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Exploring the African Ghost Pepper

If you’re a hot sauce addict craving a chilli pepper that’s going to scare you stiff, look no further. The African Ghost Pepper, dubbed Bhut Jolokia meaning “ghost chili” in Assamese, this pepper is famous for its strong, lingering heat which sneaks up and sticks around.

Though famous nowadays, the ghost pepper was relatively unknown until the Indian Defense Test Laboratory found its Scoville rating was off the charts.


Since then, the chilli has burst into the limelight, claiming the Guinness World Record title of “World’s Hottest Chilli Pepper” in 2007.


Since its rise to fame in the early aughts, hotter chillis have shown up to steal the ghost pepper’s crown. Ranked currently as 9th, the ghost pepper is no longer the world’s spiciest chilli.


Even so, it has retained its celebrity status, remaining the hot topic of viral videos and a sought-after ingredient in some of the world’s best international hot sauces. Decades later, the beloved pepper has developed a cult following, with countless Twitter accounts, websites and YouTube channels dedicated to all things ghost pepper.

The African Ghost Pepper: Flavor and Heat

The African ghost pepper is all about upfront flavor and slow-burning spice. Despite its rockstar reputation as an ultra-hot chilli, its first bite is deceivingly sweet, boasting strong fruity notes and an initially subtle heat. The pepper’s mild, flavorful hints last for around 30-45 seconds before building into a powerful, mouth-searing burn. As the heat intensifies, expect to experience sweating, watering eyes and even shortness of breath.


While the ghost pepper no longer holds the crown as world’s hottest chilli, its spice is certainly nothing to bat an eye at. In fact, its heat is so powerful that it has been used in both elephant deterrents and military-grade smoke bombs.


But don’t let that scare you off! Sure, the ghost pepper is nothing short of an inferno when consumed raw. Cook it into a sauce or a curry, however, and you’ll be met with a highly palatable (yet still powerful) heat that allows the pepper’s unique flavors to shine through a little stronger.

African Ghost Peppers
Where does the African Ghost Pepper Grow?

When it comes to growing conditions ghost peppers are a picky bunch. Cultivated originally in India, these firecrackers demand a delicate combination of heat and humidity to survive. While ghost peppers struggle in many environments across the globe, Africa’s unique soil and climate offer the perfect conditions for them to thrive.


For generations, local breeding practices and distinctive climate conditions have uniquely influenced the African ghost pepper, setting it apart from its international variations. With an unmistakable aroma and flavor, the chilli has become a rich staple of the continent’s traditional cuisines and a favorite ingredient in some of the world’s best international hot sauces.

Traditional Uses of Ghost Chilli
  • Ghost Pepper Salt

    Spicy chilli salt to sprinkle on everything (100 g/3.5 oz)
    5.00 out of 5

When raw, the African ghost pepper is shockingly hot. When cooked, however, the chilli’s heat softens, elevating its flavor while reducing its burn to a palatable—yet still powerful—sizzle. It’s popular in both hot sauce recipes as well as many of the continent’s traditional spicy recipes.


Despite its heat, the sweltering African ghost pepper’s rich flavor and fruity undertones make it an excellent addition to curries, stews and marinades. Its unique, balanced palate is also what makes it shine as the star ingredient of our Ghost Pepper Salt as well as our heavy-hitting, tongue-searing African Ghost Pepper Sauce—an authentic African hot sauce intended only for true hot sauce addicts.


Of course, for those who crave the ghost pepper’s distinctive flavor but shy away from extreme heat, there’s also the milder Ghost Peri-Peri sauce—a tangy, flavorful African hot sauce that makes an ideal go-to hot sauce for eggs, sandwiches, pizza and chicken.

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