Weekly Recipes

How to Tone Down the Heat

Too Spicy?? Here is How to Tone that Dish Down 
Flaming ChileUh-oh.  Maybe the chiles you used were hotter than you expected.  Now you have a dish too hot for most of your guests.  What can you do?
Here are our suggestions:


  • Add tomatoes (or tomato sauce or puree), for they soak up heat and spiciness.
  • Serve with guacamole and/or sour cream; they’re soothing and oily.
  • Serve with or follow with something made with dairy products: cheese, ice cream, flan, even milk.
  • Serve with or follow with citrus fruits, drinks, or desserts (lemon pie, margaritas, sangria, daiquiris).
  • Follow with something starchy: bread, potatoes, sopaipillas, or fruit empanadas are perfect.
  • Serve enough Mexican beer that your guests don’t care how hot the chile is.


You can get creative about this, depending on the dish.  I’ve made many soups and stews with crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, or V8.  If you have a too-hot casserole, consider turning it into a stew or soup by just mixing it with tomatoes or tomato juice.


You can also turn your dish into a garnish for something milder.  Serve it on top of cornbread or a pile of chips.


Once I made my Mexican Spoon Bread (a sure-fire winner) 100% hot green chiles.  Nobody would touch it – the heat overpowered the flavor.  I crumbled them on top of green chili and the dish was great.


A key to these solutions is to always have some of these staples around.  I always have crushed tomatoes and cornbread mix in the pantry. After all, if we don’t take a risk we miss out on some of the great recipes!