Whether you're a chilli addict who loves to feel the heat, or you prefer just a mild kick, learn something new with our pick of the peppers.
Buy fresh chillies that look crisp and glossy. The general rule of thumb is the smaller the chilli, the hotter it is, but the Scotch bonnet (the hottest year-round variety) bucks that trend.
Chillies will keep for a week or two in a ventilated bag in the fridge. Bring them to room temperature before using. Store dried chillies for up to a year in an airtight container, away from sunlight.
Drinking water after eating a burning chilli will make your mouth feel hotter. Instead, try dairy products or starchy foods such as rice or bread, which will break down or mop up the spice.
Like most varieties, these small, extremely hot chillies have their origins in Mexico. They also feature heavily in Asian cuisine, from noodle soups and stir-fries to curries and dipping sauces. If cooking for a mild palate, it’s a good idea to use them sparingly.
Choose these relatively mild chillies for everyday recipes that require a little kick – seeds optional. Try them in a simple pasta dish, finely chopped and fried in olive oil with garlic, or add them to a creamy sweet potato and coconut soup.
These slim and very potent green chillies are popular across Asia, from Thailand to India, where in some parts it’s customary for each mouthful of food to be accompanied by a bite of finger chilli. They’re great finely sliced into salads and with eggs, such as a cheese omelette with lots of fresh coriander.
Jalapeños are young green chilli peppers with a moderate to very hot heat. Dried and smoked, they take on a sweeter flavour and are known as chipotle. Try fresh whole jalapeños stuffed with mince or cheese and then deep-fried, or serve sliced in a burrito, with tacos or scattered over nachos.
Named after their resemblance to the Scottish Tam o’ Shanter cap, Scotch bonnets are mainly grown in the Caribbean and are a popular choice for jerk chicken, pork dishes and hot sauces. They’re among the spiciest chillies in the world, so handle with care.
Meet the expert: Shannon Berry, Tesco Commercial Manager for chillies
Chillies are now an essential ingredient in people’s shopping baskets. Do you think we’ve become more daring with spicy food and flavours?
Yes – and people are more open to trying the hotter chilli varieties, such as finger chillies and Scotch bonnets.
Where does Tesco source its fresh chillies from?
Our UK-grown chillies are from Bedfordshire and Evesham, where they’re cultivated in greenhouses. Overseas, they’re sourced from warmer places, such as Kenya, Mozambique, India, Spain and Egypt.
Is it true that the hottest part of a chilli isn’t the seeds but the membrane?
Yes, the white membrane is where most of the heat comes from. By removing it, you can control the heat, but retain the flavour. Keep the seeds out of your dish, too, for an even milder taste.
Any good tips for cooking with chillies?
Rolling a chilli in the palms of your hands loosens the seeds and makes them easier to remove. For plenty of flavour and minimal heat, add a whole chilli to a dish while cooking (make an incision in the flesh first) then fish it out before serving. Wash your hands after preparing chillies, and don't put your fingers near your eyes.
Chilli heat is perfect for a speedy stir-fry – why not give our Firecracker chicken a go?