Nothing against bell peppers—we’re fans of cooking with them, for sure. But there’s a whole world of other peppers out there that deserves our equal attention. Low in calories and packed with nutrients like vitamins A (supports eyesight) and C (supports immunity), they’re an unsung vegetable superfood in many respects. And their flavor truly ranges, from mild to off the charts hot. Some studies even show that spicy ingredients like these can increase your metabolism and burn more calories post-eating. We give you the run-down, from the mildest to the sweetest to the fiery—and how to cook ‘em up:
Taste profile: Mild and sweet (though they can also be hot)
Cooking Use: The sweet variety are often found jarred. These peppers are an easy way to add color and a pop of flavor to salads and antipasto platters. Or, chop and layer into a sandwich or veggie wrap for a sweet twist.
Taste profile: Mild, rich and earthy
Cooking Use: Poblanos have thick walls so they hold up well to cooking. Their mild flavor makes these peppers easy to chop up and throw into a salsa or use as topping, like we do in our Laredo Chicken and Shrimp dish.
Taste profile: Flavorful and sweet, most shisitos are very mild, but there’s a catch – one in every 10-20 peppers will surprise you with a kick of spice, though still much more mild than even the weakest jalapeno.
Cooking Use: Perfect for a cocktail party, shisito peppers make a great finger food: Toss them lightly in olive oil and cook in a hot skillet, or throw on the grill turning frequently until peppers are blistered. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve whole.
Taste profile: Tangy, sweet, and spicy
Cooking Use: These dried chiles are commonly used in mole sauces, but they can be rehydrated and blended into soups and chiles, or pulverized in a food processor and sprinkled over fresh mango or pineapple slices for a sweet and spicy treat.
Taste profile: Bright, grassy and hot
Cooking Use:Frequently eaten raw, these peppers can be three times as hot as a jalapeno! Slice or chop and mix into salsas, pico de gallo, or guacamole and use to garnish chili or tacos.