Cooking with chilies can be like playing roulette, here is guide to different peppers and sauces.


Bear in mind, for any given variety chilli strength can vary – so you might find some uncommonly mild, others surprisingly hot. Equally, Scoville ratings are based on the findings of panel of tasters. The score is calculated by diluting a sample with sugar, until the heat is only just detectable. If no heat is present, then no dilution is necessary – a score of 0 – whereas a score of 30,000 means it would need to be diluted 30,000 times before being imperceptible! The Caroline Reaper is currently Guinness world record holder as the hottest chili.


This is a simplified version – including more common varieties. You can find a more complete list here.

Too hot?

If you do eat food that is too hot, then you might like to know the active ingredient in chilli peppers – capsaicin – dissolves in fats, alcohols, and acidic solutions – but not water.

So if you mouth is burning:

  1. reach for something containing oil, such as milk or yogurt,
  2. suck on a slice of lemon, or similarly acidic food,
  3. or a shot of something with a high alcohol content. Maybe. Probably.