Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Pepper: Mouth-Numbing Super-Hot

Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper.
The small, wrinkled, red Trinidad Moruga scorpion is one of the world's hottest peppers. The heat it contains makes its close cousins, the Habanero and Ghost pepper, seem mild by comparison. Native to the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, this scorching pepper hails from the village of Moruga, and one taste is enough to make your mouth go numb with pain.

What Is The Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Pepper?

The Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper is one of the world’s hottest super hot peppers, measuring over 200 times hotter than the well-loved jalapeno. Like other types of scorpion peppers, it’s red and wrinkly with a short, stout body and a pointed ‘tail.’

It’s so hot it’s been known to melt through the latex gloves of those who dare to handle it.

Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper.
Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper.

Among pepper-heads and spiceophiles, eating any amount of the Trinidad Moruga scorpion is considered a badge of honor. Competitions for spice tolerance, like The Worlds Hottest Chili Eating Contest and the One Chip Challenge, have featured the scorpion as a metric.

Several cultivars of scorpion peppers now exist in the boutique hot pepper market. The Trinidad Moruga scorpion holds a preferred position amongst growers, however, because it’s not a hybrid and has better stability in growth. This means the plants grow more quickly and prolifically than other varieties.

It’s not only the heat that makes the Trinidad Moruga scorpion desirable, though. This devilish little pepper is also quite flavorful for those that can handle the heat. Its slightly fruity flavor and light sweetness make it an excellent ingredient in hot sauces and salsa. The extreme heat, however, means a little can go a long way.

How Hot Is The Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Pepper?

Measuring heat (the amount of capsaicin) in peppers is done using the Scoville scale. The Trinidad Moruga scorpion comes in at a blistering 1.5M-2M Scoville heat units (SHU) on this scale.

To put this in perspective, let’s look at some of the more commonly consumed peppers and their relative heat:

  • Trinidad Moruga scorpion 1,550,000- 2,009,000 SHUs
  • Ghost pepper 855,000-1,041,000 SHUs
  • Habanero pepper 100,000-350,000 SHUs
  • Serrano pepper 5000-15,000 SHUs
  • Jalapeno pepper 4000-8,500 SHUs

It’s not difficult to see how this chili pepper comes in at the top of the world’s hottest pepper list.

Is The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Hotter Than The Carolina Reaper?

The Carolina reaper is officially the world’s hottest chili, measuring higher on the Scoville scale than the scorpion.

  • Carolina reaper 1,600,0000 – 2,200,000 SHU
  • Trinidad Moruga scorpion 1,550,000 – 2,009,000 SHU

At these levels, however, the difference on the tongue would be indistinguishable—both register insanely hot.

Is The Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Pepper The Hottest Pepper In The World?

The Trinidad Moruga scorpion is now a fallen king. It wore the crown as the world’s hottest pepper for many years. In 2013, however, New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) Chili Pepper Institute officially determined that the scorpion was outmatched, and the crown was passed to the Carolina reaper.

Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper.
Trinidad Moruga scorpion peppers.

Many variables come into play when measuring heat levels in peppers. On a single plant, individual peppers can measure differently. Factors that impact heat include:

  • Age of the pepper
  • Temperature
  • Soil content
  • Water level

Is it possible to find a scorpion pepper that measures at a higher SHU than a Reaper? Yes, absolutely. This is why there is a range of Scoville heat units associated with any pepper. In the competition for World’s Hottest Pepper title, however, the Reaper continues to outdo the scorpion by a few SHUs.

What Is The Difference Between A Trinidad Scorpion And A Trinidad Moruga Scorpion?

Trinidad scorpion peppers and Trinidad Moruga scorpions are both species of Capsicum Chinense. The Moruga variety, however, is native to the village for which it’s named. It also tends to measure hotter on the Scoville scale.

The Trinidad Moruga scorpion gave rise to another popular variety, the Butch T Trinidad scorpion.

The Butch T Trinidad scorpion was discovered and propagated by Butch Taylor. The seeds from this cultivar were eventually sold to the Hippy Seed Company and cultivated, creating a wider distribution and awareness of this variety.

These are just some of the varieties of scorpion peppers. Over the years, many cultivars have arisen, creating a range of scorpion pepper varieties from which to choose. The relative heat level for all scorpion peppers falls within the same range.

The cultivars include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Butch T Trinidad scorpion, 1,464,000 SHU.
  • Trinidad Moruga scorpion, 1,550,000-2,000,000 SHU
  • Trinidad scorpion, 1,200,000 – 2,000,000
  • Trinidad Chocolate scorpion, 1,200,000-2,000,000

Are Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peppers Edible?

All scorpion peppers are edible, including the Trinidad Moruga scorpion. That said, eating a whole one or even taking a bite isn’t advisable.

According to Paul Bosland, Director of the Chile Pepper Institute, you will experience numbness in your mouth and throat within seconds of eating this super hot chili.

“What’s happening is that your receptors in your mouth are sending a signal to your brain that there’s pain, and it’s in the form of hotness or heat, and so your brain produces endorphins to block that pain,” he explained.

What follows can be extreme intestinal distress. It’s not life-threatening, but it will be intensely uncomfortable and can last up to 24 hours.

There are other ways to enjoy the heat, however.

Many hot sauces and salsas incorporate Trinidad Moruga scorpion Peppers in ways that allow their natural flavor and heat to come through. These can still be a challenge for those who don’t tolerate extreme heat, but they are edible and tasty for those who do.

Where Can You Buy Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Peppers?

You can sometimes find fresh Trinidad Moruga scorpion peppers in specialty grocers and farmers’ markets. Seeds can be purchased online and grown at home.

Products made with scorpion peppers are even easier to find. scorpion hot sauce, for instance, is on many grocery shelves, and you can order from online retailers like Amazon.

scorpion peppers were relatively unknown until the early 2000s, making them nearly impossible to find for purchase. Since then, however, they’ve grown in popularity and gained a culinary space of their own.

Can You Grow Trinidad Moruga Scorpions?

Growing your own Trinidad Moruga scorpion peppers is relatively easy. They do well in backyard gardens or containers and can grow from seed or as nursery transplants.

All pepper plants require heat and full sun to grow successfully. In the case of scorpions, the pepper’s heat will intensify as they ripen on the vine and the temperature increases.

If planting Trinidad Moruga scorpion seeds, you can plan on about 80 days from germination to fruit maturity. The peppers will go from orange to red as they mature and develop a wrinkled, bumpy appearance.

A word of caution: When handling any super-hot peppers, wearing gloves is advisable. The oils from the peppers can cause extreme skin irritation and it can be difficult to get the oil off you skin with soap and water. You may require medical attention if you accidentally rub your eyes after handling a Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper.


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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