How to Safely Cook with Hot Peppers

Hot peppers bring heat to our dishes and, for this reason, we don’t hesitate to cook with them. But precautions are always required before handling them. Here’s all you need to know.


Capsaicin, a compound of the peppers (especially in the white membrane and seeds inside), is responsible for the burning sensation in your mouth when you bite into one.

Did you know?

One way to decrease a chili pepper’s strength is to remove the membrane and seeds with a knife.

Scoville scale

Is the pepper you’re about to cut into hot? One way to check is by referring to the Scoville scale, which ranks peppers according to their pungency. The more potent a pepper, the higher its capsaicin content will be, and the higher it’ll rank on the scale, from 0 (zero being the bell pepper) to 10.

Protect your hands

Donning latex gloves is the best way to protect your hands when handling hot peppers. And if you don’t, don’t forget to wash your hands well once the job is complete. Because otherwise, you’ll inevitably end up touching your face with your hands or, even worse, rubbing your eye. And that would be a disaster!

Wash your hands

Did you forget to wear gloves? We recommend massaging your hands for a long time with vegetable oil, and don’t forget the nails. Finish by washing with mild soap. Also, take the time to thoroughly wash your knives, as well as your work surface.

Avoid drinking water

When you have a burning sensation in your mouth, don’t reach for a glass of water. Capsaicin is not soluble in water; however, it is fat soluble, i.e., it dissolves in fat. It’s for this reason that one of the recommendations is to rinse your mouth out with oil.  

Milk is another effective solution for when your mouth is on fire. It contains casein, a protein that helps neutralize that burning sensation by acting on pain receptors. This is also true for other dairy products such as yogurt, sour cream or ice cream. Chewing a piece of bread can also help. Like casein, the starch that it contains neutralizes the capsaicin.

Find out more about hot peppers by reading our article here.