Jalapeno peppers add a nice kick of heat and a smoky flavor to foods. While you can simply chop or slice fresh jalapenos to add to your favorite dishes, turning them into a powder opens up even more possibilities. Jalapeno powder is convenient to store and lasts much longer than fresh peppers. It's also more concentrated in flavor, so you can use less.
Making jalapeno powder at home is easy if you have a few basic tools. With just a bit of time and minimal hands-on effort, you'll end up with a versatile homemade seasoning to spice up meats, eggs, soups, dips, and more.
1. Choose the Right Jalapenos
The first step is picking out good jalapenos for making powder. You'll want ripe, healthy peppers. Here's what to look for:
- Color - Fully ripe jalapenos will be a deep green or red. Green ones will offer more tart, vegetal notes, while red jalapenos turn sweeter as they mature. Both work well for powder.
- Firmness - Avoid mushy jalapenos. Opt for those that have a nice firmness when gently squeezed.
- Fresh aroma - Smell the jalapenos. They should have a fresh, bright scent. Discard any that smell off or funky.
- No blemishes - Bruises, soft spots, and shriveling are bad signs. Inspect each pepper and make sure it looks healthy.
For the most concentrated flavor, go for fully ripe red jalapenos. But regular green ones work great too. Pick ones that are in their prime for best results.
2. Prep the Peppers
Once you've chosen your jalapenos, it's time to prep them for dehydrating. Here's the easy process:
- Rinse - Give them a quick rinse under cool water to remove any dirt or debris. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Any moisture left on the peppers can make them spoil faster.
- Remove stems - Use a sharp paring knife to slice off the stems. Discard them.
- Split lengthwise - Next, cut each jalapeno in half lengthwise. This exposes more surface area to speed up drying time.
- Remove seeds (optional) - For a milder powder, use the tip of your knife to scrape out the seeds and inner membranes. This is where most of the heat resides. Leave some or all seeds in for a spicier powder.
- Slice - Stack several pepper halves at a time and slice crosswise into thin strips, about 1/8 inch thick.
That's all the knife work involved! Now your jalapenos are ready for the dehydrator.
3. Dehydrate Thoroughly
Drying out the jalapenos completely is crucial for making powder that will store well. Any moisture left in the peppers will allow mold to develop quickly after grinding.
Follow these tips for properly dehydrated jalapenos:
- Use a dehydrator - Oven drying can work in a pinch, but a quality dehydrator with adjustable temperature settings is ideal. The Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster is an excellent mid-range model.
- Spread in a single layer - Place the pepper slices on dehydrator trays in a single layer, making sure they aren't touching or overlapping. This allows airflow on all sides for even drying.
- Low temperature - Set the dehydrator between 115°F to 125°F. Any hotter may cook the peppers rather than properly drying them out.
- Time - Duration will vary based on humidity and the thickness of your slices. Plan on 10 to 15 hours. Check occasionally to see if the peppers are brittle and snap easily.
- Cool completely - This is important! Let the dried jalapenos cool down to room temperature before grinding to avoid clumping.
With the peppers fully dehydrated, you're ready to turn them into powder.
4. Grind into a Fine Powder
A spice grinder or small food processor makes quick work of turning the crispy dried jalapeno slices into a fine powder. Here's how:
- Work in batches - Don't overload your grinder. Do about 1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time for best results.
- Pulse and shake - Use short pulses to break the peppers down, shaking between pulses to redistribute. Avoid over-processing into a paste.
- Strain out bits - For ultra-fine powder, sift the ground jalapenos through a fine mesh strainer to remove any fibrous bits.
- Make it coarse - If you prefer a coarse texture, simply pulse briefly and leave a little texture.
- Store properly - Funnel the finished powder into an airtight glass jar or container. Store away from light and heat to retain maximum flavor and color.
And that's all you need to make your own homemade jalapeno powder with better flavor than store-bought and without any weird additives. Now let's look at the myriad ways you can use it!
Creative Uses for Jalapeno Powder
A jar of homemade jalapeno powder is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Here are just some of the many ways to put it to use:
- Season meat before grilling - Excellent on beef, pork, chicken, etc. Use it alone or in a blend.
- Mix into burger patties - Adds a nice heat and smokiness to burgers.
- Coat fish or shrimp before baking or frying.
- Use in place of chili powder or cayenne in recipes.
- Make spicy deviled eggs.
- Whisk into ranch dressing and dips for a kick.
- Toss with roasted veggies.
- Sprinkle over popcorn or nuts.
- Blend into seasoning salt.
- Liven up cheese sauces and mac & cheese.
- Add to bread dough and muffins.
- Mix with oil and vinegar for a spicy salad dressing base.
- Rub on meats before smoking or roasting.
- Fold into ground meat for tacos, chili, etc.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless! Homemade jalapeno powder is one of the handiest seasonings to have in your kitchen arsenal.
Is it necessary to wear gloves?
Yes! Even just getting a tiny bit of jalapeno juice on your fingers when prepping the peppers can cause major irritation. Play it safe and wear disposable gloves when handling jalapenos.
Can I use red, green, or a mix of both?
Absolutely. Both red and green jalapenos will make excellent powder. Feel free to use one type or mix them up.
Can I leave the seeds in?
You can leave some or all of the seeds and inner membranes in the peppers if you want a hotter, spicier powder. Just know that the heat level will be MUCH higher compared to seedless.
How long will the powder last stored properly?
Up to 1 year stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. For maximum flavor and color vibrancy, try to use within 6 months if possible.
Is it safe to dehydrate jalapenos in the oven?
It's not recommended. Oven drying produces strong fumes that are irritating. Use a dehydrator if possible, or try hanging the pepper strips to air dry.
Can I grind the peppers in my regular blender?
You can, but a blade-style spice grinder works much better. A blender is hard to get a fine, uniform powder consistency.
What's the best way to store jalapeno powder?
An airtight glass jar kept in a cool, dry place away from light is ideal. If storing for longer than 6 months, consider freezing for maximum preservation.
Homemade Jalapeno Powder
- Fresh jalapeno peppers (about 1 lb)
- Salt (optional)
- Rinse the fresh jalapenos under cool water and pat very dry. Remove the stems from the peppers.
- For a milder powder, cut the jalapenos in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and membranes. For spicier powder, leave some or all seeds in.
- Slice the jalapeno halves into thin strips, about 1/8-inch thick.
- Arrange the slices in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 115°F - 125°F for 10-15 hours until completely dried and brittle.
- Allow the dehydrated jalapenos to cool fully. Transfer to a spice grinder and pulse into a fine powder. If desired, add salt to taste while pulsing.
- Store the finished jalapeno powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from light. Use within 6 months for best flavor.
Making your own jalapeno powder is easy and well worth the small time investment. All you need are fresh peppers, a dehydrator, and a spice grinder. In no time, you'll have a versatile homemade seasoning to liven up countless dishes in your kitchen.
So pick up a bag of ripe jalapenos and try this simple powder recipe for yourself. Then enjoy experimenting with all the unique ways to use it! Your taste buds will thank you.