Spicy Recipes That Can Help You Live Longer

Hot and spicy food lovers, rejoice! Some studies, like this one published in the British Medical Journal, suggest eating spicy foods can decrease your risk of death. At the moment, it’s not clear whether adding more habaneros to your plate will really increase help you live longer. In the meantime, however, you can work on getting a little more heat in your diet by trying these five super spicy recipes.

1. Ghost Chile Hot Sauce

bhut jolokias

Pile of ghost chiles | Biju Boro/AFP/Getty Images

Bhut jolokias, or ghost chilies, are the hottest peppers in the world. If you’re addicted to ultra-spicy food, you’re going to want to try them if you haven’t already. Just make sure you know what you’re doing if you’re handling fresh ones. Wearing gloves and a mask when prepping bhut jolokias is a must, pepper expert Andrea Lynn told Serious Eats. If you can manage the prep, you can use this hot sauce to add a dose of heat to whatever dish you like. Recipe from Jeanette’s Healthy Living.


  • 6 ghost chilies
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, pureed
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions: Remove the stems and seeds from the ghost chilies (wear gloves and a mask).

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover everything. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes until vegetables are soft.

Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Pulled Pork Pitas with Red Savina Guacamole

Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork

Pulling pork with a fork | iStock.com

Red savina habaneros once held the title of world’s hottest pepper, according to PepperScale, though they’ve since been dethroned by the ghost pepper. Still, these little spice bombs are between 44 and 231 times hotter than the average jalapeño. This recipe from Chili Pepper Madness uses them to bring some heat to pulled pork as well as the accompanying guacamole. As with the ghost pepper, you’ll probably want to use gloves when handling fresh red savinas.


For the pulled pork

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chile guajillo
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno powder
  • 1 tablespoon chile arbol
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 12 ounces light Mexican beer
  • 4 ounces water
  • 2 red savina peppers, chopped
  • Pita bread for serving
  • Shredded white cheddar cheese

For the red savina guacamole

  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 2 red savina peppers, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions: Place a large pan on the stove top, turn heat to medium-high, and add oil. Season cubed pork shoulder with 1 tablespoon chile guajillo and 1 tablespoon jalapeno powder. Add meat to pan and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until it begins to brown.

Add meat to the slow cooker, along with all the other remaining ingredients (except the cheese and pita bread). Cook on low to 4 to 5 hours, until the pork is very tender.

Just before the pork is done cooking, make the guacamole by adding all the ingredients to a large bowl and mashing everything together with a fork until creamy and fully combined.

Shred the cooked meat with two forks. Spoon onto warmed pita bread, and top with shredded cheese and guacamole.

3. Fiery Grilled Peach and Habanero Salsa

Habanero Chiles, Peppers

Habanero chiles | iStock.com

Traditional habaneros aren’t nearly as hot as ghost peppers, but they still pack a wallop. This salsa balances the heat of the pepper with the sweetness of grilled peaches for a condiment that’s the perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish. Recipe from Cooking Light.


  • 4 large peeled peaches, halved and pitted (about 1 pound)
  • 2 (¼-inch-thick) slices red onion
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded habanero pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions: Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

Lightly coat peaches and onion with cooking spray. Place peaches and onion on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill peaches 2 minutes on each side. Cool and chop peaches. Grill onion 3 minutes on each side. Cool and chop onion. Combine peaches, onion, cilantro, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; toss well. Let stand 15 minutes.

4. Chicken Vindaloo

dried peppers

Massive pile of dried chiles | Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

Chicken vindaloo is a spicy, flavorful Indian dish that actually has its roots in Portuguese cuisine. You can make it as hot or mild as you wish by adjusting the number of chilies you use. Recipe from Steamy Kitchen.


  • 1½ pounds chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 4 to 5 whole red chilies
  • 6 to 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar (more if you like)

For dry spice mix

  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 to 4 whole cardamoms
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ½ tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1½ teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 cups diced potatoes (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt

Directions: Place the whole chilies, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. Add the vinegar, and let soak for about an hour. Then, grind all the ingredients together until you have a paste.

Place chicken in a dish or plastic bag, add the chili paste, and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Combine the cloves, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, and peppercorn. Grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add mustard seeds. As the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onions and fry them in oil until they are light brown and golden. Add the marinated chicken to the pan along with any juices, and cook for a few minutes.

Add dry spices along with the salt. Mix everything together, then cover the pan and let the mixture simmer until the chicken is done and curry is thick, stirring occasionally.

Spoon into bowls. Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve hot with rice or your choice of bread.

5. Chongqing Chicken

chicken, cooking

Cooking chicken in a skillet | iStock.com

This spicy Sichuan dish involves a mixture of marinated fried chicken and chili peppers. While traditional recipes call for bone-in chicken, this version from The Woks of Life uses boneless chicken thighs. If you want more heat, break open the peppers, but don’t open more than six. Use fewer chilies if you’d like less heat.


For the marinade

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

For the rest of the dish

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 slices ginger, julienned
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup whole dried red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing cooking wine
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 scallion, chopped

Directions: Rinse the chicken and cut into small, bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken and the marinade ingredients to a bowl, toss to combine, and let sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Prep all the other ingredients. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to wok, and heat over high heat. Once the wok is very hot, add the chicken in a single layer and let it cook without stirring for a few minutes. Once a crispy crust has formed on the bottom of the chicken, turn the meat and let it continue to cook until the other side is also brown and crisp. Turn off the heat, and transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add more oil to the wok if necessary. Turn heat to medium-low, and heat the oil. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, and cook for another minute. Add the whole dried chilies (split a few open if you want extra heat), and cook for another minute while stirring.

Turn heat to high, then add the chicken, Shaoxing wine, sugar, and scallion. Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated. Serve with rice.

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