The 20 Best Hot Ones Guests, Ranked By Greatness

What makes a great "Hot Ones" episode? An unshakable serenity from its guests? Intriguing celebrity anecdotes? A healthy dose of schadenfreude? For this writer, a lot of the "Hot Ones" appeal comes from watching your faves suffer a little bit. The First We Feast phenomenon is all about watching celebrities chow down on the spiciest wings on the planet, and some of the best episodes often feature uncontrollable coughing fits, trippy revelations, or a whole lot of milk-chugging — ideally all three, but I'm not picky.

That said, it doesn't always have to be complete misery. A genuine connection with host Sean Evans is also very important: it helps the first half of the interview, over some of the milder wings, go over a lot smoother. There's a delicate balance to maintain, and the "best" episode might be different for everyone. Natalie Portman's unflappable composure won't be as fun for some as watching Gordon Ramsay mainline Pepto Bismol. But that's really the beauty of "Hot Ones": with over 20 seasons and nearly 300 episodes, there's literally something for everyone.

That said, some guests stand out more than others. Let's take a look at some of the best to appear on "Hot Ones" — and, of course, rank them accordingly based on how funny, informative, and generally satisfying they are. 

20. Pedro Pascal

Don't call him daddy, but do turn into Pedro Pascal's guest appearance on "Hot Ones." The "Last of Us" and "Mandalorian" star dressed appropriately for his brush with the wings of death, looking incredibly dapper in an all-red ensemble. For all his red-hot charisma on screen, though, his time with Sean was fairly chill. Their rapport lacks a bit of the connection and chemistry of other "Hot Ones" episodes — and Sean's questions here feel a bit tamer than we're used to — but Pascal's charm is more than enough to carry this interview. 

Though the actor admits that his tolerance to wings is not what it once was, he manages to handle the gauntlet with grace and plenty of engrossing anecdotes. He chats freely about his most iconic roles, from his death scene in "Game of Thrones" (he actually fell asleep between takes) to sharing the spotlight with his "Mandalorian" co-star, Grogu. In all, it's great to see a star so at ease in the hot seat. Pascal is arguably one of the biggest names in his industry right now, but his time on "Hot Ones" proves that he might also be one of the most down-to-earth.

19. Megan Thee Stallion

Megan Thee Stallion has no issue critiquing the hot wings placed in front of her — but what else should we expect from the Original Hot Girl? The rapper knows her way around spice: At the time of her "Hot Ones" interview, she was rolling out her own Hottie Sauce with Popeye's. She carries on an engaging conversation with Sean in the first half, dishing on her love of anime and schooling the "Hot Ones" host on what makes a great "love making" anthem (Sean was even taking notes throughout). 

As the wings get hotter, her commentary naturally gets all the more hilarious. She's got no shortage of slander for the series' most infamous sauce, Da Bomb, and calls Sean a "deceiver" for failing to warn her about its destructive properties. It's a bit wild to learn that the CEO of hot girl sh*t isn't completely immune to the wings of death, but Megan Thee Stallion has exhibited both vulnerability and resilience throughout her career, and her appearance on "Hot Ones" sees her embracing those two qualities simultaneously.

18. Padma Lakshmi

Sometimes, the conceit of "Hot Ones" is three-fold. Yes, the questions are hot, as are the wings — but has anyone noticed that some of the hottest guests on the show are also the ones that handle spice the best? Padma Lakshmi is just one of many gorgeous guests that conquered the wings without batting an eye, and delivered a classy, funny interview to boot. Padma unpacks her iconic appearance on "Star Trek: Enterprise," as well as her tenure with "Top Chef." Plus Sean seems a little starstruck, which is so endearing either way.

Padma appeared on "Hot Ones" in the earlier days of the series, but she set the bar high. At a moment when rappers and athletes were actively getting schooled by the wings of death, Padma made it look like child's play. A legend if there ever was one.

17. Elizabeth Olsen

She feels brave, she feels strong ... If you're online even a little bit, there's a chance you've seen that viral clip from Elizabeth Olsen's time on "Hot Ones." It's just the cherry on top of an incredibly delightful interview: Olsen may not have been fazed by the wings of death (like, at all), but her composure, her charm, and her offbeat brand of humor make for a really enjoyable watch. Long-suffering theater kids will likely feel very seen when Olsen talks shop about Fitzmaurice Voicework, but if you're a Marvel fan, you'll likely appreciate her behind-the-scenes anecdotes about her tenure as Wanda Maximoff. Overall, it's one of the most wholesome episodes to watch for the guest alone. Olsen might be done with the MCU for now, but it's nice to know that she's enjoying life along while tackling some of the spiciest wings in the world.

16. John Boyega

It's always great when "Hot Ones" hosts celebs who are genuine fans of the show, a fact that John Boyega ratified by praying to Issa Rae during his own interview. The "Star Wars" alum made it through all 10 wings without water or milk — always an impressive feat — and though he emerged more or less unscathed, his reactions to the latter half of the board make his "Hot Ones" episode one of the most fun ... and one of the most underrated.

Boyega's "Hot Ones" interview came at a time when the vitriol towards the "Star Wars" sequels (and the actor himself) was at a decisive high. It seemed like so many wanted to pick a fight with the actor, at least on social media. Boyega manages to address and unpack some of the most ridiculous drama of the era with his signature lighthearted flair, proving exactly why he's become one of the most promising actors in Hollywood today. His days in that galaxy far, far away are behind him, but the Force is clearly strong with Boyega otherwise.

15. Tracee Ellis Ross

As far as nepo babies go, Tracee Ellis Ross is arguably one of the world's most famous — even if most have no idea that she's related to the indomitable Diana Ross. The actor has spent decades carving out her own space in the industry, starting in fashion and later starring in some of most beloved sitcoms in history. As a result, she doesn't mention her famous mom that often... though she does literally cry "MOMMY!!" when she finally tastes Da Bomb. Instead, her interview is filled with anecdotes about her wild adventures with Naomi Campbell and Madonna, among others. 

Ross is a total character in her own right: She's fired up long before the spice starts to get to her head, and by the time she reaches that dreaded eighth wing, all bets are off. Though she's clearly suffering a bit as the wings get hotter, her infectious energy cements this episode as one of the most entertaining. Sean was notably giggling throughout the interview — and faced with Ross' Rich Auntie energy, it's hard not to follow his lead.

14. Jennifer Lawrence

Remember when Jennifer Lawrence was the internet's sweetheart? Once upon a time, the "Hunger Games" actress was Hollywood's most beloved Meme Queen — and though she's since stepped back from the limelight in a major way, Lawrence's goofy charm hasn't faded one bit. It's what makes her appearance on "Hot Ones" so endearing. Lawrence initially tackles the gauntlet with a fair amount of composure, but once Da Bomb hits, it's suddenly 2018 again. Between the full-body sobs and memeable quotes ("I'm drooling so much! ... Is my face okay?!") Lawrence gives a truly great interview. She debunks some wacky behind-the-scenes trivia and reflects on her career thus far, all while becoming fast friends with Sean. One of the best parts of "Hot Ones" is its ability to disarm its most unflappable guests — and after a tumultuous few years in the public eye, it's really great to see Lawrence's walls come down again.

13. Jon Bernthal

With over 40 credits in film and television — the edgiest of which have become his claim to fame — one wouldn't expect Jon Bernthal to be one of the kindest guests to ever grace the "Hot Ones" set. But the actor is actually the furthest thing from the characters he's best known for playing. He apologizes when he feels he's being too cocky with the wings of death, comments succinctly about masculinity in media, and uses his 30-second plug to encourage others to be kind. His conversation with Sean is enough to make this episode great, but as the wings get hotter, his reactions to the spice get even funnier. Most of us already love Bernthal as an actor, but after his time on "Hot Ones," it's impossible not to love him as a person, too.

12. Thundercat

"Hot Ones" guests come from every industry there is, but some of its highest-viewed episodes feature the biggest names in the music biz. Sean's interview with full-time bassist and part-time actor Thundercat is a majorly underrated episode: he takes down each wing without breaking much of a sweat, but his perspective on anime, music and film is so entertaining that you don't really mind. As he vibes with the hot sauce, the "funk-jazz virtuoso" shares stories about naked jam sessions, an unscripted moment with Stevie Wonder, and the funniest musicians in his orbit. It's no wonder his is one of Dave Grohl's favorite episodes of "Hot Ones": watching Thundercat chat his way through the spice gauntlet makes his interview feel like a sitdown with an old friend.

11. Sterling K. Brown

Sterling K. Brown is known for his slightly-subdued, soulful performances across television and film, but he's a bit removed from his Serious Actor persona in real life. The "This Is Us" star might be one of the most animated, engaged, and excited to appear on "Hot Ones." He doesn't waste a minute of his time with Sean, tearing through the wings of death and throwing total caution to the wind. His interview gets zanier as the wings get hotter: at one point, Brown recites the "Dawson's Creek" theme song. At another, he's using a controversial "Tropic Thunder" reference to explain his policy for crying on camera. By the time he's cleaned the meat off each and every wing, he's reciting a Shakespearean sonnet by heart. It's unpredictable in the best of ways, and possibly one of the Oscar-nominated actor's best on-screen appearances... maybe ever? Cast him in everything.

10. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron is pretty well-known for her effortlessly cool, tough-as-nails demeanor on the set of action films like "Atomic Blonde" and "Mad Max: Fury Road." Her affinity for stunt work — the good and the bad — has been well publicized. But how does she fare against the wings of death? Theron is definitely a fan of spice in her day-to-day life (she seems to genuinely love the taste of The Last Dab, of all things) and she does have a gangster-level tolerance, but she's not entirely immune to the power of the sauces. Da Bomb is, of course, the great equalizer — and Theron is notably put off by its offensive heat. Even when she's not actively suffering though, she and Sean have a lot of fun together. It's one of the rare occasions that Sean forgoes his typical onscreen persona, and it results in a genuinely hilarious, organic conversation with his guest.

9. Tom Holland

Listen, not everyone can get through the gauntlet unscathed. For every Charlize Theron, there's going to be a guest with a less accommodating palate. Fortunately, though, there are those like "Spider-Man" star Tom Holland, who — despite the obvious toll of the wings — powers through like an absolute champ. Holland is a truly entertaining guest on the foundation of his reactions alone: His threshold for spice is endearingly low, which means that the sauces kick in right from the jump. But he does not let the wings get the better of him. He even goes in for extra bites (whether he regrets it later is another story) and offers some interesting insight into Marvel's Cinematic Universe. Notably, he's a lot more than his role in the MCU. While he chats about molding Peter Parker into his generation's Marty McFly and inheriting Marvel memorabilia from Robert Downey Jr., Holland's "Hot Ones" interview offers a bit of insight into his life apart from Spider-Man. He fits conversations about golf and pub culture between some unforgettable reactions to the sauce, making this particular episode entertaining from start to finish.

8. Keke Palmer

With the central brief of "Hot Ones" being what it is, you wouldn't expect that most guests would be lining up for seconds. But there have actually been quite a few celebs who have appeared on "Hot Ones" after their initial run with the wings of death, and Keke Palmer is one of them. Palmer first tackled the gauntlet in 2017, but her second appearance in 2021 is definitely one for the books. Her lighthearted rapport with Sean makes for such a fun interview from start to finish — and it doesn't hurt that she's one of the most underrated entertainers in the industry. Palmer appeared on "Hot Ones" just before her defining turn in Jordan Peele's "Nope," which makes her interview a great entry point into her oeuvre. This episode is also a total treat for those who grew up watching her, though: hopefully it won't be her last time taking on the gauntlet.

7. Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele

There are hundreds of episodes of "Hot Ones," which means that some of the older episodes of the series can get lost in the shuffle from time to time. That said, there are still some gems, and Sean's sit-down with Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele is still hilarious today. "Hot Ones" crashed the "Keanu" press junket in 2016 for a truncated interview with Key and Peele. With only 15 minutes to eat five wings, things obviously heat up fast. Their taste buds may have suffered, but the spice does not kill their sense of humor by any stretch.

With Peele's meteoric rise as a horror auteur these past few years, it might be easy to forget he got his start in sketch comedy. His "Hot Ones" interview with Key is a great reminder of their effortless chemistry, and a great entry point for any "Hot Ones" novices.

6. Dave Grohl

Sean Evans' onscreen gimmick is definitely one of the selling points of "Hot Ones." But it's also great when he encounters a guest that brings his walls down, just as the wings of death do to even the most seasoned interviewees. Case in point: his interview with Dave Grohl, in which he knocks back shots of Crown Royal and Coke in between his signature hot questions and even hotter wings. The Foo Fighters frontman was one of the most requested guests in "Hot Ones" history, and his episode delivered in every possible way. By the time he and Sean hit the Last Dab, they've exchanged a few heartfelt confessions (and perhaps phone numbers, as well). Grohl has long been regarded as one of the coolest dudes in music, so it's great to see that affirmed for anyone unfamiliar with his work.

5. Lorde

It's a commonly-held theory that Lorde might not be of this world. Like many musicians that have preceded her, Lorde is notoriously enigmatic, and while her "Hot Ones" appearance offers a delightful peek into her inner world, there's no way she's fully human. Lorde's tolerance is honestly baffling — refreshing too, but baffling all the same. She treats each wing like an interesting mini-meal, cheerfully examining each sauce and pointing out the distinct flavor profiles in each of them. Not even Da Bomb is quite enough to trip her up, a feat that noticeably throws Sean as well. Lorde handled the wings of death with more poise than anyone before her, and her reactions are so much funnier when compared to the show's more viral guests.

4. Josh Brolin

"Hot Ones" is arguably at its best when things traipse a bit into the absurd — the kookier the guest, the better. Josh Brolin is no stranger to a goofy interview, and "Hot Ones" pulls out his sense of humor in the best possible way. He and Sean enjoy a really engaging conversation before the spice starts to kick in, and once it does, all bets are off. Brolin is genuinely hilarious: every word out of his mouth gets a laugh out of either Sean or his crew. The spicier things get, the more validation he seeks from his host. He and Sean strike up an instant bromance: "I might ask you to spoon me in a second," Brolin admits after a particularly spicy wing. If you don't already have a bit of a crush on the guy, wait till you see him lick the sauce off the board. No one is immune.

3. Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay's episode of "Hot Ones" is the most-viewed episode of the show, currently sitting at over 100 million views (at least at the time of this writing). It was the most requested too, and for good reason: Ramsay has doled out so much pain in his 30 years as a chef and restauranteur, it's only natural that he eventually got served in kind.

Ramsay and Sean's conversation will be very interesting for the foodies out there: He manages to share his secrets for a great burger before the wings get too spicy, among other things. And by the time he reaches the infamous eighth wing, Da Bomb, "Hot Ones" dips into its signature hilarity. Ramsay pulls out all the stops to combat the wings of death: donuts, limes, Pepto Bismol, anything. His signature commentary never falters though, and he manages to stay engaged with Sean through it all. This episode is one of the best for a reason: Most fans likely came to see Ramsay suffer, but he still has a lot of fun on the show — so much so that he returned for the "Hot Ones" Holiday special in 2021.

2. Halle Berry

For as long as "Hot Ones" is alive, the debate surrounding the "best" guest will likely never end. It's a conversation that constantly evolves as more celebrities appear on the show, and everyone's ranking is more or less subjective. But no ranking is complete without the inclusion of Halle Berry. She is, hands down, the most underrated "Hot Ones" guest: Not only does she power through without even glancing at her water or her milk, she cleans the meat off the bone each and every time. And aside from a few comments about boob sweat, she seems relatively unfazed by the progressive hotness of each wing. She even takes home an actual trophy for her efforts! The only "Hot Ones" guest to do so! It's basically a bottle of The Last Dab mounted on a pedestal, but Berry deserves some respect on her name regardless.

More than that, her conversation with Sean is enlightening and entertaining. With over 25 years in the industry, Berry's seen it all, and she tackles every topic with equal parts poise and humor.

1. Paul Rudd

If there was ever any doubt that Paul Rudd is the nicest, funniest guy in Hollywood, his "Hot Ones" episode effectively squashed that doubt for good. This episode has long been immortalized within the meme canon — "Look at us, who would have thought?" — but the entire interview is packed with one surprising, hilarious bit after the next. At a certain point, it becomes less about Rudd's reaction to the hot sauce (though they're always appropriate) and more about his jaw-dropping parlor tricks. He can make two of his fingers look like a butt, people. Plus, he and Sean actually connect, which is always a plus.

Rudd's time on "Hot Ones" sets the bar high, not just for future episodes of the show, but for other chat shows like it. It's no wonder more and more outlets are trying to replicate its success, but nothing has come close just yet — and for good reason.