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17 October 2014

Learn how to cook with the hottest chili peppers in the world. Cooking with superhot chili peppers is a challenge, but with these tips you’ll learn how to enjoy them responsibly, with plenty of recipes included.

Super Hot chili peppers are gaining popularity, and that makes us wonderfully happy at Chili Pepper Madness. We love all chili peppers, from the heatless Bell Pepper all the way up to the devastatingly hot Carolina Reaper which currently tops the scale at more than 2 Million Scoville Heat Units.

What is a Super Hot chili pepper you ask?

The super hot chili peppers are those that go beyond Habanero heat. They push the boundaries of the natural Scoville Scale and make the heat you might encounter with a jalapeno pepper more akin to a mild tickle.

These super hots bring spice to a new level.

To put things in perspective, we should discuss the Scoville Scale. The Scoville Unit of measurement was named for Wilbur Scoville in 1912. At the time, he worked for a pharmaceutical company named Parke-Davis where he developed a test called the “Scoville Organoleptic Test” which is used to measure chili pepper heat.

You can learn more about the Scoville Scale here.

In a nutshell, the higher the Scoville Unit of measurement assigned to a chili pepper, the hotter it is.

The jalapeno pepper typically measures in between 2,500 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) and 8,000 SHU. A Serrano, which is a bit hotter than a jalapeno, measures 5,000 to 23,000 SHU.

The Habanero typically measures between 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. That is quite hot. But with super hot chili peppers, you get measurements like so:

Pure capsaicin, the chemical in chili peppers that makes your tongue either tingle or screech in fear (depending on the SHU), measures in at 15-16,000,000 SHU.

The fact that these super hots are so hot shouldn’t frighten you away from cooking with them. Aside from their heat, these peppers bring an incredible flavor that you won’t get elsewhere.

Many are fruity and a bit citrus-like, yet unique in their own right.

Admittedly, you should begin with some milder peppers before embarking on your culinary experimentation with these chilies, but if you have a bit of a tolerance and you’re interested in cooking with them, we have a few tips that may help you.

Cooking with Super Hot Chili Peppers

  1. Practice Food Safety. The chemical that makes peppers hot, capsaicin, is an oil and will stick to your skin. It is typically best to wear rubber gloves when working with chili peppers if your skin is sensitive. Also, avoid rubbing your eyes or other sensitive areas of your body after handing hot peppers. It doesn’t feel good to get a blast in the eye…or anywhere else tender. Believe me, I’ve heard stories. See this page for How to Stop the Chili Pepper Burn.
  2. Dilution. If you’re brewing up a large pot of chili, you only need a single super hot to bring in the heat. If you’re worried, try only half a pepper and see how the heat feels. If you’ve cooked in a super hot and just a taste burns off your taste buds, add more chili and dilute the pepper heat. Consider that the 7 Pot Chili Pepper supposedly got its name because it only took one pepper to heat 7 pots, so measure accordingly.
  3. Remove the Pepper Insides to Tame the Beast. If you deseed and scoop out the inner membrane of the peppers, you’ll have less heat. The vast majority of the capsaicin resides in this whitish membrane. You’ll still have heat, especially with these super hots. As you continue to cook with them, remove less and less of the membrane and eventually include the entire pepper to your preference. Only if you can’t take the heat.
  4. Keep a Dairy Product on Hand. Dairy counteracts capsaicin, so if the burning sensation overwhelms you, drink milk or dab sour cream on your tongue. It may be wise to begin with a recipe that includes some dairy. I recently made some homemade queso fresco with King Nagas, and the result was a simple cheese with a bit of a kick.
  5. Consider Flavors. Sure, you’re going to get extra heat with these babies, but super hots are more than just vessels of Satan’s sweat. They taste darned good! I personally enjoy the fruitiness that comes with many of these super hots, which lends perfects to fruit dishes, salsas, sauces and more. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only about the heat in the chili pepper world. Flavor is of utmost important to most, not counting those in the extreme.
  6. Build Up Your Tolerance. If you’re still unsure, perhaps start working with something a bit milder, like the Habanero pepper. You will get plenty of heat and some similar flavors from Habanero peppers, though the recipes won’t be exactly the same. The more you eat spicy food, the greater your tolerance for the heat builds, as will your craving for heat most likely. It can be a bit addictive. Believe me, I know. Once you’ve graduated past the Habanero pepper, the super hots might be a great option for you.
  7. Split the Dish. If you’re like me, you’ll be cooking for people with different heat preferences. Some prefer their meals to be devilishly hot, while other prefer only a twinge of fire. If this is the case, when the dish is nearly done, remove the serving portions for those with a lower heat tolerance then add the super hots into the remaining portion for yourself. This won’t work for every recipe, but it will for many.
  8. Enjoy the Heat. The point here is not to remove the heat of the super hot chili peppers. The point is to experience the heat. You obviously don’t want to murder your tongue with molten lava, but if you’re experimenting with super hots, you most likely want that blast of heat. Believe me, you’ll get what you ask for. Expect it and enjoy it.
  9. Prepare for the Next Day. I can only relate this through an anecdote. Recently I took a road trip to Florida and stopped in Georgia for the evening. We dined at the local Wild Wing Cafe where I ordered their Braveheart Wings. These are amazingly hot and made with super hots. The sauce is thick and radiates heat. I muscled through 6 of them, enjoying every minute of it, but wasn’t quite prepared to drive another 700 miles in the morning after my ritual restroom visit. This doesn’t happen every time, mind you, but suffice it to say that sometimes, it’s just as hot going out as it is going in.
  10. Stock Up on Super Hots. You won’t be finding a huge selection of super hots at your local grocery store. The demand simply isn’t there yet. You can grow them yourself by ordering seeds online, or order the peppers themselves or even plants when they are in season.

Superhot Chili Pepper Recipes

Below is a collection of my own recipes that use superhot chili peppers. Beware, some of these can get quite hot!

Learn More About Superhot Chili Peppers

Check Out Our List of Chili Peppers Organized by Heat Levels, from Mild to Superhot

More Tips for Cooking with Chili Peppers of Any Heat Level

If you’ve ever cooked with chili peppers, you may have found yourself hooked on them. I started off by purchasing peppers from the store, learning to cook with them in various ways, then moved into growing chili peppers so I could grow different types of chili peppers with varying heat levels. I got hooked on them very quickly.

It isn’t only about the heat, though. When most people think of chili peppers, they think of crazy, spicy heat, but truth be told, there is a huge range of chili pepper types running from zero heat, like the sweet bell pepper, all the way up to peppers that are almost as hot as pepper spray, like the Carolina Reaper

You don’t have to love all the crazy heat. There are so many different chili peppers, you can very easily find some in the heat range you prefer. Looking for medium heat peppers? There are many options. Prefer more sweet and mild peppers? How about hot pepper types? There are, of course, the superhot chili peppers for those who crave extreme heat. There is a bit of something for everyone.

The more you cook with hot peppers, the more you’ll come to not only appreciate the heat, but you eventually come to crave it. That’s what happened to me. I kept desiring hotter and hotter peppers, but still, it is best to find a spiciness factor that you’re comfortable with.

If  you’re new to cooking with peppers, here are a few tips to help you make the most of them.

Tips for Cooking with Peppers

Here are some ways to let chili peppers make your next meal the best it can be.

Wear Gloves When Cutting Chili Peppers

I’ve posted this tip in the Chili Pepper FAQ section as well because I get many many emails from folks who have burned their skin when cutting chili peppers. Or they’ve cut chili peppers and rubbed their eye, resulting in a stinging burn. The best way to avoid getting the chili pepper oils on your skin is to wear rubber or latex gloves when handling the peppers. Personally, the oils do not bother my skin at all, but I have felt the burn in the eye on occasion, and it isn’t pleasant.

Remove the Innards for Less Heat

If you love the flavor of chili peppers but not quite the heat, you can easily remove the innards, or placenta, to reduce the heat. Most of the chili pepper heat resides in the whitish interior, not the seeds, though when you remove the innards, you remove the seeds. Removing them and only eating the fleshy part of the pepper will still add a bit of kick, plenty of flavor, but will avoid that heat that you can’t handle.

This doesn’t apply as much to superhot peppers, though, as the capsaicin with them reached throughout the skin.

Roast Your Peppers for a Different Flavor

Fresh chili peppers are wonderful, but roasted peppers are something entirely different, and extremely delicious. Roasted red peppers are a sweeter and not quite as biting as the fresher versions. Give them a roast and see how they change your dish.

Make Hot Sauce

There are so many different hot sauces on the market today, and I hope you buy as many as you can, but if you have a lot of chili peppers on hand, why not make your own? Homemade hot sauces are so good to have on hand to spice up your meals and add in some extra flavor. Plus, if you make your own hot sauce, you can easily make them with your own flavor preferences. Check out my Hot Sauce Recipes section of the site for a lot of different recipes. Or check out my page on How to Make Hot Sauce: The Ultimate Guide

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are an extremely popular way to cook with chili peppers. Peppers are unique in that most of them grow hollow. You can slice them open, core them out, then fill them with all sorts of wonderful ingredients. You can make entire meals from larger peppers, like these Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers or this Stuffed Anaheim Peppers recipe, famous ethnic meals like this Classic Chiles Rellenos recipe, or fun appetizers like these Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers. Check out my Stuffed Peppers Recipes section for loads of recipes to inspire you.

Got any questions? Need more advice? Drop me a line. I’m glad to help and can update this page as needed.

Be sure to check out my Chili Pepper Recipes section for hundreds and hundreds of recipes in various categories to help you find inspiration. Enjoy!

2 comments

  1. GLOVES. Always gloves. Even with habineros, you do -not- want to rely on soap and water taking the heat off.

    I made this mistake (with dried habineros, at that) -once-.

  2. I was surprised to see our local supermarket had Carolina Reapers in store AND on sale this week – I guess there weren’t too many buying them. I picked up a packet and took them home to make some hot sauce. I wish I had heeded your warning about wearing gloves at all times, even with repeated washing of my hands the capsaicin just seems to stick!

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