NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With the weather turning colder, it's chili season. For a brave few, that means sampling a new breed of extremely hot chili peppers that go way beyond Tabasco sauce or jalapenos.
There has been an explosion over the past several years of new, exotic hot pepper cross-breeds, each one striving to be rated hotter than the last. The Guinness World Record for hottest pepper has changed hands several times since 2011.
The hotness of peppers is measured in " Scoville units." Tabasco sauce is typically 2,000 to 5,000 Scoville units. Take a bite out of a jalapeno pepper and you'll be exposing your tongue to up to 10,000 Scoville units. While for most people that's hot, it's only a fraction of the spiciness found in some of the world's hottest peppers. For instance, a typical habanero pepper, which can be found in many local grocers, can be up to 35 times as hot as the hottest jalapenos and 70 times as hot as Tabasco sauce, clocking in at the high end at 350,000 Scoville units. And there are peppers that are much, much hotter.
Buy hot chili peppers on Amazon
While the hottest pepper in the world is a matter of heated (pun intended) debate, any one in the top 12 will give spicy food daredevils a challenge. Pro-tip: If you do find yourself face-to-face with one of the peppers listed below, dairy products like milk or sour cream should help relieve the pain; while the instinct to drink a cold glass of water may be strong, water will only spread the burn, so steer clear.
Click through to see which pepper is the hottest, according to CayenneDiane.com, which tracks the hottest peppers in the world. And, as a bonus, at the end of the slideshow, see the three best peppers for cooking chili, according to SeriousEats.com.
12. Trinidad Scorpion CARDI - 800,000 to 1,000,000 Scoville units
This rare pepper originally comes from the Carribean island of Trinidad and was developed by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, which fosters agriculture in the Caribbean and produces specialized hot peppers.