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14 April 2014

Drying chili peppers is a great way to store them for the long term. You don’t want to waste any of those chili peppers picked from that huge harvest this year. Here are a few ways to dry them so they don’t go to waste.

The Basic Method for Drying Chili Peppers

Wash your chili peppers thoroughly after picking to remove any dirt, then dry.

Place on a plate or a wire rack in a dry, well ventilated room. You can also string the chilies up on string or thread and hang to dry. Within several weeks, you will have dried chili peppers and you can grind them up or use them as ornaments as desired.

Oven Drying Instructions

Wash your chili peppers thoroughly after picking to remove any dirt.
Cut them in half, lengthwise to expose the pepper innards.
Arrange the chili peppers over a baking sheet.
Bake at low heat, about 100 to 135 degrees.
There is no set time to bake the chili peppers for drying. Keep an eye on them, turning every few minutes or so. You can leave the oven door cracked for some air flow. It will take several hours with this method. Keep in the oven until the moisture has been baked out of them. Use as desired!

Drying Chili Peppers Without an Oven – Air Drying

  1. In this case, dry your chili peppers whole. Do not slice.
  2. String them together on some strong thread with a few inches between each jalapeno peppers.
  3. Hang the chili peppers in direct sunlight. Be sure it is dry and warm.

It can take several weeks for the jalapenos to completely dry with this method, but it’ll be worth it!

Last but not least, you can also consider a food dehydrator, which is a more fool proof method of drying chili peppers.

Drying Chili Peppers with a Dehydrator

A dehydrator is probably the easiest method for drying chili peppers. A dehydrator encloses the chili peppers and dries them overnight in soft heat. Slice them up before dehydrating for faster dehydration. You can find dehydrators in stores or online.

Interested in dehydrating chili peppers and making your own powders? Check out our video included on this page.

NOTE: This is the food dehydrator that I use. It works GREAT and I highly recommend it. It’s an affiliate link, FYI: Food Dehydrator: Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-75A – For dehydrating peppers and making powders.

More information on Dehydrating Peppers (Video Included).

What can you do with your dried chili peppers?

Grind them up to make your own chili powder, which is like cayenne powder, or keep them whole and use them as you might use a sun dried tomato. They can be rehydrated with hot water and go great with many recipes!

Also see: How to Rehydrate Dried Chili Peppers


  1. Ron Brangham

    5 stars
    Is it possible to use my smoker to dry poblano peppers (or any peppers) if I can keep the heat down to 125 – 135 degrees? I’m thinking it would add a nice smokey flavor to the peppers.

  2. Jennifer O

    This is our second summer to dehydrate our garden peppers and we’re having fun with it! I notice that when you buy peppers like anchos at the store that they are a little leathery and not crispy. If we are drying them to make crushed peppers or chili powder should we dry them until crispy or stop when they’re still a bit pliable? Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Great, Jennifer. I recommend drying them until they are brittle, as they will break down into powders much more easily. Have fun!

  3. Hey, thanks for all the info, you’re truly an expert! Quick question: recent move to AZ and found that any veggies left on the countertop ripen really quickly. I have a bunch a jalapeños and Serranos that have been there no more than 2 weeks and are quite dry and wrinkly. Is it safe to continue the drying process in the oven? Or string them up outside (it’s so darn hot)? Thanks

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Bridgit, as long as there is no rot or fuzzy growth, they should be okay to continue drying. Make sure there is no rot on the insides.

  4. I crushed my Rocoto pepper a bit using a blender. I then dried them (which took a day). Once dry, I used a grinder and ground them to powder (which is what I love). Was my quick method in any way leading to loss of “hotness” or I should I have naturally dried them without crushing?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Benson, no, that is a good method for drying them. Crushing them doesn’t affect the heat. Enjoy the powder!

      1. Thank you Mike for you reply.

        Do we have some chilies that are meant to be eaten raw and not powder?

        Reason I asking this is, I have seen some peppers that are very hot when taken raw (like you can’t finish one fruit in a single meal session) but when ground, it’s kinda not that hot.

        I have tried Habanero before and it was extremely hot even after grinding it to powder.

        Or, could I be feeling that “less heat” because I have been used to “Hotter” chilies; chillies with a very high SHU?

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Benson, any peppers can be eaten raw, really, but definitely change in flavor profile after being dried and ground. The hotter the pepper, the hotter the powder will be. You can reduce some of that overall heat by coring out the pepper innards first, then drying them. Most of the heat is within the pepper innards. This isn’t as effective with superhots, though, as the capsaicin (this makes peppers hot) reaches into the pepper skins.

  5. I have a large harvest of red birds eye chilies.
    I have tried stringing them up whole but half have rotted.
    I have dried herbs in the microwave before. Have you tried chilies in the microwave or air fryer?
    Also do you have any hot sauce recipes for birds eyes?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Lyn, people have dried peppers in the air fryer on low heat, and in the microwave, though you need to be careful not to cook them.

  6. My grandmother dehydrated a few chili peppers in the sun in her windowsill. I’m not sure about the duration-I’m guessing a 2 to 4 months. The peppers did their change of color from red to orange then green. After that, they started to rot and they would be completely covered in mold. My grandmother would simply wash the peppers with water periodically to clean them. The peppers looked to be tossed to trash. After this process, the peppers were completely dried/dehydrated. (I understand the sun played the important role in this process. And, my grandmother’s tending.) She cooked them with a stew of fish. It was sooo good! I want to know how to dehydrate foods NATURALLY. The indigenous way, like my grandmother did.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Kenya. That is wonderful. Many people today still dry their peppers on rooftops and in the open air. Refer to the section on the page for Open Air Drying. That is more how your grandmother did it. The only issue with that, though, is the environment has to be right – very dry. If there is too much moisture in the air, the peppers can rot. Let me know how it goes for you. If you control the moisture and get lots of direct sun, you should be good.

  7. Hi,I’ve hung muy chillies on a string
    But after a couple of days there Turing allí soft & floppy like tinned tomatoes..Is this normal..?
    I live un Iquitos Perú,the Amazon basin..Is there too much humidity here?
    They are covered by a Roof so the rains not getting to them

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Lisset. Yes, sounds like there may be too much moisture in the air. Keep an eye on them for signs of rot and moldy growth. If there is too much humidity, they will not dry but can rot. If there is enough dry heat, they will dry out and become pliable but not soft and floppy. Let me know how it goes.

  8. Hello. I have started growing my own peppers using a 400w light grow system and my question is I will purchase a dehydrator shortly but when ready to pic I will have an abundant amount of fruit can I dry them like you mentioned for jalapenos?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Sonny. Absolutely. You can dry any peppers with the same method. Good luck with your harvest. Let me know how it turns out for you. Happy to help and answer any questions.

  9. Hi. , I’m wondering if it’s OK to dry peppers hanging in an airing cupboard, will they dry OK with no light? It will be very warm and dry. Thanks.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Anna, yes, you can do so but it is important that the air be very dry. If there is any moisture, it can rot the peppers. Keep a close eye on them and check them regularly.

  10. I air dried some ancho peppers and on the inside there is a white, furry growth. I assume these are bad, and how can I avoid this from happening?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Tom, yes, it sounds like they are bad. What can happen with drying in the open air is if the air isn’t dry enough, you can get infection and rot. It is safer to dry peppers with a dehydrator in the future. Let me know how it goes.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Claire, I’ve never actually tried this. You CAN with an oven at low enough temperatures so they don’t burn. If you can get the temps down to 100 to 135 degrees and have a constant air flow, I THINK it would work. Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

  11. Shirley Hardy

    I have strung jalapeno peppers in a window 4 weeks ago and the larger ones still aren’t dry.. This is my 1st try. It seems that some of them have released a liquid and are sticky on the outside leathery and shiny on the outside but still feel plump on the inside. it is okay for me to slice them in half and air dry them the rest of the way. Thank you for your advice.

    Shirley Hardy

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Shirley, yes, you can slice them open to help them dry. Watch out for any weird growth, contamination or rot, though, if you’re drying them in the open air. Let me know how it goes for you.

  12. My housemate harvested my peppers last week while I was out of town to avoid the frosts (thank you!), but now that I’m home I find she’s left them in bags on the counter. They’re about two weeks of the plant and the jalapenos look great but the Portugals, Cayennes and Chilis are looking a bit shriveled and soft, though there are no definite signs of rot. I never grew enough to dry before and that was the plan (string drying) but i don’t know if what they’re doing is part of the drying process or just the first stage of rot. I guess my question is more or less: what should a pepper feel/look like after two weeks of air (ish) drying? Thank you for your help!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Alice, drying peppers in the air requires direct sunlight and dry air in order to sap the moisture from them. They may start to soften, but really it is just the moisture leaving the pods. The resulting peppers will be a bit pliant yet may be brittle, and you should detect no moisture from them. Keep an eye on them, and if you see signs of rotting, you should discard them. It should take a couple weeks or so total. I hope this helps.

  13. Hello,

    I have bought some carolina reaper chillies online. They’ve arrived but some of them have black dots on them.

    I presume this is a fungus or virus. Are they still okay to air dry like this? Or should i separate the good ones with the ones with black dots. I plan to hang them and air dry them – I’m in Ireland, so the climate is mild.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      David, it sounds like you have some signs of rot, so those should be separated and discarded. If you really want to try to save them, you can cut them open. If there is no additional signs of rot, you can cut away the bad spots and use what is left, if you feel they’re OK. Let me know how that turns out for you.

  14. I have strung up some Ring of Fire, Carolina Reaper, and Naga Viper peppers. They are indoors because it is getting cooler here in Alberta, Canada. How long will it take for them to dry and be ready to crush into flakes?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Fred, drying peppers in the air can take several days or even longer. Make the conditions are VERY dry for them to dry, otherwise they can rot pretty easily. A dehydrator works best, or in an oven with airflow at low temperatures. Let me know how they dry out for you.

  15. I have dried peppers before but had a problem of storing the product only to get a moth or bug hatch in the batch. Any suggestions in what to do before drying to reduce this problem? Thanks for any help

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      I would make sure the peppers are cleaned before drying. If you’re drying them in the open air, they should be checked daily for such infestations, when they are most vulnerable. I don’t believe you’ll have this issue with a dehydrator, which is my preferred method. Store them in airtight containers to prevent any other issues.

  16. Dave Morgan

    just wanted to thank everyone on here for their questions and answers, very helpful.

  17. Hi Mike,

    Slight variation on the “left them on the counter too long” question – I have a few dozen chillies that have been on the plant for too long – not certain but I think they are “Thai Dragon” or similar. I am in the northeast and I like to move plants inside before the frost, to let the rest of the peppers mature. An aphid explosion is killing the plants but the remaining peppers are bright red and look like they are drying, rather than going rancid. Should I pick and dry them? —note to other cold weather pepper lovers: If you can winter over a plant and get it back in the ground it will produce again!

    REPLY: Owen, if you cut into the peppers and see there are no signs of rot, I think they should be OK. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  18. I strung my Aleppo Peppers to dry, indoors because we are in Houston and it’s too humid outside. They were in a sunny air-conditioned spot for about a month (indirect sun only). They got nice and crispy, but when I opened them up, the insides were all gray and moldy. I would prefer to air dry them in the future, because Drying them in the oven turns my kitchen into a pepper-spray factory. Any suggestions?

    REPLY: Steph, it can be very difficult to air dry because of humidity. I feel the best method is with a dehydrator. You can set it up in the garage if you’d like and just let it go. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  19. Kimberly Dreher

    I came across a gift from the good Lord above…. Some fresh Carolina reapers. My question is… What is the best guaranteed way of preserving seeds for next season without destroying the ability to grow plants. I don’t want to ruin these seeds. I have a dehydrator but dried some Thi-bird chillies in it and planted seeds the following spring and they did not take. Please help… I don’t want to destroy this wonderful gift and opportunity.

    REPLY: Kimberly, I plan to write a post on this soon, but the simplest way is to extract the mature seeds, air dry them for up to a week, then store them in airtight containers in the fridge. They will last a year or longer. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  20. Barbara grove

    Can I freeze dry the peppers?

    REPLY: Barbara, yes, you can, though that is a different process. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  21. What about putting smaller chili peppers (Thai Volcano) in a 200 preheated oven. Turn off the eat place pepper in oven on flat tray or fine wire rack and leave to dry.

    REPLY: Adrian, it could work, as long as there is sufficient low level heat to not burn the peppers and keep some air flow (ideally) to allow the moisture to dry up. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  22. How long is the shelf life of a dried pepper when made into chilly powder?

    REPLY: Arianna, chili powders can last years if stored properly, though they do lose potency. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  23. I have some very hot habanero chillies. My plants are producing more than I know what to do with. I have frozen some, but would like to make some flakes. I will need to remove the seeds first as it would be too hot with the seeds in but not sure I want to dry them in the oven as you have to use gloves to cut them up so I think the eyes and respiratory system might not handle that. What do you suggest – just removing the seeds and air drying?

    REPLY: Cherie, use gloves when slicing open the peppers to avoid any burning hand issues. There isn’t any good way to reduce the heat of the finished peppers without removing the inner membranes. You CAN dry them whole, though that won’t remove the heat. I suggest getting a dehydrator. You can use that outside or in your garage. It works MUCH better than air drying. It is my preferred method. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  24. Hi! I’ve had some jalapeño peppers sitting in a basket for a few months as I’ve pondered what to do with them!!
    Is it still ok to use and dry them if they have gotten a bit soft and mushy?? Was planning on hang drying anyway!


    REPLY: Jnanada, they probably are not of the best quality anymore, so I would be hesitant to use them. If they are COMPLETELY dried, you might grind them into flakes or powder, as long as there is no mold growth or contamination. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  25. So I picked our jalepenos (green) and left them on our counter with the intention of using them shortly. Fast forward about two months and they’re still there. They are now red and shriveled/dried. Are they still usable for something?

    REPLY: Jen, they probably are not of the best quality anymore, so I would be hesitant to use them. If they are COMPLETELY dried, you might grind them into flakes or powder, as long as there is no mold growth or contamination. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  26. The last of my Peppers got Frozen from the first Frost now they are wet they are staring to puff up can I still dry them if they don dry right away will they still be good

    REPLY: Geri, it’s hard to say but I don’t think so. You really should start with the freshest of peppers for drying. If you think they might still be OK, maybe just freeze the batch. As long as they aren’t rotting. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  27. Can you dry peppers in the microwave as I have with fresh herbs?

    REPLY: Sharon, I believe you can though I have not tried it. I’ve heard others do it. It would still take several hours to complete, though, and the energy requirements of the microwave would make this an expensive method, I fear. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  28. Hi!!! How long will the dried chili peppers keep in the freezer before they lose there flavor??

    REPLY: Thomas, they will keep VERY LONG if you dry them then keep them in the freezer. Years, probably. Eventually anything loses flavor and heat, but drying then freezing will keep a long time. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  29. I mistakenly planted cayenne peppers and now have 1000’s of peppers. What is the best way of drying them to make cayenne pepper? I tried smoking them, like I did with jalapeños, and that made great smoked chipotle. However with the cayenne, they burned no matter what I adjusted. Have you used a dehydrator? Stringed to dry?

    REPLY: Ali, yes, I have a page on drying with a dehydrator here: — Good luck! — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  30. My peppers are still green, I have some ghosts and thai dragons, they came off when harvesting the ripe ones, how do I ripen them before drying?

    REPLY: Tom, leave them on the windowsill in thesun and they may ripen for you. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  31. I’m trying to air dry outside but they are losing color. Is that normal? Some are almost all white after only about 1 week. I live in western PA.

    REPLY: Russell, I’d have to see a photo, but in reality, it sounds like they are rotting. The air has to be very dry for them to air dry. No moisture. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  32. Why do oven dried jalapeños need to be sliced? I would rather leave them whole.

    REPLY: Tom, you can leave them whole. They will just take longer to dry. They dry faster when cut. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  33. Ben Robertson

    Instead of drying, could you vacuum seal the fresh peppers? Would they still be good for use after several months?

    REPLY: Ben, I haven’t tried sealing fresh peppers, and my gut says NOT to do it. I know of people vacuum sealing but then freezing, which is more guaranteed to preserve them. If you try it, though, let me know how it turns out. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  34. I have tried with micro wave oven. i dont now what (if) you can destroy with this process in peppers but it’s easy and OK!

  35. Derek miller

    Coffee grinders will give you “dust” resulting in hot peppers in the air. Use the bullet. Chamber has a much better seal so no dust.

  36. William, yes, you can dehydrate peppers that have been in the freezer. They will be mushy when you thaw them, so keep that in mind. Best to slice them in half and pat them dry, then place them in the dehydrator and proceed as normal. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  37. William Thomas

    Last year we many jalapeno, sweet banana, Habanero peppers and cherry tomatoes . We had to freeze many last September. This year we have a Dehydrator. Can we take the peppers and tomatoes out freezer and dehydrate them? If so, Can we do as instructed above? Please Help!!!!
    Thank you

  38. Mike Grizzard

    Yeah I found out the hard way that you’re best off wearing some type of respirator gear as well as some safety goggles that completely cover and surround you up eyes, I had dried a out 24 bhut jolokia’s and used my coffee grinder to make myself some chili powder to have for when I was cooking and after I was grinding them for a bit my throat began to close up abit and my eyes felt like when I was pepper sprayed in the face by the cops… All in all it was a bad experience, but it was also very much a learning experience as well

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