peppadews in a white bowl

Grilled Peppadews: A Burst of Flavor on the Grill

Chili peppers are a native Mexican crop that has become an important part of cuisines across the globe. Peppers have been genetically modified to create different spice levels, but culinary methods are also employed to transform their flavors and textures. A case in point is the tangy and sweet peppadew. Peppadews are a South African brand of pickled pepper made by placing mild piquanté peppers in a sugar and vinegar brine. The result is a bite-sized, round, red pepper with a crunch similar to pepperoncini.

The pickling process all but eliminates the already small amount of heat in piquanté peppers while also softening the vegetal flavor inherent in any pepper. While peppadews are ready to eat right out of the jar, grilling them will revive their natural pepper flavor while also adding novel flavors and textures for a sophisticated upgrade.

Grilling peppadews brings a toasty, smoky taste to complement and balance the intensity of the sweet and sour brine while also enhancing their vegetal savoriness. Plus, exposure to high heat will tenderize the crunch of a pickled pepper while also blistering and slightly charring the skin.

You can grill them in a griddle or cast iron skillet over the grates of an outdoor grill or over the stove. The result is a much more complex combination of flavors and textures that will elevate any dish they’re a part of.

How to enjoy grilled peppadews

grilled stuffed pepper

Peppadews are bite-sized pickled peppers, making them perfect for appetizer dishes. Since peppadews are common garnishes for cheese and antipasti platters, you can create a cheese-stuffed grilled peppadew appetizer dish. The grilling will transform the pickled peppers into tender vessels while also melting the cheese inside of them. A tart, sweet, smoky grilled peppadew would work well with most types of cheese, whether it’s mozzarella, goat cheese, or sharp cheddar. For a vegan-friendly appetizer, you can stuff them with quinoa or bulgur. 

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If you’re looking for a sweeter, tangier twist on jalapeno poppers, you can swap jalapenos for grilled peppadews, stuffing them with cream cheese and topping them with a chunk of crispy bacon. You can also use grilled peppadews as a substitute for pimentos for a sweet, tangy, and smoky addition to a classic pimento cheese dip recipe.

Blend grilled peppadews into gazpacho, hummus, or a creamy sauce like romesco sauce or garlic cream sauce to add richness and depth. They will make delicious pizza and salad toppers or additions to grain bowls, offering a unique texture and flavor as a cooked pepper. You can add them to a grilled veggie platter alongside zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and onions to serve with chimichurri, tzatziki, or a zesty avocado cream sauce. You could also add them to grilled skewers with shrimp, chicken, and onions at your next backyard barbecue.

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