The 6 best and 6 worst Hot Ones episodes

Hot Ones is part of the James Beard winning First We Feast network. Founded in 2012, First We Feast takes a look at the world of pop culture, but through the lens of food. A lot of the success of Hot Ones has to do with its enigmatic host, Sean Evans. He won the 2018 and 2019 Webby Award for Best Web Personality/Host while Hot Ones has won the Shorty Award for Best Web Series in 2018 and the Webby Award for Video: Food & Drink in 2019. Evans' easy-going personality pairs excellently with his wonderful interviewing skills as he coaches a variety of celebrities and personalities through increasingly spicy hot wings. 

Many of the interviews on Hot Ones are amazing. How can they not be, especially when your favorite actor is spewing molten hot sauce while trying to explain the plot of their favorite film? There are truly some gems among the now ten seasons of episodes. However, not all Hot Ones episodes are created equal. So which are the best and which are the worst? Keep reading to find out!

Best: Padma Lakshmi

Season 3, Episode 1: Padma Lakshmi Gracefully Destroys Spicy Wings

Originally from India, model turn actress and host Padma Lakshmi is no stranger to spice. She has a long-standing appreciation for spice, even having eaten a diet rich in spices since she was very young. Her fourth book is even called The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs. Not only is she eloquent and interesting, she's a perfect guest for Hot Ones because Sean Evans, too, has an appreciation for spicy food (we'd be worried if he didn't considering what he does for a living).

From the get go, not only can Lakshmi really take on the heat, she's pretty knowledgeable about hot sauce in general. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise as she is the host (and judge) for Top Chef. Her knowledge of the culinary world is vast and her palette is delicate. Her critique of how to make a great hot sauce is that it should be a little bit sweet, a touch tart, and also salty. Also, she wasn't shy about showing being underwhelmed about flavor or heat. 

It wasn't just Evans who was impressed with Lakshmi's conquering of the sauces, fans were as well. On Reddit, one user commented that they had never seen someone get through the tasting in such good shape.

Best: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Season 3, Episode 17: Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains the Universe While Eating Spicy Wings

Noted astrophysicist and general expert on everything in the known universe, Neil deGrasse Tyson is known for his talk show Star Talk, as well as hosting Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and, well, just being really really smart. So one might think that he would be smart enough to not put himself through torture on Hot Ones. Though, he does open up his stint on the show by saying he can hang with spicy food... though maybe not with Sean Evans' caliber.

Watching the Hayden Planetarium director and astronomer slowly have a galactic meltdown over spicy wings is entertaining in itself, but the real gem of him as a guest is his philosophy. There's just something about outrageously spicy hot sauce that just opens up guests to waxing poetically about the world and art and science. Well, at least in Tyson's case.

Viewers liked Tyson as a guest because he seemed to become more down to earth as he was suffering. As one Reddit user put rather succinctly it's a "[p]rime example of the genius of this show's format. The wings break down the guest's composure and lowers their guard, resulting in genuine human expression." 

Best: Charlize Theron

Season 5, Episode 18: Charlize Theron Takes a Rorschach Test While Eating Spicy Wings

Possibly the most composed guest that Hot Ones has ever had is the one and only Charlize Theron. The South African Academy Award winning actress and activist is a major fan of spicy food. Theron even has the nickname "Mama Spicy" from her own son — though she says it's more about her attitude than anything else. If that isn't an endorsement for making it through Hot Ones, nothing is. Theron isn't a stranger to extreme food either, for her role in the film Tully she had to gain 50 pounds, forcing her to eat cold macaroni and cheese in the middle of the night in order to get her required calories. But it's that openness to really commit that makes her such a great guest and interviewee. 

Theron pulls no punches during her interview, which you can see a prime example of in the video above. She is candid, hilarious, and vulgar in the best way. As well as creative. She asks for rice to help quell the heat. A pro move. Sean Evans goes out of his way to commend Theron's performance, even after she insults him (jokingly of course... maybe). YouTube user Demetrius Smith may have said it best with: "She might be the goat for eating that last one like it was nothing."

Best: Guy Fieri

Season 3, Episode 15: Guy Fieri Becomes the Mayor of Spicy Wings

The Mayor of Flavortown, New York Times bestselling author, restaurateur, Meme God, and Emmy Award-winning host. These are just a few ways to describe the Food Network personality-and-a-half known as Guy Fieri. He rose to fame by winning the first season of Food Network Star, which won him his own show, Guy's Big Bite. Since then, his culinary career and television empire has exploded with the addition of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy's Grocery Games, Guy's Family Road TripGuy's Big Project, and Guy's Ranch Kitchen

Fieri is personable and an open book to Sean Evans' questions, plus his dry humor only accentuates that. His anecdote about bowling shirts and fans is particularly hilarious, especially because the hot sauce is catching up with him throughout the entire storytelling process. Another Hot Ones moment that fans really enjoyed was towards the end when Evans asks what Fieri thinks of his critics. His answer is as down to earth and candid as you can get, saying "I really don't give a s***."

He takes the time to teach Evans a bit about cooking as well, going all-in on how to make a scrumptious queso dip. But it's his speech about how important it is to teach kids to cook that resonated most with viewers. Fieri is so well known for being outrageous on television, but his passion and composure really shines in this moment. 

Best: Terry Crews

Season 4, Episode 12: Terry Crews Hallucinates While Eating Spicy Wings

There is nothing quite like a Terry Crews scream. And he screams a lot during Hot Ones. Once a defensive end and linebacker in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Washington Redskins, Crews mostly spends his time these days on the screen. Most notably he plays NYPD Lieutenant Terry Jeffords in the comedy sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine and hosts America's Got Talent. In whatever he does, Crews has personality in spades. It comes as no surprise then that he is a great guest on Hot Ones, mostly for his reactions to the increasing amount of spice and utter inability to handle it. 

Highlights include a moment during Evans' popular deep dive into his guests' Instagram posts when it's revealed that Crews always wanted to ride a horse growing up, but was talked out of it. His story about building a PC with his son really touched the heart of many viewers as well, especially those who maybe only thought of him as a funny guy. These heartwarming anecdotes brought out the softer side of Crews, as well as throwing in a touch of inspiration. Crews begins to break down around the 100,000 Scoville mark, and it's only downhill and more hilarious from there. If you know anything about Hot Ones, you know Mega Death, and it's that where Crews starts screaming and simply doesn't stop.

Best: Gordon Ramsey

Season 8, Episode 1: Gordon Ramsay Savagely Critiques Spicy Wings

Known as the angry three Michelin star Scottish chef who is prone to screaming, insults, and swears on shows such as Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef, more than one person had to be concerned for Sean Evans when it came time for Gordon Ramsay's interview on Hot Ones. And he definitely didn't take a break from the swears for this episode. 

Despite his penchant for food around the world, Ramsay cannot handle spice. This becomes increasingly apparent throughout the course of his interview on Hot Ones. Seeing a public figure that's usually so put together and focused completely lose their marbles over spice is one of the reasons this is the ultimate fan favorite episode. Many of the quips between Ramsay and Evans are noteworthy among fans as well, including Ramsay saying Da Bomb hot sauce is like sticking his tongue in a vat of acid. Also him chugging Pepto Bismal shortly after is legendary.

It's the final six minutes of his episode that are truly amazing. Ramsay is more or less dying in a constant tirade of curses and attempts to cool his mouth down, but Evans still manages to coerce him into teaching him how to make scrambled eggs. Of course, this is done in Ramsay's trademark style, and he probably takes a great bit of joy in ordering Evans about as a type of revenge for the pain he's been through.

Worst: Kevin Durant

Season 4, Episode 7: Kevin Durant Sweats It Out Over Spicy Wings

When it was announced Kevin Durant had done Hot Ones, fans were excited, especially of the basketball variety. After all, Durant is pretty popular on and off the court. Currently he's playing with the Brooklyn Nets for the NBA, but a lot of his following is from his Oklahoma City Thunder days, as well as his championship runs with the Golden State Warriors. As such, the hype about an NBA star doing Hot Ones was high. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a let down.

Durant wasn't a bad guest really. He was just... dull. Too relaxed, perhaps. Fans and long-time viewers were caught off guard at how boring the interview was, though not for Sean Evans' lack of trying. Sometimes you're just at the mercy of your guest. And when that guest has a slow, calm way of speaking, it can kind of drag on and become monotonous. One YouTube user commented "the hotter the wings got his personality came out more LOL." It was a sentiment agreed on by a number of people. The content of the interview was interesting, but Durant just wasn't an engaged enough guest for it to be compelling. Not the worst episode, but it's also just not one really worth watching.

Worst: Charlie Day

Season 3, Episode 5: Charlie Day Learns to Love Ridiculously Spicy Wings

Best known as Charlie Kelly on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Charlie Day is an actor, screenwriter, director, producer and musician. Other credits include Pacific RimThe Lego Movie, Horrible Bosses, and Fist Fight. It's the latter that he is promoting on Hot Ones, and it's that obligation to promote that starts his interview off on the wrong foot.

It's relatively obvious that Day isn't super into the spicy wing challenge and that this is just a PR obligation he has to get through. His answers aren't that deep and he's ready to move on pretty quick. One YouTube user commented "does anyone else get the feeling that he just absolutely and totally hates PR stuff lol." When it's obvious to everything that you're gritting your teeth through an entire interview, it's going to color their opinion of you.

On the flip side, multiple viewers commented that it seemed Day realized the charm of Hot Ones the further he got into it and may have left actually have enjoyed himself. He was also commended for his overall performance with the spiciness. The last dab gained him a bit of respect among Hot Ones viewers, despite the first half of the episode being a drag. 

Worst: Kevin Hart

Season 2, Episode 31: Kevin Hart Catches a High Eating Spicy Wings

Kevin Hart is a well-known comedian, both in the stand-up and film world. Notable for his high energy, Hart seems like he would be a great guest on Hot Ones. Alas, he was a dud. What made Hart such a bad guest is his complete lack of attention to Sean Evans; he doesn't look at him. Instead, he keeps looking to his friends off camera, reacting to their reactions, talking to them. Not only is it distracting and odd from a viewer's perspective, it's rude. It's also something fans and viewers caught on to.

Many viewers also were annoyed at Hart cutting Evans off repeatedly. There were so many negative comments about Hart that Evans actually replied to fans to try and clear the air and explain Hart's behavior from his point of view.

"Just chiming in here for what it's worth... Kevin Hart didn't just agree to do our little show, his team flew us out to Hawaii (nice ass hotel btw!) to shoot the episode. As far as Kevin talking to his team and our crew, I actually think that's what makes this episode special... a big star hopelessly stuck on a Wayne's World YouTube show he can't escape, while his team (which should probably actually be worried about him) laughs hysterically. Working with Kevin was a very positive experience personally. Appreciate the muscle, but let the man do what he has to do to get through those wings. It's not easy lol."

Worst: Shaq

Season 8, Episode 8: Shaq Tries to Not Make a Face While Eating Spicy Wings

It's hard not to know who Shaq is. But just in case you need a reminder, Shaquille O'Neal is a towering former basketball player of the NBA and arguably one of the best players of all time. These days he's a sports analyst on Inside the NBA on TNT. 

The fact is, Shaq comes off as a bit of a jerk during his Hot Ones appearance. Early on he says he guarantees he's not going to make any faces in regards to the spiciness. His cockiness doesn't play as confidence or teasing. Instead it just reads as him thinking he's above the idea of Hot Ones and that this may be a waste of his time. The fact that he does make multiple faces afterwards is just proof that karma will come around to bite you. Especially when it comes to upchucking milk.

The biggest complaint viewers has was Shaq refusing to do the last wing. It wasn't that he couldn't do it, everyone knows their limits, but it was how he did it — by inventing games and challenges to let himself opt-out. Fans were not pleased, to say the least. They did commend Evans on being a gentleman through it, especially when dealing with a guest with such a fragile ego.

Worst: DJ Khaled

Season 1, Episode 8: DJ Khaled Talks Fuccbois, Finga Licking, and Media Dinosaurs While Eating Spicy Wings

Fans hate this episode. They hate DJ Khaled. Between his constant ego trips, his refusal to admit defeat, his bowing out only after three wings, and his thinking there was some kind of conspiracy with his wings, it was just a terrible performance from the rapper. 

Sean Evans himself marks this as one of the most difficult interviews he's done for Hot Ones, and that the infamy surrounding this episode has influenced how people know DJ Khaled. Evans said that he knew immediately that the artist wasn't going to be a good guest when even before they started shooting, DJ Khaled was eating multiple slices of pizza... when he was about to eat wings. This was not going to be good.

And it wasn't. Wall of Shame MVP.

Worst: Taraji P. Henson

Season 5, Episode 1: Taraji P. Henson Needs a Stunt Double to Eat Spicy Wings

When asked who was the worst guest on Hot Ones on Reddit, fans came up with one name more often than any other. Taraji P. Henson. The actress is best known for her role as Cookie on Empire, but other credits include The Family That Preys, Hidden Figures, and What Men Want, but it's her performance on Hot Ones that has landed her on this list. Fans were not impressed and felt bad for Evans and his team for having to put up with her drunken antics.

Clearly intoxicated, Henson is everything you'd expect an inebriated guest to be. Loud and not nearly as funny as they think they're being. In Evans' defense, he tries his best, but there's only so much you can do when your guest is flailing about and screaming. There's also the fact that Henson brings in her bodyguard to finish the challenge for her. It turns out that viewers would have preferred that Dave, the bodyguard, had his own episode. Or at least have finished out Henson's entire episode.