If you want to add excitement and surprise to a dish, throw in a chile pepper. There’s something intoxicating about the way their membranes burn the back of your throat, or that when pickled, they offer a surprising tang to a meal. Some peppers, like chipotles, have this deeply set smokiness, as if a plume of smoke might just escape your mouth mid-chew. There’s also face-melting peppers and sweet chiles, juicy ones and bright, crisp ones, too. They’re appreciated in salsa, cocktails, stir fries, soups -- just about anywhere a dish or drink needs an unexpected, and delicious, kick.
But not all peppers work for all dishes. And not all methods of cooking peppers complement these seeded and spicy produce. There’s a gastronomical world to explore, with new pepper breeds being invented by the day to get spicier, tangier, and innovative flavors out there. While it’s estimated that there are over 50,000 different types of peppers in the world, we’ve rounded up the 13 essential ones into a neat and handy guide for people interested in perusing peppers.