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Red Pepper Sauce (5 Minutes)

Get a bit of zip, texture, gorgeous color and a ton of flavor in this versatile roasted red pepper sauce or dip. Just 5 minutes, a few ingredients and a food processor or blender to make the magic happen.

How can you use this delicious sauce? Check it out…

bowl of red pepper sauce with basil beside it.

To make this sauce, toss roasted red peppers, almonds, fresh basil and a few pantry staples like lemon zest, a green onion, olive oil and garlic into your food processor. And blend it until fairly smooth.

The end result is a flavorful red pepper sauce that is gluten free, vegan, freezable and can be served with almost anything you can think of. The versatile sauce is wonderful over your favorite pasta, as a dip or drizzled over vegetables.

I served this homemade red pepper sauce as a dip at my sister’s cottage on the weekend. We all scoffed it down with homemade naan in about 5 minutes flat. Which didn’t bother me since it only takes 5 minutes to make 🙂

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

roasted peppers, lemon, green onion, garlic, basil, almonds, oil, basil, seasoning

Here are the ingredients and substitutes you can use.

Roasted red peppers: Roast your own peppers (see FAQs) or do what I did and use the ones in a jar. You can also use other color peppers including green or tri-colored bell peppers if you prefer. Keep in mind that green bell peppers have a stronger pepper flavor than others.

Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves are best, but minced garlic in a jar or frozen garlic cubes work fine too.

Almonds: The addition of ground roasted almonds gives the sauce extra texture. if you want a smoother or thinner sauce, you can leave them out. Pecans or skinned hazelnuts would also work.

Herbs: The combination of fresh basil and roasted peppers work really well in this recipe. Or substitute the basil with other fresh herbs like fresh parsley or cilantro.

Variations

Spice level: Add some heat with chili peppers, red pepper flakes, hot sauce or sriracha. Start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste.

Seasonings: Experiment with different seasonings such as smoked paprika, za’atar or chili powder.

Texture: Add extra creamy texture with a little bit of heavy cream.

Step by step instructions

red pepper sauce ingredients in food processor bowl not processed yet.
Place all ingredients in a food processor or a high-speed blender.
red pepper sauce blended in food process bowls
Process until almost smooth (you will still have texture with the nuts). Taste and adjust seasonings – basil, salt, etc.
bowl of red pepper dip with fresh red pepper beside.
spoonful of red pepper sauce over bowl of red pepper sauce.

Jar vs homemade peppers

Buy peppers in a jar

This creamy roasted red pepper sauce uses roasted red peppers in a jar. I’m sure you clued into this when I mentioned the entire recipe takes 5 minutes 🙂

Which brands are best? The taste can actually differ quite a bit – from smokey-charred to vinegary-pickled. If you prefer the less acidic kind (like me), look for vinegar toward the end of the ingredient list on the jar.

Two big cooking sites – Cooks Illustrated and Fine Cooking – chose Dunbars as their number one choice. Huffpost chose Divina in a taste taste of 13 brands. It’s really personal preference though.

Neither of those brands are available at my local store. I just use a brand that looks decent ingredient-wise and the recipe turns out great regardless. 

Tip: My only suggestion would be to taste the peppers first and adjust the amount of lemon zest you use based on how vinegary the peppers are.

Roast your own peppers

Of course, using fresh roasted red bell peppers would be great too, but that would take an 45 minutes or so to make the recipe. If you have the time, here’s how to roast peppers 4 ways – by Tori Avey.

Recipe FAQs

What can I do with leftover roasted red peppers?

-make a romesco sauce with roasted tomatoes and peppers
-make an easy soup with peppers, Italian sausage, tomatoes and a little parmesan cheese
-blend a roasted pepper into a gazpacho
-use as a topping for burgers, sandwiches or wraps
-add to risotto
-fold into scrambled eggs or an omelet
-great way to change up pizza toppings
-add to a quinoa, pasta or green salad

How do I roast my own peppers?

Oven method: Place whole peppers on a baking sheet and roast them in a 425F/215C oven for about 30 minutes until peppers are soft and beginning to char in spots, turning once or twice. Grill: You can also grill peppers over medium high heat until charred.

Ways to use the roasted red pepper sauce

Here are a few ways to use this versatile recipe:

Short Cut

  • The super fast shortcut here is to use roasted red peppers in a jar.
  • You can also save some time by using minced garlic in a jar or frozen garlic cubes (my favorite way to substitute fresh garlic).

Make Ahead

The sauce can be refrigerated, covered tightly with plastic wrap or in an airtight container, for up to a week or frozen for 2-3 months.

Other easy sauce recipes

bowl of red pepper sauce with basil beside it.

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bowl of red pepper sauce with basil beside it.
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Red Pepper Sauce (or Dip)

Get a bit of zip, texture, gorgeous color and a ton of flavor in this versatile roasted red pepper sauce or dip. It takes just 5 minutes, a few ingredients and a food processor or blender to make the magic happen.
Total Time5 mins
Course: Condiments, Sauces
Cuisine: American, Gluten Free, vegan
Servings: 8 (1/4 cup per serving)
Author: Cheryl

Equipment

  • food processor or blender

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces roasted red peppers from a jar, drained (Note 1) about 1 1/2 peppers
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 green onion
  • 5-7 fresh basil leaves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or less if using salted almonds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  • MAKE RED PEPPER SAUCE: Place all ingredients in food processor or blender. Process until almost smooth. (Note 2 for adjusting texture)
    Taste and adjust seasonings e.g., lemon juice, salt, more basil, etc. Note 3 for variations. Serve as a dip, filling, topping, sauce for pasta, etc. (See ). Serve at room temperature.

Notes

  1. Peppers:
    • Taste the jarred peppers to see how vinegary they are. That way you will know to add more or less lemon zest. 
    • How many peppers in a jar? This can vary as per the size of the peppers, but generally, in a 16 oz jar, there are two large peppers. In a 12 oz jar, about 1 1/2 peppers (approximately 1 1/2 cups). 
  2. Texture options: Leave out the almonds for a smooth creamy texture. The sauce will be thinner without nuts. If your homemade sauce is too thick for your liking, thin it out with tablespoon or two of water.
  3. Variations:
    • Try some different seasonings such as smoked paprika, za’atar or chili powder.
    • Adjust the heat level by adding spicy heat with red pepper flakes, hot sauce or sriracha. Start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste.
    • Instead of almonds, try pecans or skinned hazelnuts
    • Add extra creamy texture with a little bit of heavy cream
    • Substitute the basil with other fresh herbs like fresh parsley or cilantro.
  4. To Store:
    • Leftover red peppers in the jar will last 1-2 months in the fridge once opened. Fresh roasted red peppers can be stored in oil in a sealed container or ziploc for 2 weeks. 
    • Roasted red pepper sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or frozen for 2-3 months.
 
Nutrition values are estimates based on 1/4 cup of red pepper sauce per serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 873mg | Potassium: 125mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 252IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
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