A handy guide for knowing the sweet bells from the scorching-hot scotch bonnets.

Colorful, hot, and sweet peppers
Credit: Jennifer Davick

Never exactly sure what peppers to pick out while you're at the store? Ever accidently over-spiced a recipe with a pepper pick that was too hot? These tips from our Test Kitchen will help you pick and prep peppers like a pro.

Pepper Color and Flavor

All red, yellow, and orange bell peppers start green. As color changes, their sweetness increases depending on how long they ripen on the vine.

Pepper Size Matters

Peppers of the same variety can vary in terms of heat. In general, the larger the pepper, the less spicy it will be.

Spicy Peppers May be Too Hot to Handle

Hot pepper varieties (jalapeño, cayenne, chili, Scotch bonnet) contain oils that can burn skin. Pick them up by the stem and wear gloves to cut.

Burn Notice

The seeds aren't the real source of a chile's spice: The spongy white vein-like ribs they dangle from hold the most heat. Remove with a paring knife or small melon baller.