Chiles are a group of peppers that includes jalapeño chiles, habanero chiles, poblano chiles, New Mexican chiles, Thai bird chiles, and many more. All of these peppers contain a compound called capsaicin (“cap-SAY-sin”) that makes us feel hotter than we actually are—that’s why your mouth feels like it’s “on fire” when you eat something spicy, even if what you’re eating is cold. Different varieties of chiles contain different amounts of capsaicin. For example, a habanero chile has much more capsaicin than a jalapeño chile, so it’s hotter!

How to Stem, Seed, and Chop Chiles

When prepping chiles, it’s a good idea to wear disposable gloves so that the capsaicin doesn’t get on your skin. Do not touch your eyes or your face while working with chiles, even if you have gloves on!

2up stemming and seeding jalapeno

  1. Hold chile firmly with 1 hand, with stem facing out. Use chef’s knife to slice off stem and top of chile.
  1. Cut chile in half lengthwise (the long way). Use tip of teaspoon to scoop out seeds and ribs from each half. Discard seeds, ribs, and stem.

2up slicing and chopping jalapeno

  1. Press one half of chile so it lays flat on cutting board, skin side down. Slice chile lengthwise (the long way) into ¼-inch-wide strips. Repeat with remaining chile half, if needed.
  1. Turn strips and cut crosswise (the short way) into ¼-inch pieces. Repeat with remaining chile half, if needed.