How to cook with chillies
Add a little spice to your dinner with our guide to cooking with chillies. These tongue-tingling vegetables are part of the capsicum family and they come in lots of different shapes, sizes and colours, and we’ve even ordered the chillies based on their ‘hotness’ using the Scoville scale, which measures the concentration of capsaicin (the chemical compound that causes spicy heat) in a pepper. To put this into context, the world’s hottest chilli has a rating of 15,000,000 and a jalapeño is 2,500. Anything above 80,000 is considered ‘very highly pungent’. Ready to turn up the heat?
TYPES OF CHILLIES
Ancho chillies need to be rehydrated before you can eat them which you can do by covering with boilling water for 20 mins, then drain and chop the chilli removing the seeds and stalk. They are one of the mildest chillies, but they add a fruity, smoky finish to your meals and work well in Mexican-themed dishes.
Serving suggestion: This versatile chilli can be added to chilli con carne, bolognese, salsa, mayonnaise and guacamole.
Spice rating: In general, ancho chillies have a rating of 1,000 to 2,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale for Chilli Peppers.
This iconic chilli can now be found across the globe, but it first originated in Mexico. Its mild heat and herbaceous flavour makes it a great choice for lots of dishes. Opt for the red variety if you want a slightly sweeter taste.
Serving suggestion: Try adding jalapenos to Mexican dishes such as fajitas, enchiladas and tacos.
Spice rating: In general jalapenos have a rating of 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale for Chilli Peppers.
Red & green chillies
These are the most common type of chilli, which often come from the Fresno or Seranade varieties; they’re a kitchen staple, combining colour, sweetness and spice. They’re a great addition to a range of cuisines and work well in stews, stir fries, curries and marinades.
Serving suggestion: Pop these chillies into all sorts of dishes, from summer salads and crab cakes to curries.
Spice rating: When it comes to heat, red and green chillies are generally considered milk and have a rating of 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale for Chilli Peppers.
These pungent chillies are usually found in South Asian dishes. They’re named for their long spindly shape.
Serving suggestion: You can remove the seeds in these chillies to cool them down slightly. And, whether you can handle the heat or prefer it stays out of the kitchen, finger chillies go down a treat in homemade samosas and curries.
Spice rating: In general, Finger Chillies have a rating of 10,000 to 100,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale for Chilli Peppers.
This is the go-to chilli for those looking for intense heat and flavour. Birdseye chillies hail from the Caribbean and liven up any meal.
Serving suggestion: Use these chillies in curries and stews – they’re most at home in Caribbean dishes.
Spice rating: Birdseye Chillies generally have a rating of 100,000 to 225,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale for Chilli Peppers.
Scotch bonnet chillies
These chillies are seriously hot. They have to be handled really carefully – make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after preparation to avoid irritation. They come in several colours, including green, orange, red and yellow.
Serving suggestion: These chillies can be used for infusing oils or added to dishes to intensify the heat and then removed before serving.
Spice rating: In general Scotch bonnet chillies have a rating of 100,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville Heat Scale for Chilli Peppers.
HOW TO PREPARE CHILLIES
- Start by slicing the stem off the top. Then, cut it in half lengthways and scrape out all the seeds and light-coloured membrane from each half. Top tip: putting the chilli skin-side down on the chopping board makes it easier to slice.
- Cut your chilli into fine strips by slicing it widthways, unless your recipe calls for the chilli to be finely diced. In this case, slice it lengthwise into long, thin strips. Bunch the strips together and finely slice across them widthways.
TRY THESE CHILLI-INFUSED RECIPES
Chicken Shish with Charred Chilli Relish
Blacken your chillies and drizzle your kebabs in honey for a delicious grilled dinner.
Get the recipe >
Chilli and Lemongrass Turkey Burger with Coriander Mayo
Your chilli is combined with the turkey meat to create your burger, so all you need to decide is how much heat you can handle.
Get the recipe >
Hungry for more? You can find even more delicious recipe inspiration on our website here.