Our Favorite Chile Pepper Recipes for Every Spice Level

Whether you're looking for something mild or fiery, we've got you covered with all kinds of dishes starring chiles

We here at SAVEUR love cooking with chiles from all over the world, from Mexico’s dried chiles and New Mexico’s hatch chiles to China’s Szechuan peppercorns and the Caribbean’s scotch bonnets. Whether you’re using them fresh, dried, or powdered, there’s so much you can do with chile peppers: whip up a spicy chile oil to drizzle over soup or dumplings; slather a chile rub on basically any meat; make a batch of traditional Hawaiian chile water or next-level DIY hot sauce; or shake up a chile-laced cocktail. Whether you can really handle your spice or prefer a milder heat, we’ve got you covered with our collection of chile pepper recipes.

Sichuan Chile Oil

A toasty, subtly fiery chile oil to drizzle over soup or dip with dumplings. It’s worth making a large batch; the oil will keep at room temperature for a year. Get the recipe for Sichuan Chile Oil »

Chile-Pomegranate Paloma

While the margarita is far better known, the grapefruit-, tequila-, and soda-based Paloma is an equally refreshing Mexican classic. Using árbol chile-spiked grenadine as a sweetener—rather than agave nectar or simple syrup—adds smokiness and a touch of heat. Get the recipe for Chile-Pomegranate Paloma »

Ancho Chile Soup with Avocado, Crema, and Chile Pasilla (Sopa de Chile Ancho)

The heat of this deep-red ancho chile soup and its pasilla chile garnish is balanced by the addition of cooling crema and thinly sliced avocado. Get the recipe for Ancho Chile Soup with Avocado, Crema, and Chile Pasilla (Sopa de Chile Ancho) »

Chimayó Chile Rub

The key ingredient to this rub is Chimayó chile, an heirloom varietal that tastes slightly of curry powder, harvested in the town of Chimayó in New Mexico. Use it to help tenderize meat and give grilled flavors a jolt of spice. Get the recipe for Chimayó Chile Rub »

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus With West African Chile Paste

Black-eyed peas are puréed smooth and brightened with lots of lemon juice and served with a tiny dollop of intensely aromatic shito, a Ghanian chile paste, made sweet and spicy from caramelized onions, dried seafood, and smoky chile flakes. Get the recipe for Black-Eyed Pea Hummus With West African Chile Paste »

Sesame and Chile Ramen (Tantanmen)

Toasted sesame oil and hot chile oil spice up this porky ramen. Get the recipe for Sesame and Chile Ramen (Tantanmen) »

Red Chile Enchiladas

These saucy tortillas are stuffed to the ends with different cheeses and covered in a spicy chile sauce. Get the recipe for Red Chile Enchiladas »

Chile de Arbol Salsa

This salsa is spicy—use it sparingly!—as any serious salsa should be. Its flavor is all chili and garlic, and does well atop nachos, burritos, and eggs. If you’re feeling daring, go for big scoops with your favorite bag of tortilla chips. Get the recipe for Chile de Arbol Salsa »

Chile and Cumin Lamb Kebabs (Yángròu chuàn)

The staple meats of Western China, lamb and mutton can be found folded into everything from pilafs to buns to noodles. Of course, they’re also the focal point of the region’s iconic kebabs. Seasoned with freshly ground cumin (zira in Farsi and zīrán in Chinese), which was probably introduced to Xinjiang from Persia, the kebabs get an extra kick from minced garlic cloves and ground chile powder. Get the recipe for Chile and Cumin Lamb Kebabs (Yángròu chuàn) »

Ikan Balado (Padang-Style Grilled Mackerel with Sambal)

In Padang, restaurants grill and fry small whole mackerel before smearing them with sambal, a spicy chile-based condiment. We find that the skin-on fillets of larger fish work just as well. This recipe first appeared in our March 2014 issue with the story Spice World. Get the recipe for Ikan Balado (Padang-Style Grilled Mackerel with Sambal) »

Green Chili Grits

Spice-Rubbed Chicken with Duck Sauce

The fiery chile-based rub on this chicken is balanced by a basting of sweet-sour duck sauce. Get the recipe for Spice-Rubbed Chicken with Duck Sauce »
Lobster Linguine

Hatch Green Chile Enchiladas

Hatch Green Chile Enchiladas
In this American Chinese classic, lightly battered chicken is tossed in a sweet, slightly spicy sauce. Though not traditional, apricot jam adds a welcome note of acidity and pop of color. Get the recipe for General Tso’s Chicken

Spicy Haitian Cabbage Slaw

The key to great pikliz, a spicy slaw made with cabbage and other vegetables, is time. The longer the sturdy, crunchy vegetables soak up the vinegar and citrus, the better. Serve it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on everything from eggs to steak. Get the recipe for Spicy Haitian Cabbage Slaw »
A mortar and pestle is key to getting the right texture for this beloved northern Thai chile dip. Reprinted from The Food of Northern Thailand. Get the recipe for Grilled-Chile Dip with Shallots and Garlic (Nam Phrik Num)

Watercress with Spicy Chile and Sesame Vinaigrette

Watercress with Spicy Chile and Sesame Vinaigrette

Four Pepper Jelly

Jalapeños, red bell peppers, poblanos, and serrano chiles come together in this spicy-sweet jelly from Elizabeth Stark, the blogger behind Brooklyn Supper. It’s perfect paired with rich meats, spread on sandwiches, or served on a cheese-and-cracker spread. Get the recipe for Four Pepper Jelly »

Korean Spicy Clam Soup

A simple, light soup not short on heat or spice. Get the recipe for Korean Spicy Clam Soup »

Charred Chile Daiguiri

Charred Chile Daiquiri

Shrimp and Chile Oil

At Hart’s in Brooklyn, the chefs use urfa biber and aleppo chile peppers to lend a smoky-spicy flavor to succulent shrimp. Get the recipe for Shrimp and Chile Oil »

Caribbean-Style Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce

Harness fiery Scotch bonnet chiles, along with sweet mango and honey, into a DIY hot sauce. Get the recipe for Caribbean-Style Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce »

Potato Jalapeño Latkes

These are classic latkes, grated potatoes bound with matzo meal and egg, but the simple addition of jalapeño adds a new kick to an old Jewish classic. Medina serves his jalapeno latkes with a tangy, cooling horseradish cream. Get the recipe for Potato Jalapeño Latkes »

Hawaiian Chile Pepper Water with Soy and Fish Sauce

Hawaiian chiles are traditional in this tangy, piquant condiment—hence the name—but Thai chiles also work well. Get the recipe for Hawaiian Chile Pepper Water with Soy and Fish Sauce »

Hawaiian Chile Pepper Water with Garlic and Vinegar

A batch of this spicy, tangy condiment in the fridge is money in the bank for Hawaiian home cooks. Get the recipe for Hawaiian Chile Pepper Water with Garlic and Vinegar »

Pommes Tapées with Jalapeño Vinaigrette

Lightly smashed and crisped potatoes soak up a jalaleno-anchovy dressing. Get the recipe for Pommes Tapées with Jalapeño Vinaigrette »

Roasted Mushrooms with Chile-Lemon Oil

Mixed mushrooms are tossed with chile-lemon oil and roasted, resulting in a flavorful, umami-packed dish. Get the recipe for Roasted Mushrooms with Chile-Lemon Oil »

Puerto Rican Spicy Vinegar (Pique)

Puerto Rican pique is a seasoned vinegar, a simple blend of chilies, garlic, and spices (with pineapple usually added for sweetness) that gets better the longer it sits. Get the recipe for Puerto Rican Spicy Vinegar (Pique)

Pepper Pot Soup

This vegetarian soup, a Jamaican classic, is made with callaloo, a spinach-like green that can be found canned or fresh in Caribbean groceries. Serve with minced fresh Scotch bonnet chiles sprinkled on top for extra heat. Get the recipe for Pepper Pot Soup »

Chilean Tomato and Pepper Sauce (Pebre)

Chilean Tomato and Pepper Sauce (Pebre)

Steamed Grouper in Chile Oil

Calabrian chiles and chile paste produce a fiery, brick-red oil that is spooned over delicate steamed fish, crunchy spring vegetables, and fregola, a Sardinian pasta similar to Israeli couscous. Get the recipe for Steamed Grouper in Chile Oil »

Brazilian Pickled Chiles (Conserva de Pimenta)

These Brazilian pickled chiles are a classic condiment alongside rice and beans, roast pork, or fish.

Oxtail and Guajillo Chile Stew (Caldo de Res)

Infused with smoky guajillo chiles, this nourishing, slow-cooked stew is usually made with various tough cuts of beef, but we found oxtails to be the most flavorful choice. Get the recipe for Oxtail and Guajillo Chile Stew (Caldo de Res) »

“Creamed”Collard Greens with Peanut Butter and Chile

Greens laced with freshly ground peanut butter and fermented seafood for a funky umami kick is a common one-pot dish in West Africa. Get the recipe for “Creamed”Collard Greens with Peanut Butter and Chile »

Cilantro, Chile, and Pineapple Sangrita

This flavor-packed sipper is served alongside a neat glass of tequila at La Mezcaleria in Ajijic, Mexico. Do as many Mexicans do: A sip of tequila, a sip of sangrita—repeat, for the best experience. Get the recipe for Cilantro, Chile, and Pineapple Sangrita »

Spicy Hot Chocolate

Get the recipe for Spicy Hot Chocolate With Black Bean Paste »

Mango with Cilantro, Coconut, and Chile Powder

Mango with Cilantro, Coconut, and Chile Powder

Harissa

In North Africa, cooks have long relied on this garlicky chile paste to lend depth to cooked meats and vegetables. Get the recipe for Harissa »

Chinese Spicy Garlic Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)

Steaming eggplant, as opposed to deep-frying it, lightens this fragrant stir-fry adapted from a recipe in Grace Young and Alan Richardson’s The Breath of a Wok (Simon & Schuster, 2004). Get the recipe for Chinese Spicy Garlic Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi) »

Grapefruit & Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa

Grapefruit & Habanero Skirt Steak with Grilled Tomato Salsa

Grilled Snapper with Habanero and Scallions

Chile heat brings out the sweetness of whole red snapper in this Jamaican recipe.