Some like it hot, while others...probably haven’t given chilies a fair chance. The piquant peppers come in hundreds of varieties that range from sweet and mild (like the shishito) to spicy and explosive (like the cayenne), making them a choice ingredient for pumping up flavor in soups, scrambles, stir-fries and more. Many are packed with health-promoting antioxidants, and, perhaps equally important, their vibrant hues guarantee a pretty plate.

  • Fresh peppers should have firm, taut and glossy skins. (Jalapeños may have small cracks around their stems.)
  • Wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers and wash your hands afterward. Capsaicin, the chemical that makes some chilies spicy, can burn and irritate your skin and eyes.
  • To cook with a chili, cut off the stem, slice the pepper in half lengthwise then scrape out the seeds and veins with a spoon.
  • A recent study in PLOS One linked the consumption of hot red chili peppers with a potential reduction in mortality risk.

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