Cooking With Peppers

Updated:Nov 19,2014

colorful bell peppersAdd some sweet and heat to your dishes with peppers! They’re so versatile that you can use them as a main ingredient, a condiment or an added spice to just about any recipe.

Chili peppers are considered sweet peppers or hot peppers. Bell peppers are the most common type of sweet pepper. They come in green, red, orange, yellow and purple colors while providing a satisfying crunch and sweet flavor. Green bell peppers are the least sweet while red are the sweetest.

There are many varieties of hot peppers but they all have a component called capsaicin, which gives the pepper its heat. The more capsaicin, the hotter the pepper<

Order of heat for most common chili peppers (from mild to hottest):

  • Bell – sweet and no heat
  • Poblano - slightly hot
  • Jalapeño - hot
  • Chipotle (smoked jalapeño) – a bit hotter
  • Serrano – very hot
  • Habanero/Scotch bonnet – extremely hot!
When preparing hot peppers, most people remove the seeds and the white membrane (where the capsaicin is stored) with a small knife. Be careful not to touch your lips or eyes when cutting a hot pepper if you don’t want to feel the burn from the capsaicin. Wear disposable gloves for extra protection while cutting. But if you like things extra spicy, just chop up the entire pepper, seeds and all!

Uses for chili peppers:

  • Use as a topping instead of hot sauce
  • Add to homemade salsas
  • Add to vegetable, tomato or low sodium bean soups
  • Add to scrambled eggs or an egg white omelet
  • Add to casseroles, brown rice and whole wheat pasta dishes
  • Add to leafy, green salads
  • Layer on sandwiches, burgers and whole grain tortilla wraps (choose low saturated fat and zero grams trans fat wraps)
  • Cut into strips and snack on along with cut carrots and celery
  • Stuff with brown rice, tomato sauce and fresh herbs
Roasting sweet and hot peppers gives them a wonderful, smoky flavor. It also takes some of the spicy heat out of hot peppers.

Here’s how to roast:

  1. Turn on your broiler.
  2. Place whole peppers on tray or in baking dish.
  3. Put under the broiler. With tongs, turn the peppers every few minutes, until the skin is blackened and blistered all the way around.
  4. Put peppers in a paper bag. Fold close and let sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove peppers from bag. Peel off the blackened skin. Cut peppers in half (liquid will seep out.) Remove the seeds and the stem.
  6. Cut how you like or store them in a sealed container (they will last about four days in the refrigerator.
Article copyright © 2014 American Heart Association. This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.