Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

This Smoky Red Pepper Sauce has dynamic flavors- smoky, sweet, and spicy. It takes a bit like a southwest dressing meets a spicy mayo. Tastes so amazing as the flavors all come together.

Sauces and dips can help you eat more vegetables, and the healthier the sauces and dips, all the better! All my sauces and dips are made with whole food, plant-based ingredients and feature miso as the salt replacement. The miso helps add salty, umami flavor to the sauces while adding health benefits, including lowering risk of hypertension.

It’s no secret by now, I love a good sauce. In fact, I could eat the same meal everyday of the week and never get bored of it simply because I change up the sauce! I eat bowls regularly. I find them to be a quick, easy, healthy way to eat. I prep all the ingredients in batches and then throw together meals in just minutes. Raw or roasted veggies, greens, quinoa, tofu, beans, and of course, a healthy homemade sauce. Since bowls are a regular in my home, I am always exploring new sauce recipes to add to the mix! This Smoky Red Pepper Sauce is a welcomed addition.

Some of my other favorite sauces: Creamy Buffalo Sauce, Cilantro Lime Dressing, Spicy Peanut Sauce.

A few notes before you get started:

BELL PEPPERS: You can really use any bell pepper you prefer for this. The flavors and colors may change a bit depending on the color you use, but it should be mostly the same. I chose red because I wanted the sauce to really have a red hue to it.

CHILE PEPPERS: I chose the fresno peppers for its sweet, smoky, and hot taste. I love how the flavor of the pepper compliments the rest of the sauce. You can, however, use a different chile pepper or no chile peppers at all. See note below for recipe without the chile peppers.

NO CHILE PEPPERS: If you don’t like spicy food or have trouble with chile peppers, feel free to omit from the recipe. I have tried a version with less chile peppers and no chile peppers, and while I personally prefer the added flare the fresno peppers adds, I did think it still tasted good without it. Feel free to add a little more smoked paprika, to taste, and allow the sauce to sit for a bit before serving. I think the flavors really come together with some time.

TAHINI: My original recipe called for 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of tahini,  but I have also tried this with 2 tablespoons tahini and found it to taste just as good. So feel free to play with the measurements of the tahini in your sauce. Some tahini brands have a very different flavor profile (some are more bitter or more roasted than others) and this can make a difference in the end result of this recipe. I personally love the 365 Whole Foods brand of tahini, as it has a very smooth taste and texture. Using a raw tahini, such as Artisana, can also help to provide a more mellow taste to the recipe. The tahini’s purpose is to add a little creamy texture and healthy fats to really pull the recipe together.

VINEGAR: No apple cider vinegar, no problem. Feel free to try a sub of white vinegar, rice vinegar, or white balsamic vinegar for the apple cider.

GARLIC: I usually roast my garlic head all at once and save the leftovers (see note below). I find leaving the garlic in the skin helps it from roasting it too much. Once done roasting, I allow to cool and then carefully remove the garlic from the skin. If you prefer to just roast a few garlic cloves, you may find it helpful to leave the skins on. Avoid over roasting the garlic or it will be overpowering in the sauce. I made this mistake! Though, adding more smoked paprika helped to bring some of the smoky flavor back.

PREPPING AHEAD: I usually will roast a whole head of garlic and extra fresno chile peppers at once. You could even do more bell pepper too. The leftover ingredients, I add to an airtight container and freeze for the future. It helps cut down on prep time the next time I want to make this. Otherwise, feel free to make this a double and freeze half for the future.


Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Kristina DeMuth, MPH, RD
This Smoky Red Pepper Sauce has dynamic flavors- smoky, sweet, and spicy. It takes a bit like a southwest dressing meets a spicy mayo. Tastes so amazing as the flavors all come together.


  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced into large pieces, cored, and seeded
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1-3 fresno chile peppers
  • ½ cup water 
  • 2-4 tablespoons raw or mild tahini 
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • Black pepper, to taste 



  • Add the sliced bell peppers, garlic cloves, and whole chile peppers to an air fryer. The time may vary for each ingredient and the kind of air fryer used. Check the food around 5-6 minutes, and then add an additional 5-6 minutes. Roast until the veggies are well cooked. Avoid over roasting the garlic. 


  • Preheat the oven to 425F. Add the sliced bell peppers, garlic cloves, and whole chile peppers to a line sheet pan. Roast the ingredients for 20-30 minutes, check 1/2 way through and turn the ingredients as needed.


  • Once roasted, carefully slice the chile peppers open. Avoid touching the seeds with bare hands. Remove the seeds and discard the stem. If the skins of the bell pepper and chiles are overly burned, feel free to peel back the skin and discard.
  • In a high speed blender, add the bell peppers, garlic, chiles, water, tahini, miso paste, smoked paprika, apple cider vinegar, and black pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add more smoked paprika, if desired. 
  • Pour into an airtight container and store in the fridge. For longer storage, keep in the freezer and thaw before use. Makes 2 cups.