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21 February 2018

Chili pepper seeds are edible, so you can leave them in while cooking, though there may be reasons why you want to remove them. Learn why.

I receive this question occasionally on the Chili Pepper Madness blog in various forms – Should I remove my pepper seeds before eating the peppers? Are chili pepper seeds OK to eat? Do YOU remove your seeds before cooking or do you leave them in?

Because of so many questions, I thought it would be a good time to open a general discussion about chili pepper seeds. Here are some points of interest to consider.

Chili Pepper Seeds Are Edible.

Yes, you can eat chili pepper seeds. Chili pepper seeds will not harm you and will pass right on through your body.

Are Chili Pepper Seeds Toxic or Poisonous?

No, they are not. People eat them every day without issue.

Are Chili Pepper Seeds Spicy?

Chili pepper seeds are actually NOT spicy, as they do not contain capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot. Capsaicin is actually located within the whitish pithy pepper innards, the placenta, which you can remove to make the pepper milder in most cases. Pepper seeds might be coated with some of the oils from this pith, so if you do detect heat, it will be from the pith, not the seeds themselves.

Reasons You May Want to Remove Seeds Before Eating or Cooking with Chili Peppers

All this said, there are a few reason why you may want to remove the chili pepper seeds before cooking with them.

First, some pepper seeds can have a bitter taste, which may affect recipes with subtle flavors. Oftentimes, hotter peppers don’t lend themselves to recipes requiring subtle flavors, as many of them are in your face with heat, but as you cook more and more with peppers and appreciate how nuanced they can be, removing them may benefit the overall flavor.

Also, when removing the inner pith of the peppers, which normally reduces the overall heat, you’ll wind up removing the seeds anyway. You’ll hear some people say, “To reduce the heat of your final dish, remove the pepper seeds”. This is not accurate, as mentioned above. The heat resides within that whitish pith, which holds the seeds, so when removing that for heat purposes, you’ll lose the seeds anyway.

The biggest reason you may want to remove your pepper seeds before cooking with or eating them is TEXTURE. When you are making a pepper sauce, hot sauce, or anything that blends into a thin or creamy texture, you’ll notice the seeds will float throughout your liquid. The seeds themselves easily escape processing, and may throw your smooth texture off balance. It is the same with tomato skins, which are often removed before making a silky tomato sauce.

If your goal is to make a smooth sauce, then you can either remove the seeds before cooking, or better yet, strain the final cooked product after processing to remove the remaining solids, which will contain the seeds.

Do I Remove My Pepper Seeds Before Cooking?

Sometimes. In most cases, I just leave them in. I have no desire to tame the heat with my recipes and the seeds do not bother me at all. I barely notice them in most recipes. But as mentioned, if I’m looking for a smoother sauce, I’ll strain afterward.

Got any other questions? Let me know, or see our Frequently Asked Questions section on the site.

I hope you find this useful! – Mike H.