How to Roast Peppers (and Why You Should)

Learning how to roast peppers means you can infuse their smoky flavor into so many dishes. Go beyond roasted bell peppers and try charring other sweet varieties or even chiles.

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When you pop open a jar of roasted peppers, you know you’re in for a decadent treat. Their delicious flavor really adds pizzazz to a tapenade or peppery hummus, and you can always spread them atop a homemade pizza or mix them into an omelette for brunch.

If you don’t often treat yourself to this jarred goodness because of the price tag though, you’re in luck. Learning how to roast peppers means you can infuse all of that smoky richness into salads, sauces and pastas for a much lower cost.

Roasting your own adds a little time to your recipe prep, but learning how to roast peppers will fire up the flavor in any dish. Here, you’ll find not one but four simple ways to char peppers.

4 Ways to Make Roasted Peppers

Choosing peppers is half the fun of roasting your own. You can go traditional and roast sweet red bell peppers but you can also expand to other sweet peppers and even mild or spicy chiles. Regardless of the roasting method you use, a few basics stay the same.

Peppers of all sizes can be roasted whole but need to be rotated with tongs to ensure the skin blisters evenly. Extra-large peppers roast more consistently if you deseed and slice them in half or even thirds before placing them, cut side down, on a baking sheet or grill grate. A rimmed baking tray or grill pan keeps small whole peppers from rolling off. If you poke a hole in each, little chiles are less likely to explode like firecrackers as they roast (just ask me how I know this).

Roasting times vary depending on the pepper you choose. Small and thin-walled peppers cook more quickly than large, thick ones. You know a pepper is done when it’s blackened, the skin peels away in a papery layer and the flesh is soft.

How to Roast Peppers in the Oven

Grilled red pepper in the traynkeskin/Getty Images

Roasting peppers in a hot oven takes the most time but is also the most hands-off approach. Roast them halved or whole. You can even slide small, whole peppers into a toaster oven.

For oven roasting, preheat the oven to 500°F. Place the peppers on a baking tray, with the cut side facing down if you sliced them in half. Roast the peppers for about 20 minutes, until the skin is black and blistering. If you’re cooking whole peppers, rotate them occasionally.

Test Kitchen Tip: Use parchment sheets, aluminum foil or a Silpat on top of the baking sheet to make cleanup easier.

How to Roast Peppers Under a Broiler

An oven broiler quickly roasts a tray load of peppers, from large sweet bells to heart-shaped poblanos and small shishitos. Move the oven rack to about four inches from the broiler and preheat it on high. Roast the peppers for about five minutes, checking them every couple of minutes, until the skin blisters and separates from the flesh. Rotate them with tongs as needed.

How to Roast Peppers on the Stove

If you have a gas stove, you can use a stovetop burner. This technique works well for roasting just a couple of large peppers and may be easier to monitor than a closed oven.

Place the whole pepper on the grate directly over the burner and then adjust the flame to just graze the pepper’s skin. Let the pepper cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, using tongs to turn it as needed to char all sides.

How to Roast Peppers on the Grill

Red pepper on a barbecue grillsanjeri/Getty Images

Grilling is ideal for large batches of peppers of all sizes, especially in the heat of summer. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to a high temperature. Place sectioned peppers cut side down directly on the grate, cover the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the edges are lightly charred. Flip and cook about 10 minutes longer, repositioning the peppers as needed so that the outer skin is evenly charred.

Whole peppers should be turned every few minutes using a pair of tongs. Shaking a grill pan occasionally can evenly roast tiny peppers.

How to Remove Skin from Roasted Peppers

Grilled red pepper on the white platenkeskin/Getty Images

The blackened skin of roasted peppers can be tough and bitter, so it’s worth peeling away. Be sure to pull on gloves before attempting to remove skin from spicy peppers.

Forget about peeling piping-hot peppers: Not only do you risk toasting your fingers, but it’s harder to slip off the skin. Instead, move the peppers directly from the heat to a tightly covered container and let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes. The hot peppers will steam in the closed space so that the blackened skin peels right off.

How to Use Roasted Peppers

Pickled roasted paprikaWestend61/Getty Images

Now that you know how to roast peppers, you’ll find plenty of uses for them. Beyond a familiar use like a spread, puree and stir them into soup or even fold them into bread dough.

Try home-roasted peppers as the focal point of a salad with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. Toss them with broccoli rabe, olives and linguine for a bright pasta dish. For a roasted pepper surprise, wrap them in crescent roll dough and bake into savory triangles. And don’t forget that emblematic Mexican dish, chiles rellenos.

You can freeze roasted peppers for the best flavor and texture. Frozen peppers will keep for up to a year. If you want to replicate commercially marinated and jarred sweet peppers, cover them completely with oil and store them in the refrigerator for up to four days.

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Julie Laing
Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, much of that span as a freelancer. Since 2016, her writing has focused on original recipes and the stories around them. Julie is the author of The Complete Guide to Pickling (Rockridge Press, 2020) and writes the weekly Twice as Tasty food column for the Flathead Beacon, named after her food blog. Her writing and photos regularly appear on The Spruce Eats, Clean Plates and Fifth Season. Julie has also been featured in The Telegraph, The Columbian, and Daily Inter Lake. She continues to work as a freelance editor as well.