How to counteract spice?

In this article, we will answer the question “How to counteract spice?”, and how to cool your mouth after eating spicy food?

How to counteract spice?

Tone it down with acids

Fresh and dried cayenne and chili peppers contain compounds known as capsicin. Capsicin is an alkaline oil and can be neutralized by an acidic ingredient. 

Squeeze in half a lemon or add a tablespoon or two of wine, vinegar, or tomato sauce to tone down the spiciness of your food. 

Alternatively, you can add ¼ cup of freshly diced tomatoes or pineapples. Let the food cook for about 15-20 minutes after the addition of the acidic ingredient.

Cool it with oil or dairy

Since capsaicin is oil soluble, you can reduce its heat by adding more of a neutral or mildly flavored oil that compliments your dish. For example, you can add grapeseed, olive, or coconut, or oil that does not ruin the flavor or texture of your oil. 

If you are hesitant to use vegetable oils, you can add nut butter instead. Nut butter also releases oil when added to your dish and reduces the spiciness just like the vegetable oils.

You can safely add nut butter to your overly spicy  Pad Thai, spicy summer rolls, and stir-fries. Start by adding only a teaspoon of oil at a time because you do not want to overdo it. Taste check your dish after each addition of oil and stop adding more when the spiciness is neutralized.

Adding full-fat dairy products also reduces the heat of your overly spicy dishes. The fat-loving protein, known as casein, present in dairy products circles the heat-producing molecules and helps disperse them to reduce the heat.

Dairy products like Butter, ghee, cow’s milk, plain yogurt, cheese (particular a soft fresh cheese), and sour cream are all great options to make reduce the heat of your spicy dish.

If you do not want to make your dish creamier by adding dairy ingredients, sprinkle grated cheese on the top of your dish. Add a dollop of yogurt or some sour cream over your dish before serving.

Sweeten it up 

Add sugar to counter the heat in your dish. If it is a cold dish, use honey instead. Start by adding only a little sugar at a time, then blend and taste-check the dish and add more if needed. This will ensure that you do not mess up the actual flavor of your dish.

Double up and thin it out 

Dilute your dish by the addition of more of the base ingredients except for the spice. Depending upon the nature of your dish, you might want to add more vegetable stock, meat, sauce, vegetables, etc.

 If the base ingredients are not available, you can work with any mirepoix– such as carrots, celery, and onions, grated potatoes, and winter squash. 

If your sauce has achieved the right level of spiciness but is too thin to work with, fix it by adding liquid in it and boiling it to reduce the volume up to the desired consistency. 

Negate heat with neutral grains

If your dish is too spicy as a standalone meal, improvise and serve it with something blander such as neutral grains. Serve your overly spicy main course alongside or over rice, pasta, couscous, or quinoa.

A pinch of preservation

To avoid an overly spicy dish in the future, you can take some precautions. Always add the spices little by little and taste-check after each addition so that you can stop right after the desired spiciness is achieved.

If you are cooking in the slow cooker, always cut the amount of spice in your recipe by some percentage. This is because slow cooking tends to concentrate the flavors in a dish. 

Another trick is to add half the spices at the start of the dish so they become well-incorporated at the end when you add the rest of the spices and turn off the flame.

How to cool your mouth after eating spicy food?

Try dairy 

Gulp down full-fat dairy products like milk or yogurt to quell the fire in your mouth. The fat in the dairy dissolves the fat-soluble capacity and cools your mouth.

Drink some alcohol 

This hack will only work if the alcohol is highly fermented. Therefore, beer would not be very useful. Alcohol also dissolves the flaming hot capsaicin and soothes the burning mouth.


Since most people will be grossed out at the idea of ingesting oil, you may try nut butter instead. It also gets the work done.

Sugar or starch

Sugar and starch sweep the capsaicin particles dispersed all over your mouth. Eat a smidge of sugar or take a bite of white rice to soothe the burning sensation in your mouth.


In this article, we answered the question “How to counteract spice?”, and how to cool your mouth after eating spicy food?


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.