Chopping Hot Peppers Safely

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

Intro: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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    43 Discussions

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    Ggungaby

    2 years ago

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

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    Punkguyta

    11 years ago

    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.

    1 reply
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    _soapy_Punkguyta

    Reply 2 years ago

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

    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.

    1 reply
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    canidaNatureBoom21

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    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. ;)

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    canidaacer73

    Reply 11 years ago on Step 1

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

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    jethrow815

    11 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    savagesteve

    11 years ago on Introduction

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

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    Vendigroth

    11 years ago

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

    2 replies
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    laradiokenVendigroth

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    Vendigrothlaradioken

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    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.

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    Fuzz2050

    11 years ago

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

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    duh

    11 years ago

    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.