three of the hottest chili peppers in the world

What is the hottest hot sauce in the world? (2023)

A lot of the statistics and information on the “hottest hot sauce in the world” is diluted or completely untrue. We’re here to break through some of the most common myths in order to find the truth about the hottest hot sauces.

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The myths around Mad Dog 375 Plutonium No 9

A quick search will tell you that Mad Dog 375 Plutonium No. 9 is the hottest hot sauce in the world, coming in at 9 million SHU. This is technically untrue as Mad Dog 375 Plutonium No. 9 is not a hot sauce — it’s a capsaicin extract.

While 9,000,000 is drastically spicier than any commercially available hot sauce, it is also by no means the hottest extract on the market. At 99% purity, some capsaicin extracts are just under 16 million SHU, much hotter than Mad Dog.

The Source pepper extract

“The Source” is another pepper extract that is sometimes wrongly named the hottest hot sauce in the world. Similar to Mad Dog, it is a pepper extract, not a multi-ingredient hot sauce. The Source comes in at 7.1 million SHU, which is less than Mad Dog but much hotter than most hot sauces on the market. Interested in trying it? The Source is one of the few pure pepper extracts available on Amazon. Click here to learn more, see pricing, and purchase.

Capsaicin extract vs. hot sauce

It’s also important to distinguish between capsaicin extract and hot sauce. Extracts involve extracting a part of a plant, in this case, capsaicin, using alcohol. Hot sauce, on the other hand, is usually made spicy by chili peppers. Still, in some cases of extremely spicy hot sauces, they may use capsaicin extract to make them spicier than possible with chili peppers along.

But in hot sauce, that capsaicin extract is greatly diluted with other ingredients like vinegar, spices, and citrus juice. And in fact, pepper extracts are never intended for direct consumption, their purpose is to be added to other food items to increase their spice level.

The hottest hot sauce we know of (2023)

Regret by Wiltshire Chili Farm appears to be the hottest hot sauce as of the date of writing this article, in January 2023. It is an extremely niche and hard-to-find product — you won’t find it on the shelves of any stores in the United States, nor will you find it on Amazon.

Now, why do we say it “appears to be” the hottest hot sauce in the world? Because we don’t actually know how spicy it is!

Regret uses 12 million Scoville oleoresin (similar to extract) as its main heat source, which is often misinterpreted and misrepresented as the hot sauce scoring 12 million SHU. It uses 12 million SHU oleoresin, but that SHU is diluted by its other ingredients including: tomato, cider vinegar, bourbon, garlic, lime, ghost pepper, habanero, salt, and herbs.

That said because the extract it uses is significantly spicier even than most readily available hot sauce extracts, it’s likely that Regret is the hottest hot sauce on the market.

Why don’t we know how hot the hottest hot sauces are?

There are a few reasons that we don’t actually know how spicy a lot of the hottest hot sauces are.

Smart marketing

Saying a sauce is made with 12 million Scoville extract has a much bigger impact than saying the sauce itself is 3 million SHU, which is one reason companies frame it this way. Then, journalists who don’t understand how Scoville ratings work or who aren’t paying close attention to the data in front of them misrepresent the data saying that the hot sauce itself is 12 million SHU.

This tactic isn’t limited just to Regret (or Wiltshire Chili Farms) — most of the hottest hot sauces tout the heat of the extract that they use in the sauce rather than the SHU of the sauce itself.

SHU testing can be pricy and complicated

It’s also possible (yet unlikely) that the SHU of these hot sauces is not publically released because it has not been tested. Running a Scoville heat test requires sending samples out to a specialized lab, costing $800 or more per sample.

Now it makes sense that a mom and pop shop selling a few thousand bottles of hot sauce a year might not have an $800 SHU testing budget, but bigger brands that do millions in business a year can definitely afford it.

The SHU of peppers can vary drastically

Another reason that companies may not want to release the exact SHU because the SHU of chili peppers can vary drastically from pepper to pepper.

For example, ghost peppers, one of the hottest peppers in the world, can vary from around 850,000 – 1,050,000 SHU. That’s a 23% difference!

However, the hottest hot sauces on the market get most of their heat from pepper extract rather than chili peppers, which should create a more consistently spicy product than relying on chili peppers.

If you’re more confused after reading this article than you were when you first wondered what the hottest hot sauce in the world is, then good! You’re thinking critically. The truth of the matter is, we can’t be certain what the hottest hot sauce in the world is because we don’t have that date. Because companies don’t always release the testing data for the hottest hot sauces, we would have to independently test every hot sauce on the market to find the winner — and at $800 per test that’s a big bill!

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