Chile peppers mean different things to different people. For some “chileheads,” life is a constant quest for a hotter and hotter chile pepper, and no challenge to eat something incredibly hot and spicy goes unaccepted. For others, even the taste of a pickled jalapeño on a nacho is enough to send them into paroxysms of sweaty, face-melting panic. But being OK with a little spiciness is a trait that everyone should have, and it’s possible to build up tolerance by starting small. Here are five “beginner” chile peppers that everyone who’s spiciness-averse should consider starting out on.
These are among the mildest peppers, and you’ve probably seen them on the topping bar at Subway. Add them to your sandwich for a (very small amount of) kick.
These peppers are smallish, round, and red, and are usually found pickled at Italian markets and delis. Also called pimentos (yes, they are what stuffs those green olives), these are used for making pimento cheese and are also found in a variety of Italian pasta dishes.
This pepper is commonly used in Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican cuisine, and lends an extremely mild, sweet heat.
These dark green peppers originate in Mexico, and when dried they’re called anchos. A great way to try them is to order a chile relleno, as these are the peppers most commonly used for that dish. They’re also found in many chili recipes.
Anaheim peppers are a mild variety of the New Mexico chile, and they (obviously) grow in the region around Anaheim, California. They’re a common component of various sauces, especially in the Southwest, where they’re generally roasted, diced, and used as toppings for burgers, enchiladas, and burritos.