19 Spicy Foods That Hurt So Good

Because they make you feel ALIVE.

You know you want to feel this:

First, pour yourself a glass of milk. Proceed:

1. Chilaquiles Verdes

Serves 6


3 pounds tomatillos in the husk
1 large red onion cut in 1/2-inch slices
2 jalapeños
8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 handful of cilantro leaves
1 lime
1 heaping spoonful of crema or sour cream
1 quart chicken stock (preferably homemade)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
12 corn tortillas
1 cup (or more if you like) queso fresco in large crumbles (1/2- to 1-inch pieces), or shredded monterrey jack
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Salt and olive oil, as needed

1. Lay tomatillos, onions, jalapeños, and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

2. Place the baking sheet under the broiler, until the veggies are wilted and blistered, about 10 minutes (time will vary based on the heat of your broiler). Remove the veggies and let them cool until you are able to handle them.

3. Remove the husks from the tomatillos, squeeze the garlic from the cloves, and remove the stem from the jalapeños. Throw the roasted veggies into a blender, along with any juices that accumulated on the baking tray. Add the cilantro leaves, the juice of the lime, and the crema. Purée until the mixture is very smooth. Taste and make any needed adjustments (more salt, acid, etc).

4. While the veggies are still in the oven, bring the chicken broth to a gentle simmer in a dutch oven. Add the chicken breasts and allow them to simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Move the chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it. Return the chicken and any juices to the pot.

5. Add the tomatillo purée to the chicken broth, taste for seasoning (note the sauce should be tangy, almost sour, so add another squeeze of lime if necessary), and bring to a simmer. Cover and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes.

6. Cut the tortillas into quarters. If your tortillas are fresh, dry them out in the oven or toaster oven. If they’re stale and dried out, add them right to the pot. Stir the mixture and let simmer for another 10 minutes. The tortillas will cause the sauce to thicken.

7. Uncover and stir in the queso fresco or sprinkle with the monterrey jack. Cover the pot again, allowing the cheese to melt. Uncover, sprinkle with cotija and cilantro, and serve.

Get the recipe on Food52

2. Chicken Vindaloo Vesuvius

The spiciness builds with each bite thanks to cayenne, black pepper, serrano chiles, and spicy mustard. You’ve been warned. Get the recipe on Food52

3. Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

A distinctively Thai soup thanks to coconut milk, chicken, lemongrass, galangal, and chili. This version is creamy, aromatic, zesty — it’s perfect. Get the recipe on Food52

4. Kimchi Fried Rice

What tastes better topped with a runny yolk? Everything. Get the recipe on Food52

5. Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles

These fiercely spicy and addictive noodles will burn AND numb your mouth. So you can eat more, obvi. Get the recipe on Food52

6. Chinese Broccoli Salad with Spicy Sriracha Dressing

Sriracha makes everything sexier, even broccoli. Get the recipe on Food52

7. Speaking of Sriracha…here’s how to make your own:

Get the recipe on Food52

8. Spicy Korean Style Gochujang Meatballs

Let’s face it: your meatballs are probably stuck in a white-bread rut. This is how you break them out of it. Get the recipe on Food52

9. Spicy, Savory & Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles

An exciting, spicy, savory snack made with watermelon leftovers you were going to throw away anyway? We’re in. Get the recipe on Food52

10. Spicy Sesame Pork Soup with Noodles

Preparation here is a long haul, but if you hang in there this rich, brothy soup will delivers on all it’s promises. Get the recipe on Food52

11. Lacinato Kale and Mint Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

The spicy, peanutty dressing on this salad will have you think twice about turning your nose up to kale. Get the recipe on Food52

12. Sweet and Spicy Horseradish Dressing

All you have to do is zest, scoop, and shake to get a sinus-clearing, heat rush-inducing dressing that tastes good on everything. Ok, maybe not pancakes. Get the recipe on Food52

13. Spicy Eggplant Pasta

A hearty, filling, and simple pasta dish that you can actually enjoy with your vegetarian friends. Get the recipe on Food52

14. Red Quinoa Salad with Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

A red quinoa salad with roasted squash, white beans, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro, all mixed in a spicy lime vinaigrette. Get the recipe on Food52

15. Eggs in Spicy Minted Tomato Sauce

For anyone who’s ever eaten eggs with ketchup, this is that dish, but acceptable to eat for dinner, with a big hunk of crusty bread. Get the recipe on Food52

16. Barbara Lynch’s Spicy Tomato Soup

A kick-ass, spicy take on normally boring tomato soup. Get the recipe on Food52

17. Spicy Beef and Persimmon Korma

Your palate gets a double whammy with a first bite of sweet tang from persimmons, and the second with a big hit of spice from a full tablespoon of black pepper and a handful of fiery fresh chiles.Get the recipe on Food52

18. Puerco Bravo (Braised Pork with Spicy Potatoes)

Meat, wine, and potatoes? Ole! Get the recipe on Food52

19. Sweet & Spicy Calamari

Everyone’s favorite appetizer, except with a lively chili dipping sauce instead of boring marinara. Your dinner guests thank you. Get the recipe on Food52

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