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Smoky Red Pepper Crema Recipe

Pack some spice and smokiness into your recipes with this easy sauce

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
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Updated November 13, 2022

Try out this Smoky Red Pepper Crema Recipe and master a sauce that has hundreds of uses! It requires little effort to make and can be used as a dip, condiment, or in lots of hearty recipes.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema Recipe

HelloFresh is the number 1 meal kit service in the US. Millions of happy customers receive these kits on their doorstep every day, and love the easy step-by-step recipes and pre-weighed out ingredients.

The Hellofresh smoky red pepper crema recipe has become hugely popular. The sauce has become such a big hit due to its smoky and tangy, yet also sweet and creamy combination of flavors.

And its popularity is also down to its versatility – use it as a dip, dressing, or condiment to make a delicious appetizer. Or add it to stews, soups, pasta dishes, tacos, or even quesadillas for your Taco Tuesdays!

Plus, the recipe is so straightforward. You roast red bell peppers and then blend them with just a few simple ingredients in a blender or food processor.

The smoky red pepper crema recipe can also easily be adapted to add a different flavor profile, for example, garlic or extra spices. You can even make it vegan.

With just a little prep time and all the cooking done in your oven, even the most beginner of cooks can give this recipe a go. So don’t delay but give this tasty, smoky sauce a go today!

All About The Smoky Red Pepper Crema Ingredients

Red Peppers

Red bell peppers have a mild, sweet taste – in fact, they’re often called sweet peppers. They have an earthy aspect to them too and many people find them more palatable as they’ve matured more than younger, more bitter green peppers.

For this recipe, I’d recommend getting fresh red bell peppers. This is the most inexpensive way of making the sauce, plus, roasting your own peppers makes this dish all the more flavorful.

You’ll find that roasted red peppers will give this sauce a sweet, rich taste. The roasting process in your oven concentrates the natural sweet elements of the red peppers and so the sauce has a real depth of flavor.

But, if you’re short on time, you can use a jar of store-bought roasted red peppers. Just make sure that you drain all the excess liquid away before using the peppers, otherwise, you’ll affect the texture and taste of your sauce.

Sour Cream

Sour cream has a tart taste and is thick in texture. This is a result of how it’s made when bacteria that produces lactic acid is added to heavy cream.

The great thing about sour cream is that you can use it in recipes and dishes right out of the carton. There may be a little liquid on the top, which you can either mix into the cream or remove before using.

You don’t need to cook sour cream, so often people have it as a versatile condiment or dip, or use it as a sauce. Or, you can also use it in frosting when baking cakes.

If you don’t want to utilize a shop-bought sour cream, try making your own at home! Add a little bit of lemon juice and milk to heavy cream and you’ll have your own homemade ingredient.

When storing it in a fridge, keep sour cream in an airtight container – it needs to be stored like this as it doesn’t contain anything that helps to preserve it. But it’ll keep in your refrigerator for up to about 2 weeks if stored correctly.

Smoked Paprika

A mixture of dried peppers are used to make the spice powder paprika.

But, smoked paprika has extra flavor as the peppers used in this spice are slow roasted over an oak fire before they are grounded. This gives this spice a uniquely strong and smoky flavor.

You should be able to find smoked paprika in your local grocery store. But if not, you can use one of these as a simple substitution: chipotle powder, cayenne pepper, or chili pepper.

Any of these swaps will still give your recipes a spicy, smoky, and delicious taste.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Smoky Red Pepper Crema Recipe

  • Prep Time15 min
  • Cook Time40 min
  • Total Time55 min
  • ServingsMakes 1 cup of sauce
  • YieldMakes 1 cup of sauce

Level: Easy




  1. Roast the Pepper

    First, make sure that your oven is preheated to 400oF.

    Place your red bell pepper onto the baking sheet. Coat in the olive oil and put in the oven.

    You need to allow it to roast for a good 40 minutes. The pepper can be left, other than turning it once halfway through the cooking time so that it roasts evenly.

    Once the time is up, remove your pepper from the oven. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.

  2. Blend the Sauce

    Then, using your sharp knife, cut the pepper into strips. Make sure that you remove the stem and all the seeds.

    Put your red pepper in the blender or food processor. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, smoked paprika or other spices, and salt.

    Blend the ingredients until the sauce is completely smooth.

    The spicy sauce is now ready – serve immediately with your food of choice! Or, store it in the fridge to use later.

Swaps and Substitutions

You’ll love the taste of this smoky red pepper crema sauce as it is. But, as it’s so simple to make, you can adapt this recipe to suit your own taste preferences.

  • This can be done by adding other flavors or substituting ingredients for other options. For example, try roasting yellow or orange peppers alongside the red bell peppers.

  • For any garlic lovers, add a few garlic cloves onto the baking sheet with your bell peppers. These can then be blended into the crema sauce too.

  • To avoid using any dairy products in this smoky red pepper crema recipe, you can swap out the sour cream. Use either 2 tablespoons of olive oil or half an avocado plus a tablespoon of tahini (which contains sesame). Tahini and vegetable broth pairs also very well.

  • You’ll get the creamy, fat content of the cream from the oil or avocado instead, and the resulting sauce is vegan! Plus, this version will freeze even better than the original so we’d recommend you use this swap if you are making a batch of the crema for storage.

  • Extra spices can also be added if you like sauces that really pack a punch. Try adding in a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, chili powder or white pepper for more heat.

  • Finally, heavy cream can also be substituted for the sour variety. This will work fine in our smoky red pepper crema recipe and give your sauce a really smooth, thick texture.

    • Smoky Red Pepper Crema serve

      Serving Suggestions

      • Smoky red pepper crema makes the perfect dip. You can make a delicious appetizer by serving it with tortilla chips, pita bread, or veg sticks – even dipping in strips of grilled peppers would work well!

      • This sauce can also be used to give a bit of tartness and smoky heat to your pasta dishes like the Lobster pasta Gordon Ramsay recipe. Try mixing some with a tomato sauce as a topping for your ravioli side dishes.

      • For those of you who like to experiment, why not use your red pepper crema as a pizza sauce? Swap out the traditional marinara base and you can then pair your spicy, creamy sauce with your favorite pizza toppings.

      • Making a batch of this sauce is so handy, as adding little spoonfuls into a whole range of recipes works so well. You can use your pepper crema to add extra flavor and spice up soups or stew dishes.

      • Or, try using it as a condiment to add some smoky heat to salads, chicken wings, or Mexican rice bowls.

      • Your smoky red pepper crema will also add a depth of flavor to sandwiches or tortilla meals. Or why not try it as a burger or hotdog topping instead of your normal ketchup and mustard?

      • Finally, for a delicious meal, I recommend that you try your sauce with grilled shrimp, fish, or chicken.

      Check Some HelloFresh Recipes

      How To Store, Freeze, and Reheat Smoky Red Pepper Crema

      Your smoky red pepper crema recipe, like most homemade sauces, will last in your refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days.

      However, it won’t freeze that well due to the dairy content. If you do try and freeze this sauce, the ingredients might separate or even emulsify, which will affect the quality and taste.

      But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a batch of the smoky red pepper crema for freezing. All you need to do is swap out the sour cream and use tahini with either some avocado or olive oil (or even avocado oil!).

      This dairy-free version of the sauce will then keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

      When you want to use your pepper crema, put the bag or container into a bowl of tepid water. Leave for about 30 minutes.

      You might get a bit of separation in the sauce as it thaws. Don’t worry – once you reheat it, the sauce will mix back together and become completely smooth again.

      Smoky Red Pepper Crema Recipe - Pinterest

      Nutrition Facts (per serving)
      • 408Calories
      • 38.6 g Fat
      • 14.6 g Carbs
      • 5 gProtein
      Show Full Nutrition Label
      Nutrition Facts
      Servings: based on 1 cup
      Amount per serving
      % Daily Value*
      Total Fat38.6 g 49%
      Saturated Fat17 g 85%
      Cholesterol51 mg 17%
      Sodium1228 mg 53%
      Total Carbohydrate14.6 g 5%
      Dietary Fiber2 g 7%
      Total Sugars6.3 g
      Protein5 g
      Vitamin C0 mg 0%
      Calcium146 mg 11%
      Iron1 mg 5%
      Potassium418 mg 9%
      *The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
      Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.
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