Learn how to cut a jalapeño without burning yourself! This method works for a variety of hot peppers, and it will help you slice and dice with ease.

If you’ve ever burned your hands while cutting a jalapeño, you know that it’s no joke. It might not be a Scotch bonnet or habanero, but jalapeños still pack a lot of heat, and getting them on your skin can hurt for days afterwards.

Overhead view of jalapeno peppers on cutting board with paring knife; one pepper has top cut off, the other is cut in half lengthwise
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Jalapeños rate between 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The wide range is because the heat level of jalapeños largely depends on farming practices, weather, and other factors such as soil conditions. Jalapeños grown during a drought will be much spicier than jalapeños grown during an especially rainy summer!

Unfortunately, unless you’ve grown the peppers yourself, there’s no way of knowing if the jalapeño you picked up at the grocery store is fiery hot or fairly mild, so it’s always a good idea to play it safe and use gloves.

Don’t Skip These: Use jalapeños in my Creamy Jalapeño Dip, Simple and Spicy Jalapeño Margaritas, or Cornbread Muffins With Jalapeño and Cheddar. They’re also a great addition to any Tex-Mex dish!

Ingredients for guacamole laid out on a white countertop.

Choosing and Storing Jalapeño Peppers

When shopping for jalapeños, pick ones that look fresh and firm. Avoid any with soft spots or wrinkles; this is a sign that they’ve been sitting at the grocery store for a while.

How to Cut a Jalapeño Like a Pro

  1. Rinse – Wash and dry the jalapeño before you get started.
  2. Prepare – Put on a pair of disposable latex gloves. Grab a paring knife and a cutting board; if you want to take the ribs and seeds out, you’ll also need a spoon.
  3. Cut – Start by cutting off the stem end. If you want to cut rings, simply make crosswise cuts the length of the pepper. Otherwise, cut the pepper in half lengthwise.
  4. Remove the Seeds and Ribs (Optional) – If you prefer a less spicy dish, use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and ribs. If you want an extra kick, leave them in.
  5. Dice or Mince – Slice the jalapeño lengthwise into strips—thin strips if want minced peppers, or slightly thicker for diced. Line up the sliced strips on your cutting board, then use the paring knife to dice or mince the strips. 
A jalapeno pepper on a white marble countertop.

Tip

If you’re making jalapeño poppers or want pepper rings without seeds and ribs, cut the stem off of the peppers, then use a paring knife to core them, cutting through the membrane so you can remove the core and seeds in one piece. Tap out any stray seeds stuck inside.

Club crackers in and around a small food processor, on a marble countertop.

Tool to Use

Use a plastic cutting board, or a wooden cutting board dedicated to cutting hot peppers, to keep the jalapeño oil from making the next food you cut spicy!

Jalapenos, tomatillos, cilantro and avocado on a white countertop.

How to Store

Fresh jalapeños can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Cut jalapeños will last for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to wear gloves when cutting jalapeños?

Yes, it is a good idea to wear gloves when cutting jalapeños. This will help protect your hands and keep the pepper’s capsaicin-rich oils from getting on your skin and causing burns. Use thick disposable latex gloves (not thin, plastic food prep gloves).

How long does it take for jalapeño hands to go away?

Jalapeño hands can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on how much of the pepper’s oils came into contact with your skin. Unfortunately, simply washing with hand soap isn’t effective when you get these oils on your skin.

What neutralizes hot peppers on skin?

You’ll need something to break down the pepper oil. Dish soap works better than hand soap, and if that’s still not doing the trick, try using milk, yogurt, or sour cream. Other people swear by rubbing alcohol or baking soda pastes, but in my experience, yogurt or sour cream usually works.

Do you remove seeds from jalapeño peppers?

It’s up to you! If your recipe says to remove them, then follow that. Otherwise, consider your (and your family’s) taste preferences. If you like spicy food, then leave them in; if not, take them out. You can also discard some, but leave a small amount behind for a little kick.

Taco toppings, including sliced radishes, chopped onions and sliced jalapenos on a marble countertop.

Tips

  • Remove your gloves carefully. Avoid touching your eyes or any other sensitive parts of your skin—sometimes you might not realize there’s oil on your hands, but you definitely will realize it if you touch your eyes.

  • If you need to cut a jalapeño and you don’t have gloves, some people say you can coat your hands in vegetable, canola, or olive oil to prevent getting pepper burns. Of course, if you use this method, be extra carefully when handling your knife!

More Tutorials

Overhead view of jalapeno peppers on cutting board with paring knife; one pepper has top cut off, the other is cut in half lengthwise
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How to Cut a Jalapeño

Learn how to cut a jalapeño without burning yourself! This method works for any hot pepper and it will help you slice and dice with ease.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
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Ingredients  

  • jalapeño pepper(s)

Instructions 

  • Put on a pair of disposable latex gloves.
  • Start by cutting off the stem end. If you want to cut rings, simply make crosswise cuts the length of the pepper. Otherwise, cut the pepper in half lengthwise.
  • If you prefer a less spicy dish, use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and ribs. If you want an extra kick, leave them in.
  • Slice the jalapeño lengthwise into strips—thin strips if want minced peppers, or slightly thicker for diced. Line up the sliced strips on your cutting board, then use the paring knife to dice or mince the strips.

Tips

  • Remove your gloves carefully. Avoid touching your eyes or any other sensitive parts of your skin—sometimes you might not realize there’s oil on your hands, but you definitely will realize it if you touch your eyes.
  • If you need to cut a jalapeño and you don’t have gloves, some people say you can coat your hands in vegetable, canola, or olive oil to prevent getting pepper burns. Of course, if you use this method, be extra carefully when handling your knife!

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