20 Easy Ways to Use Fermented Peppers

Six jars of various sizes holding different types of fermented hot peppers

Now that you have mastered the art of making fermented hot peppers (click here for a recipe) you may have a fridge full of various pickled peppers.  Possibly hot chilies, jalapeno peppers, habaneros and various other concoctions.  So what do you do with all those peppers?  Well if you are anything like me you like spicy food and you like variety so here is a collection of recipes to help you to use all those peppers you have fermenting away in the fridge.

  1. Fermented Hot Sauce

The simplest and most obvious use of all.  Hot Sauce can be made with any type of fermented pepper and is dead easy.  Depending on how you like your sauce you can make it thick or thin, spicy or mild and any color you like (depending on the color of the pepper).  

Fermented hot sauce is great as a condiment to serve with Mexican foods of all types, at a barbeque and in a sandwich to add a little zing.  Put it on anything you wish to spice up to add a little interest.

  1. Spicy relish
Hot pepper relish in a flip top jar

Relish is another popular condiment which is served with a variety of foods but when it is spiced up with some hot lacto fermented peppers it enters a category all its own.  This relish can be used on burgers, sausages, smokies or added to a sandwich. 

It can be made ahead of time but due to the sweetener in it, it needs to be used fairly quickly or it will become very sour (as the live lactic acid bacteria consume the sugar and make lactic acid).

  1. Taco salad
Bowl filled with taco salad with cheese on top

Taco salad is a standard use for fermented peppers.  The simplest way is to just sprinkle a good number of them on top of the salad along with the diced tomatoes.  Or you can use them in the guacamole (see recipe below) or add them to the meat sauce.  Whatever method you choose they will up the flavor to a new level. You can use many types of hot fermeted peppers depending on your spice profile.

  1. Guacamole
bowl of guacamole on a plate filled with corn chips

Normally guacamole is used to cool Mexican food down.  The creamy texture and oil content coats the tongue and sensitive mucous membranes and prevents the capsaicin from affecting them and diluting it a bit which lowers the spice in the mouth.  

This recipe does the opposite!  It adds curcumin to the oil in the guacamole which ups the spice level.  If you make this recipe make sure you warn everyone that it is a hot guacamole and if they need something to cool their mouths try sour cream or creamy kefir cheese.

  1. Spicy Smoothie

The morning smoothie has become a health conscious choice for the morning breakfast.  It is fast to make, easy to clean up after and can be taken to go.  Usually made with fruit and some type of creamy ingredient it provides an easily digestible filling drink.  

With the addition of one or two fermented pepper slices you can move your bland morning smoothie to a flavor sensation.  The lactic acid in the peppers improves the flavor, helps digestion and breaks down some of the fat from the creamy ingredients.  Since peppers are in the fruit family your morning smoothie is still a purely fruit smoothie!

  1. Sandwich filling
an open faced sandwich made from almond flour waffles, beef, cheese topped with fermented jalapeno peppers and lettuce

The standard bag lunch is of course the sandwich and through years of taking a bagged lunch it can get a little boring but with the addition of hot peppers it can be made new again.  This sandwich is made with almond flour waffles using kefir (click here for the recipe) and spicy cheese dip (below).

You can add fermented peppers to your sandwich in a variety of ways:

  • Whole or sliced pieces between the meat and lettuce 
  • As a hot sauce (see recipe link above)
  • As a cheese spread (see recipe link below)
  • Spicy dipping sauce 

Depending on your comfort level you can use one or more of these methods of spicing up your regular bagged lunch.

  1. Spicy cheese dip

Cheese dip is a favorite for social gatherings.  It goes well with everything from cut vegetable sticks, crackers or chips.  This recipe uses kefir cream cheese and lacto fermented jalapenos to make a tangy spiced up version of the usual bland cheese dip.

  1. Red hot chili
Bowl of chili toped with fermented jalapenos

Everyone has their own recipe for chili which they believe to be the hottest and most flavorful chili on the planet.  Well every recipe can be improved so why not try adding a few fermented peppers.  You can control the heat by using different peppers, anaheim peppers for mild, jalapenos for medium and chili peppers for hot.  If you want to really go crazy add some fermented habanero or ghost peppers, just remember to warn your diners before they indulge.

  1. Pizza topping

This is a great way to use all those hot banana peppers you have in the fridge.  You can put them under the cheese with the sauce or sprinkle them on top of the cheese.  If you are using jalapenos then instead of mozzarella try cheddar cheese for a Mexican pizza sensation.  

  1. Dehydrated seasoning powder
Dehydrated hot pepper powder in a small bowl

This is similar to having hot chili powder on hand except it has a umami flavor which adds something to anything you sprinkle it on.  It can be made with any type of fermented hot peppers with the aid of a dehydrator. Set the temperature on low and dehydrate over 24-48 hours to preserve the live lactic acid bacteria in the hot peppers.  

  1. Spicy Curry Chicken

Indian cooking has a reputation for being hot so adding fermented peppers to any indian dish is a natural.  The flavors of the fermented peppers come through adding to the full flavor and texture of this classic dish.

  1. Hot Mango Chutney

Chutney is made in a variety of ways, it can be made with vinegar, lactic acid fermentation or made fresh.  This Hot Mango Chutney can be used in an hour but is better after the flavors have had a chance to combine for 24 hours, just remember that it is made with lacto fermented peppers so it will ferment and get sour and less sweet as it is stored so eat it fast.

  1. Fresh Salsa 
Bowl of fresh salsa made with fermented hot peppers on a plate with corn chips around the outside.

Salsa is another condiment which benefits from the use of fermented peppers.  Add them into a fresh salsa to add a more complex flavor profile.  Although I prefer fermenting my salsa from scratch this recipe uses fresh ingredients along with some fermented peppers to add some kick. It can be made just prior to serving or can be made the day ahead to allow flavors to meld together.

  1. Spicy Barbeque sauce

This recipe is not for the faint hearted.  If you like a serious hot and spicy barbeque sauce then this is the one for you.  Barbeque sauce comes in all flavor profiles from sweet and mild to insanely hot.  With this recipe you can add as many peppers as you wish and you can use any type of fermented pepper depending on how hot you want to make your sauce.

  1. Spicy Dipping Sauce

Dipping sauce is always a favorate for dipping wraps, bread or meat in just before eating it. The flavors in the sauce can boost any bland food. To use fermented hot peppers in a dipping sauce simply replace any call for fresh peppers with fermented ones. lower the amount of salt needed and you may have to adjust liquid as well to get the proper viscosity.

  1. Flavored Vinegar

There are many ways to make a hot pepper vinegar from juicing the peppers and using the juice to make vinegar to chopping up the peppers and fermenting them like other fruit vinegars (yes peppers are a fruit) or like in this recipe just adding hot peppers to vinegar and letting it sit a while until the capsaicin infuses with the vinegar.  If you want to raise it to another level or you are short on time, blend it together and filter out the pulp.

  1. Spicy meatballs

Meatballs have a special place in almost every culture and have a wide variety of spice profiles.  Italians like basil and oregano, indians like cilantro and ginger but all of them seem to have a spicy version which includes some type of pepper.  It could be fresh, powdered and yes, fermented.  

The recipe for these meatballs can be adapted for any culture.  Choose the appropriate pepper for the culture.  Jalapenos for Mexican, hot chili peppers for indian etc.  Not to say that you can’t mix and match, have some fun and you may be surprised.

  1. Spicy Tempeh Stir Fry

Tempeh originated in Indonesia and is a regular part of their diet.  It is made by inoculating  beans with a special fungus which uses some of the sugars and starches found in the beans as food.  It makes a nice base for this spicy stir fry.  The fermented peppers add an interesting flavor and really bring the spice level up (depending on how many you use).

  1. Spicy honey nuts

Sweet roasted nuts have been a favorite snack food for a long time.  The crunchy texture mixed with the sweet flavor makes them irresistible.  When heat is also added it makes them something special.

These can be made with any type of fermented pepper or if you have made some dehydrated seasoning powder, just add enough to taste.

  1. Spicy Meat Marinade 

When using pickled peppers in a recipe the pickle juice seems to be ignored but this recipe uses any extra hot pepper brine which is left in the jar once you have used some of the peppers.  It is used as a replacement for the vinegar which is often in a meat marinade.  

The brine helps to break down the outside edges of the meat, helping the flavors to penetrate into the meat easier.  This makes the meat more tender and flavorful.

Michael Grant

Mike has been an enthusiast of fermentation for over ten years. With humble beginnings of making kombucha for himself to the intricacies of making miso, vinegar and kefir. He makes a wide variety of fermented foods and drinks for his own consumption and family and friends. Being a serial learner he began experimenting with a wide variety of fermented products and learning widely from books, online from content and scientific studies about fermentation, its health benefits, how to use fermented food products in everyday life and the various techniques used to produce them both traditionally and commercially. With a focus on producing his own fermented products in an urban environment with little access to garden space he began Urban Fermentation to help others who want to get the benefits of fermentation in their lives. He provides a wide variety of content covering fermented drinks like kombucha and water kefir, milk kefir and yogurt, vinegar production and lacto-fermentation such as pickles, sauerkraut for those who have to rely on others for food production. With an insatiable hunger to know more about fermentation from all nations and cultures he also has learned to make natto, miso and soy sauce, with more to come as the body of knowledge about fermentation is constantly expanding and becoming more popular as time passes.

Recent Posts