There’s no end to what you can do with roasted red peppers. Sliced into strips, they can bring a smoky sweetness to everything from salads and sandwiches to pasta and pizza. Pureed, roasted red peppers lend a velvety lushness to soups and dips. But why settle for the tepid taste of the jarred kind when it’s so easy to roast these and other bell peppers and chiles yourself?
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But for the best results, don’t just roast your peppers—char them. A thorough blackening is important because this is what gives the flesh that rich, complex sweetness and a subtle but pervasive smokiness.
You can blacken peppers or a gas burner, but it’s messy, and not everyone has a gas stove. We prefer the broiler or the grill.
On a grill, we leave the peppers whole, but under the broiler, we cut them into pieces first to get them closer to the broiler element, and also flatten the segments to maximize their exposure to the radiant heat. In both approaches, we cover the peppers off heat to steam them a little before peeling, which makes their skins slip right off.
How to Roast Peppers in the Oven
Depending on the size of the peppers, you can roast 3 to 4 at a time with this method.
1. Slice 1/2 inch from top and bottom of pepper. Remove and discard stem and core.
2. Cut slit down 1 side of pepper. Turn pepper skin side down and gently press so it opens to create long strip. Remove any remaining ribs and seeds.
3. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Arrange pepper strips, tops, and bottoms skin side up on sheet and flatten all pieces with your hand.
4. Broil peppers, 3 to 4 inches from broiler element, until skin is puffed and most of surface is well charred, 10 to 13 minutes.
5. Pile bell peppers in center of foil. Gather foil over bell peppers and crimp to form pouch. Let steam for 10 minutes. Open foil packet and when cool enough to handle, peel bell peppers.
How to Roast Peppers on the Grill
Because it's easy to lose strips of peppers between the cooking grates, we like to grill-roast peppers whole. Just be sure to use the highest heat possible to ensure the peppers char before becoming too soft.
1. Heat grill (gas or charcoal) to high. Place peppers on grate directly over the heat.
2. Roast peppers, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes total.
3. Transfer peppers to a bowl, and cover them with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Once cool, remove their skins, core, and seeds.
Tips for Roasting Chile Peppers
Roasted chile peppers are great additions to salsas, chilis, scrambled eggs, salads, and sandwiches. The technique for roasting chiles is the same as for bell peppers, but with a few tweaks and considerations.
1. Avoid thin-walled chiles: The flesh of varieties such as Cubanelle peppers and serrano chiles shrink so much during cooking, they’re difficult to peel and more trouble than they’re worth.
2. Choose from these best bets: Poblano, Anaheim, Fresno, and jalapeño all roast nicely.
3. Discard small tops: The tops of large chiles may be roasted in the same way as bell pepper tops, but the tops of smaller chiles don’t hold up to roasting and should be discarded.
4. Leave the tip: Do not remove the pointed bottom of the pepper. Instead halve the pepper lengthwise, remove the seeds and ribs, and flatten the pepper skin side up on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
5. Adjust cooking time: Smaller chiles such as jalapeños may roast more quickly than larger chiles such as poblanos, so be sure to keep an eye on them.