This little-known Italian condiment will bring bold heat to any dish. 

By Melanie Fincher
September 20, 2020
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If you consider yourself a fan of Italian cuisine, you have to get your hands on this spicy paste from the Calabria region of Italy. Just beware — this condiment is not for the faint of heart. Calabrian chile pepper paste has a growing fan base thanks to its ability to add serious heat to any dish. Intrigued? Here's what you need to know. 

What Is Calabrian Chili Pepper Paste and How Is It Made?

3D illustration of Italy with Calabria region highlighted in gold
Pictured: Calabria region of Italy
| Credit: viking75/Getty Images

Calabrian chili pepper paste is made from, you guessed it, Calabrian chili peppers. These peppers are native to the Calabria region of Italy, or the toe of Italy's "boot," if you will. Their flavor is described as smoky, salty, and, of course, spicy. To make them into a paste, dried Calabrian peppers (peperoncino) are crushed with olive oil, and sometimes salt and vinegar. 

The result is a spicy condiment that's used to bring heat to anything from pasta dishes to sandwiches and much more. Keep reading to get more recipe inspiration for this authentic Italian condiment.

How to Use Calabrian Chili Pepper Paste

Like most condiments, there are endless ways to put Calabrian chili pepper paste to use. Add it anywhere you'd like a little heat — on top of eggs, pasta, or pizza. You can even blend it into soups, stews, meatloafs, and casseroles to take them from bland to bold. Looking for recipe inspiration? Try Chef John's Calabrian Chicken recipe, which uses Calabrian chile paste as a garnish. 

Where to Buy Calabrian Chili Pepper Paste

You can find jarred Calabrian chili pepper paste at most grocery stores. Trader Joes has its own version for just $3. You can also find it online from retailers like Williams-Sonoma and Amazon. But if you'd prefer to DIY, here's how to make your own version:

How to Make Your Own Calabrian Chili Pepper Paste

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup whole Calabrian chili peppers packaged in oil ($12; Amazon)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Pulse ingredients in a food processor or blender until a paste is formed. 
  2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month. 

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