Chili peppers are a staple of many cuisines around the world because of their versatility. You can enjoy them raw, cooked, and roasted, with the latter being particularly popular due to its rich, smoky flavor. But how do you roast chili peppers?
You can roast chili peppers over a gas stove, in an oven, in a skillet, on a charcoal or propane grill, or an electric stovetop. Wash the peppers and dry them, put them on high flames, and flip them over frequently until they’re soft and charred. Peeling them is optional.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few different ways to roast chili peppers. We’ll also highlight some of the most important health benefits of roasting chili peppers and essential tips to consider when roasting them.
Roasting chilis in an oven is the easiest and cleanest way because you use a baking tray. To do this:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius), then cover the baking tray with a layer of aluminum foil.
- Lightly brush the peppers with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Put them on the baking tray, making sure they’re not touching or on top of each other.
- Put the tray in the upper section of the oven, close the lid, and roast the peppers for 10 minutes, or until the peppers start to collapse, blister, and blacken.
- Flip the chili peppers, using a tong, and roast for another 10-15 minutes. Check the peppers to make sure they’re soft and fully roasted. If the skins are completely blistered, take them out of the oven.
You could also broil the peppers in the oven, which is a quick method, but you can’t step away from the oven. To do this:
- Place the roasting tray on an oven shelf 8-9 inches from the broiler.
- Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on the baking sheet and put the peppers on it.
- Broil the peppers for 25 minutes, flipping them every five minutes.
- Remove the peppers when they’re charred and soft.
The first step to roasting chilis is choosing the right ones, no matter what method you use. Fresh, heavy, and crisp chilis are always the best ones to roast as they have more water and can retain their shape better. Don’t use curled chilis because they don’t roast evenly, so it’s best to go for straight and flat ones.
To roast peppers on a stovetop, you’ll need oven mitts, tongs, aluminum foil, and of course, a gas stove burner.
While this method is messier than other methods, it’s perfect for a small number of peppers and produces a pleasant smokey flavor. You could use a grill pan to create less mess or roast the peppers directly on the gas flame. When roasting directly on a gas flame, it’s better to use aluminum foil to cover the heating element to prevent it from getting dirty from the spills.
What you should do next is:
- Turn on the gas burner to medium.
- Put the peppers on the grate over the gas flame.
- Roast the peppers for four to five minutes and give them a quarter-turn using the tongs.
- After 20-25 minutes, check the peppers to see if they’re soft and roasted.
- Gently squeeze the pepper with the tongs and if the pepper isn’t soft, continue roasting for another couple of minutes.
If you use a grill pan:
- Heat the pan over medium heat.
- Some pans require oil, so if yours does, make sure you use an oil with a high smoke point, like avocado or canola oils
- After the pan is hot enough, place the peppers on it.
- Keep roasting for 20-30 minutes, using the tongs to give them a quarter turn every four minutes. When the peppers are charred and soft, they’re done.
You can use an electric stove to roast the peppers, but it’s better not to put them directly on the heat source because they’re difficult to clean. Instead, place a baking sheet, roasting grill, or a sheet pan over the heat to avoid any mess.
What you should do next is:
- Turn on the electric stove and wait until the surface is red hot
- Place the utensil (baking sheet or pan) on the heat source, and then put the peppers on and wait for five to seven minutes or until the skin gets char-blistered. Don’t leave the peppers at this stage, or they’ll get burned.
- Flip them over every 5-7 minutes until they’re soft and charred on all sides.
The charcoal method can give the most flavor and richness to the peppers, with an added smoky aroma thanks to the charcoal. To do this method:
- Place the charcoal on the bottom of the grill, light them and give them some time to heat up, then rake the coals into an even layer and put the grate on the grill.
- Place the peppers on the grill and leave them until black on all sides.
- Alternatively, you can remove the grate and place the chilis directly on the charcoal. They quickly blister and blacken, so you need to flip them every one to two minutes. Don’t forget to roast the ends, or it will be difficult to remove the stems.
You can also roast chili peppers on a propane grill, which still gives them a rich flavor, but without the smoky aroma that charcoal gives them. To do this:
- Preheat the gas grill to high and lightly cover the grates with a high smoke point cooking oil of your choice.
- Place the peppers on the grates in even rows and close the lid.
- Wait for 2-3 minutes for the skins to bubble up.
- Turn them over every minute to make sure the skin gets roasted completely.
The heat needs to be high, and you should flip them frequently to avoid over-roasting the chilis. The longer you keep them on the grill, the more water they lose. If the charred skin tears up, the heat will roast the flesh and dry it out, ruining the flavor and texture.
If you don’t have an oven or a roasting grill, you can use a cast iron skillet which works well since it’s heavy and distributes heat evenly. For this method:
- Put the skillet on high heat over the stove and let it heat up.
- You could sprinkle some oil in the skillet, but that’s not necessary.
- Position the chilis in one even layer, wait for 2-3 minutes, then make a quarter turn every minute until the skin is all soft and blackened.
- Alternatively, you could put the cast iron skillet in the oven and repeat the process of roasting chilis in an oven.
Tips to Follow When Roasting Chili Peppers
If you’ve never roasted chili peppers before, here are some tips to help you.
- You need to use your fingers when peeling the peppers, so make sure not to touch your eyes with your fingers. Wear gloves to avoid getting spice on your hands.
- Choose healthy peppers with no blemishes.
- Wash the peppers before roasting and let them air-dry or pat them dry with a paper towel.
- When you buy or pick peppers, roast them within a few days before they become limp.
- You could freeze roasted chilis without peeling them right after removing them from the flame. Let them cool, and then freeze them, which will allow the chilis to absorb more flavor, and the charred bits will come off more easily when you defrost them.
- Roasting hot chilis on an open flame or the stovetop produces spicy fumes that can hurt your lungs. Make sure the area where you roast the chilis is well-ventilated to allow open-air to come in.
- To protect your hands from capsaicin, rub some olive oil on your hands to avoid burning your skin.
- Freezing can always compromise the taste and flavor, so you may want to roast fresh chilis whenever you need them. However, some varieties, such as Hatch chilis, have a short season. By roasting large batches of Hatch chilis, you can make sure to have them all year round.
- Instead of a cast iron skillet, you can use a Comal (flat griddle typically used in Central America) or other griddle.
Why Roast Chili Peppers?
Roasted chili peppers can be more delicious than raw ones because roasting removes the water content and amplifies the taste, adding a smokey, earthy flavor to it. The added rich smoky flavor is a nice addition to many recipes and dishes.
You can turn roasted peppers into a paste, add some lime juice and herbs, and use it as a dip or sauce. Or you could slice them into long strips to use in sandwiches.
Roasting might also help some people who are mildly allergic to peppers enjoy them. Some people can have trouble digesting the outer skin of peppers and get stomachaches or diarrhea after eating peppers. Roasting chili peppers and peeling the skin helps them digest it better.
While you don’t have to remove the skins after roasting your peppers, here are a few reasons why some people prefer to peel their peppers after roasting.
Some people are allergic to the pepper skin, so removing the thick skin makes it more digestible for them. Removing the charred skin gives you a soft and consistent texture only made of the pepper flesh, and since the skin is difficult to chew, it can be a bit off-putting to some.
Another reason is that the dark blackened bits of skin gives your sliced pepper flesh an unsightly look that doesn’t go with the chili’s pleasant green or red color. Some types of pepper, such as Anaheim or New Mexico, have tough skins that you might want to remove. But other types of peppers with thin skins won’t need peeling.
If you want to use the roasted chilis in recipes like salsa, you need to blend them into a soft paste. In such cases, it’s not necessary to peel the skin unless you want to. The blackened skin gives your paste an interesting black tone and extra smokiness, and it saves you a lot of time while adding only a slightly bitter taste.
De-seeding the peppers is also up to you because they add to the heat. If you like the chilis mild, remove the seeds, otherwise keep them to spice things up.
Peeling the roasted peppers might be difficult since they get sticky after roasting, but you can remove the pepper skins using a method called steaming.
Put the roasted peppers on a cutting board, plate, or any flat and smooth surface. Then, place a large bowl over the peppers to prevent the steam from getting out, making the peppers “sweat.” Wait for 15 minutes until the skin is soft and ready to come off.
Instead of using a bowl, you can put the peppers in a sealed heavy-duty freezer bag or plastic bag and steam them there for 15 minutes.
When the skin is soft, you can peel it, which can be a messy process. If you don’t remove the seeds before roasting, you can seed and peel them at the same time. It’s better to keep the seeds intact and remove them after roasting because this way, you’ll preserve the taste better.
To peel the peppers:
- Cut them vertically from top to bottom and open them to form a long strip. You can remove the stem and the seeds easily because they’re loose and soft.
- Wipe off the remaining seeds and the excess moisture from inside the peppers using a paper towel.
- Now, roll over the pepper to see the skin side. Use a knife to scrape off the charred skin as much as you want, or if you prefer a smoky flavor, you can leave a few charred pieces.
Some people prefer to run the peppers under running water to seed and peel the pepper and avoid the mess. But water will wash away most of the flavor, and it’s only a good method if you’re in a hurry.
You can use the chili peppers immediately after roasting them in many different dishes, or you could store them in the fridge or freezer, especially if you’ve made roasted chilis in large batches.
To freeze your peppers, after roasting and peeling:
- Let the chilis cool down and put them in sealable freezer bags. You could also freeze them in ice cube trays or shallow containers.
- Put them in one flat layer to avoid freezer burn and make sure they freeze evenly.
- Press the air out as much as possible or suck out the air using a plastic straw.
- Place the bag in the freezer or fridge for use for later.
You can keep the roasted chili peppers refrigerated for up to three days or keep them frozen for up to a year.
To use frozen roasted peppers, take out the peppers and put them under warm water to thaw. The skin slips away easily, leaving you with just the flesh. After slicing the pepper open, you can remove the seeds and veins, either with a knife or your fingers and use as required.
Roasting chili peppers is a preferred way to cook or eat them because it adds a rich smoky flavor and aroma to them There’s a wide variety of ways to roast chili peppers, including a gas or electric stovetop, the oven, or a propane or charcoal grill.
These methods involve washing the peppers, drying them, putting them on heat, and roasting them until they’re charred and blistered. Flip them over every 2-5 minutes so that they’re roasted on all sides.
Don’t over-roast them because it will ruin the flavor by removing all the water content.