31 Days of Vegetables

Jalapeño Peppers: The Best Ways to Pick Them, Cook Them, and Eat Them

updated Jul 7, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

You may not have jalapeños high on your list of vegetables, but even though they may not take center stage like tomatoes and corn, what would summer eating be without them? These little peppers that could are essential to perfect guacamole and they give a little kick to oh so many dishes. Here’s what you need to know about jalapeños, from how to pick them to how to get their pesky burn off your hands.

The Jalapeño Top 5

Five must-reads for jalapeño lovers.

  1. Have you ever tried jalapeño water?
  2. One thing you almost definitely didn’t know about jalapeño peppers (hint: it involves chipotle peppers).
  3. Jalapeño popper PIEROGIES.
  4. The difference between flat and sharp heat in peppers.
  5. Yes, you want to put jalapeños in your margarita.

How Hot Are Jalapeño Peppers? (And How Do They Compare to Serrano Peppers?)

Jalapeño peppers are one of the most common chile peppers. They are small, about two to four inches long. They taste a bit like green bell peppers, but with a kick. They are mild to medium in heat. (By the way, did you know that chipotle peppers are made out of smoked, ripe jalapeños?)

Their heat registers between 2,500-10,000 on the Scoville scale, which is used to measure spiciness and heat of peppers. To tone down the heat, remove the membrane (not just the seeds!) of a hot pepper.

Serrano chilies on the other hand, are a little bit smaller than jalapeño peppers and more slender. They also are much spicier, usually coming in about 10,000-25,000 on the Scoville scale.

How to Store (and Freeze) Leftover Jalapeño Peppers

You can keep fresh jalapeños in the refrigerator, stored inside a plastic bag for optimal freshness. They should last at least a week or two before shriveling or molding.

Have a bunch of leftover peppers? If you want to stash the peppers for later, pop them in the freezer! No cooking required. Thaw in the fridge or out on counter. The thawed jalapeños will still be great for recipes that require them to be cooked.

How to Cut a Jalapeño Pepper

Want to see a step-by-step tutorial on how to cut and seed a jalapeño pepper? Here you go — just don’t forget to wear gloves.

How to Stop Your Hands from Burning!

Cutting jalapeños and got the burning hands that can come with touching their spicy oils? The first answer is: don’t get burned in the first place. Wear kitchen-safe gloves for the most reliable way to avoid that discomfort.

if you do feel the burn, then try rubbing your hands with one (or more) of these to dissolve the capsaicin that the pepper has left on your hands:

  • Olive oil
  • Alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • Weak bleach solution (Alton Brown recommends this one)

Read more about all these solutions here:

Our Favorite Gloves for Cutting Hot Peppers

Want to avoid those burning fingers? Wear gloves like these, which are some of our favorites:

Our Top 10 Jalapeño Recipes

What’s your favorite recipe or use for jalapeño peppers? Any favorite way to cook them?

31 Days of Vegetables: How to fall in love with vegetables in 31 days. How many of these splendid veg have you eaten this month? Take a look at the whole list and take our July challenge to eat every single one!