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How to cook Chillies

How to cook Chillies

The seeds and white pith inside a chilli is where most of the heat is contained, so halve lengthways and scrape out the seeds and membrane if you’d like a gentler hum of spice. If you don’t know how hot a chilli is, cut a tiny bit off the end and do a taste test.

WATCH: How to make chilli sauce

READ: The big veggie chilli cook-off


There are thousands of varieties of chilli, ranging in colour, shape and size. You can find red, green, yellow, purple or even jet-black chillies! Smaller chillies are often the hottest – so beware. Capsaicin is the chemical compound that makes chillies taste hot. A special unit of measurement called Scoville Heat Units (SHU) is used to measure the heat of different varieties. Chillies originated in Central and Latin America, before spreading via trade routes around the world. In India, for example, pepper was used to spice food before they discovered chillies.


Chillies are available throughout the year.


Freeze leftover chillies that are on the turn, then finely grate over dishes or straight into your cooking to give them a kick – genius!

What are the health benefits?

80g of fresh chillies counts as one of your 5-a-day, but that's quite a lot to eat in one go! They're also a good source of vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6.

What to Do With Dried Chiles: Recipes, Cooking Techniques, and Shopping Tips

For a neat and tidy spice cabinet that’s actually useful, I’m typically a believer in less is more. Ground spices degrade with time, so it’s good practice to stock small, fresh batches of the ones you cook with regularly, rather than hoard a pile of mystery powders that you bought years ago.

But there’s one section of my spice cabinet where I just can’t contain myself: dried chilies.

At last count, I have eight varieties in my pantry, each with its own heat level and unique flavor, ranging from the sunny kick of Maras pepper to the sultry raisin sweetness of pasillas. Some bags go untouched for months at a time others are used almost daily. (TBH, when a recipe says "season to taste with salt and pepper," I usually sub in red chili flakes for black pepper.) But I’m glad all of them are there, because dried chilies are flavor workhorses that pull way more than their weight in the kitchen.

In fairness, they weigh very little. But roll with me here—these spices are worth collecting if you know how to use them right.

Buyer's guide

Chillies are available fresh, dried (whole, as flakes or ground into chilli powder), preserved in oil (where the heat from the chilli will infuse the oil) or made into condiments such as Tabasco. Fresh chillies sold in packets in supermarkets usually have a heat scale on them as a guide. When shopping for more interesting chilli varieties, farmers' markets and ethnic stores are the best hunting grounds. Look for a smooth, glossy skin that is deep in colour and firm to the touch. Discard any chillies with shrivelled skin, brown marks or watery bruises.

Some of the most common chilli varieties are:

Poblano - mildly hot, dried chilli used in the Mexican mole poblano sauce

Mulato Isleño - mildly hot chilli with a deep, sweet flavour

Ortega - elongated mildly hot New Mexican chilli, ideal for use in stews and salsas

Chipotle - mild, dried smoked chilli commonly used in Mexican cooking and commercially produced chilli sauces

Pasillas - long, very dark brown chillies, usually sold dried, then ground and added to sauces

Jalapeños - fiery chillies, used either fresh or pickled can be dried and smoked to make chipotles towards the end of the growing season

Tabasco - hot chillies with a distinctive flavour that comes from a fermentation process in which the chillies are combined with vinegar and salt

Bird's-eye - tiny but powerful green and red chillies, especially common in Thai and South-east Asian cooking

Habañero - lantern-shaped, blow-your-head-off hot chilli, usually orange, with a slightly fruity flavour

Scotch Bonnet - lantern-shaped red-hot chilli related to the habañero, usually yellow, green or red in colour

How to Make the Absolute Best Stovetop Chili Ever

It's basically begging for a spot on your Super Bowl party menu.

A big ol' batch of chili warms up any occasion. It's quick, easy, and a simple crowd-feeder (and pleaser!) &mdash especially at Super Bowl parties. After making its way to Texas a few hundred years ago, the one-pot meal has become an American staple, so much so that President Lyndon B. Johnson said, "there is simply nothing better."

Of course, fast forward a couple centuries and now there are a million ways to make it: classic red, spicy green, white bean, chunky meat, ground meat, chicken chunks, vegetarian, the list goes on. Most of us have all come to know &mdash and love &mdash classic Texas-style chili, but other regions, like Cincinnati, have developed their own variations.

If you're just looking to make a basic chili right now, we've got you covered. We're always a fan of quick and easy recipes (hence the 25-minute recipe below), but we're also partial to a slow and steady simmer. To increase flavor, cook chili on low in a big pot (Le Creuset highly suggested) and let the flavors marinate for an hour-plus.

Yes, a slow cooker logically makes sense for this kind of dish, but unless you time it just right, the meat can wind up tasteless and soft. To be safe, rely on that fix-it-and-forget-it method for bean-based chili only.

Now that those basics are squared away, let's move on to our time-saving stovetop recipe (we only have so many hours in day, after all).

To make this classic meat chili, simply throw the ingredients in a skillet and let the spicy flavors work their magic. Our recipe easily serves six, but you can double or triple, as needed. And this is only the beginning &mdash try our other favorite chili recipes once you master the basics.


&bull 1 red or yellow pepper, chopped

&bull 1 1/4 lb. 90% lean ground beef

&bull 1 can no-salt added diced tomatoes (28-ounce)

&bull 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (can also use pinto, pink, or black beans)

&bull Garnishes: chopped green onions, cilantro, sour cream, and shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)

Best-Ever Beef Chilli

This is a chilli recipe that you can make on a weeknight in under an hour. Lots of other recipes call for simmering for at least an hour, sometimes even more! The reality of that is tough, so we've perfected this chilli to be done in just 40 minutes. If you prefer a thicker chilli that develops flavours over a low and slow heat, follow this recipe but simmer it at a lower heat for longer.

Make it ahead! Chilli is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day. If you want to make it ahead of time, just be sure to let it come to room temperature before putting in an airtight container and storing it in the fridge. Leftover will last 3 to 5 days.

Double it. Need to feed a big crowd? This recipe is easy to double (or triple!).

Spice is king. Everyone knows a good chilli has a complex flavour this is thanks to a bunch of different spices at work. Cooks swear by all sorts of spices in their chilli&mdasheverything from cinnamon to mustard powder&mdashbut these are the four we'll always make a pot with chilli powder, cumin, dried oregano, and paprika.

Beef can be swapped. If you love the heartiness of beef chilli but are trying to eat less beef, turkey mince or chicken totally works with this recipe.

How to Roast Chili Peppers in the Broiler

Place whole chili peppers on a lightly oiled baking sheet 6 inches from the broiler flame, and broil about 5-10 minutes, or until skins are thoroughly blackened, flipping every couple minutes.

Add the charred chili pepper to a plastic baggie and seal, or to a bowl and cover. Allow to steam in the baggie about 10 minutes to loosen the skin.

When the skins are loosened and the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins. A towel will help, or a fork. Discard the skin.

Cook the roasted peppers into any recipe you wish!

Making Gumbo

First, heat up a large pot to medium heat and add your olive oil. Season your proteins, if using, such as chicken or sausage with a bit of salt and pepper and cook them down in a large pot. You only need a few minutes per side. If you&rsquore cooking seafood, it won&rsquot go in until near the end, as they cook up much more quickly.

Once the meat is done cooking, remove it from the pot and set aside for now.

Next add a half cup of peanut oil or butter to the pot, then slowly stir in a half cup of flour. Begin to stir immediately, constantly, for 20-30 minutes to darken your roux to the color of a light to dark chocolate. Learn more about How to Make a Roux.

See below for more information about how to make a great roux.

Next, stir in peppers, onion, celery and garlic. Give a good stir, then add the okra (if using), Cajun or Creole seasonings, stock and bay leaves. The bay leaves bring in a lot of additional flavor. Try my Homemade Cajun Seasoning blend.

Lower the heat and let the whole pot simmer for at least one hour. 1.5-2 hours is fine to develop more flavor, though you may need to add in a bit more liquid.

When it&rsquos just about ready, add your seafood and let it simmer, 5-10 minutes or so, until it is cooked through.

When you&rsquore ready to serve the gumbo, swirl in some fresh chopped parsley and let it cook in about 5 minutes or so. Turn off the heat. Stir in the filé powder to thicken up your gumbo even more, if you&rsquore using it.

Finally, serve it up in a bowl as-is or over rice, whichever you prefer!

Chilli recipes

View our spectacular collection of chilli recipes, including Paul Ainsworth's chicken chilli pasta, Alfred Prasad's peshwari kebab and Robert Thompson's chilli and chocolate tart.

Chilli is a spice without limits. It begins with variety, of which there are hundreds, from the humble jalapeno to the potent habanera, all with colours and heat levels as diverse as their species. Furthermore, chillis can be bought in a multitude of forms: fresh or dried, ground or in flakes, smoked or pickled.

Common in Asian recipes, you can find fresh chillis in Geoffrey Smeddle's seared mackerel recipe with chilli, spring onion and coriander, and in Marcello Tully's Thai fish cakes recipe. Or, looking towards the Mediterranean, we find the classic spicy tomato arrabiata sauce, served with Paul Ainsworth's Sicilian arancini.

Ground chilli powder is more about adding heat than flavour, which makes it hugely versatile. It's a mainstay in Indian recipes, for example, Alfred Prasad's lentil dahl recipe and Vineet Bhatia's spicy South Indian crab cakes. But you can also add chilli powder or chilli flakes to virtually any dish that would benefit from a kick: sprinkle it on pizzas, add it to sauces, use it in stir fries or add to a chocolate cake.

Step 1: Prepare filling

In a large saucepan cook 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 minced garlic cloves in hot oil over medium heat about 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in two 14-1/2-ounce cans chicken broth. Bring to boiling add 1-1/2 cups uncooked rice, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, covered, about 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and stir in one 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained one 11-ounce can whole kernel corn and, if desired, 2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro.

All About Peppers

A sweet pepper is a mild to sweet flavored pepper that can be eaten raw or cooked. Some varieties have a sweet but bitter taste. There are many varieties of sweet peppers, such as bell, bull horns, cachucha, cubanelle, European sweet, pimento and sweet banana. The different varieties vary in size, shape, thickness and color. The most common color is green at maturity and red when allowed to fully ripen. Some other common maturity colors are ivory, yellow, orange, purple and brown but the majority turn red when allowed to ripen.

Sweet peppers are eaten raw or cooked and are good in salads, savory dishes, stuffed or eaten on their own.

A pepper has the strongest taste when considered mature, but not fully ripe. If the peppers are not harvested when mature but are allowed to ripen on the vine, their taste will become progressively mild and sweet until they are fully ripened. Sweet peppers are available throughout the year but more varieties are available in July, August and September.

When selecting, choose those with shiny, even colored skins that are not blemished or bruised. Avoid peppers with shriveled skins.

They can be stored for at least a week if placed in a plastic bag and kept in the refrigerator. The riper the pepper is when harvested, the less time it will maintain its freshness.

Bell Peppers

A mild, sweet flavored, bell shaped pepper, which is one of the most common varieties of sweet peppers. Most bell peppers are green at maturity but turn red if not harvested until fully ripe. There are some varieties that have a maturity color other than green, such as yellow, orange, purple and brown. Most (but not all) varieties are red when fully ripened. A pepper has the strongest taste when considered mature, but not fully ripe. If the peppers are not harvested when mature but are allowed to ripen on the vine, their taste will become progressively more mild and sweet until they are fully ripened. Bell peppers are eaten raw or cooked and are good in relishes, salads, savory dishes or stir-fries, and can be stuffed or eaten on their own. Sweet Banana Pepper
A variety of pepper that has a banana shape and is less than half a foot in length. It has a waxy yellow skin that turns red when fully ripe. The flavor is sweet and mild and it is also known as the banana pepper.

A generic name, also spelled "chili," given to a broad range of over 200 varieties of hot peppers. Chile peppers are grown in different shapes, sizes, and flavors. From round to long and narrow, the pepper can range in size from less than an inch to over 12 inches in length. They can be round and globe-shaped or long and narrow with a pointed end. The intensity of their flavor ranges from mild to extremely hot. When preparing hot peppers, use caution not to touch the eyes or similar areas that can be painfully affected by the capsaicin that rubs off on hands. Some of the most common chile peppers are: Anaheim, Ancho, Cascabel, Cayenne, Charleston hot, Cherry pepper, Chilaca, Chilhuacle, Chipolte, Fresno, Guajillo, Guero, Habanero, Jalapeno, Jamaican hot, Italian frying, Japanese Sweet, Mulato, Pasilla, Pepperoncini, Pequin, Pimiento, Poblano, Red Pepper, Ristra, Santa Fe Grande, Scotch Bonnet, Serrano, Sweet Peppers, Thai Chile, Togarashi, and Viejo Arruga Dulce. Some of the smallest varieties of peppers are round peppers that are often referred to as "ornamental" or "wild" peppers. There are a variety of colors such as red, green, black, and purple readily available and can be used to add color or flavor to various dishes.

Chile peppers are eaten raw or cooked and are a perfect addition to salads, savory dishes, and can be stuffed or eaten on their own.

Generally, intensity of the heat in the taste of the pepper decreases as the size of the pepper increases. Thus, the larger peppers are most often mild, while the smaller peppers are spicy and hot. The fiery burning sensation present in some peppers is due to the natural substance called capsaicin that produces the hot taste in our mouth. Capsaicin is present in the inner white ribs running down the middle and sides of the pepper. Removal of the ribs and seeds that rub against the ribs will reduce the hot intensity of the pepper.

Peppers are available in various colors such as red, green, orange, yellow, white, and black. When selecting peppers, choose any that do not have a wrinkled or dull colored outer flesh.

Fresh peppers are best stored in a refrigerator while dried peppers are best kept in dry, dark cool storage areas. When preparing hot peppers, use caution not to touch the eyes or similar areas that can be painfully affected by the capsaicin that rubs off on hands.

Anaheim Chile

Chile Peppers
A type of chile pepper that is about a half-foot in length, is green in color, and has a mild to medium-hot flavor. It is sold fresh and is also available roasted, dried, or canned. When the chile is dried, it turns a dark burgundy color. It is sometimes referred to as the New Mexico chile, but New Mexico chiles are a bit hotter. Anaheim chiles are a good complement to egg dishes, stews, and vegetable dishes.
Ancho Chile
A dried red chile that is under a foot in length with a mild, full flavor. When it is fresh it is green colored and is known as a poblano chile.
Habanero Chile
A small chile that is no more than 2 inches in length and has a color that ranges from light green when fresh to bright orange when dried. It is native to Caribbean regions, the Yucatan area of Mexico, and northern coastal areas of South America. The habanero has subtle fruit flavors and is many times hotter than the jalapeno.
Jalapeno Chile
One of the most popular chiles because of its hot and spicy flavor and because of the ease in which the seeds are removed. Jalapenos are green when harvested and will turn red if left for a longer period to ripen. They can be purchased fresh or canned and are also popular when pickled. Jalapeno chile peppers that are smoked and dried are known as chipotle chiles.
New Mexico Chile
A type of chile pepper that is about a half-foot in length, is green in color, and has a mild to medium-hot flavor. It is similar to an Anaheim chile, but it is a bit hotter. It is sold fresh and is also available roasted, dried, or canned. When the chile is dried, it turns a dark burgundy color. It is sometimes referred to as a dried Anaheim Chile. New Mexico chiles are a good complement to egg dishes, stews, and vegetable dishes.
Poblano Chile
A dark blackish green, triangle shaped pepper, which is an average of 4 inches long and wide at the top, tapering to a blunt end. When fully mature it turns a reddish brown. It is mild to medium hot and has a rich bell pepper flavor. The Poblano is used as a stuffing pepper, and is added to soups and sauces. The wrinkled and flattened Ancho and Mulato are dried forms of the Poblano. The Ancho and Mulato have a mild sweet flavor.
Fresno Chile
A variety of pepper grown commonly in the U.S. that is picked when green or red. The immature green colored pepper is mild to medium hot in flavor, unlike the red, which has a deeper fiery flavor that exceeds the Jalapeno in intensity. When harvested, this waxy-skinned pepper has a thick flesh and is typically 2 to 3 inches in length with a pod width of an inch or less. The Fresno pepper is very similar in appearance and taste to a Jalapeno or Serrano. The green variety is often added to main dishes, side dishes, salads, and salsas, while the red variety may be too hot for some dishes, but is often used with rice, in dips or chopped into fine bits and added to salsas.
Serrano Chile
Serrano is a Spanish word meaning "mountain" which may signify the origin and growing area of these chiles. The chile is green in color, long and narrow in shape, and grows into a medium thick wall. This chile is often used in salsas and as a flavoring for stews, casseroles and egg dishes.
One of the smallest chili peppers but also one of the hottest. The chili is very small and has an elongated shape. It is very similar in taste and hotness to the Chiltepin. The Chiltepin is just a little smaller than the Chili Piquin and has a more rounded shape. They are often mistaken for each other. They are both very popular and eaten fresh or dried. Their heat is slow to take affect but stays with you for a long time. Younger chilies are green in color and as the mature they turn red. When dried they turn a brownish-red. The hottest parts of the chili are the ribs and seeds. Removing some or all of these parts will reduce the degree of hotness. Chili Piquin and Chiltepin chilies are used in chili, stews, and sauces. They are available fresh, dried, and in powder form. They can be stored in the refrigerator, unwrapped, for up to a week. Do not store in plastic because this will allow them to retain moisture and cause them to rot.

Cut pepper lengthwise on all four sides, cutting around the stem, seeds, and ribs.

Prepare Cored Pepper for Slicing

With the utility knife, remove any remaining rib.

To create squares, slice each of the four sections in half.

Slice across each section to create desired size.

Create Julienne strips by slicing quartered piece into thin strips.

To create minced or chopped peppers, chop Julienne stips to desired size.

Prepare Pepper to Stuff (Hollow Pepper)

Begin by cutting a circle around the stem of the pepper.

Carefully pull out the stem and ribs.

Remove the remaining ribs by scraping with a spoon.

Wash the pepper in cold running water to remove any remaining seeds.

Stuff the cavity of the pepper with stuffing mixture or dip.

To prepare pepper rings, first follow the directions for hollowing out a pepper. Slice the bottom of the ring off. The bottom is edible and should be chopped and saved for later use. Simply slice the pepper in quarter inch slices. The pepper rings also make a decorative garnish.

When preparing hot peppers, use caution not to touch the eyes or similar areas that can be painfully affected by the capsaicin that rubs off on hands. Wearing rubber gloves is recommended as well as washing hands immediately after removing the gloves.

If you do handle chile peppers without using rubber gloves and your hands begin to burn, rub them with vinegar or alcohol to help stop the burning.

Begin by removing the stem and slicing the chile pepper in half.

With a teaspoon, carefully remove the ribs and seeds.

After the ribs and seeds have been removed, the sections should be left whole if the peppers are going to be stuffed.

To cut the section into smaller pieces, slice across the section to create the desired size.

The cleaned pepper can also be cooked if required.

Place the peppers on the grill directly over medium heat. Cook for 6 to 10 minutes, turning once throughout cooking time.

Remove peppers from the grill when they are tender-crisp and nicely browned. Eat as desired.

Preheat the grill on high. While grill is preheating cut peppers in half or quarters. Remove stems, ribs and seeds. Brush peppers with oil.

Turn peppers often through cooking time. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until peppers are well charred.

Preheat the grill on high and then turn to medium-high to roast the peppers. Place the whole peppers on the grill directly over the heat.
When done place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag and seal it.
Allow roasted peppers to stand for 15 to 20 minutes. The steam will loosen the skin from the peppers.
Remove the peppers from the bowl or bag and peel the skins from the peppers.
Cut in half lengthwise and remove the stems, ribs and seeds from the peppers.
The peppers are ready to be eaten or they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To freeze, placed in an air-tight freezer bag and place in the freezer where they they can be stored for several months.

    1. Preheat broiler. Prepare each pepper by removing the stem and cutting them lengthwise in halves or quarters
    2. Flatten each pepper section and place skin side up on a foil lined baking sheet.
    3. Brush skins lightly with olive oil and broil for 8-10 minutes, or until tender with charred skins. Peppers can be eaten with the skin on or off.
    • Brown, black, and purple bell/sweet peppers turn green when cooked.
    • A bundt pan is not only a great way to present stuffed peppers, it is also a convenient way of transporting them.
    • Counteract the hot taste of a chile pepper by consuming milk, bread, or rice to absorb the intensity of the capsaicin.

    Recipe Summary

    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 pound turkey or lean ground beef (but not a combination)
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 tsp dried
    • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (diced canned are fine don't bother to drain)
    • 1 or 2 fresh or dried hot chilies, seeded and minced
    • 1 pound dried pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and picked over, and soaked, if you like
    • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

    Put the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the ground meat and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Adjust the heat so it sizzles steadily, and cook, stirring occasionally to break it up, until the meat browns all over (5-10 minutes).

    Add the onion, and cook, stirring once in a while, until it softens and turns golden (3-5 minutes). Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes fragrant (another minute).

    Add the tomatoes, chili, and beans to the pot, along with enough water to cover everything by 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily, but not furiously, and cover. Cook, undisturbed, for 30 minutes. After that, stir the chili every 20 minutes or so and adjust the heat so it continues to bubble gently add more water, 1/2 cup at a time, if the chili starts to stick to the bottom of the pot.

    When the beans begin to soften (30-60 minutes, depending on the type of bean and whether or not you soaked them), sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if the pot looks too dry, until the beans are quite tender but still intact--this will take about the same amount of time as it took for them to soften. When the beans are very tender, taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve, garnished with the cilantro.

    Chili with Canned Beans: Using canned beans instead of dried cuts the cooking time down to about 35 minutes: Drain and rinse about 4 cups, or 2 (15-ounce) cans, of canned beans add them instead of the dried beans in Step Don't add any water. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a bubble, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything thickens (20 minutes or so). Then continue with Step

    Chili with All Sorts of Dried Beans: Try black beans, white beans, chickpeas, or lentils (lentils will be ready 30 minutes after you add them to the pot).