5 Tips for Fixing Food That's Too Spicy

Heavy handed with the hot chile peppers? That's cool. We've got 5 flawless ways to neutralize the white-hot heat.

close up of red, green, and orange chile peppers whole and sliced
Photo: Brie Passano

So if you can't stand the heat, stay in the kitchen -- and let's fix this thing by toning down the spiciness.

How to Make Something Less Spicy

1. Go Nuts on It

For some Asian dishes, as well as certain chilis and stews, adding a scoop of peanut butter will help smother the flames. (Who knows, you might even end up liking the extra flavor and creamy texture.) Also try cashew or almond butter. Tahini is another option.

Homemade Peanut Butter
Photo by KGora.

2. Lengthen and Un-strengthen

If you have more of the recipe's ingredients on hand, toss 'em in. Or improvise, and add an additional ingredient that will play well with the recipe while neutralizing the spiciness. Good candidates might include broth, canned beans, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, avocados, coconut milk, and cooked rice.

Easy Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
Photo by LilSnoo.

3. Do the Dairy

Now here's some news you can use. Turns out, the fiery chemical in hot chilis, capsaicin, likes to bind itself onto a compound in milk, which neutralizes the burn. Add a generous dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche, or yogurt to scorching hot chili or stews, or even a touch of milk or cream. For best results, though, go with full-fat dairy. For tomato sauces and stews that don't want dairy, try shredding some cheese on top.

Chef John's Homemade Creme Fraiche
Homemade Creme Fraiche. Chef John

4. Sweet Defeats Heat

Adding something sweet to a too spicy dish is another great way to reduce spiciness. A sprinkle of sugar or honey should do the trick. Or add a touch of sweet ketchup. If it's a tomato-based sauce, stir in a little more tomato sauce and maybe a titch of sugar.

Honey Jar
Photo by Meredith.

5. Acid Defeats Heat

Add a squeeze of lemon or lime. Bonus Benefit: A little lemon juice can also brighten up flavors. If it's a tomato-based sauce, adding more tomato sauce can help. Also effective, a dash of vinegar.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Moroccan Preserved Lemons. Allrecipes

Check out our collections of Chile Pepper Recipes — and don't miss some of our Spiciest Appetizers.


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