Sunday 30 August 2015

Smoking and Drying Peppers (Poblano/Ancho, Jalapeno/Chipotle)

With an abundant supply of hot peppers recently, I decided to preserve them for later use by smoking and drying them.  This was a challenge for me as I have only a single burner BBQ which means I didn't have the advantage of indirect heat. 

Based on past experience, one would normally put the wood chips on the heated side and the peppers on the unheated side of a two burner unit.  I had to play around a bit.  So this is by no means a tutorial on how to dry and smoke peppers as I had to kind of wing it a bit to make it work.  In fact, most of my facts here are from googling, so feel free to correct anything in the comment section.

I smoked and dried two batches in the past couple of weeks.  First up was the batch of jalapenos with some Hungarian Hot Wax mixed in (just because I had some on hand).  The jalapenos are "M Strain" from William Dam Seeds ... which then are referred to as chipotle once smoked.  I very much dislike canned chipotle peppers but that is because they are generally mixed with an adobe sauce.  I am not a fan of adobe.

The second batch was Ancho peppers.  Ancho is the variety of seed from West Coast Seeds; they are actually a poblano pepper which is then referred to as Ancho once it has been dried and smoked.

With a proper two burner BBQ, the usual technique is to lay out your peppers on one side of the BBQ and set up your wood chips on the other side.  Heat the side with the chips (usually soaked in water first), lay out your peppers on the unheated side, turn it on and you can keep the lid closed for hours to really let the smoke settle into the peppers.

Unfortunately, with a single burner, I had no choice but to open and close the lid a few times so I lost some of the smokey flavour.  But I still found them quite wonderful when done.

Basically the approach was to put the wood chip box, filled with chips of cherrywood, onto the BBQ for at least 10 minutes. Turn the heat as low as it will go, open up the lid and place the peppers (stem and seeds intact but sliced to help the smoke permeate) around the edge (as far away from the direct heat source as possible) and lower the lid. 

I checked one more time over the space of about two hours ... some had burnt from the heat which I removed.  The rest I just turned over and moved around to keep them as far away from the heat source.

So not the most ideal conditions but I'm pretty thrilled with the results, all things considered.  I've already used some of the peppers this past week when I made my recipe for pulled lamb tacos (based on a Rick Bayless recipe).

And I look forward to many other delicious uses for the smoky peppers!


  1. Do the peppers both smoke and dry in the bbq or do they still have to dry out once smoked?

    I've only recently tried to dry peppers, although not having a dehydrator is a bit of a pain as I had to use the oven on low for a good chunk of time and then let them dry the rest of the way naturally. They don't feel brittle at all yet, but sort of leathery, which I'm taking to mean they aren't dried enough yet.

    1. Good question, I should have mentioned that. After about 2 hours on the BBQ, they are pretty much dried up. But just to be sure, I spread them out on a plate for a week or two before placing them in a jar. So yes, quite brittle after just this process, but not taking any chances!

  2. I smoked peppers for the first time last year and I'm looking forward to doing it again this year when I have enough peppers. I got better results with my charcoal grill than with the gas grill. Like you said, the tricky part for me was keeping them from getting burned.

  3. That sounds delicious. I so miss peppers. I was always a fan of all types of chili peppers.