Simple Spicy Dinner Recipes for Those Who Crave the Heat

Give your homemade dinners a kick with some spices, and you’re guaranteed to cry happy, heat-induced tears throughout the meal. Spices, such as cayenne, paprika, jalapeño, and chili, can easily make bland food taste more fun. So round up your spices, and get to work on these spicy recipes that will bring a little heat to your kitchen.

1. Spicy Sicilian Chicken

Cajun spiced baked chicken legs

Spicy chicken | iStock.com/Ravsky

First up is an Italian-inspired spicy chicken dish from Food Network. Thanks to the dried chilies, your weeknight chicken dinner just got taken up a notch. The spicy Sicilian chicken brings the heat, and you can adjust the spice level depending on how many chilies you enlist. Along with the chilies, your chicken gets flavored with onions, olives, bay leaves, olive oil, and orange juice. Roast your chicken until its skin is crisp, and then it’s time to sit down to a spicy dinner that will make a mundane weeknight meal a lot more interesting.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • ⅓ cup pitted oil-cured black olives
  • 8 to 12 dried chilies, such as cayenne or arbol, broken in half
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

See recipe directions from Food Network.

2. Spicy Coconut Salmon

salmon dish

Salmon | iStock.com

You can also add spice when the star of your dinner show is fish. Take this spicy coconut salmon from Delish as an example. You’ll spice up the salmon by adding red pepper chili flakes to a warm sauce that is also made from garlic, onions, ginger, and coconut milk. The spicy coconut milk sauce will top your seared salmon, and the whole dinner will be ready in 20 minutes. Spice lovers will adore this coconut salmon that seems complicated but is actually quite simple.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1½ tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes, plus more for serving
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 4 salmon pieces, about 2 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

See recipe directions from Delish.

3. Indian Chili Chicken

Chicken with chilies

Chicken with chilies | iStock.com

This next recipe from The Kitchn is a delicious mix of Indian- and Chinese-inspired flavors. The unique Indian chili chicken calls for a soy sauce marinade in which the chicken soaks before cooking, as well as a vinegar-cornstarch mixture that dresses the chicken once it is almost fried. The spice comes into play as you’re frying the chicken in a mixture of ginger, garlic, and bird’s eye chilies. This Indian chili chicken is a flavorful fun dish that is good to have in your recipe arsenal when you’re looking to impress.

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (6 to 8 smallish ones)
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, plus extra if required
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon bouillon powder (or ½ a stock cube)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
  • 1-inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 green bird’s eye chilies, sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh, chopped cilantro, to garnish
  • Sliced green onions, to garnish
  • Cooked rice or noodles, to serve

See recipe directions from The Kitchn.

4. Spicy Sloppy Joes

three sloppy Joes with shredded cabbage and pickles

Sloppy Joe sandwiches | iStock.com

If you’re looking to make a casual meal for guests who like a kick with their dinners, these spicy sloppy Joes from Food & Wine are the ticket. To make four sloppy Joes, the recipe requires that you use half of a meatloaf recipe, and combine it with a mixture of tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chipotle, and adobo sauce. Spoon the meat onto buns, and serve your sandwiches with sliced onions and pickles. After that, you’re good to go.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the jar or can
  • ½ recipe for Mom’s Meat Loaf, crumbled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • Onion and dill pickle slices, for serving

See recipe directions from Food & Wine.

5. Spicy Lobster Pasta

Pasta dish

Pasta dish | iStock.com

Now it’s time to spice up your carbs. You can easily do so by adding crushed red pepper flakes to the same skillet in which you’re cooking your pasta and meat. We’re talking about this spicy lobster pasta recipe from Bon Appetit. Not only does the food formula show you how to enjoy lobster on a weeknight, it also highlights how to flavor the meat with shallot, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes. The dinner takes only 20 minutes start to finish, and you can enlist a shortcut by buying cooked lobster. A scant teaspoon of crushed red peppers flakes can do major things for your seafood pasta, and you don’t even have to reserve the seemingly sophisticated dinner for a weekend night.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound cherry and/or Sun Gold tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound picked cooked lobster meat or cooked large shrimp
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)

See recipe directions from Bon Appetit.

6. Spicy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

Chicken enchiladas

Chicken enchiladas | iStock.com

This next recipe from Dad With a Pan is one you really don’t want to miss. It yields a dinner of spicy chicken and cheese enchiladas that feeds a family and will have everyone happy. Spicy and flavorful chicken gets wrapped in corn tortillas along with cheese, olives, tomato sauce, and enchilada sauce. A teaspoon of cayenne pepper and four to six dried Japanese peppers give your chicken a kick. Enchiladas make for a fun dinner that everyone craves, and packing in some extra spice takes their flavor profile up a notch.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 1 whole frying chicken, quartered and skinned
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 medium bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 to 6 dried Japanese peppers
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water

Enchiladas:

  • 8 ounces cheddar and mozzarella cheese mix, grated
  • 4-ounce can sliced black olives
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 28-ounce can enchilada sauce, mild
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • ½ cup green onion, chopped

Condiments:

  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 8 ounces guacamole
  • 8 ounces pico de gallo

See recipe directions from Dad With a Pan.

7. Spicy Vegetable and Potato Curry

green curry

Thai curry | iStock.com

You can also master your hand at spicy vegetarian dinners. Take this spicy vegetable and potato curry from Whole Foods Market as an example. The curry might not have any meat, but it does have potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, eggplant, and serrano peppers. The peppers give your vegetable and potato curry a kick, and you can remove the seeds if you want a milder curry. Along with the peppers, the curry is flavored with cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and coriander. It yields a flavorful dish that, with the help of coconut milk, tastes rich and decadent, but it’s actually good for you.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers (remove seeds for a milder curry), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1¼ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup canned light coconut milk
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped, or 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • ¾ pound yellow potatoes, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • ⅓ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

See recipe directions from Whole Foods Market.

8. Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

soup

Thai soup | iStock.com

Here’s another Thai-inspired dish from Cooking Light. Once again, coconut milk is involved, and the dish has similar Thai flavors to the aforementioned curry. This spicy Thai coconut chicken soup is rich, creamy, and dreamy. And it gets its heat from sambal oelek, or ground fresh chili paste. The fiery sambal oelek might make your eyes water, but coconut milk tames the flavors of the soup and keeps it tasting luxuriously creamy. The spicy Thai coconut chicken soup is hearty enough to serve on its own, though a glass of milk or water might be welcomed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (3-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste)
  • 3 cups chicken stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1¼ cups light coconut milk
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
  • ½ cup green onion strips
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

See recipe directions from Cooking Light.

9. Spicy Pork and Cashew Stir-Fry

Pork stir-fry

Pork stir-fry | iStock.com

Stir-fries have a reputation for being easy, and this spicy pork and cashew stir-fry from Epicurious fits the bill. It takes less than an hour to make, and none of your dinner guests will guess how simple the dinner is to prepare. Everyone will agree that pork, snow peas, and peppers yield the best combination when they’re cooked with sherry, oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes. The spice in the pork and cashew stir-fry will energize you, even if it means you’re wiping your eyes and nose throughout dinner.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon medium-dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • ¾ pound boneless pork loin, thinly sliced, then cut into 2-by-¼-inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch-thick strips
  • ½ pound snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup salted roasted cashews
  • Rice, as a side

See recipe directions from Epicurious.

10. Spicy Asian Noodles with Chicken

Noodle dish

Asian noodle dish | iStock.com/bhofack2

Last up are spicy Asian noodles studded with chicken. The recipe for this dinner comes from Cooking Light, and once again, sambal oelek is on the ingredients list. That’s where this dish gets its kick. Make these spicy Asian noodles, and prove your favorite takeout restaurant isn’t the only place where you can get your spicy Asian food fix. As long as you have a few Asian cooking staples — including oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, and rice-flour noodles — you can easily make your favorite meal at home. It’s as simple as cooking your noodles according to package directions and then combining your other sauce ingredients in a pan. After everything is ready, toss your noodles and chicken with the sauce, and then sprinkle peanuts on the dish.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chili paste)
  • 1 (6.75-ounce) package thin rice sticks (rice-flour noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts

See recipe directions from Cooking Light.

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