those who ingest it. Still, it has a unique flavor that’s become a favorite of pepper enthusiasts.

Beyond the heat, a sweet, fruity flavor comes through when blended into hot sauces, salsas, or other spicy dishes. For those who favor intense heat and complex spice, the Scorpion packs a big punch of flavor.

Other Names Scorpion Peppers Go By

As the scorpion pepper’s popularity has grown, other varieties have emerged.

In addition to the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, which are the best known and the hottest, you can now also find new cultivars such as,

  • Trinidad Chocolate Scorpion
  • Apocalypse Scorpion
  • Kraken Scorpion

How Hot Are Scorpion Peppers?

The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion comes in at a blistering 2,009,231 SHU on the Scoville scale.

The Scoville scale measures the amount of capsaicin contained in a pepper variety and is reported in Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).

For perspective, let’s take a look at the heat level for some of the more familiar and widely consumed peppers out there:

  • Jalapeno pepper 2,500-8,000 SHUs
  • Habanero pepper 100,000-350,000 SHUs
  • Bhut jolokia (ghost pepper) 855,000-1,041,427 SHUs

This means that the Scorpion pepper is over 200 times hotter than the jalapeno, close to 150 times hotter than the Habanero, and twice as hot as the ghost pepper.

The Scorpion is so potent it’s actually been known to burn through the gloves of testers.

Are Scorpion Peppers The Hottest Peppers?

Carolina Reaper peppers, not Scorpion peppers, are currently the hottest pepper in the world. 

It’s unsurprising that a pepper with over 2 million SHUs would earn the title World’s Hottest Pepper, precisely what the Scorpion pepper did. Until 2013.

For several years, nothing could beat the Scorpion pepper in Scoville units.

In 2013, the Carolina reaper and its 2,200,000 SHU took the crown. Guinness World Records recognized it as the hottest pepper in the world. The Carolina Reaper still holds that title today, although the Dragon’s Breath pepper was unofficially tested and was reported to reach 2,480,000 SHUs.

Are Scorpion Peppers Edible?

Scorpion peppers are edible. But a little goes a long way, and even that may not be tolerated well by all.

It’s dangerous to eat a Scorpion pepper raw.

These scorching peppers have been the subject of many social media challenges. Spice-chasers and hotsters have tried to one-up each other by ingesting various super hot peppers in differing quantities.

While it would take a large amount of Scorpion pepper to kill you, it only takes a very small amount to create extreme pain and potentially dire health consequences.

Even a small portion of one pepper eaten directly is enough to create immediate blistering in the mouth and throat and severe intestinal distress. Moreover, the blisters don’t protect the nerve endings from the pain, and typical remedies of drinking milk or eating ice cream won’t provide relief either.

If you eat any portion of a Scorpion pepper, you’re in for at least 20 minutes of agony followed by approximately 24 hours of intestinal upset.

If you’re a fan of heat, cooking with small amounts of Scorpion peppers is a safer choice.

For a new twist on hot sauce, try this recipe for Blueberry Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper Sauce.

Can You Grow Scorpion Peppers?

Scorpion peppers are pretty easy to grow, especially in warmer climates.

Backyard gardeners need only to purchase scorpion pepper seeds or a scorpion pepper plant from a local nursery and provide the right environment. Be aware, however, that if planting from seed, germination may take up to 21 days, and plant maturity and pepper production 3-4 months.

Most peppers, Scorpions included, grow best in warm to very hot areas and have average water needs.

They can be grown in-ground soil or in containers, but be careful not to overcrowd them. In the right growing conditions, Scorpion peppers can reach 3-4 feet tall and yield hundreds of peppers.

scorpion pepper plant

Varieties Of Scorpion Peppers

If you go hunting for Scorpion peppers to add some spice to your culinary life, you may be overwhelmed by the options.

Growers have been working hard to create new varieties and strains of the Scorpion pepper. And while some are very hot, others are more palatable.

Among the newest varieties of Scorpion pepper are:

  • Apocalypse Scorpion Pepper
  • Jay’s Peach Ghost Scorpion Pepper
  • Caramel Trinidad Scorpion Moruga
  • Orange Long-Tailed Scorpion Seeds

Where To Buy Scorpion Peppers

Scorpion peppers may be native to the Caribbean, but they are now readily available worldwide.

Not only are they often found in many regular grocery stores, but online ordering through Amazon or other specialty markets has also become very easy. 

Substitutes For Scorpion Peppers

There are reasonable substitutes if you’re not sure that Scorpion peppers are for you or you can’t purchase or grow them on your own:

  • Carolina Reaper peppers will bring the flavor and the heat

If you’re looking to dial back the SHUs, try:


Lorin is a writer, editor, photographer, and loves a culinary adventure. She routinely climbs up the Scoville heat ladder using peppers and spice to update and create new recipes for friends. Over the years she's become a pepper aficionado, growing and cultivating several varieties in her home garden.

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