How to Cut a Jalapeño
Plus: learn how to deal with jalapeno hands.
By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen
Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.
Jalapenos are a sure-fire way to spice up all kinds of dishes, from chili to salsa, burgers to pizza. But cutting them without incurring the wrath of jalapeno hands—yes, it’s a thing—presents a challenge. Here, we breakdown the best techniques for how to cut and seed a jalapeno and how to get jalapeno off your hands.
Tools for Cutting Jalapenos
- Cutting board
- Paring knife
- Disposable latex gloves (or set of dish gloves dedicated for handling hot peppers)
Do You Need to Wear Gloves While Cutting a Jalapeno?
While you can cut a jalapeno without gloves, we strongly recommend wearing them to protect your hands. Jalapenos, like all hot peppers, contain capsaicin, a compound that gives the peppers their "heat." Capsaicin-rich oils are an irritant that can cause a burning sensation when they come into contact with skin. Look for disposable, thick latex gloves or dedicate a set of dish gloves for handling hot peppers.
How to Cut a Jalapeno, Step-By-Step
There are two ways to cut and seed a jalapeno, then cut it into strips or dice it. This technique is ideal for prepping jalapenos for salsas, soups, chili and dips.
Method 1: If You're Looking for the "Classic" Method
- Remove the stem. Slice it off and discard it.
- Halve the jalapeno. Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise.
- Scrape out the seeds. Using a spoon, scrape out the membrane and seeds of each half. Start at the top of the pepper and work your way down to the bottom.
- Cut strips. Arrange the halves cut-side up and cut the jalapeño lengthwise into strips, about 1/4 inch wide. (If you’re not wearing gloves, you may prefer to place the halves cut-side down to minimize contact with the jalapeno’s oils).
- Dice the strips. If a dice is called for, line up the strips so they lie flush against one another, then cut crosswise into a uniform dice (1/4- to 1/3-inch).
Method 2: If You Have Good Knife Skills and Want to Remove Seeds Quickly
- Remove the jalapeno ends. Slice off both ends of the end jalapeno.
- Slice the flesh off the core. Stand it up on the cutting board and slice the flesh away from the membrane (keeping the core intact) by running your knife from top to bottom.
- Cut strips. Lay the cut pieces flat, flesh-side up (or flesh-side down if you’re not wearing gloves), and slice into strips of desired width.
- Dice the strips. To dice, line up the strips together, then cut into a uniform dice (1/4- to 1/8-inch).
How to Core a Jalapeno, Step-by-Step
Coring jalapenos is a good technique to use if you're planning to either slice the peppers into rings, ideal for topping nachos, frying or pickling, or leave them whole for stuffing (pictured above).
- Remove the stem. Slice off the stem end of the jalapeno.
- Cut around the core. Carefully insert a sharp paring knife into the opening, and carefully cut around the inner core containing the membrane and seeds.
- Cut into your desired shape. Leave whole for stuffing or slice cross-wise into rings of desired width.
How to Get Jalapenos Off Hands?
If you cut jalapenos without wearing gloves, you’ll likely feel a burning sensation on your hands. If the burning and stinging sensation persists, you might be suffering from an affliction known as "jalapeno hands." The feeling can last for several hours, as the oils are not easily washed off. And if you mistakenly touch your eyes or face with jalapeno hands, the burning sensation is likely to spread. Here are a few common household remedies that may offer relief:
- Dish soap: vigorously wash your hands with dish soap. Dish soap is formulated to cut through grease and is therefore more effective at dissolving the chili oils than regular hand soap.
- Olive oil: rub the affected area with a small amount of vegetable or olive oil. The oil can help dissolve the chili oil that’s causing the burning sensation. (Some say that coating hands with vegetable or olive oil before cutting can help keep jalapeno hands at bay.)
- Rubbing alcohol: use a cotton ball to apply rubbing alcohol to the skin. The chili oil is more soluble in alcohol than in water, so it works to break down the capsaicin.
- Milk: Dairy products such as milk or yogurt contain casein, a protein that reacts with and helps break down the capsaicin oils. Pour milk in a bowl and submerge your hands to ease the pain.
- Baking soda: combine baking soda and a little bit of water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the affected area, let it dry, then scrub under running water and rinse.
How to Store Jalapenos
Store fresh, whole jalapenos in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer in either a paper or plastic bag.
Stored this way, they will keep for a week or two. Store cut-up jalapenos in an air-tight container or resealable bag in the refrigerator, for 2 to 4 days.
To preserve your peppers, you can roast jalapenos and cover them with oil, dry or dehydrate them, or pickle ‘em. Try slicing whole peppers, seeds and all, to make these Easy Pickled Jalapenos (pictured above).