How to Dehydrate Hot Peppers

Like many people, you probably grow more than just a few pepper plants. If that’s the case, you’ll no doubt end up with more hot peppers than you can use fresh. Don’t let all your time nurturing those hot pepper plants go to waste. Start thinking about how you’ll preserve them for later use before harvest time. There are few options for preserving hot peppers for storage. You could make salsa or hot sauce, pickle them, or dry them out. In this article we’ll focus on the last option, how to dehydrate hot peppers.


What is the best way to dry hot peppers?

In short, using a dehydrator is the fastest and best way to dry hot peppers without the risk of them getting moldy. As a first step you should be sure and gently wash the peppers. Once clean, lay them out on a towel to thoroughly dry. How you proceed from here will be determined by the type of hot pepper you’ll be dehydrating. If the peppers are small or thin skinned you can easily dry them whole. Larger peppers can be dehydrated whole as well but it will add significant time to the process.

Large peppers or those with thick flesh should be, at least, cut in half. Removing the calyx (where the stem attaches), placenta (inner pulp), and seeds will also shorten the time to dehydrate but this step is optional. Be sure and save some seeds to dry to plant next year’s garden or sprinkle on pizza.

It’s best to try and keep all the pieces of pepper a similar size. Cutting all pieces to the same size will ensure they’re all completely dry at the same finishing time. This may require you to cut the hot peppers in quarters or more.

Place all peppers or pieces on trays in an even layer. Make sure the peppers are not touching. This will help speed up the drying time. Overloading your trays will increase drying time. Sometimes it’s better to work in smaller batches.

TIP: When drying peppers, it’s a good idea to put the dehydrator outside. Moisture put into the air from dehydrating hot peppers and/or super-hot peppers indoors may cause burning of the eyes, nose, or throat.

How long does it take to dehydrate hot peppers?

It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take to dehydrate the hot peppers because there are a lot of variables. When dehydrating at the ideal temperature range of 120-135F it could take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. A lot depends on the thickness of the skin on your peppers. Cayennes and other things skinned peppers will be in the shorter end of the spectrum.

Obviously, a higher temperature would also result in a shorter drying time. However, the higher temperature you use the more the peppers will “cook”. Don’t use temps higher than 165F. Even at that temperature the peppers will brown a bit.

The best advice one can give is to check the peppers every couple of hours. Remove the pepper pieces that are completely dry, they should easily crumble with your fingers.

Do I need to blanch peppers before dehydrating?

No, there is no need to blanch peppers before dehydrating. Just be sure and wash them in cool water, before slicing.

How do you dry peppers without a dehydrator?

Some modern ovens can heat at lower temperatures for dehydrating. However, most ovens have a low temperature set point of around 200F. That temperature will certainly cook the peppers.

You may still be able to use your oven by setting it at the lowest temperature and leaving the oven door ajar. This will prevent heat buildup in the oven. It would be best to use an oven thermometer to monitor the oven temperature.

If you plan on dehydrating hot peppers every year it really would be best to just invest in a dehydrator. There are several that can be purchased on Amazon. Below is the model we use. This unit is about $70 at the time of this post.

Can you air dry hot peppers?

Air drying peppers is another option. Care must be taken so the peppers dry as quickly as possible to prevent them from molding. Drying hot peppers in the sun works in climates with low humidity and a temperature of around 85F.

The most common method for air drying hot peppers is to use a needle and thread and create a string of peppers. Run the needle and thread through the base of the stems leaving space so the chili’s aren’t touching. Hang the string of peppers in the sun, check them daily. It may take several weeks to completely air-dry whole peppers. For this reason, thin skinned peppers are best for this method.

Air dried peppers maintain their color better than those from a dehydrator.

Do dried peppers lose their heat?

It seems logical that fresh peppers would be hotter than dried peppers. However, the heat of a pepper comes from the capsaicin. Capsaicin is an oil in the pepper. When you dehydrate, or air dry, a hot pepper the moisture (water) evaporates away leaving behind the capsaicin. This often results in a concentrated amount of capsaicin making dried peppers hotter than a fresh chili.

Can you over dehydrate?

Generally speaking, there’s no way to over dehydrate peppers. There is one caveat, if you’re using temperatures over 135F you risk cooking or burning the peppers. If using proper temperatures… when you think they’re dry, dry them longer. Especially if you intend on turning the dehydrated peppers into powder. Properly dehydrated peppers should snap easily when bending and crumple easily.

How long do dried chilies last?

When kept in airtight containers, dried peppers will keep for years. The same goes for seasoning powders made from the dehydrated chilies. That said, whole or chopped dried peppers are best if used within a year.

How to Store Dehydrated Hot Peppers?

Now that you know how to dehydrate hot peppers, I’m sure you’re wondering what’s the best way to store them after drying. The important thing to keep in mind when storing the dried peppers is that you’ll need to prevent the ambient air from reaching them. The humidity in the air will quickly be absorbed by dehydrated peppers, or other foods, and will put them at risk of getting moldy.

Quart sized Mason jars work great for storing dehydrated peppers.

Small jars or shakers can be used to store hot pepper powder. Grinding the chili’s into powder is a great space method if you dried large amounts of peppers.

If you have an overabundance of dehydrated peppers that you’d like to store whole, consider vacuum sealing the excess for best flavor retention. Vacuum sealers are fairly inexpensive and have many great uses for the home gardener. We even use ours to preserve pesto made from our fresh basil.

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