With just a few simple steps you can make homemade red pepper flakes from fresh picked hot peppers. It is simple and easy to do, not to mention that it is the perfect way to preserve those late season, ripe garden peppers.
If you like to add pepper flakes on top of pizza at your favorite Italian restaurant you are going to love this recipe! The little bits of dried peppers add the perfect amount of heat in every bite.
However, don’t think about adding a dash or two to only pizza. You can use your homemade spice to add a little kick to a variety of recipes.
Add a pinch or two to your favorite soups and stews like in our Slow Cooker Chili and Potato Soup recipes. Or balance out the creaminess in my Easy Chicken Alfredo recipe with a little heat.
It is hard to believe that adding an 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes at the beginning of a recipe will provide a ton of flavor that actually enhance the other taste of the other ingredients in a recipe. For example, add a pinch to the filling in Classic Stuffed Peppers and you will see how much it improves the flavors of the entire dish.
If you want extra heat be sure to add a sprinkle or two right before you are ready to eat. So now that you know how versatile this homemade spice can be, let’s explain what you need to make it.
What Type Of Peppers To Make Red Pepper Flakes
First of all, let me explain what type of peppers are needed. Because we are talking about making hot flakes, we are first going to stick to using hot, not sweet peppers.
Therefore, the best peppers to use for this recipe are dried, red cayenne peppers. However, because there are so many other hot and spicy red peppers that can be grown, you really can use about anything.
And if you don’t mind your flakes being darker in color, you can use any dried hot pepper that you have access to. Jalapeños, Habanero, and Scottish Bonnet are all examples of peppers, that when dehydrated, will become dark brown in color.
This is a great way to get additional heat in your pepper flakes. However, for the ease of this recipe, we are going to stick to using cayenne peppers as the example.
It is a fantastic way to use up a bunch of peppers at once, especially when at the end of garden season you don’t know what else to do with the long and slender, ripe hot red peppers.
How To Dehydrate Peppers
The first step in making red pepper flakes is to dehydrate the peppers so that they can be crumbled into flakes. There are multiple ways to dehydrate peppers so pick the one that works best for you.
1. Sun Dried
If you are lucky enough to live in a sunny and dry environment with little to no humidity you can hang your cayenne peppers out to dry.
Simply tie the stems together and let the warm air do the work. You can also set them out on a wire rack or harvest rack to dry.
Not many of us live in this ideal spot or location to do be able to do this, however, it works great when you do!
2. Oven Roasted
Another popular method for dehydrating peppers is to place them in an oven set at a low temperature. This is often the quickest and most practical way for most people.
Specific instructions on how to dehydrate peppers using the oven roasting method are located in the recipe below.
You can use also use a kitchen or commercial dehydrator to make red pepper flakes. Simply layer the cayenne peppers on the racks and heat them at 140°F until they are completely dry and crumbling.
We use our Cuisinart food dehydrator to do the job. Depending on the thickness of the peppers it will typically take 12-24 hours for all of the peppers to become completely dry.
Although, if you want to get this done faster you can speed up the process of dehydrating peppers by slicing the peppers in half lengthwise.
Personal Protection Equipment
No matter how you decide to dry your peppers, it is important to remember to use the appropriate personal protection equipment when doing so.
Be sure to use gloves when cutting the peppers to help protect your skin. The gloves will help prevent your hands from absorbing the capsaicin from the peppers.
Believe me, do not skip this step! It is important so that you prevent any type of chemical burn to your skin. And be sure to wash your hands for several minutes once the gloves are removed.
I also recommend using a respiratory mask when checking on the peppers as they dry in the oven or dehydrator. The smell and odor of the hot peppers can be overwhelming as you crack open the door.
When it comes to grinding the dry red peppers into flakes use another set of gloves and a mask to help protect yourself. And whenever possible we try to do this in a well-ventilated area such as in an open garage or on the back porch.
We use our Hamilton Beach Duo Food Processor and/or our Krups coffee grinder to chop up the peppers. The food processor cuts the peppers into sizes like you find at your favorite Italian restaurant.
And the coffee grinder will lead to a finer consistency that is more like pepper powder. Both which we place in an air-tight container and use throughout the year!
So this year, when you don’t know what to do with all of your extra hot cayenne peppers, make your own red pepper flakes!
How To Make Red Pepper Flakes
*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.
- Ripe red cayenne peppers
*Approximately 50 cayenne peppers will yield 1 cup of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 180°F (or lowest setting)
1. Wearing gloves, wash and dry your peppers and cut off the stem of each pepper.
2. Place your peppers on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and place them in the oven. You can do several trays if you wish.
3. After about 3 hours, shake each pan and rotate for even drying.
4. At the 4 hour mark, check to see if any of the smaller size peppers are dry. They will begin to crumble when touched.
Remove any peppers that are completely dried and continue to dry the others in the oven until they are completely dry. Depending on the size of the peppers it can take another 4-6 hours.
5. Once your peppers are completely dried, remove them from the oven to cool.
6. Place the dried chilies in a food processor or grinder and pulse or manually grind until you make your desired texture of red pepper flakes.
Store in an air tight container at room temperature.
Mary and Jim
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Red Pepper Flakes
- Ripe red cayenne peppers
Preheat oven to 180° F
- Wearing gloves, wash and dry your peppers and cut off the stem of each pepper.
- Place your peppers on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and place them in the oven. You can do several trays if you wish.
- After about 3 hours, shake each pan and rotate for even drying.
- At the 4 hour mark, check to see if any of the small peppers are dried. They will begin to crumble when touched. Remove any peppers that are completely dried and continue to dry the others to the oven to finish drying. (approximately 4-6 hours)
- Once your peppers are completely dried, remove them from the oven to cool.
- Place the dried chilies in a food processor or grinder and pulse until you get the desired texture of the red pepper flakes.
- Store in an air tight container.
Approximately 50 cayenne peppers will yield 1 cup of red pepper flakes.
Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms
Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 37Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g
Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.