Strategies, techniques, and tips on chiles and peppers—from the Real Simple Test Kitchen to yours. 

By Grace Elkus
Updated July 31, 2018

Ready to turn up the heat? Our guide to chiles and peppers—in peak season now—will help you distinguish your poblanos from your serranos.


Super-spicy and distinctively fruity, habaneros range in color from green to red. Their robust heat stands up well to grilled meats.


Wrinkled, sweet, and delicate, these Japanese peppers are best when blistered in a hot pan. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of flaky salt.


Commonly used in salsas and hot sauce (sriracha is made from red ones), these are your gateway chile. For less heat, remove the seeds and pith.


Just up the Scoville scale (that’s the chile heat index) from jalapeños, these slender green chiles give an extra kick.


Mild, juicy bell peppers come in green (slightly bitter) and yellow, orange, and red (sweet) varieties. Cooking them brings out their natural sweetness—try them in ratatouille or atop pizza.


Grown in Hatch, New Mexico, these fleshy peppers are harvested beginning in late summer (and are celebrated in September at the village’s annual Hatch Chile Festival). Roast, peel, and chop, then add to enchiladas or queso dip.


Look for these pointed red peppers, stuffed with meat or cheeses, on tapas menus. They’re tame like bell peppers and easy to find roasted and jarred.


Often confused for habaneros, these give jerk chicken its characteristic heat.