Why You Should Always Have Canned Chiles In Your Pantry

Sometimes what you're eating can lack that kick you crave. When food blandness gives you the blahs, chile peppers to the rescue! But as anyone who has bitten into a hot pepper can tell you, not all chiles are alike. 

Chile peppers get their pungency from capasaicins, compounds that bring chiles their heat (via Utah State University). The level of capsaicin varies among different chiles and can result in flavors from a sweet zing to an eye-watering punch. There is even a scale, called the Scoville scale, that measures the amount of capsaicin in chiles. At the high end is the aptly named Dragon's Breath chile, coming in at a blazing 2.48 million Scoville units. This pepper is so hot it isn't safe to eat; instead, it is being used medically to numb a patient's skin. Because you can't eat the Dragon's Breath, the Carolina Reaper still holds the record for the hottest pepper at 2.2 million units (via Pepper Scale). Next to these, the habenero almost seems humble at a range of 100,000 to 350,000 units. But while impressive in their hellish heat, these aren't exactly the kinds of chiles you want to add to your scrambled eggs.

Milder chiles like the Anaheim, Poblano and Pasilla are enough to spice up your everyday dishes and, as Recipe Tips notes, are the peppers most commonly found in canned green chiles, your new secret weapon in the pantry.

Your new secret ingredient

Canned chiles are the perfect way to add flavor and an unexpected kick to your culinary creations. Want a smoky flavor in your guacamole? Swap the jalapeños for some fire-roasted canned green chiles. Tired of your boring cheese omelet in the morning? Add some mild green chiles for some sweet heat. Want to spice up your burgers? Mix some medium or hot canned green chiles into the meat. The possibilities are endless. Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, soups, stews, dips, chili, pizza, and more all benefit from canned green chiles (via Parade). And at just 22 cents to 50 cents an ounce, all that flavor is very affordable (Cook's Illustrated).

The best part? No one has to know your secret. In his book "Kitchen Confidential," Anthony Bourdain said he used to sneak bouillon cubes into his stock in culinary school and always achieved best-in-class results. Just like Bourdain's sneaky bouillon cubes, canned chiles are an inexpensive means to greater flavor, so make sure you always have a can or two in your pantry.