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Quick guide to chillies

Ranging from mild to mouth-numbingly fiery, chillies add a welcome heat to all kinds of dishes. Our quick guide will give you hints and tips for preparing and cooking chillies, and some delicious recipe ideas to get your taste buds tingling.

  1. Chilli varieties

    Komodo dragon – One of the UK’s hottest commercially grown chillies. It has a fruity flavour, but it’s the burn you’ll notice first – it’s 400 times hotter than the average chilli!

    Ancho – A large, dried Mexican chilli with a light smoky flavour and a medium heat. These need to be rehydrated in boiling water before use, so are ideal for stews and casseroles.

    Crushed chillies (or chilli flakes) – No kitchen should be without them. They mellow during drying, so a sprinkle will add a subtle warmth to anything from pasta to cheese on toast.

    Bird eye – Commonly used in Thai cuisine, these chillies are small and fiery, largely due to their numerous seeds. They can be red or green, but the seeds of the latter can be bitter so are often discarded.

    Red and green – These familiar chillies have a medium heat and delicate flavour. Try lightly pickling and using on pizzas, or stuff with soft cheese and bake for a spicy snack.

  2. How to prepare chillies

    Be brave and taste a little of the chilli before using; if you want to reduce the heat, remove the seeds and pith. Wash your hands immediately after handling chillies.

  3. How to store chillies

    Fresh chillies should be stored in the fridge and used while firm with unwrinkled skins. Or, freeze whole, slice while still frozen and add straight into dishes. Dried chillies can be kept in an airtight box for several months.

  4. Enjoy

    Ready to tackle the heat? Give these delicious chilli recipes a try…

  5. Chilli hot chocolate

    For a subtle hint of chilli, try in this creamy hot chocolate recipe. Fresh red chilli adds a tingle to the hot choc, but the milk, whipped cream and marshmallows all balance out the spice.

    Chilli hot chocolate
  6. Thai prawn burgers

    For something a little more exotic, these spicy Thai prawn burgers use bird eye chillies for a fiery hit with every bite. Used both in the burger patties and the crunchy slaw, this recipe is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

    Thai prawn burgers
  7. Birdie’s jerk chicken

    A traditional jerk seasoning includes Scotch Bonnet chilli, a hot Caribbean variety with a slightly sweet, fruity taste. With Birdie’s jerk chicken recipe, you can use a ready-made seasoning if short on time, or try making your own from scratch with these spicy chillies.

    Birdie’s jerk chicken
  8. Spicy sausage ragu

    This simple store cupboard pasta recipe makes the most of crushed chillies to add heat to the meaty sauce. A quick and easy way to turn plain sausage meat into a flavour-packed ragu to serve with pasta. 

    Spicy sausage ragu
  9. Braised pork tacos

    Gather friends and family around for a sharing Mexican feast and tuck into these slow-braised pork tacos. Ancho chilli is used to give a smoky depth to the braising liquid, while pickled jalapeños give a zingy finish when served.

    Braised pork tacos