How to make food less spicy

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cut red chili
A little chili pepper goes a long long way
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Make food less spicy with these simple tricks to take the heat out

Chili peppers add color and flavor to any dish, but sometimes we get a little carried away. Itís easy to overestimate spice tolerance until you taste it and the eyes start to tear up. Donít worry. Itís never too late to make food less spicy.

If your mouth is already burning, do yourself a favor and do NOT drink water Ė it only spreads the heat. It you have any milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy on hand, have a spoonful of that as it cools the mouth.

Whether youíre making a delicious pasta sauce, chili, curry or other dish that calls for a little spice, there are several ingredients that can tone heat down. They will affect the flavor so be careful to choose one that will enhance your dish.


While you may not have the other spice-tamers on hand, you do have water. If youíre making a sauce, chili or curry, add water to dilute the spice. This means youíll need to cook the dish longer to thicken it up. This reduction actually breaks down and cooks off much of the spice.

Water also dilutes the other seasonings so be sure to do another round of everything but the source of the heat. Turn the heat up and cook with the lid off so the water cooks off faster. 


The alcohol in cooking wine, brandy and vodka is exactly what you need if the source of the heat is black pepper. In this case, the alcohol does what water cannot, absorb most of the bite.

Butter or Oils

Butter and olive oils contain the kind of fat that can cut the burn created from your crazy chili peppers. Adding butter will give your dish a creamy flavor and consistency. If this isnít what you want, go with oil instead. Add a teaspoon at a time until youíre happy with the spicy level.


You may be surprised at how little pure honey it takes to ease the burn when you need to make food less spicy. Honey adds creaminess without changing the consistency, making it perfect for chili, backyard barbecue or other dishes where the heat comes from garlic or onions. The sweetness wonít remove the burn, but it does mask it.

If some people in your family like things super hot and others need mild, honey is a great add-in to have on the table so they can adjust their portion to taste. Of course, itís always easier to make things spicier than less spicy, so you may want to put out the bottle of hot sauce for the spice fans.

Yogurt, Milk or other Creams

A dash of dairy goes a long way in curries and other spicy dishes. The trick is to wait until the food is almost completely finished cooking, especially if adding milk, sour cream or yogurt. If thereís vinegar in your sauce, dairy will start to separate if you cook it too long.

For Thai or Indian curry, add coconut milk to not only reduce burn, but to make other flavors really pop.


Raita is a mix of cucumber and plain yogurt that you often get in a small separate bowl at Indian restaurants. It has a very plain, refreshing flavor by itself, but itíll make any spicy dish mild and delicious.

More of Everything Else

Say you donít want to change the flavor or throw in water. You can still make food less spicy by simply adding more of the base. If itís a tomato base, chop more up and throw it in.

Spicy food is delicious so donít let one bad experience scare you away from cooking with peppers. Next time, taste the chili raw before adding it in. This will give you a good sense of its spice level, and how much you need to add.

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