1 | Habanero

Shaped like a lantern, this pepper from the Yucatán generates tear-jerking heat—one type, red savina, was until recently considered the world's hottest chili (see No. 3)—and a striking floral flavor.

2 | Red serrano and jalapeño

At the supermarket, unripe serranos and jalapeños fill bins like green torpedoes, but expert sauce-makers use these Mexican chilies when they're ripe, meaning vivid red with some sweetness to balance the heat.

3 | Ghost

This Indian chili (also known as bhut jolokia) doesn't just hold the official title of world's hottest pepper; it's twice as hot as its closest competitor (a breed of habanero). It also delivers an awesome smokiness.

4 | Aji amarillo

Used in Peru since the time of the Incas, this fruity chili provides a vibrant wallop of heat.

5 | Piquanté

Sold mainly under the Peppadew brand, this magical pepper—intriguingly sweet, a little spicy, and heavenly when pickled in vinegar—was discovered in South Africa and made its international debut at the Fancy Food Show in 2002.

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A Master Class in Hot Sauce
How to Make Your Own Chef Endorsed Hot Sauce
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