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Smoky Red Pepper Crema

By Thepickyeater @pickyeaterblog

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This smoky red pepper crema has a rich, smoky flavor that goes great with a wide variety of dishes. Add it to your tacos, mix it into pasta, dip tortilla chips (or fries) in it, use it as a topping for mashed potatoes, or spread it on sandwiches. This red pepper crema recipe is an incredibly versatile condiment that's guaranteed to become your new favorite dipping sauce!

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Smoky red crema is a classic Mexican sauce with red peppers or tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh herbs. It's rich, slightly sweet, super smoky, and a little spicy too. It's typically served as a condiment to accompany all kinds of dishes like these air fryer tortilla chips, sweet potato tacos, as a dip for these vegan roasted potatoes!

Traditional Mexican red sauces like this red pepper crema are an excellent accompaniment for chicken breast, fish, or for almost any vegetarian main dishes (even as a red pepper pasta sauce!)

While you can find a red pepper crema as a canned product in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store, making it fresh is always better. Not only is it healthier, but it allows you to tweak your sauce if you like it spicier, smokier or sweeter.

Simple ingredients are blended together to achieve a savory flavor that you can spice up as much as you like. Roasted bell pepper is the star of this recipe, and when blended together with the rest of this winning combination, the end result is hard to resist.

I love how this easy recipe can elevate any dish, no matter how simple and plain, and make it amazing. And the best thing is - it's so easy to make!

👩🏽‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • Versatile sauce and condiment
  • Can be made vegan
  • Super smooth consistency
  • Packed with smoky flavors
  • The perfect way to add a lot of flavor using simple ingredients
  • Can be made spicy
  • Healthier than store bought crema!

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🥘 Ingredients

This easy red pepper crema requires just a handful of simple ingredients that you can find at most grocery stores (and may already be in your kitchen!). This homemade sauce will soon be a favorite recipe for your whole family.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

  • Red Bell Peppers: This roasted red pepper crema gets the bulk of its flavor from this ingredient. Red bell peppers also add a bit of sweetness to this sauce.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil helps accentuate the flavor of the red bell peppers as they roast.
  • Sour Cream: The tangy flavor of sour cream adds to the traditional flavor of Mexican crema.
  • Mayo: Mayo along with the sour cream makes this recipe rich, creamy and flavorful.
  • Smoked Paprika: Smoked paprika has a smoky flavor with a little bit of spice and a little bit of sweetness.
  • Garlic Powder: Garlic powder makes everything taste more delicious. A little garlic powder will add an intense, concentrated garlic flavor to this smoky red pepper crema recipe.
  • Lime Juice: This ingredient is optional, but it adds a crisp, citrusy, and fresh flavor to this creamy sauce.

📖 Variations

  • Smoky Red Pepper Crema Substitute: A good substitute for smoky red crema is to mix ingredients you probably already have on hand, such as sour cream with smoked paprika. To spice it up or for a little extra flavor, you can add something like cayenne pepper, black pepper, siracha sauce, or other hot sauces.
  • Spicy Smoky Red Crema: If you love spicy food, you can easily add more spicy flavor by adding chili powder, cayenne pepper, white pepper, or hot sauce. A little goes a long way in this spicy crema so be sure to add small amounts at a time and do a taste test before adding more.
  • Adobo Chipotle Crema: Adobo crema is made with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are jalapeno peppers that have been smoked and dried. Adobo crema is a delicious sauce option with a light tangy and smoky flavor.
  • Lower Calorie Crema: Use low fat or fat free sour cream, and light mayo for this recipe.
  • Roasted Poblano Pepper Crema: Poblano peppers are a great option for a crema recipe. They fall somewhere in the middle of the level of spiciness of bell pepper, with zero spice, and jalapeño peppers. Roasted poblano peppers are even less spicy than using fresh poblano. To make this crema variation, use the same recipe but leave out the smoked paprika and red bell peppers and use poblano peppers instead.
  • Vegan Red Pepper Crema: Make this sauce vegan the easy way by simply using vegan sour cream and vegan mayo.

🔪 Instructions

Preheat Oven, Roast Bell Peppers: Start preheating the oven to 375 degrees F / 190 C. Coat the bell peppers in the oil, place on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes. Turning half way to ensure even cooking.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Transfer Bell Peppers To A Bowl: Remove and place the peppers, while still hot into a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Cool & Prep Roasted Bell Peppers: Allow the bell peppers to cool for 10-15 minutes. Remove the stems, seeds, and charred skin from the bell peppers and cut them into slices.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Dry Bell Peppers: Pat dry with kitchen paper towel.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Combine All Ingredients And Blend: Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Serve: Adjust seasoning as needed, serve immediately.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

❓Recipe FAQs


Smoky red crema is a Mexican sauce made of roasted red peppers or tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. Sometimes it will also include sour cream, and mayo. Then you can add any other seasonings, spices, and herbs that you like on top of this base recipe!


The popular HelloFresh recipe for smoked red pepper crema sauce contains roasted red bell peppers, sour cream, smoked paprika, lemon juice, and salt. This recipe is a copycat version of the hellofresh version, but healthier and more budget friendly too!


Smoked red pepper crema can be served as a dip or drizzled over different kinds of meat like white fish, grilled chicken, and even steak. It's also a great way to add extra flavor to something simple like a rice and beans dish.
Add it to tacos, carnitas, fajitas, or any other Mexican or American dish. It's so versatile, you can even us it to dip french fries in. You can also mix it into pasta dishes, drizzles over mashed potatoes, and use it as a dip for roasted potatoes or other vegetables.

HOW TO STORE Mexican crema made with red peppers?

Store smoky red pepper sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. I don't recommend freezing this sauce as it will change in texture and flavor when it's defrosted or thawed.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Eat within five days. These fresh ingredients won't taste the same after that.
  • If your sauce is too thick, you can add a splash of water or vegetable stock to thin out the consistency. You can also change the consistency depending on what type of dish you're using this for. For example, a dip would need a thicker consistency, while a dressing or pasta sauce could be slightly thinner.
  • Crema must be stored in an airtight container. Don't let air get into your crema while storing or it will spoil faster.
  • Due to the dairy component, this recipe doesn't freeze well.
Smoky Red Pepper Crema

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