Have you ended up with some food that is just too spicy? Let us show you what you can do to make something less spicy – and also what helps when the food you’re already eating is too hot.
Is your food just too spicy? The substance capsaicin (kap-SAY-sin), which is contained in most varieties of chili, is responsible for that spiciness. Other substances such as piperine, found in black pepper, might also make your food too hot.
Of course, the same amount of heat can be delicious for some and too much for others. If it is too much, though, you need to know how to reduce the spiciness. So if you’ve over-seasoned your meal and you need to make your food less spicy, the following ten tips will help to neutralize that spiciness.
How to Make Food Less Spicy
If you just need to make something less spicy, you don’t have to throw it away. With a few simple steps, you can rescue your spicy food – and your evening! Depending on what you’re eating, you can choose from the following options:
- Add fat: Fat binds spicy substances. Many dairy products have a high-fat content. So, depending on the dish, add butter, milk, cream, sour cream, or yogurt, for example. Many vegan options have a high-fat content too: Coconut milk** (available on Amazon) and cooking oils are also suitable.
- Skim off fat: The opposite can work too! If your dish already contains enough oil, the fat will usually rise to the surface after simmering for a while. You can skim off the fat – and the spicy substances which are bound to it. Alternatively, you can add oil, let the food cook, and then skim it off. However, this is only suitable if you can let the dish cook for longer without it overcooking or changing the flavor.
- Add sweetness: Sweeteners such as sugar, sugar substitutes, or honey can make something less spicy. However, this will only help with slightly spicy food. Also, be careful not to add too much sweetness, as this will change the flavor of the food. It’s best to experiment with a teaspoon at a time.
- Increase the quantity: Add more of your other, non-spicy ingredients, in proportion. This will naturally reduce spiciness and make the dish milder. If you have too much food as a result, you can always freeze it!
- Add liquid: If you’ve used up your main ingredients, you can always add liquids such as vegetable broth, wine, milk, or cream.
- Include raw vegetables: Add raw vegetables such as potatoes or carrots and let them cook for a bit. They not only soak up liquid but also reduce spiciness (at least some of it). And don’t worry if your food doesn’t go well with potatoes: You can fish the pieces out afterward. Then, store the vegetables and eat them later, or use them in other dishes.
Is Food Too Hot in Your Mouth? This Will Help!
If it’s too late, and your food is already burning your mouth, there are lots of ways to help cool down. There are studies that show which substances that can relieve the burning sensation.
- Fat: Capsaicin is fat-soluble. Whether you’re still cooking or already eating, foods with a high-fat content such as milk, butter, or yogurt will help reduce the spiciness. Good drinks for spicy food are an Indian mango lassi or a cool glass of buttermilk. Oil also helps: Just rinse your mouth with a tablespoon of oil, or use an oil-and-water mixture. But be careful: Avoid drinking just water. This will aggravate the heat, distributing the capsaicin in your mouth.
- Casein: The protein casein, found in milk and dairy, will dissolve the pungent alkaloid capsaicin. Note: Vegan milk alternatives usually do not contain casein – although that’s no reason not to go vegan!.
- Sugar: Drink a sugar solution, or let a spoonful of honey melt in your mouth. Honey also has an antibacterial effect and is a great all-around home remedy.
- Bread and carbs: To make the food in your mouth less spicy, chew your bread or other carbs a little longer so that you can soak up the capsaicin in your mouth. A combination of carbs and fat (or protein) is said to work particularly well: Bread and butter!
How to Avoid Making Your Food Too Spicy
What can you do to prevent what you’re cooking from being too hot in the first place?
- Season bit by bit and keep tasting, especially with very hot spices.
- If you accidentally put in too much of a spice, try to remove as much as you can before stirring.
- Use whole chilies instead of crushed, dried, or powdered. This way you have the option of letting the pods cook a bit and then taking them out.
- If you chop them up, remove the white pith and seeds from the chili peppers.
- If you are using canned chilies, rinse the pods before using them.
- Taste the spices you are using! This way you know how they taste and how hot they are – and how much to use.
- Serve side dishes such as bread or rice with spicy food, or a milk-based drink.
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