I grew up in the Midwest, where the spiciest thing you can find for miles is ketchup, but I’m spending my adulthood making up for lost time. As I’ve incorporated more spice into my diet, I’ve learned that you need the right bevs to put out a four-alarm mouth fire. While carbonated drinks are usually extremely refreshing, they can exacerbate the burn from capsaicin, aka the chemical compound that makes peppers spicy. I’m no food scientist (duh), but there are a few things that are understood to be specifically good and bad for mitigating the lingering burn of spicy food—and surprisingly enough, ice water isn’t one of the good ones. Plus, you probably want something more exciting to go with that plate of spicy buffalo wings or that bag of habanero potato chips, right? Right. These drinks may not instantly douse the fire in your mouth, but they’ll taste good while you wait out the burn.
- Trader Joe’s Chocolate Milk
There are some foods so spicy they make me wish I could instantly melt down a milkshake and pour it down my throat. But there’s no need to wait for a milkshake to liquify, because this Trader Joe’s chocolate milk approximates that experience right out of the carton. Milk is the first drink that anyone thinks of when they’re wondering what to drink with spicy food, and Google tells me there’s a reason for that: milk contains casein, and casein breaks down capsaicin. Plus, this chocolate milk tastes really, really good—just like a melted milk shake.
Read the full ranking of the best chocolate milk
- Chobani Plain Extra Creamy
Unfortunately for vegans, oat milk doesn’t have casein. But I’m highly susceptible to the placebo effect, so Chobani Plain Extra Creamy is good enough for government work in my book. I mean, come on, it has the words “extra creamy” right there in its name! Something “extra creamy,” even if it doesn’t contain casein, is going to coat your mouth and throat and, hopefully, help put out those little food-induced fires. Sporked contributor Danny Palumbo told me to “confidently use this for all of [my] milk substitute needs,” so I say it deserves a spot among the best drinks with spicy food, for vegans and dairy intolerant readers alike.
Read the full ranking of the best oat milk
- Tejava Unsweetened Original Black Tea
Iced tea is one of the most refreshing drinks known to man, so we’re including it on this list of the best things to drink with spicy food. Does tea have magical properties that counteract the potency of capsaicin? Nay! But some say sugar can be bad for burn, so this Tejava unsweet tea is a good option if you abide by that wisdom. Mostly, though, it just tastes really good, and we like to think that’ll help distract you from the agony of having housed an entire bowl of spicy salsa.
Read the full ranking of the best iced tea
- Arizona Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Lite Strawberry Lemonade
Okay, sugar may not be great for singed taste buds, but citrus supposedly is because the acid in the fruit supposedly neutralizes capsaicin. Again, I’m not a food scientist, but I can tell you this reduced sugar strawberry lemonade is a majorly tasty and refreshing, especially if you’re recovering from mindlessly eating an entire bag of Takis. The Sporked crew tried this bev during their Arizona taste test, and loved its fruity, tangy flavor. Plus, it stays nice and cold in that big ol’ 32 ounce can.
Read the full ranking of the best Arizona drinks
- Corona Light
Okay, we already recommended steering clear of carbonated beverages when you’re looking for the best things to drink with spicy food, but we’re making an exception for Corona Light. Spicy Mexican food and refreshing Mexican beers just go together, and thems facts. Seriously, what else would you grab out of the fridge when you have a spicy fish taco in your hand? Chocolate milk?! Come on, grow up! Sporked editor-in-chief Justine Sterling called Corona Light “the best light beer to drink when you want to pretend you’re on vacation,” and it also happens to be my personal beer of choice for what to drink with spicy food.
Read the full ranking of the best light beer