How Do I Choose the Best Ghost Pepper Sauce?

Eugene P.

The ghost pepper is one of the hottest chili peppers grown for human consumption, although it also has a very floral melon-like aroma that betrays the extreme amount of heat it contains. Any ghost pepper sauce that uses the peppers as the main ingredient will likely be much, much hotter than other, more traditional hot sauces, although there are other factors that can help in choosing the best sauce. One of the first distinctions is whether the sauce has been balanced toward sweet or sour flavors, with vinegar providing the sour and sugar often being used for sweet. Next, some sauces use ingredients such as garlic, ginger, lime or Worcestershire sauce to enhance the flavor, although the amount can be overwhelming, especially when added in large quantities to compensate for the heat of the ghost peppers. Finally, not all ghost pepper sauce is made from only ghost peppers, and the inclusion of other notable hot peppers might make the flavor too hot for any practical culinary purpose, or it could create an undesirable mix of conflicting flavors.

Cayenne peppers are used in hot and spicy dishes.
Cayenne peppers are used in hot and spicy dishes.

When choosing the best ghost pepper sauce, one of the factors to consider is whether the sauce is made as a novelty or as a balanced culinary flavoring. The ghost pepper, also called the bhut jolokia pepper, is renowned for its heat, so some ghost pepper sauce might be made with the sole intention of providing a flavor that is painfully hot, with little taste aside from the heat. These sauces can sometimes, but not always, be recognized by the use of extracts and other chemicals that carry the heat without adding flavor or mitigating the intensity in any way.

Black pepper can be an ingredient in ghost pepper sauce.
Black pepper can be an ingredient in ghost pepper sauce.

For a ghost pepper sauce that has flavor, the base most often is vinegar but also can include water and other liquids. The balance of the amount of ghost pepper and the liquids can help to create a sauce that has taste instead of just heat. Some sauces also will include other ingredients that help to add flavor, including garlic, tomatoes, ginger, black pepper, salt and sometimes less common ingredients such as lime, alcohol, cumin and other spices. These help to create and enhance the natural fruity, melon-like flavor that a ghost pepper releases when initially tasted.

One element of a ghost pepper sauce that can dramatically change its overall character is the inclusion of different types of peppers in the mixture. It is not necessarily uncommon to find that peppers such as habaneras, jalapenos or chipotles have been included, sometimes to enhance the flavor. Caution should be taken, however, if a ghost pepper sauce contains a number of other peppers that also are considered quite hot, such as Scotch bonnet peppers or scorpion peppers. In these cases, if care is not taken, then the overall heat of the sauce and the disparate flavors of the peppers could produce a sauce that is very hot but has a flat or odd taste.

The jolokia pepper, also known as the ghost pepper, contains an extreme amount of heat.
The jolokia pepper, also known as the ghost pepper, contains an extreme amount of heat.

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Discussion Comments


As the article indirectly states, ghost peppers are way too hot to eat by themselves. Because of this, the best solution is to generally dilute it, which is usually the case with a lot of spicy peppers. For example, Habanero peppers are extremely hot when eaten fresh.

However, notice that the hot sauce itself isn't much to write home about. Generally speaking, there are so many ingredients included (such as water, vinegar, and even ginger) that it's much more accessible to the general public. Besides, can you imagine how spicy it would be to eat a pure Habanero paste?


When it comes to foods such as hot and spicy peppers, the funny thing is that we always tend to underestimate them, and we generally think we can handle it. Based on a personal experience of mine, this has happened several times before. For example, one time when I was out food shopping, I saw some ghost pepper sauce. Having never tried it before, and thinking it wouldn't be that big of a deal, I put some into the chili I was making. Let's just say that I learned my lesson.


In relation to this article about ghost peppers, does anyone know what the hottest pepper in the world is? Obviously, the ghost pepper is certainly up there, but I'm sure that there are those that exceed even that measure of the scoville unit.

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