These are Serrano chili peppers…they look innocent enough, right? Don’t let them fool you, they contain an antioxidant called Capsaicin. Capsaicin is the nutrient that gives chili peppers their heat. This nutrient has many healthful properties. It is a natural anti inflammatory, boosts metabolism, and is believed to fight cancer. Because of the extraordinary health benefits I try to add chilis to many of my recipes. But to do so safely you may need some tips on how to handle a hot chili pepper!
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How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper! Three green serrano chilis on a brown table

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper: Things You Need to Know

Chili peppers are muy calliente! Because they are so hot, I always demonstrate how to handle them in my cooking classes. The heat from chilis can stay on your skin for hours, even after washing. If you rub your eyes after handling peppers you may be in for an uncomfortable time. So I am going to show you a technique that helps you avoid the two hottest part of the chili, the seeds and pith. But I will also give options to avoid touching the chilis altogether. 


If you wish to use your bare hands:

Step 1:

First, roll the chili between your hand and your cutting board. Be careful not to smash the pepper. Rolling loosens the seeds and the pith, the two hottest parts of the chili.

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper: a woman's hand rolling a serrano chili on a cutting board

Step 2:

Cut the top off the chili…see how the seeds are already falling out?

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper: a woman using a knife to cut off the root end of a chili pepper

Step 3:

Now take the chili over to the sink and gently but firmly roll it between you palms till the seeds and the pith fall into the sink.

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper: a woman rolling a chili pepper between her hands to release the seeds

Sometimes you get a stubborn chili and this just doesn’t work. If that happens just slice the chili in half longways and use your knife to remove the seeds and pith. But when it works well it looks like this…

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper: the seeds and pith of a serrano chili in a sink

Step 4:

Cut the chili in half. You may or may not have to use your knife to scrape out the last of the seeds and pith.

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper: a serrano chili cut in half on a cutting board, seeds and pith removed

Slice into long thin strips…

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper: a woman's hands slicing a serrano chili with a knife on a cutting board

Then cross cut them…as tiny as you can.

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper

Because they are so hot, you still may need to chop them to make them even smaller…this is about the time I start sneezing! My knife is an 8″ Wusthof Chef’s Knife and I love it! (affiliate link)

How to Handle a Hot Chili Pepper

After Instructions!

Now that you are done wash your hands really. really well with soap! And avoid touching your face and eyes for a couple of hours. If you have children be especially careful not to touch their eyes, mouths and diaper area as the heat from the chili stays on the skin for hours, even with a good washing!

Don’t want to Touch the Chili At All? I have Two Options!

Food Preparation Gloves: If you have sensitive skin or take care of small children you may wish to wear food preparation gloves. This is probably the safest, easiest and most affordable option. 

Using a Food Processor: a simple and easy option is to use a food processor (affiliate link) to chop your chili pepper. If a large food processor isn’t in the budget try this tiny food processor! (affiliate link) I love mine and use it for many things. You will follow the steps in the photos above: cutting off the top and rolling out the seeds,  but there will be no cutting or mincing involved. Just plop the chili into the processor and chop!

Recipes Using Hot Chilis!

Add these healthful and delicious little chilies to anything that needs a little kick…like this lovely pasta dish!

Linguini with Bell Peppers on white plate



Or my Salmon with Plum Salsa!!

Salmon with Plum Salsa on bed of rice

Or Fresh Pico de Gallo...

Fresh Pico de Gallo in bowl with wooden spoon with limes and tomatoes in background

Enjoy my friends!


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