Pepper is a popular addition for nearly every recipe because there aren’t many dishes that wouldn’t benefit from a little spice. Ground pepper and pepper flakes especially are largely used because they’re extremely versatile.
For these reasons, going overboard with pepper is a common mistake made in the kitchen. If you added too much pepper to your dish, you should fix it immediately to avoid ruining the overall flavor by making it too spicy. Luckily, there are a few tricks to reduce pepper taste in food.
How to fix too much pepper?
Whether you’re using black pepper, ground pepper, red pepper flakes, or even whole peppers like the poblano or the bell pepper, this ingredient is hardly ever a bad choice for your recipe and it’s hard to do without the kick it gives to dishes, but it’s also easy to exaggerate with too much pepper.
The severity of the situation also depends on the type of pepper. Using too much white pepper or too much cayenne pepper is slightly different than using too much black pepper because the former are spicier than the latter and you will need a bigger fix.
In order to counteract too much pepper, you can try one of the tricks below depending on the recipe at hand. Remember to proceed with caution, adding small amounts at a time and tasting the result as you go until you reach the desired flavor.
One of the easiest ways to fix too much pepper is to dilute the pepper with the other ingredients already present in the dish.
This can’t be done with all recipes, as it works better in some dishes rather than others, like soups and stews.
If there’s too much pepper in the soup, you can fix the issue by adding more broth or starchy ingredients like potatoes, which can absorb the spiciness of the pepper.
When you have too much pepper in a stew, you can dilute the cooking liquid or add more meat and vegetables.
In some cases, for example with casseroles or meatloaf, you can also add more breadcrumbs, eggs, or noodles.
In order to balance out too much pepper, in some dishes you can use corn starch and flour.
Depending on the recipe to fix, you may have several additional alternatives to try out by combining different ingredients that can overshadow the excess of pepper.
2. Balance the flavor
Another way to fix too much pepper in your dish when you haven’t added other seasonings is to use new herbs and spices to balance out the pepper flavor.
As there are countless different spices, you can really unleash your creativity with this method and enrich the taste of your recipe the way you prefer.
Every part of the world has its preferred seasonings, so you may want to keep it in mind when fixing a certain recipe.
For example, if you’re cooking with an Italian recipe, oregano and basil are staple seasonings in the average Italian kitchen.
When preparing an Indian or Spanish dish, you can easily fix the extra pepper flavor by adding garlic, curry powder, or cumin.
Some of these seasonings may also be spicy and each one enhances your dish in a different way. The keyword here is “caution”: add the new ingredient slowly and don’t forget to taste it in between additions.
3. Add more sweetness
Sweetening your recipe might not seem the ideal solution to fix too much pepper, however, take into consideration that our tongue is divided into taste areas and the sweet area is right on the tip.
This means that when we eat, we taste sweetness before anything else and this is a great advantage when you need to fix the spicy flavor of a recipe because adding sweet ingredients means overshadowing the pepper taste.
Making your dish sweeter doesn’t mean adding sugar to it, even though this is a possible solution. Rather than using granulated sugar, try using sweet ingredients that match the rest of your recipe.
Carrots, tomatoes, and other vegetables contain natural sugars and go well with your casseroles and soups. Some sauces like the barbecue sauce are great for additional sweetness in your meat dishes.
Even when your recipe needs actual sugar, try using honey or syrup instead of granulated white sugar. There are also many sweeteners that contain no calories and thus make perfect diet options.
4. Use a strainer
This is a method that works in specific situations, for example when you add pepper grounds to dishes that are mostly liquid.
It is not always necessary to add something or remove something from the recipe in order to neutralize the pepper and some people may not be comfortable with making last-minute additions or might not have the right ingredients for it.
If you have too much pepper in gravy, soups, or sauces, it’s enough to pour them through a strainer into a new pot. This method should remove most of the pepper grounds, however, it is always better to taste it because sometimes the flavor is still too strong.
In that case, you could strain it again, but what hasn’t been removed during the first time will most likely remain, so you can move on to other methods.
5. Use acidic ingredients
Capsaicin, which gives peppers their signature spiciness, is a chemical compound, so it can be neutralized by employing acidic ingredients.
There are many acidic additions to choose from when cooking. Depending on the recipe and the traditional cuisine, some ingredients are best suited or even recommended to fix certain recipes.
For example, when cooking fish or meat dishes, lemon juice is usually added even when there’s no pepper flavor to fix. Lime juice is also widely used, mainly in Asian recipes. Balsamic vinegar is the first choice for sauces, specifically soups’ and pasta.
Sometimes, certain types of tomatoes or other acid-flavored vegetables can also be used to fix too much pepper.
However, it may be necessary to balance out the sourness with something sweet later on, so proceed with caution and check the flavor every step of the way.
6. Neutralize with fats
Fats neutralize the excess of pepper by denaturing the enzymes responsible for the signature flavor and heat of peppers.
The easiest way to fix too much pepper with fats is to add a bit of olive oil to your dish. Olive oil is usually ever-present in the kitchen, so this method is perfect for a last-minute fix.
If olive oil is already present in your recipe, sometimes it is possible to skim the oil and remove the excess of pepper at the same time, since oil is denser than water and remains on top during the cooking process.
Other alternatives to neutralize pepper with fats include cheese, full-fat cream, or even coconut milk.
When adding fat ingredients consider the type of fat you’re adding to your dish. In fact, unsaturated fats may carry health benefits (olive oil), but saturated fats on the other hand might increase the risk of heart diseases and other health issues.
Keep in mind that 2 tablespoons of olive oil correspond to the daily recommended adult intake of unsaturated fats.
7. Reduce the amount of salt
This trick may not work in all recipes, but it’s one of the easiest and quickest to carry out.
Salt is not spicy, but it enhances the flavor of your dish in a way that might taste similar to pepper because too much salt feels tingly on the tongue and makes you immediately thirsty.
When there is too much pepper in food and you have yet to add the salt, you can greatly reduce the amount you would usually employ or you can also avoid adding salt altogether.
This works especially well when you need to fix your pasta sauce. In fact, in order to neutralize pepper in your sauce, you can reduce the amount of salt in your pasta water.
Of course, you can make a combo of two or more methods: for example, you can reduce the salt in the boiling water and also dilute your sauce at the same time, in order to reach a balanced flavor.
Benefits of using too much pepper in your recipes.
Not all peppers are spicy, but those used as a seasoning usually are and their spiciness is also the reason why they’re full of benefits. In fact, capsaicin is the compound found in peppers that gives them their signature spiciness.
This compound is proved to have many benefits for our body, such as:
– It helps fight and destroy cancer cells in certain types of cancer such as prostate, gastric, and breast cancer.
– It is a well-known painkiller. In fact, it seems that capsaicin activates a specific response from our brain, which releases a neurotransmitter called “substance P.” which provides pain relief.
– It is a common pain remedy against cluster headaches, which is one of the worst types of headaches since they’re very painful and recurring over the span of weeks or even months.
– Consuming foods high in capsaicin improves insulin reactions and helps maintain good blood sugar levels, which is fundamental in those affected by diabetes.
– Eating foods that contain capsaicin helps speed up our metabolism, suppress hunger, and burn fats which makes it easier to lose weight when you’re following a healthy lifestyle.
However, even if peppers have a lot of benefits for our body, there is no doubt that adding too much pepper to your dish could make it less appetizing for certain people!