Introduction: Chopping Hot Peppers Safely

Picture of Chopping Hot Peppers Safely

An easy way to de-seed and chop hot peppers without getting spice in your eye.

Step 1: Procure Pepper(s) and Knife

Picture of Procure Pepper(s) and Knife

Find yourself a nice, hot pepper or ten and a sharp chef's knife.

While you can use a paring knife, your fingers will be much closer to the peppers and will be more likely to pick up capsaicin. I'm using a 10inch chef's knife in these pictures.

Hot peppers have a nice, non-spicy external skin, so you want to hold it by the stem and the skin and avoid touching the seeds, cut surfaces, or internal flesh. The hotter the pepper the more relevant this separation becomes.

Step 2: Slice Pepper

Picture of Slice Pepper

Holding the stem end, cut slices off the side of your pepper.

Keep turning the pepper in order to place a flat side against the cutting board, then cut another slice off the side of the pepper. At the end of this process you should be holding a stem with the seeds still attached, and have a pile of pepper chunks sitting on your cutting board.

Step 3: Wipe Knife

Picture of Wipe Knife

Use the stem end to wipe any remaining seeds off of the knife blade into the trash. This will keep your fingers safely out of trouble.

Step 4: Flip and Slice Segments

Picture of Flip and Slice Segments

Use the knife to flip all of the pepper chunks over and into a pile so the skin is facing up, then use a couple of fingers to lightly hold them down. Take care to only touch the outside of the skin, and stay away from the cut edges.

Cut thin strips with the chef's knife, cutting through several layers at once in the pile. You will likely need to scrape stuck slices off the side of the knife; that's what the stem end is for. Whack off the seeded bits into the trash, then use your little handled scraper to shove any over-eager bits of pepper back onto the cutting board.

Step 5: Cross-cut

Picture of Cross-cut

Now turn your knife 90 degrees and cut across the slices you just made. Keep your fingers out of it this time: rock the knife back and forth, making small cubes of pepper. Having a nice long, heavy chef's knife makes this operation much easier. Here I'm using a 10inch Wusthof chef's knife.

Again, you can use the stem end to wipe your knife clean as needed during the mincing process. The frequency will depend on your technique and the target size for your pepper chunks.

Step 6: Mince & Use

Picture of Mince & Use

Rotate your knife as necessary to completely mince the peppers. Rock the knife, with one hand on the handle and one on the back of the blade, and rotate around the circle to make sure you mice all the chunks evenly. Scrape the knife as necessary.

Now you've got a big pile of hot peppery goodness, and haven't exposed your fingers to the really dangerous parts. Use the knife to scrape your peppers into the necessary pot or bowl, then drop the cutting board safely into the dishwasher. Rinse the knife then wash thoroughly with soap and water, keeping your fingers clear until the knife is safely clean.

Wash your hands with soap to make sure any potential splatters are gone, then feel free to pick your nose or take out your contacts with impunity.


Ggungaby (author)2016-04-17

Easy way to chop peppers. Bravo. I will have to try this.

Punkguyta (author)2007-02-04

The way I cut peppers is I use my teeth as my knifes are usually dirty and then clean the seeds off with my eyes. I suggest giving it a try.

_soapy_ (author)Punkguyta2016-04-15

Yar, works well.
Might be less comfortable with Naga+ types though. They tend to be a bit spicy.

AlternateLives (author)2012-09-03

Was working in a really hot kitchen, and was sweating pretty bad. after cutting some ghost peppers, I decided to wipe my brow...

Big mistake.

I was in pain for over 45 minutes.

Nice Instructable, though! (Sorry for not mentioning this in the first place.)

thenear1send (author)2008-08-08

Save those seeds!

Check out my instructable on how to grow your own peppers from seed! Its actually really fun and easy to to! By the way, very good instructable!

canida (author)thenear1send2010-09-16

Cool, thanks!

NatureBoom21 (author)2010-09-15

could you just use gloves? :]

canida (author)NatureBoom212010-09-16

Yes, but I hate to waste a pair of gloves when careful attention to technique can solve the problem just as easily. And chopping in gloves is annoying. ;)

acer73 (author)2007-05-20

there is a random piece of ginger in your picture

canida (author)acer732007-05-20

Ginger is never random, and usually very necessary. The only more important ingredient is garlic.

reeding (author)canida2008-05-07

or salt

selaja (author)2008-01-13

i hurt my toe doing that

jethrow815 (author)2007-09-20

the first time i cut a habanero i had no idea a good hand washing wouldn't do the job. i think it was about 3 hours later when I rubbed my eye. I cant see pepper spray being any worse than that.

savagesteve (author)2007-05-09

Wear shooters (safety) glasses when cutting peppers. If you accidentally reach to scratch your eye, you will just poke your safety glasses.

Vendigroth (author)2007-03-09

the capsicaeinwhaterverwayouspellit's an alkali soluble in fat. stop its fiendish effects, wash with lemon juice or milk. It's not soluble in water, tho

laradioken (author)Vendigroth2007-04-21

Here's a better method - use latex gloves. Habaneros are very hot and if you make the mistake of rubbing your eyes, you will feel pain.

Vendigroth (author)laradioken2007-04-21

so you're saying a preventative method's better? obviously, it is. Actually, my uncle should have read this. He was cutting his peppers ready to cook, and got the spicy juice on his hands. When he was done, he scratched his......gentleman's area......and felt the full effect of the Red Hot Chilli Pepper. Needless to say, i think he'll practice better food hygiene in future.

Fuzz2050 (author)2007-02-10

A word of warning. Be extremely careful when attending to the call of nature after chopping peppers. The results can be disastrous.

duh (author)2007-02-03

whats this world coming to? A bunch of weenies thats what. Get a knife ,cut the peppers, clean peppers in a pan of water, take cut peppers out, dump water. George Bush is know proud of yall.

canida (author)duh2007-02-04

The water rinses away the tasty hot oils! I want the spice in my food, just not in my eye.

PSO (author)2006-11-24

Another solution for keepint the pepper fumes out of your nose is to put a glop of Vicks vapor rub in each nostril. People that necessarily have to work around a rotting corpse use that trick to cut down on the stench. Sorry didn't mean to ruin anyone's appetite.

canida (author)PSO2007-02-04

I've actually had to use the Vick's trick when working with corpses- it's pretty good, but can be overwhelmed by particularly strong doses of putrescine. It's only a distractant to the pepper oils, though (much like stomping on your toe to distract from a sore knee).

PSO (author)2006-11-18

Keep the pepper fumes out of your nose the same way you would the onion fumes. Place a wad of bread under your upper lip. You could use an orange segment or apple slice instead of the bread. It pushes the upper lip out far enough to protect the nose. Also cut the pepper in half vertically and scrape the pepper with a spoon to remove the seeds. You will be mincing in no time.

breathwork (author)2006-11-15

use disposable gloves and protetctative eyewear! I once had a birds-eye chili spit in my eye! Birds eye respect. Avoid rubbing eyes with hands whilst still wearing disposable gloves!

eviloverlord (author)2006-11-08

Rubbing olive oil or any cooking oil into your hands before chopping also helps prevent the chemicals from the chilli penetrating your skin if you don't have gloves available when handling chillies. Once you've finished, wash your hands with soap and you should find the capsicin washes off with the oil. Just don't use so much oil that you can't hold the knife safely afterwards.

zachninme (author)eviloverlord2006-11-08

Gloves would be easier. Plus, no risk of missing a molecule or two :-)

canida (author)zachninme2006-11-09

Yes, but like any prophylactic measures gloves can be a pain in the neck because: 1) they cost money 2) you have to remember to use them 3) some types can impart weird flavors to your food 4) they can impede your chopping/knife handling 5) relying on them allows you to be lazy about backup methods; that means trouble if you're ever without. 6) did I mention they cost money? I'm cheap whenever possible.

westfw (author)canida2006-11-12

Didn't someone post an instructable on using a plastic bag as an emergency glove? You might use the same plastic bag your peppers were transported in, turned inside out, as a "glove" to cut the peppers, possibly in combination with your technique...

canida (author)westfw2006-11-12

That sounds good! I'll give it a try. Just be careful not to let you pepper-handling, bag-covered hand slip...

zachninme (author)westfw2006-11-12

Ooh! Even better! I didn't read this when I posted.

zachninme (author)canida2006-11-12

Here is a solution that solves almost all your problems, except the remembering. Use hand A to handle the knife, do not wear a glove on hand A Use hand B to handle the pepper, wear one of those food bags on it. Those food bags are about $1 for 100.

canida (author)eviloverlord2006-11-09

That would certainly work, since capsaicin is fat-soluble, but I don't really want to be using an extremely sharp knife with even slightly oily hands. That's a great way to clip off bits of fingers! Heck, I slice myself a couple of times/year even without oil-slick hands. Perhaps I've done too much lab/bio sterile technique work, but I do find it's pretty easy to avoid covering yourself in capsaicin if you're just careful about what surfaces you touch; it becomes instinctive.

westfw (author)2006-11-08

Interesting technique; looks like it would take some practice before you get past the chance of a burning nose - I'm too used to using my knuckles as a knife guide, for insance. But like many things, even getting it partially right will help.

Magicfap (author)2006-11-07

just wondering, but hwo is it a colaberation if there is only one person?

westfw (author)Magicfap2006-11-08

Well, there's obviously one person chopping and one taking pictures, although I guess I should read the slides to see exactly what's meant...

fungus amungus (author)westfw2006-11-08

A collaboration is a project where more than one person can edit it. I played around with it a bit and you can choose other individuals to edit it or whole groups.

Magicfap (author)fungus amungus2006-11-08

oh, my bad sorry I had never seen a collaboration before. Excuse my ignorance.

fungus amungus (author)Magicfap2006-11-08

Not a big surprise since they were only unveiled yesterday and there hasn't been much of an announcement about them.

fungus amungus (author)Magicfap2006-11-07

There's two. Canida is the creator and charlemagne is the collaborator.

Tool Using Animal (author)2006-11-08


theRIAA (author)2006-11-07

wacha makin?

About This Instructable




Bio: I've been posting Instructables since the site's inception, and now build other things at Autodesk. Follow me for food and more!
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