Introduction: Remove the Heat of a Pepper (not Simply De-seeding!)

Picture of Remove the Heat of a Pepper (not Simply De-seeding!)

My method of removing 100% of the "hotness" of a pepper, or if you like, just minimalize it.
All you need is a knife, a thumb, some rubber gloves, olive oil, and a strong potable alcohol of your choice (tequila goes best with the flavor, in my opinion).

Many people, even the great Food Network, believe that the best way to reduce the heat of a pepper is to remove the seeds. While that is quick and effective, the theory is several decades old and outdated.

Most hot peppers on the market belong to the Capsicum genus. That burning sensation is caused by capsaicin, the lipophilic substance located in the seed pod and in "blisters" lining the pepper's inner walls.

This method first dilutes and loosens the capsaicin, then dissolves it away, leaving you with strictly the pepper's flavor.

To start, you will need:
- chili pepper of your choice
- sharp paring knife
- cutting board
- olive oil
- a strong alcoholic beverage (at least 80 proof)
- latex gloves (or synthetic, whatever)
- a shot glass
- a rocks glass or "lowball" glass

Step 1: Cutting the Beast

Picture of Cutting the Beast

Be sure to have both gloves on before any of the following steps!
I slipped up at the end and took one off, and that kinda ruined my day. lol

With the knife, cut the top of the pepper to remove the stem.

Next, slice one side from top to bottom to open it up.

To remove the placenta (seed pod), cut the connective tissues between it and the inner wall.

Step 2: Make a Control Group

Picture of Make a Control Group

After you remove the seed pod, You should have a long strip of just pepper flesh. Out of curiosity, I cut off a section of unprocessed flesh to see the contrast between it and the soon to be rendered mild flesh.

I know you've heard this all throughout all the science classes you've ever taken, but make a control group.
It will allow you to see just how much of a difference this process makes, and you might appreciate it that much more.
...unless, of course, you're the kind of person who loves the deathly burn of true habaneros... -in which case I should wonder why you are even reading this.

*also, make sure that little or none of the white flesh is left. While the purpose of this experiment was to prove that the seed pod / placenta / white flesh does not contain ALL of the heat, it does still contain a good portion of it. It is also very bitter anyways, and should be removed.

Step 3: Release the Capsaicin

Picture of Release the Capsaicin

The capsaicin, contrary to popular belief, is mostly concentrated in the blisters on the inner walls of the pepper, not the seed pod alone. You must crush every one of these to free it.
Using your thumb nail or a spoon, scrape the inside of the pepper flesh. Make sure to get every corner and edge; just a nibble can kick pretty hard.

After you've scraped it, rinse with water. This step really won't get much capsaicin off, and is probably skipable... but it just feels right to rinse it.

Step 4: Dilute the Capsaicin

Picture of Dilute the Capsaicin

Next, pour a dash of olive oil onto the scraped side of the flesh and rub it in, basically scraping it again with your thumbnail.

After a good rub, rinse it off with water to get any excess out of there.

Step 5: Add the Fun Juice!

Picture of Add the Fun Juice!

The alcohol will easily dissolve the capsaicin off of the surface, and should flush most of it off with a rinse of more alcohol.

I chose tequila since this is a chili pepper... and they just go with tequila so well.

Pour whatever hard beverage you chose onto the pepper, and rub it in just as you did with the olive oil.

Afterwards, rinse with another dash of alcohol, and leave to dry.
For any pepper under 100,000 SHU, this should have been enough to remove any trace of heat.

However, habaneros and above are some kind of special. next step will explain.

Step 6: A Long, Hard Soak

Picture of A Long, Hard Soak

For habaneros (and likely anything else as hot or hotter), the simple rub and rinse in alcohol will not be enough.
They need to soak for 3 hours or so to completely remove the capsaicin.
After 1 hour, it should have the same heat of a serrano.
After 2 hours, it will have the heat of a strong jalapeno.
After 3 or so hours, it should have little or no heat left in its flesh.

The tequila, however, will have quite a kick to it.

For the soaking, place the processed peppers in the lowball glass and fill with tequila just enough to submerge the peppers completely. Too little tequila, and the capsaicin will not be completely removed from the pepper.
If you put too much tequila, the heat will still be gone from the pepper, but the tequila will have less of a kick.

If you want some heat left in your peppers, simply don't let them soak for too long.

Step 7: Storing

So far, I haven't had much of a chance to store them, since I eat them within a few days.
However, they seem to dry pretty well once they've been processed or even soaked. Leave them uncovered, or else they will begin to rot. Uncovered, they will breath and dehydrate, leaving you with some nice pepper skins.
If you leave them in the tequila over night, they will turn pale and taste gross. The tequila will be pretty good though.


CorneliaK2 (author)2017-09-21

Works super well. The pepper jelly I made with them is great - just a touch of heat, and the tequila is delicious with a bit of a kick.

I used the tiny red peppers and soaked them for about an hour. I scraped the insides with a knife.

I'd wear glasses to keep the spray out of the eyes.

LisaH279 (author)2017-01-20

I thought the shot glass was for taking a shot in between all of these steps!

NateHevens (author)2016-09-02

So... are you still seeing comments on this?

How long would I have to let it soak for a ghost pepper or California Reaper?

Why? I'm curious about the flavor, but the spice isn't helping...

DianeB118 (author)2016-07-24

By the way - use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and membranes - very easy - with gloves!

DianeB118 (author)2016-07-24

THIS WORKS! THIS WORKS! I love the flavor of the pepper, but as I have gotten older and my stomach not so good, I really wanted the flavor without the heat. I also did test slices and my word, the difference. I am going to try this on habeneros as I love their citrus-y flavor but can no longer do the heat....I am going to just try to soak the slices in oil and alcohol - hope that works, just to save the work - doing 10 peppers tonight. THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU!

BrianC262 (author)2016-06-05

I started growing some "Aji Dulce" peppers. They smell and taste much like a habanero but no burn. Wish they were widely available here in American grocery stores, sure would save time de-heating habaneros. Very interesting process here though. I will give it a try

dchall8 (author)2015-05-02

I don't know if the original poster is still monitoring this I'ble, but...

Black pepper is a different kind of plant, but an easy way to remove the heat from those is to saute them in oil - more like stir fry. I wonder if you have sliced off a strip from the oil rinsed pepper to use as a mid-point control to compare with the original control? And have you tried sauteing the peppers after opening the blisters?

The reason I found this I'ble is we had jalapeno corn bread muffins last week and there was no heat to them. The flavor was amazing, so my task is to figure out a recipe. Thank you for posting.

I Am An Evil Taco (author)2008-06-20

Any attempts made so far to flash-fry with the tequilla after it's taken in the habanero juices? Habanero infused tequilla chicken HAS to be tasty. I'm going to try this fairly soon. I've faved it. I make a mean gazpacho and I've always wanted to get that citrusy bite of habaneros without making the stuff inedible. The real test though, can you eat the habaneros raw after you do this? It really removes ALL of the heat? My gazpacho is mild and cool, and while I have a spicy gazpacho I don't want to add heat to my signature version.

Thanks! You can eat the whole thing raw afterward, but it still has a little heat unless it was soaked for 3-4 hours. One thing I found with this though, is that they really dont have much in the way of flavor besides the heat. They taste a lot like an orange bell pepper. lol I guess need to add a video of me eating the before and after cuts.

l8nite (author)DeLorean49052013-09-02

I eat the whole thing plain fresh off the bush, Shrugs... Evil Taco, I use habanero and ghost pepper infused vodka for cooking all the time

l8nite (author)2013-09-02

I have never asked this question before on instructables but... WHY?? I have used alcohol for years to make a habanero or ghost pepper infused vodka, not only do they make a great bloody mary but I also use them in cooking, the alcohol cooks off quickly leaving just the heat behind

dergills (author)2012-06-27

Okay, I was pretty skeptical about this process, but I tried it anyway. I worked on three jalapenos (1 fresh, and 2 slightly wrinkled). Amazingly this works (yes, I truly had doubts). I did not use gloves and with the olive oil and tequila rinses, I did not experience burning. The control piece was pretty damned hot. The rinsed piece was is my jalapeno tequila I am sipping now. Thanks for a GREAT tip!!

matwood69 (author)2011-10-14

Has anyone fire roasted these deheated peppers after they are dried out?

talonts (author)2009-12-27

Thanks for a great idea for "excess" habaneros!

Rather than use this to strip the peppers to make them mild (i.e. useless ;-), it sounds like a great use for kicking up some major heat in a drink using 190 proof grain for the soaking.

Hmmm, I had some spare habaneros a few months back, and no time to get other ingredients for salsa, so I just cleaned them and blended them with white vinegar, then added grain for the final blend for storage.  Well, either the vinegar or the grain has separated at the top of the jar......I'm wondering how that will taste ;-)

Cat on my Lap (author)2008-01-26

Brings a new definition to "flaming shot."

definitely. lol. The kind I made last week (about 3 habaneros soaked in the amount in a minibar bottle) has a pretty nice level of heat to it. I would say it's about the level of a weak serrano. -but the burn is different; it doesnt stay as long as biting a pepper would. also the kind I made tastes like crap since i used cheap tequila for it. I don't remember the name of it, but it wasn't the Patron that's in the picture. I didnt even use that for the pictured experiment, but the bottle just looked better than the cheap stuff lol.

miseleigh (author)DeLorean49052008-09-18

don't bother with patron, use sauza's top-shelf, tres generaciones. it's cheaper and smoother than patron.

krowii (author)miseleigh2009-12-03

lol!!!!  tequila connoisseur eh??

bustedit (author)2008-11-13

you use patron for this??? you must be Richy Rich, thats a $50 bottle in my parts. i wont drink anything less, but personally im too cheap to use it for cleaning peppers.

DeLorean4905 (author)bustedit2009-01-16

haha! no, i used moctezuma to test the method. But I used maybe 2 jiggers of patron for a final sample to keep. Moctezuma is just plain nasty...

tabi (author)2008-11-27

THANK YOU, I am mexican (a fake one I guess, or so my family tell me) but I do not like hot food! so this instructable will save my life next September when I make chiles en nogada (a very mexican dish made with poblanos filled w/mincemeat and covered in a green walnut sauce) :D If anyone is interested I can post the recipe/instructable here, but I must warn you, it´s time consuming and labor heavy ;)

canida (author)2008-01-26

While I'm not likely to bother de-heating chiles except once or twice to test it out, I love the idea of using them to spike alcohol.

Our next party will have some... unexpected beverages. ;)

Patrik (author)canida2008-01-26

Habanero caffeine jello shots? :-D

miseleigh (author)Patrik2008-09-18

holy crap i so have to make those... lemon or lime jello would probably work really well for that.

Yerboogieman (author)2008-05-08

yeah, umm dont wear gloves, chop some peppers and go to the bathroom, see what happens........

mrxavia (author)Yerboogieman2008-08-27

I've done that many times.. Interesting sensation....

lol, or drive.

fromanny (author)Yerboogieman2008-05-09


deth2all (author)Yerboogieman2008-05-09

once i chopped jalapeños, and like 4 hours later i rubbed my eye and couldn't open my eye for aboot an hour

Yerboogieman (author)deth2all2008-05-09

people are like slinkeys, not really good for anything but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs, lol, jk jk

Yerboogieman (author)deth2all2008-05-09


heydavis (author)2008-05-10

Steps 2 & 3 missed a very important point: It is imperative to remove every trace of white flesh , the ribs that connected the seed core to the outer pepper shell! This is easily done by flattening the pepper and using a very sharp paring knife to slice parallel to the flesh and slightly into it under the white membranes. It is likely that the scraping technique in Step three might remove it too, but some folks might interpret it wrongly and just scrape between the white ribs (which can be extremely firery!).
One can imagine some surprising cocktails made from Step 6 liquors!

DeLorean4905 (author)heydavis2008-05-14

shoot, yeah i need to go change that- thanks! Although that was kinda the point, showing that not ALL the heat is in the seed pod... but there is a good portion of it there.

Tester5000 (author)2008-05-09

*LOL* I read this and fell over laughing... I´ve been doing this to make hot tequila shots for years. Great party favorite!

jtobako (author)2008-01-26

Another way is to choose carefully-young, bright green, crisp, fresh peppers are hotter than older, darker, softer ones.

charmrus (author)jtobako2008-05-08

yah, like the broads around here

James (pseudo-geek) (author)2008-04-05

a way to tell if a jalapeño is hot or not is to look for vertical stretch marks on it. the more lines, the hotter it will be.

nightninja87 (author)2008-01-29

i know the whole thing of the be nice policy but wouldnt it be easier to just use bell peppers instead if you want pepper in ur dish or use a less spicy pepper cause i know there pretty big ones that are really low in c

and also to show up the food network stars, who continually claim that removing the seed pod is the best way to take the heat out. Habaneros turned out not to be a very good example though, as the capsaicin is stored more in the flesh (instead of mostly in blisters like a jalapeno or serrano).

Well first off, they have completely different flavors. Secondly, this was mostly a challenge to see how effective the scrape-flush method was. If you do this without the soak at the end, you can use several in a dish instead of just 1... so you can get a much stronger flavor.

DeLorean4905 (author)2008-01-28

I use this for making pico de gallo, to get alot of jalapeno flavor in there withjust a touch of heat -instead of overwhelming hot. I think peppers that are bred to be mild are sometimes inherently mild flavored as well.

Patrik (author)2008-01-26

Since you're doing this with a strain of peppers which have been selected and bred explicitly for their capsaicin content, that raises the question:

Which peppers actually taste better after you remove the capsaicin?

DeLorean4905 (author)Patrik2008-01-26

I was really surprised, the habaneros actually did have an ok flavor. It wasn't anything near as good as a jalapeno though, but it wasn't terrible. I do this to isolate the flavor to see what will go with it in my own perspective. Everclear would probably work much better, especially since it wouldnt impart fits own flavors into the pepper, but I never have that stuff sitting around the house. I do enjoy some heat in peppers, but not more than about 30,000 SHU's. I just chose habaneros as an example to see how effective the process without the soaking would be, as they are the hottest pepper available in my area.

Patrik (author)DeLorean49052008-01-26

Ah, purely experimental then.

Of course, the next step would be to figure out which pepper you like best for its taste, and then infuse the desired amount of capsaicin into it! I bet you could boil off most of the alcohol to purify the capasicin, and soak some sweet peppers into that...

DeLorean4905 (author)Patrik2008-01-26

i was thinking it would be cool to get straight capsaicin out of it, but didnt consider everclear at the time.
but yeah, with (what is it- 195 proof?) everclear, no other flavor would be left after it's boiled off.

I want a vacuum chamber / heating unit. ethanol boils off at just under 80* celsius in normal pressure. if you can get the pressure low enough, it will even boil below room tempurature. they usually dont get that powerful, but you can boil off water and such without denaturing proteins or burning the other stuff in whatever you're cooking.

Patrik (author)DeLorean49052008-01-26

This might help:

make a manual vacuum pump for under $20 by converting a bicycle pump

Then again, capsaicin is a fatty compound, with a boiling temperature of 210 - 220 C, so you should just be able to boil off the alcohol without the need for a vacuum chamber.

DeLorean4905 (author)Patrik2008-01-27

well i do have access to a car air-con evacuating unit... it can create a nearly complete vacuum, but i think it belongs to my father's office, lol. I know it's not really needed for this experiment, but it'd be fun to mess around with making extracts and whatnot

nnygamer (author)2008-01-26

This is a good idea for those who like the peppers flavor but might not be able to handle the heat, especially for those with ulcers. Funny you used alcohol to remove the capsaicin because years ago I made a batch of wine from some jalapenos I grew.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-26

Cool... imagine the juice fell into your eyes, OUCH!

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