The Pioneer Woman’s One-Ingredient Secret to Better Iced Coffee

updated Jun 19, 2019
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Credit: From left to right: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images; Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Ree Drummond’s bright, bold head of red hair might be what she’s known for, but she’s got another bright, bold, and red secret — and it’s what she puts in her coffee. When the folks over at AOL interviewed the Pioneer Woman about her new line of dog treats, they were immediately distracted by her human beverage. It turns out that when she prepares herself an iced coffee, Ree adds cayenne pepper.

What? Spicy coffee? It sounds a little bit wild — certainly we’ve seen hot chocolate with a fair amount of spice in it, but the sweetness there tends to balance it a bit. But apparently, she says, “It’s just a kicked-up spin” on her usual morning pick-me-up that she serves at the Merc, her restaurant in Pawhuska. The AOL folks eventually talked themselves into it, too: “The spicy addition makes sense. Coffee has bold and toasty flavors notes to begin with.” They rationalize it by likening it to pumpkin spice, and decide that as long as you don’t go too heavy on it, it will work.

I’m still not wholly convinced that without a little cream and sugar this could work at all — the bitterness of coffee combined with the heat of the cayenne just leaves me a little worried for the state of my taste buds (although, I do suppose they’d be awake).

Ree does have a recipe for something vaguely similar on the Food Network website, called a Spicy Cowgirl, but there — like in spicy hot chocolate, there’s a lot of dairy and sweetness that balances out the heat. Of course, she’s not the first one to do this, and you’ll find corners of the internet where people discuss the benefits and tastiness of putting all kinds of wild things into their cold brew. Reddit even has a thread discussing how to infuse your cold brew with habanero peppers. So I guess, you do you.