Crushed red pepper (a.k.a. red pepper flakes) are forms of coarsely ground chili peppers with the seeds left in. The chili peppers used to make the typical crushed red pepper include cayenne (most common), chile de arbol, or ancho. That said, there are many different products that fit the “crushed red pepper” description including Turkey’s urfa biber and Korean gochugaru. Regardless of what it’s called, crushed red pepper is versatile. And it’s a lot more fun to use in the kitchen than you may think! Let’s explore seven tasty crushed red pepper uses that’ll help you use up that jar.
As a table condiment
One of the places that you are most likely to see crushed red pepper is in pizza restaurants. Depending on the restaurant, you may see them in shakers on the table or they may come in single-serve packets. The use of crushed red pepper on pizza goes back to the old country where it is a southern Italian favorite. It is great for adding a little heat to pizza and other traditional Italian foods. They often don’t include chili peppers as a part of the recipe.
But don’t stop there. CRP is actually an excellent table condiment just to keep next to the salt and pepper. With just a shake or two, it can add a little spice to otherwise boring soups, sandwiches, and salads.
On cruciferous vegetables
Kale is a great vehicle for crushed red pepper. One popular way to prepare it is to quickly fry kale leaves in olive oil with some garlic and crushed red pepper. Remove from heat and drizzle on some lemon juice. This method works for cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts as well.
Whether you are grinding your own meat and stuffing sausage skins at home or you bought some commercial sausage that isn’t quite spicy enough, crushed red pepper is a great addition. It improves both the flavor and appearance. Mix it into the sausage before forming patties and frying or simply sprinkle on top of already-formed patties.
For making homemade hot sauce
If your crushed red pepper is hot enough, you can use it to make a decent hot sauce. Simply combine with vinegar and your preferred seasonings and cook it or let it sit for a few days then grind in a food processor or blender for a smooth texture. Alternatively, you can leave it in the vinegar and seasonings for a peppery vinegar. It can be uses in salad dressings or as a sauce on its own. You can add crushed red pepper to Mexican-style salsas as well.
The traditional chili pepper component in kimchi is gochugaru. Red pepper flakes are not the traditional option, but it can make an effective substitute even though it still contains its seeds.
For making chili oil
As one of the staples of Chinese cuisine, chili oil is an important condiment that goes with many dishes including dumplings and noodles. You can use crushed red pepper to make it by steeping the flakes in hot oil along with other spices like ginger and garlic. The oil is infused with the heat and color of the pepper.
You can also use crushed red pepper to make the oil-based salsa known as salsa macha. Salsa macha is similar to Chinese chili oil without the ginger.
Crushed red pepper is known for the role it plays in some pickle recipes. It provides a nice dash of color and a little heat to the brine. Or, if you have a jar of store bought pickles, add some red pepper flakes to the jar after opening to give the pickles a little punch.