How to Eat Chili Peppers like a Pro

Filed in Chile Pepper News by maddog on December 31, 2015

It seems like there are more chili eating contests year on year. And, there appears to be a constant stream of radio DJs and TV hosts diving into the hottest foods they (or rather, their producers) can find.

What’s the big deal?

It could be a show of machismo – or just the best idea for raising money we’ve had to date. But, it’s also because eating chili peppers and indulging in super hot sauces is a serious rush. That’s right; chilies get you high – and it’s legal, no matter where you live.

How To Eat Chili Peppers like a Pro?

For a start, don’t be an idiot. Seriously. If your current idea of hot is a Jalapeño, you have no business diving right into a Carolina Reaper like you’re the man. That’s just plain stupid, and you know it. You can build your heat tolerance with time, but biting into a Ghost Pepper isn’t smart – or macho. You’ll cry and make a fool of yourself.

When you’re ready for serious peppers, you can try these tips.

Take It Slow – Your body reacts to the capsaicin in peppers. The more you have in a single dose; the more your body reacts. Eat each pepper slowly, as if you savor the burn (rather than fear it). Although it will make the burn last longer, you’ll have a manageable amount of capsaicin in your system.

Cool and Fool Your Mouth – Drinking water won’t neutralize the burn and cold water won’t do any better. But, if you suck on an ice cube or chew on a bit of bread, you can give your brain something else to focus on. Think about the texture rather than the temperature or the pain and you’re half way there.

Neutralize the Burn – If you really can’t take the full 15 minutes of pain (yes, that’s how long capsaicin stings), grab some milk or sour cream and go to town. These dairy products actually work to neutralize the burn, and you might just need that at some point.

Think Your Way through It – Here’s what you need to know – you’re not on fire; your brain just thinks you are. When you eat a chili pepper, you activate the same pain receptors as you do when you stick your hand in a fire (we seriously don’t recommend you test that at home). As these receptors flare up, your brain calls your body into action. You begin to sweat, cry, hiccup, and anything else ridiculous that you’ve seen on YouTube videos. But, it’s all mental (unless you’ve quickly eaten enough chili peppers to send you into a coma). Before you bite into a chili pepper, brace yourself mentally. You might also want to set a stopwatch so you can see when 15 minutes have passed.

But really, we must reiterate that you shouldn’t be foolish; build your tolerance over time. There are plenty of life-saving reasons to enjoy chili peppers, but you’ll still benefit if you start slowly – perhaps more so.

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In this post, you will learn what to do with chili peppers! For many chili growers, it’s the end of the season! And I don’t know about you, but I’ve been rather successful growing my peppers indoors!

This year I got so much chili fruits, ranging from mild to super hot. Don’t misunderstand me, It’s not like I think that getting a lot of peppers is a bad thing. We are growing chili peppers because we want to have a lot of nice chilies, right?!

Yes, the season is over, and for many, it ended one month or two ago. For me, it is soon over but I keep picking one or two peppers out of a few of my plants.

Some gardeners, both cultivating peppers indoors and outdoors, end up with more than a dozen or two of ripening pods. Especially if you are using a good soil mix (see my soil mix recipe, for instance). It may be Poblanos, Jalapeños, Habaneros, or Carolina reapers.

Table of Contents

What to Do with Hot Peppers

Maybe you were like me, more successful than you anticipated, and you can’t help wondering…

What are the uses of Peppers?

There are of course many uses of peppers: you can dry them, freeze them, make chili powder, a chili stew, a hot sauce, chili jam, salsa, guacamole, and chili poppers. If you ended up with a lot of chili peppers, read this post to learn about 13 uses of hot peppers.

What can I Cook with Chilies?

I’d say that you can cook anything using hot chili peppers but you can make fresh and cooked salsa, chili stew, soups, pulled pork, and many more. Read this post for more inspiration.

Thus, this section is dedicated to exploring what you can do with your hot peppers!

1. Pickled chilies

One of the first thing I like to do with hot peppers is to pickle them! It’s very easy to pickle vegetables and chilies are no exception. A pickled jalapeño on your tacos add a bit of extra hotness to it. I typically slice a bunch of chilies 1-2 cm thick and soak them in salted water (i.e., brine). Add whatever spices you like.

For example, I’ve used coriander seeds and garlic. Make sure you put the seeds and garlic in the bottom of the jar!

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Pickled peppers the “wrong” way.

2. Dry your peppers

Now, the second thing on the list of what to do with hot peppers is to dry them! Now, one awesome thing with dried peppers is that they will still have full of flavor! Furthermore, they can be stored for a long time and it’s not that hard to dry them.

I typically take a needle and thread, pull the thread through the pods, and hang it in the window. You can also use your oven to dry the pods.

3. Chili powder

In this section, you are going to learn what we can do with dried chili peppers.

This is, of course, connected with drying your chilies. After you have dried your peppers you can make chili powder of some of them. Everything you need is probably right in your pantry!

You can use it in your favorite chili, a delicious meatloaf, and pasta dishes. In fact, you can use it to warm your feet now when the winter is coming (see number 13).

A basic pepper powder recipe:

  1. Remove the stem, cut your chilies in halves and remove all seeds. Wear gloves if you are using hot peppers!
  2. Toast the dried pods in the oven (170 C) until they smell toasted and are pliable. Make sure you turn them once in a while.
  3. Throw your peppers in a spice grinder or a blender. Mix until you have a powder.
  4. Put in a glass jar and use it in your dishes later.

4. Freeze your chili fruits

One thing you can do with your peppers is to freeze them for later use. In fact, freezing your fruits is a very good way to store them. The peppers can be put in the freezer whole or cut in halves. I have sometimes minced the peppers also.

Will freezing the pods make the flavor die? Well, in my experience they are almost as good as fresh. But, of course, nothing beats eating using fresh chili.

5. Make a hot sauce!

Who doesn’t enjoy a hot sauce?! I certainly love adding some Tabasco sauce or sriracha to many of my meals. There are many ways to cook up a hot sauce! I like fermented stuff. A lot! So I have experimented with fermenting a mash of peppers, garlic, onion, and spices.

In my latest hot sauce, I used a banana! It’s still going through the fermentation process so we’ll see how it tastes!

See my Carolina Reaper Banana Sauce for some inspiration!

6. Create a chili jam

I love a good jam together with a delicious cheese! When I got 50-60 Jamaican Bell (Bishop’s Crown) peppers and wondered what to do with all of them I realized something. They were quite mild and had a nice taste so why don’t make a tomato chili jam?! Said and done, my vegetarian tomato chili jam was a success when I brought it to my job.

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Tomato Chili Jam

7. Fresh salsa

A delicious Mexican dish is something I rarely say no to. A good fish taco served with fresh salsa is really something I can’t resist.

There’s something about the fresh ingredients in uncooked salsa that makes it make my taste buds just explode. Sometimes I also grow tomatoes and making use of your homegrown chilies and tomatoes is never wrong.

Here are two recipes for you:

  • Pico de Gallo
  • 4 Minute Restaurant Salsa

8. Cooked salsa

I do prefer a freshly made salsa but if you have a lot of chilies and/or tomatoes you may want to be able to enjoy a good salsa all year round.

This makes canning your own salsa is a great way to preserve your chilies and have quality salsa also during the winter.

Here are two recipes for you:

  • Canned salsa
  • Canned Tomato Salsa

9. Guacamole

Fish tacos with salsa AND guacamole?! I’d never say no to that either. Buy 2 fresh organic avocados, one lime, and use your homegrown tomatoes and cilantro (or buy organic). Remove the skin of 2 tomatoes, chop them finely, and mash them together with the avocado.

Add lime juice, a pinch of cilantro, cumin, olive oil, and salt. Don’t forget to use one or two of your nice peppers. It all depends on how hot you want your guacamole. Yummy! If you are lazy, like me sometimes, you can put everything together in a blender and just mix it!

Here are some guacamole recipes for your inspiration:

  • Guacamole
  • Chunky Guacamole recipe

10. Chili poppers

Now, this is an excellent way to answer the question about what to do with hot peppers? Why? Well, because I love cheese. And I love peppers. One of the most delightful, and easy, ways to use chilies is to make chili poppers! Buy your favorite cheeses like Parmesan, and cream cheese.

Grate the hard cheese, if you use it, and mix together with cream cheese, minced garlic, and bread crumbs.

Cut your peppers in halves and fill them with cheese. Put them in the oven at 190 C (preheat the oven, of course) and bake for 20-25 minutes. Delicious!

11. Make a delicious chili!

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I think that Mexican food is delightful! This may be very obvious for many of you guys. Dried, frozen, or fresh, your peppers are a great addition to a hot chili stew.

I typically grow Poblanos and dry them. A chili is a great way to make use of your dried chilies: soak them in water for some time before cooking.

See this recipe, for example, making use of dried chilies. You should also try my delicious vegan chili recipe using a fresh Habanero pepper. Flavor, depth, and heat! Yummy!

That was the 11 different uses for chili peppers that I have tried. The next two 2 bonus uses I find very interesting. I have not yet tried them, however.

12. Heat your freezing feet during the winter.

Here’s a quite weird use for chili peppers that I have read about. Use your homemade powder to make your feet warm in the cold times during winter. Just put the powder in your socks and it’s suppose to warm your feet. I have yet to try this out but I sure will. It will soon be cold where I am!

13. Pain-relieving cream.

I have read a lot about the potential health benefits of eating chili peppers. The chemical that makes peppers hot, capsaicin, can apparently be used to relieve pain. Among many other things, of course, but that is a different story (or blog post).

To make a capsaicin cream, all you need is a tablespoon of your homemade chili powder and 5 tablespoons of coconut oil. Blend the oil and cayenne into a cream.

This cream should be massaged on the areas you’re experiencing pain. If you made Just be sure to wash your hands afterward. You don’t want to get hot pepper into your nose or eyes! It hurts, trust me!

That was the 13 best ways to use your chili peppers! If you are using very hot peppers, make sure you use plastic gloves. I made that mistake once when chopping up Apocalypse Scorpion Chocolate pods and will never forget to wear gloves again…

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite use of all the beautiful and flavorful chilies you grow?! Leave a comment below!

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Eating hot red chili peppers may help us live longer

New research brings some good news for lovers of spicy foods, after finding that eating hot red chili peppers might help to extend lifespan.

Share on PinterestConsuming hot red chili peppers might reduce mortality risk, say researchers.

A study of more than 16,000 people in the United States revealed that individuals who consumed red chili peppers had a lower risk of death from all causes over an average of 18 years than those who did not eat the spicy food.

Study co-authors Mustafa Chopan and Benjamin Littenberg, both from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, recently reported their findings in the journal PLOS One.

Chili peppers are the fruits of the Capsicum plant, which belongs to the nightshade family. There are many types of chili pepper, all of which have different heat levels.

In hot peppers, such as jalapeños, the fiery flavor comes from a compound called capsaicin. Studies have suggested that this compound can offer a wealth of health benefits.

A recent study reported by Medical News Today, for example, found that capsaicin might have the potential to halt breast cancer, while an earlier study linked the compound to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

According to Chopan and Littenberg, only one previous study – published in The BMJ in 2015 – has investigated how the consumption of spicy foods such as chili peppers can impact death risk. It found a link between regular consumption of such foods and reduced all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

The new study supports this association, after finding that people who eat hot red chili peppers might have a longer lifespan.

All-cause mortality risk 13 percent lower with red chili pepper intake

Chopan and Littenberg reached their findings by analyzing the data of 16,179 adults aged 18 or above who took part in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey III between 1988 and 1994.

At the point of survey, participants’ consumption of hot red chili peppers over the past month was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire.

The all-cause and cause-specific mortality of participants were monitored over a median follow-up period of 18.9 years using the National Death Index. During follow-up, 4,946 deaths occurred.

Compared with participants who did not consume hot red chili peppers, those who did were found to be at a 13 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

Because of the relatively small number of deaths in this study, Chopan and Littenberg say that their data on how red chili pepper intake might impact specific causes of death is limited.

Still, the available data suggested that hot red chili pepper consumption was most strongly associated with a reduced risk of death from vascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.

While the researchers are unable the pinpoint the precise mechanisms by which red chili peppers might extend lifespan, the team says that it is likely down to capsaicin, which activities transient receptor potential (TRP) channels.

“Activation of TRP vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) appears to stimulate cellular mechanisms against obesity, by altering mediators of lipid catabolism and thermogenesis,” the researchers explain. “Protection against obesity leads to decreased risk of cardiovascular, metabolic, and lung diseases.”

“Capsaicin may also defend against heart disease via a TRP-mediated modulation of coronary blood flow,” they add.

New research ‘strengthens generalizability’ of previous findings

Overall, the team says that these latest findings support those of the 2015 study, linking spicy food intake to reduced risk of death by showing “a significant decrease in mortality associated with hot red chili pepper consumption.”

However, Chopan and Littenberg note that the earlier study was only conducted in Chinese adults, so the new research “strengthens the generalizability” of those findings.

The team concludes that:

“Given the observational nature of both investigations, causality can only be suggested, not confirmed. Further studies should aim to investigate the benefits of other spices and differential effects of certain chili pepper subtypes. Such evidence may lead to new insights into the relationships between diet and health, updated dietary recommendations, and the development of new therapies.”

Learn how eating whole grains could increase lifespan.

20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism

Whether you like it mildly spicy or tongue-burning-hot, there are plenty of ways to add some kick to your meals. Along with adding some serious flavor to your diet, spicy food is a great way to boost your metabolism and drop those unwanted pounds!

Peppers contain a chemical called capsaicin which gives them those hot-hot-hot properties we love so much! It has been shown to speed up metabolism and fight off inflammation. Capsaicin is found in a variety of peppers that each have different levels of the chemical. Some of the classic favorites are chili, jalapeno, Tabasco, paprika, bell, and habanero peppers (just to name a few). There are plenty of ways to get some of these spicy little peppers into your meals, such as via powders, sauces, or even whole form; but regardless of how you incorporate them, you’re sure to get tons of health benefits.


Asian Jalapeno Chicken

The jalapeno pepper is one of the top heat-lover favorites! When eaten, it gives a warm burning sensation that aids weight loss and has disease-fighting properties. The spicy honey lemon sauce is sure to make your taste buds go wild. A little tangy, a little spicy, and a lot delish!

Get the recipe at Damn Delicious.


Spicy Thai Peanut Chicken Sweet Potato Noodle Stir Fry

This quick, healthy dinner is a combination of unforgettable flavors. Sweet potato noodles are an easy at-home carb swap for the greasy noodles you’d be served at the takeout place around the corner. They’re going to give you more nutritional benefits and add a nice texture to the plate.

Get the recipe at Ambitious Kitchen.


Spiced Raw Chocolate Mousse

Serves: 4
Nutrition: 209 calories, 13.7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 5 mg sodium, 23.5 g carbs, 5.2 g fiber, 12.9 g sugar, 2.9 g protein

Here’s a nutritional dessert that’s loaded with flavor—and no baking necessary! How much better can it get? This creamy, dreamy, little treat made from avocado, nuts, banana, and chocolate is perfect for those after dinner cravings. This will not only satisfy your sweet tooth but also give you a little spicy goodness to melt away that belly fat.

Get the recipe at The Iron You.


Chipotle Hemp Kale Chips

Kale chips are one of the latest food crazes because of their incredible health benefits and perfect crunchy goodness. But these go far beyond expectations by adding more superfood ingredients like hemp seeds, which are a complete protein with a high fiber count. Chipotle powder and smoked paprika make for the ultimate spicy topping. You can always add a little more if you’re a big fan; I say there’s no such thing as too spicy!

Get the recipe at Alkaline Sisters.


Spicy Veggie Bean Chili

This wholesome vegetarian chili is packed full of protein and flavors with a spice blend that will make it hard to put down. Ideal for a cold day to keep you warm today and tomorrow (hello, leftovers). The fresh veggies, black beans, and quinoa make for a hearty meal that is sure to become a go-to in your house!

Get the recipe at The Glowing Fridge.


Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Popcorn

Serves: 4
Nutrition: 214 calories, 4.9 g fat (.7 g saturated fat), 56 mg sodium, 70.2 carbs, 9.2 g fiber, 25.6 g sugar, 8.8 g protein

Popcorn who? Skip those processed grocery store popcorns and go for these cauliflower bites. The sugar may seem high here, but don’t go running yet—it’s strictly coming from the naturally high sugar content in dates, which are great for digestion and rich in essential nutrients. If you want to cut back on some of that sugar, we recommend using just half a cup. The blend of hot spices like cayenne and turmeric will also help suppress your appetite until dinner and burn those unwanted love handles. A University of Maryland Medical Center study shows that turmeric is another spice that helps fight infections and some cancer, reduce inflammation and treat digestive problems.

Get the recipe at RawManda.

RELATED: No-sugar-added recipes you’ll actually look forward to eating.


Chipotle Shrimp Tacos

Taco Tuesday’s calling your name, but afraid you’ll go overboard on the sour cream and heavy meats? Try out these light and fresh spicy shrimp tacos; they won’t have you running for your fat pants from any excess bloating. But we do recommend switching out the sour cream for full-fat greek yogurt. The Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee suggests that calcium helps metabolize fat quicker, plus probiotics in yogurt are a great way to keep your gut clean to help you lose weight.

Get the recipe at Cooking Classy.


Watermelon Salsa

Serves: 6
Nutrition: 43 calories, .3 g fat, 5 mg sodium, 10.6 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 1.1 g protein

This low cal fresh and fruity salsa is perfect for a refreshing snack! It’s quick, easy and only a few ingredients that will have the whole crowd cheering. Watermelons are super high in lycopene and according to research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, men who consumed a diet rich in lycopene were half as likely to suffer a heart attack compared to those who had little to none in their diets. Along with those juicy things, jalapenos add a nice spicy touch to balance out this semi-sweet dish.

Get the recipe at Gimme Some Oven.


Oven Roasted Jerk Chicken Kabobs

Serves: 6
Nutrition: 413 calories, 14.9 g fat (1.9 g saturated fat), 571 mg sodium, 22.1 g carbs, 2.8 g fiber, 12.1 g sugar, 49.8 g protein

Here’s a summer dish you don’t have to wait four more months for. Slather these kabobs with spices and tangy fruit juices and you’ve got yourself a tropical plate in February. The duo of refreshing fruits and spicy meat is one that will leave you completely satisfied.

Get the recipe at Real Food by Dad.


Spicy Rosemary Tomato Peach Chutney

Serves: 8
Nutrition: 75 calories, .2 g fat, 151 mg sodium, 16.5 g carbs, 1.3 g fiber, 14.4 g sugar, .9 g protein

This homemade chutney is great on top of a potato, your favorite meat, or even some small cracker. Heck, whip out your toast and avocado and you can even top that! It goes perfectly with just about anything. The sweet peaches and spicy jalapeno are a match made in heaven. Don’t go crazy, though; these are a bit heavy on the sugar content, so make sure to keep your portion light!

Get the recipe at Running to the Kitchen.


Spicy Squash Soup

Acorn squash may be seen as a fall time staple but it’s winter squash. Perfect for those cold, snowy days or a night in watching your favorite movie, this fat-burning soup is sure to please. Top with your favorite seeds or some extra spices to get that burn.

Get the recipe at Cookie and Kate.


Spicy Cranberry Salsa

Serves: 6
Nutrition: 49 calories, 195 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, 7.8 g sugar, .2 g protein (calculated with 2 tbsp. honey)

A spicy salsa that goes with just about anything. The tangy punch from the cranberries and fruit juice go so well with the jalapeno, and these bright little additions to a meal are sure to bring its flavor to a whole new level. We recommend cutting back on the honey to lower the sugar intake, but don’t forget about it totally.

Get the recipe at The Creative Bite.


Easy Skinny Spicy Orange Chicken

Serves: 4
Nutrition: 182 calories, 1 g fat, 476.5 mg sodium, 16.5 g carbs, 11.3 g sugar, 26.3 g protein

Fear no more! A healthy version of your favorite Chinese takeout dish is finally here. We’re all a little guilty of wanting that high sodium stuff they sell, but why go for that when there’s this simple dish you can make in your own kitchen? High in protein and low in calories, you’ll have this ready faster than you can find the takeout number.

Get the recipe at Amy’s Healthy Baking.


Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

These are a Paleo twist on the jalapeno popper, minus the normal dose of excess cheese and bread crumbs. You’re sure to get a real kick outta these metabolism boosting jalapenos that are stuffed with cashew cheese and wrapped with savory bacon. The bursting flavors and texture will have your taste buds going crazy. These little poppers will have you feeling good about what you’re eating.

Get the recipe at Paleo Parents.


Mexican Hot Chocolate

Just looking at these makes me feel all warm inside. Hot chocolate is an old time childhood favorite that came around whenever the temperature went down, but usually involved heavy milk and sugary chocolate additions. This spicy Mexican hot chocolate is an after dinner treat that won’t leave you with guilt, made with rich ingredients that are actually beneficial to you. We say go for the addition of the superfood—maca powder—but opt out of the honey to cut back on sugar.

Get the recipe at Vegu Kate.


Jalapeno and Lime Hummus

Serves: 4
Nutrition: 189 calories, 8.4 g fat (1.1 g saturated fat), 34 mg sodium, 20.9 g carbs, 5.1 g fiber, 7.3 g protein

Hummus is a dip I always say yes to—and by adding jalapeno and lime to the creamy texture of blended chickpeas and hummus, I’m even more excited! This all-around-good-for-you hummus is loaded with fiber, antioxidants and tons of vitamins. Dip your favorite veggies in it for a snack to give them some extra flavor and keep you full til your next meal.

Get the recipe at The Healthy Family and Home.


Bell Pepper Pizzas

Serves: 1
Nutrition: 200 calories, 10.8 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 412 mg sodium, 16.2 g carbs, 4.9 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 9.7 g protein

Pizza is everyone’s favorite dish (me being completely biased), but sometimes hard to stand by because of the low nutrients that come with it. But, check out this great way to lower the carb count and up the nutrients with these bell pepper pizzas! They are the perfect size for portion control and packed with flavors. Bell peppers give such a great bite to these saucy, cheesy little dishes that you won’t even miss the bread. With the addition of red pepper flakes, you’ll get that kick you’re looking for and an increase in health benefits. In traditional Chinese medicine, red pepper flakes have been used to treat digestive problems, a circulatory problem, infections, and arthritis. Combine that with the weight loss properties and you have the perfect meal to get you to that body goal.

Get the recipe at Peas and Crayons.


5-Minute Spicy Chili Almonds

Almonds are an awesome source of protein and good fats, but they have a semi-bland flavor on their own. By adding spices, you’ll not only up the taste but also sneak in some extra nutrients without the calories, fat or sugar. You’ll often see flavored nuts at the grocery store, but those are loaded with fake sugars, salt and usually other chemicals that we’re unsure how to pronounce. Make these at home to get in on all the great taste—and none of the suspicious ingredients.

Get the recipe at Chef Savvy.


Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Serves: 3
Nutrition: 139 calories, 5 g fat, 553 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 6 g protein

Roasting chickpeas is a new and inventive way to snack without all the icky additives. These crispy little bites are perfect to bring to work or to put on top of your salads and soups. The chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) absorb up all the spicy flavors and come out crunchy and full of flavor. This recipe is sure to make an impression on your average snacks that will have you coming back again and again.

Get the recipe at Skinny Mom.


Spicy Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves: 6
Nutrition: 233 calories, 4.7 g fat (.6 g saturated fat), 454 mg sodium, 42.6 g carbs, 6.7 g fiber, 2.5 g sugar, 6 g protein

An entirely vegan casserole made with sweet potato and quinoa (the only grain that is a complete source of protein) that has the perfect texture combo. A super diet-friendly side dish or even meal that won’t leave you feeling those guilty blues. Sweet potato recipes have become some of our faves because of a number of nutrients they bring to the table (and how unbelievably delicious they are).

Get the recipe at The Fitchen.

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8 Skinny Recipes for Spicy Food Lovers


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Spicy food is delicious, and it’s healthy. Fresh hot peppers and dried spices have tons of antioxidants, and many help stimulate your digestion, regulate your blood sugar, and boost your metabolism. Some hot peppers, such as cayenne, are also natural appetite suppressants. The best part about spicy food, though, is that there’s so much variety! There are spicy dishes from all over the world that uses different spices and peppers. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorites. Here are 8 Skinny Recipes for Spicy Food Lovers.

1. Nando’s Peri-Peri Chicken

Peri-peri is a sauce made from African bird’s eye chili peppers. This tangy chicken recipe uses 4 peppers, but you can always add more if you want to turn up the heat.

2. 3-Ingredient Spicy Baked Chicken Breasts

These chicken breasts are as easy as they are tasty. They’re made with a creole seasoning, so they’re packed with flavor.

3. Spicy Chili with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

Chili powder and red pepper add the spice to this chili recipe. It also has an extra smoky flavor, thanks to the fire-roasted tomatoes.

4. Spicy Grilled Tofu with Szechuan Vegetables

Szechuan peppercorns are very hot, but they’re also flavorful. Enjoy the unique Asian spice on an uber healthy dish of grilled tofu and veggies.

A hot topic: Are spicy foods healthy or dangerous?

I’ve met too many people who swear that eating spicy foods is dangerous. Patients often tell me they’ve giving up spicy foods to get healthy. When my wife and I let our kids eat something spicy, my in-laws shake their heads at us. However, last time I checked, having a little Tabasco sauce won’t ruin your life.

Nonetheless, there’s some confusion about whether spicy foods are healthy or dangerous. In this post, I want to shed some evidence-based light on eating spicy foods to separate fact from fiction.

Are spicy foods healthy? Of course they are!

Capsaicinoids, which include the compound capsaicin, are the chemical components of peppers that create their spicy taste. Research over the past couple of decades has demonstrated that capsaicinoids — and thus, spicy foods — also possess several health benefits.

Eating spicy foods may help you live longer

According to an extensive population-based study published in BMJ in 2015, “Compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 6 or 7 days a week showed a 14 percent relative risk reduction in total mortality.” The association between spicy food consumption and total mortality “was stronger in those who did not consume alcohol than those who did.”

It’s ok to eat your spicy foods, but cut down on the margaritas with your spicy tacos.

Spicy foods don’t cause ulcers—they may actually help ulcers

As a gastroenterologist, I diagnose people with ulcers all the time. When I tell someone they have an ulcer after a procedure, almost everyone is quick to blame spicy foods. People frequently ignore the fact they are taking ibuprofen ‘around the clock’ or that they may have a bacteria called H. Pylori (one of the world’s most common causes of ulcers).

Contrary to popular belief, multiple studies show that capsaicin actually inhibits acid production in the stomach. As a matter of fact, capsaicin has been considered as a medication for preventing ulcer development in people who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

If you’re worried about an ulcer, go see your friendly neighborhood gastrointestinal (GI) doc (you can look me up if you’re in Chicago). Most importantly, when seeing your doc, make sure you have a conversation about any anti-inflammatory meds you’re using.

Spicy foods don’t cause hemorrhoids, but they may irritate anal fissures

In 2006, in a study published in Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, researchers randomly assigned people with large hemorrhoids to taking a placebo capsule or a capsule of red hot chili powder. The participants had to rate the effects of the pills on their hemorrhoid symptoms. The study found that the spicy capsules had no effect on hemorrhoid symptoms.

The story is a little different for people with small tears in the anus called anal fissures. Anal fissures are extremely painful — ’make a grown adult cry’ painful. A study in 2008 demonstrated that spicy foods aggravate symptoms associated with anal fissures. In the study, patients were randomly given a week of placebo and a week of chili pepper capsules. They had to keep track of anal fissure symptoms over the study period. Eighty-one percent of the participants felt better on the placebo.

Spicy foods may help with weight loss

C’mon, hot sauce can help you lose weight? It can, according to a meta-analysis of 90 different studies that looked at the role of capsaicin in weight management. The analysis found spicy foods reduce appetite and that they increase energy expenditure.

Are spicy foods dangerous? It depends on how spicy. You’ve heard of pepper spray, right?

Not too long ago, I saw a show on YouTube called Hot Ones. The simplicity of the show is what makes it beautiful — it’s just a host interviewing celebrities while eating super spicy hot sauces. Some of the hot sauces are more than 100 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. I guess I was a victim of ‘toxic masculinity’ because my testosterone levels made me try one of the hottest sauces on the show. It was one of those sauces that comes with a warning label. On the show, they dabbed a wing in one drop of the sauce. I foolishly poured a small amount on an organic tortilla chip (it was more than a dab).

The first bite was cool. I felt some heat with the second bite. My tongue died with the third bite. It felt like I was a vampire who just took a bite out of the devil. It felt like I was gargling with lava. After 10 seconds of tongue melting pain, I truly think I passed out and started hallucinating. After guzzling a gallon of milk, eating a loaf of bread, and going to my prayer closet, I decided to look up the dangers of ridiculously spicy foods.

A case of esophageal perforation after eating ghost peppers

The hot sauce I ate was ghost pepper based. When I started my search for dangers of super spicy foods, the first article I came across was from The Journal of Emergency Medicine. It was about a guy who ate ghost peppers as part of a contest. He started vomiting violently (I’ve been there). He eventually vomited so hard that he ruptured his esophagus.

Granted, the rupture was likely due to the vomiting, not from direct effects of the spicy peppers. But, the crazy hot peppers definitely triggered the vomiting.

Okay, Doc, you said spicy foods don’t cause ulcers, but I swear I have belly pain every time I eat spicy foods. What’s up with that?

Although spicy foods don’t cause ulcers, they can trigger abdominal pain in some people. One study specifically highlighted that frequent consumption of spicy foods can trigger upper gastrointestinal symptoms in some people with dyspepsia (or, indigestion). For people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), spicy foods can also trigger symptoms.

Another study showed that “those consuming spicy foods greater than or equal to 10 times per week were 92 percent more likely to have IBS compared with those who never consumed spicy foods.” When the researchers tried to analyze this finding based on gender,they found that spicy foods were not associated with irritable bowel symptoms in men.

In people with inflammatory bowel disease (or, IBD — Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), spicy foods can also trigger some symptoms.

Dr. Ed, what’s the bottom line?

  • Spicy foods are healthy.
  • Spicy foods don’t cause ulcers, but be careful if you have irritable bowel syndrome, dyspepsia, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Basically, if spicy foods give you belly pain, think before you eat.
  • Spicy foods don’t cause hemorrhoids, but you may feel the burn if you have anal fissures.
  • Don’t get spicy foods in your eyes.
  • Use gloves if handling super hot peppers.
  • Regarding ridiculously spicy foods with warning labels, eat them at your own risk. Fellas, that ghost pepper sauce almost burned off my chest hairs from the inside—respect it.

This firecracker chicken recipe is chunks of crispy chicken tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. An easy dinner option that the whole family will love!

I am a big fan of Asian food, I have a ton of recipes on my site for everything from broccoli beef to chicken chow mein. This firecracker chicken is the latest recipe to add to the collection. It’s crispy, sweet, spicy and utterly delicious! This chicken is not deep fried, but is browned until crisp, then covered in sauce and baked to perfection.

Tips for achieving crispy firecracker chicken

The chicken in this recipe is dipped in egg and cornstarch, which forms a crust on the chicken when it hits the oil. The best way to get a browned and ultra crispy crust is to start with a very hot pan – crank up the heat! The next trick is to be sure that the chicken isn’t crowded in the pan. If the chicken pieces are too close together, they’ll steam instead of brown. You may need to brown the chicken in batches, but it’s totally worth it.

After the chicken pieces are browned, the sauce is poured over the top and the whole thing goes into the oven. The cornstarch in the chicken coating will help to thicken the sauce as it bakes. This is a spicy dish, so if you’re heat adverse, beware! If you’d like to turn down the heat, you can omit the red pepper flakes. I like to serve this firecracker chicken over rice, but it’s also nice over Asian rice noodles or chow mein noodles.

I love being able to make my own take out favorites at home – it’s cheaper, healthier and often tastes better!

You’ll love these other Asian food recipes

  • Mongolian Beef
  • Sesame Shrimp
  • Moo Goo Gai Pan
  • Shrimp Chow Mein
  • Orange Beef Stir Fry

Pin 4.93 from 27 votes

Firecracker Chicken

This firecracker chicken recipe is chunks of crispy chicken tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. An easy dinner option that the whole family will love! Course Main Cuisine Asian Keyword chinese chicken, firecracker chicken Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 40 minutes Total Time 50 minutes Servings 4 Calories 429kcal Author Sara Welch


  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buffalo hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • cooking spray


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9″x13″ pan with cooking spray.
  • Place the chicken pieces on a plate and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the chicken and toss to coat evenly.
  • Dip each piece of chicken into the beaten eggs.
  • Heat the oil over high heat in a large pan. Place the chicken in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. You may have to work in batches.
  • Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in the 9″x13″ pan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the buffalo sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar and red pepper flakes.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through to coat the chicken with the sauce. Top with green onions and serve.


Adapted from The Recipe Critic.


Calories: 429kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 172mg | Sodium: 206mg | Potassium: 591mg | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1.2mg

Our 17 Best Fresh Chile Pepper Recipes

Late summer is the season for fresh chile peppers. In August, you’ll find them piled high at local farmers markets. Often the smoky-sweet scent of freshly roasting peppers will lead you right to them at the market! The peppers appear in a ton of shapes, sizes, and colors and a range of flavors and levels of heat.

To celebrate Pepper Palooza, we’ve picked a peck of our favorite fresh chile pepper recipes, top-rated recipes featuring mild peppers (like Anaheim and ancho chiles), medium-hot peppers (chipotle and jalapeño chiles), and fiery-hot peppers (habanero and ghost peppers, for folks who figure dinner’s not done until the endorphins kick in).

1. Hunan Kung Pao

Chicken and shrimp are stir-fried with spicy dried chiles, red and green bell peppers, and Szechwan peppercorns in a flavorful sauce. “This is one of the best restaurant-style Kung Pao’s I’ve ever had,” raves DIZ. “It was made even better with fresh peppers from my garden.”

Image zoom Photo by DIZ

2. Chile Rellenos

You’ll stuff green Anaheim chile peppers with Cheddar cheese, dip them in a simple batter, and quickly fry them until the cheese is melty and the peppers are crispy. “This is the best relleno batter recipe I’ve come across,” raves SpicyJoe. “I had batter left over and made onion rings. They were great too.”

Image zoom Chile Rellenos | Photo by Allrecipes

3. Authentic Enchiladas Verdes

For this authentic Mexican recipe, you’ll make a spicy green sauce with fresh tomatillos and serrano peppers to pour over shredded chicken enchiladas. Top them with crumbled queso fresco, chopped onion, and chopped cilantro. “Loved it,” says LABELLE2. “We used all five serrano peppers — fortunately we can take the heat!”

Image zoom Authentic Enchiladas Verdes | Photo by Allrecipes

4. Colorado Green Chili

Hatch chiles — the pride of New Mexican peppers — make it happen here. “This vegetarian green chili goes great over breakfast burritos, cheeseburgers, fried eggs, or anything,” says YOUNGCM2.

Image zoom Photo by Yoly

5. Cochinita Pibil (Mexican Pulled Pork in Annatto Sauce)

Cochinita Pibil is a Mexican version of pulled pork. Pork shoulder is slowly cooked in a spicy sauce made with annatto paste, vinegar, and citrus juice. For even more intense flavor, and if you have the time, marinate the sauce-covered meat for about 8 hours. “Very delicious,” raves KReid. “Easy and versatile. Made leftovers into vegetable Mexican soup.”

Image zoom Photo by Allrecipes

6. Grilled Salmon with Habanero-Lime Butter

Salmon steaks marinate in orange and lime juices with a little tequila and minced habanero peppers. You’ll grill the salmon and serve it with a habanero pepper and lime zest butter. “The blend of flavors is difficult to describe but I can say that it was a a mixture of creamy sweet and pleasing spice,” says Leo. “The leftover butter mixture can also be spooned over chicken.” Mike recommends removing the seeds from the peppers to tame the heat.

Image zoom Photo by Meredith

7. Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burgers

Ground turkey gets a spicy kick from smoky chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Grill the burgers and top with mozzarella cheese. “Sooo flavorful!” raves soulmait. “I don’t usually enjoy turkey burgers, but these were delicious. I used Swiss cheese, and made a chipotle mayo.”

8. Chipotle and Adobo Pickled Eggs

Pickle your hard-boiled eggs in this spicy vinegar and chipotle mixture. They’re great for snacking or for slicing onto salads. “My family can’t get enough of these,” says Diane. “I recommend refrigerating them about 5 days for the eggs to really take on the flavors of the brine.”

Image zoom Chipotle and Adobo Pickled Eggs | Photo by LilSnoo

9. Black Bean Huevos Rancheros

A delicious version of the classic Mexican “rancher’s eggs,” it features layers of black beans with chipotle peppers, plus fresh salsa and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. You’ll make a bright, spicy salsa with tomatoes, green onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and salt. “Absolutely awesome,” raves Caroline. “The chipoltle chiles in the beans added unique flavor. Hands down the best huevos rancheros I’ve ever had.”

10. Seared Scallops with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

Seared scallops are served with fresh orange segments and a mild jalapeño vinaigrette you’ll make in the blender with fresh jalapeño, rice vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard. This seafood dish is quick and easy but still elegant and absolutely bursting with flavor. “Delicious,” says lovestohost. “The vinaigrette was nice and light and allowed the flavor of the sea scallops to shine.”

Image zoom Photo by Kim’s Cooking Now

11. Asian Cucumber Salad

Sliced red chile peppers and cucumbers are tossed in a simple rice vinegar, garlic, fresh ginger, and sesame oil dressing. “LOVE THIS,” says StefanieG. “Tastes just like the cucumber salad I like from a local sushi restaurant.”

Image zoom Asian Cucumber Salad | Photo by lutzflcat

12. Chef John’s Harissa Sauce

This Tunisian hot sauce combines ground spices with fire-roasted red bell peppers, and habanero and Fresno chile peppers. Harissa is a magical ingredient and incredibly versatile; add it to all kinds of savory dishes—it makes everything taste better!

Image zoom Photo by Chef John

13. Phaal

“This is the world’s hottest curry,” says Jonathan. “It is atomically spicy! Because it contains the world’s hottest chile, the Bhut Jolokia or ‘Ghost Chile’, which is three times hotter than a habanero. This pan-Asian dish is not for the faint of heart.”

Image zoom Photo by John

14. Bomba Calabrese (Spicy Calabrian Pepper Spread)

“This amazing Calabrian pepper spread is as delicious as it is unknown,” says Chef John. “I love it on sliced fresh bread, but you can toss it with pasta, add it to a sandwich, fill an omelet, top a pizza, or serve as salsa with grilled fish, or in deviled eggs.”

15. Arizona Hatch Chili

Roasted Hatch green chiles slow-cook with pork roast, onions, tomatoes, and spices in this simple Hatch chili recipe that never fails to please.ChrisJon43 gives it 5 Stars: “I was so excited to find this recipe! I grew up eating this chili and have been making it myself for decades!”

Image zoom Photo by Yoly

16. Potato and Pepper Frittata

Here’s a simple potato frittata with bits of bacon, a combo of hot and sweet chile peppers, and crumbled feta cheese. Great for brunch or a lunch. Serve it hot or warm, topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and a splash of olive oil. “This rustic egg pie was invented for late summer’s vegetable bounty,” says Chef John.

Image zoom Photo by blueangel084

17. Chef John’s Fried Padrón Peppers

Padrón peppers are small green peppers you’ll often find at farmers markets. Fry them until their skins blister, and they develop an intoxicating bitter-sweet, typically not-too-spicy flavor. Serve them with just a sprinkle of large-grained sea salt and a simple garlic mayonnaise. They’re also sensational with fried eggs!

Check out the collection of Chile Pepper Recipes, including top-rated recipes for Anaheim, banana, chipotle, habanero, Hatch, jalapeno, serrano peppers, and more.

10 Ways to Use Chili Peppers

It’s a “Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingy”, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Who could resist this appetizer?

My video on Chili Peppers and our How to: Chili Peppers will serve as a great introduction to peppers for the beginner cook.

If you like a hint of “heat” in your food, experiment by adding chili peppers to everyday dishes. Chop up some chili pepper and toss it on scrambled eggs, sandwiches or burgers, stir-fries, soups or stews. Add or subtract chili depending on the level of spice that you like. Be sure to remove the stem and seeds, since that’s where a lot of the really hot heat is stored!

Jalapenos are one of the more recognizable peppers here in the USA, as they are very popular in Tex-Mex cooking. Recipes call for a variety of different forms of jalapenos including fresh, canned, and as a sweet hot pepper jelly.

1. Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies (shown at the top of the post) have three great ingredients going for them: spicy peppers, cream cheese and bacon. Everyone will just love this flavor combination!

2. Jalapenos Stuffed with Sausage (shown below) pack a real kick, particularly if you use hot sausage! Using sweet sausage may be a safer bet for your next party.

3. If you find jalapeno peppers are too hot to handle, here’s a recipe that cheats, using jalapeno pepper jelly in a glaze for fish, chicken or beef. Crabby Cook modified this glaze (seen on America’s Test Kitchen) and promises that it “won’t burn your mouth up.” This recipe does include cilantro, which sort of looks like flat-leaf parsley, but for many it is an acquired taste.

Curly Parsley Cilantro and Mint

4. Surprise your company with this easy treat: put an 8 ounce block of cream cheese on a serving plate. Pour a 10 ounce jar of hot pepper jelly over the cheese. Serve with your favorite crackers!

5. Ina Garten’s recipe for Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbreadtakes five minutes to mix the ingredients, which then sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking. For this recipe, don’t forget to pick up a box of cornmeal at the grocery store!

6. My video on Tex-Mex Cheeseburgers uses canned jalapenos in the sauce. Try this just once and it will become a family favorite in your house too!

7. Instead of using Tabasco sauce in my Tex-Mex Bean Salad recipe (shown below), try chopping up some fresh jalapenos. This recipe is great to serve on a buffet!

8. Stuffed Poblano Peppers is an easy, improvised recipe that involves five ingredients. The poblano peppers are stuffed with browned ground beef and cooked rice, mixed with ready-made enchilada sauce and canned diced tomatoes.

Poblano Pepper

9. This Food & Wine recipe for Poblano and Portobello Stuffed Mushrooms is one of those “company’s coming” kind of dishes. Or it could make a classy, light vegetarian meal for you and your sweetheart. Poblanos add a lot of flavor but not too much heat!

10. Skinny Chef uses pickled cherry peppers for this great recipe: Cherry Peppers Stuffed with Mozzarella and Basil. Jen will also answer the question on whether or not Chilies Can Help to Control Your Weight!


Or for no heat but lots of flavor, check out my photo-tutorial on Stuffed Peppers (shown below)!

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  1. Wear gloves when handling chili peppers. Grab the chili pepper by the stem and slice the chili pepper thinly.
  2. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a small sauce pan on medium high heat. Turn on the vent fan to high.
  3. Add the shallots and sauté until the shallot is translucent.
  4. Add garlic. Stir until fragrant.
  5. Add the sliced chili peppers and the remaining oil and sauté.
  6. Add 1 Tbsp soy sauce.
  7. Turn the heat to low, add 1/4 cup more oil and sauté gently for 15 minutes. The shallots and garlic should become more caramelized and brown.
  8. Be brave and use a small spoon to taste as it cooks. Or take some kind of vegetable and dip into the sauce. You need to taste it to determine if it needs more soy or some salt.
  9. Add seasoning to taste. It needs enough salt for the flavor of the shallots and garlic to come through. You can decide if you like the soy sauce flavor and add more or just add salt if it has enough soy flavor. You can add more oil at this point if you want to dilute the heat level.
  10. Turn off the heat and let the chili pepper sauce cool to room temperature. You can store this in a jar for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

Recipes with chili peppers

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