Mild or spicy, peppers are a versatile and delicious ingredient. Whether it’s a jalapeño, Serrano chile or a red bell pepper like the one I had here, they can be used in all types of cooking– but they can’t be left whole. Follow the guide below to cut a pepper the way a  recipe requires or your appetite desires.

Start off with a pepper. I used a red bell pepper (my favorite).

Grab your trusty knife.

Start by halving the pepper lengthwise, from stem to end.

Scrape the ribs and seeds out of the pepper and discard. (Note: In a jalapeño*, the heat lives in the seeds of the pepper so if you can handle the heat there’s no need to scrape them out.)

With the pepper lying skin side down and flesh side up, slice the pepper lengthwise to create strips.

You can leave the pepper strips as is for stir-fry or fajita recipes, or cut them thicker to use as low-cal scoops for dips and hummus.

If dicing the pepper, turn the strips and cut crossways. Minced pepper (meaning finely diced) is great in omelets or thrown on top of salads.

*When working with jalapeños be sure to avoid any and all contact with your eyes until you’ve thoroughly washed your hands. Might as well pepper spray yourself if you’re going to cut a jalapeño and then rub your eyes.