What to Do When Chili Is Too Spicy
The spiciness in chili peppers is caused by capsaicin, which is an oil-soluble, alkaline compound. If your chili is too spicy, you can balance out the capsaicin by adding other ingredients to adjust the pH level and tone down the hot flavor. Here are some options:
- Cooking Acids: Acids will balance alkaline substances because of how the pH scale works. Acidic ingredients that are great chili additions include tomatoes, lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or a little wine. Add these ingredients in modest measurements to get the perfect spicy balance.
- Oils: Since capsaicin is oil-soluble, you can add vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, or coconut oil to cut down on the heat.
- Dairy: Dairy contains casein, which binds to and disperses capsaicin. In chili, the best dairy addition would be sour cream, cheese, or maybe a little butter.
- Sugar: Sweetening the chili can tone down the spice a little. Add some honey or sugar; they can absorb capsaicin and balance out the flavor.
- Grains: Add some rice to your chili to soak up some heat.
- Everything Else: Adding more un-spiced chili ingredients will distribute the capsaicin to lower the overall heat level. You could also dilute the chili with water or soup stock. If your dish becomes too watery, simmer it down to reduce the liquid. Be careful with this process, though, because too much reduction will set the spice level back to where it was.