Crushed red chiles—also known as red pepper flakes—are those hot little specks we all love sprinkling over our pizza, pasta, noodles, and avocado toast. While these chile flakes make for an outstanding condiment, there are so many creative things a cook can do with this staple spice. If you have a favorite way to cook with this spice, let us know in the comments below.
Crushed Red Chiles
Crushed red pepper flakes are an icon of Italian family restaurant tables. Their use as a condiment originated in Bukovo, a village in North Macedonia, where the spicy red peppers grow abundantly. This cheery mix of flakes and seeds adds moderate heat to tomato sauce, homemade sausage, and, of course, pizza!
Make Your Own Chile Oil
Chile oil, or sometimes called chili crisp, is a fiery and flavorful condiment. Recipes vary in sophistication and ingredients, but the basic preparation is to fry equal parts freshly minced garlic and crushed red chiles in a neutral oil. This spicy savory oil is especially popular in Chinese cuisine. It adds the perfect kick of flavor and heat to steam buns, pot stickers, sautéed veggies, noodles, and fried eggs.
Spicy Compound Butter
This recipe is as simple as whipping your pepper flakes into softened butter—although we like to toss in some honey, granulated garlic, and smoked paprika too. Spicy compound butter is perfect for adding to the top of a steak, slathering over fried chicken, or sautéing your favorite veggies.
Hot Chile Honey
Simply simmer a cup of honey with a teaspoon or two of crushed red chiles for about an hour. Keep the heat on low and don’t let the sugars burn. After an hour, cool the honey and strain the flakes if desired. The sweet heat of this honey is delicious when drizzled over cheese boards, fried chicken, fruit salads, and even pepperoni pizza.
Spicy Meat Marinades
Making the perfect marinade is surprisingly easy. Marinades can be crafted from combinations of oil, acid, salt, sugar, spices, herbs. Three parts oil to one part acid is the general rule with most marinades. Crushed Red chiles add a speck of color and splash of heat to homemade marinades. Try making a simple lemony marinade for chicken and fish by whisking together the juice of one lemon and a third of a cup of oil. Add a teaspoon each of salt, granulated garlic and crushed red chile flakes and you’re ready to marinate succulent chicken.
Hot Pepper Pickles
Similar to marinades, you can toss in a bit of red pepper flakes to any pickle brine marinade. The simplest pickle marinade follows a 3-2-1 method—3 parts vinegar, 2 parts water, and 1 part sugar. From there you can try adding your favorite spices and experimenting with your favorite vegetables. A red pepper flake pickle brine is great with sliced sweet onions and cucumbers.