Drying Cayenne Peppers (Tips & Tricks for Making Your Own Red-Hot Cayenne Flakes)

When your garden has gifted you a spicy windfall of cayenne peppers, the question is not ‘To dry or not to dry?’ but ‘How to dry?’! And while you could just pop over to the supermarket and pick up a jar, making your own dried cayennes is a surefire way to add some DIY flavor to your meals (and bragging rights at dinner parties)

Dried cayenne peppers are the secret behind that spicy kick in many cuisines. The drying methods for your fresh cayenne peppers include: air drying, using a food dehydrator, drying them on the counter, or sun drying. Always follow safety protocol when drying and storing your peppers because, unlike salsa, safety never goes out of style.

Stay with me to spice up your knowledge about pepper drying techniques!

What is the best way to dry cayenne peppers?

Drying cayenne peppers is an absolute winner when it comes to preserving your pepper harvest. You might even say it’s the ‘bell’ of the ball!

Fresh cayenne peppers are a staple in various cuisines, but dried cayenne can really turn up the heat. Cayenne peppers are known for their sharp, fiery bite, and drying them amplifies that delicious heat even more.

For those of us with a green thumb (or hoping for one) and a love for cayenne peppers, drying them for storage is a no-brainer. So how do we go about doing this?

The best ways to dry cayenne peppers include:

  • Air drying
  • Food dehydrator
  • Dry them on the counter
  • Sun drying

Let’s turn up the heat on each method.

Air drying

Air drying cayenne peppers is an old-school, easy, and effective technique, kind of like your grandma’s secret recipe.

Air drying cayenne peppers is one of the simplest ways to dry them. You cut slits through the peppers near the stems and thread them together using a thin string. Then, hang them up in a well-ventilated room. In about four weeks, voila, you have dried peppers!

Air-drying peppers is one of the most energy-efficient ways to dry them. While it may take more time than sticking them in a dehydrator, it’s cheaper and less noisy than a dehydrator (and we all appreciate a little peace and quiet)!

First, cut a slit as close to the stem as you can. Now use a needle and thread thin string through all the stems. Remember, it’s not quite sewing class, but close enough!

After stringing all the peppers, hang them up in a well-ventilated room. A good airflow is key to avoiding humidity that can turn your drying project into a science experiment on molds.

Air-drying peppers takes about four weeks – that’s one month closer to that delicious homemade chili!

Food dehydrator

Using a food dehydrator is the quickest way to dry cayenne peppers – think of it as the ‘fast food’ of drying techniques.

Food dehydrators are a favorite way to dry many veggies, including peppers! Just clean them, cut them up, and send them to the sauna, I mean, the dehydrator. In a few hours, you’ll have dried peppers!

Drying peppers in a food dehydrator is easy-peasy once you get the hang of it!

Rinse and dry your peppers, then give them a little haircut by cutting off the stems.

Slice your peppers however you fancy, keeping in mind that smaller pieces will dry faster (kind of like how I can run faster than my grandpa).

Want less heat? Remove the seeds (this also helps if you’ve run out of fire extinguisher).

Set your dehydrator to 130°F until your peppers are brittle and tough, just like my drill sergeant back in the day.

Dry cayenne peppers on the counter

Wait, you can just lay your peppers out, and they’ll dry? You betcha!

Hard to believe, but you can dry your cayennes right on the counter! You need low humidity and good ventilation for this to work. And the best part? You don’t even have to cut your peppers since hot peppers can dry whole!

This tip is perfect if you live somewhere with low humidity and good ventilation – not so much if you’re in the middle of a rainforest.

Spread your peppers out so they aren’t touching. You don’t have to cut them because hot peppers, like cayennes, come with their own drying superpowers!

Sun drying cayenne peppers

Sun-drying cayenne peppers is a fun way to dry your peppers, especially if you love a good tan.

You need temperatures that are at least 90°F for several days in a row, with humidity under the 60% mark. After sun-drying, remember to pasteurize your peppers since they’ve been sunbathing in the open.

Sun drying cayenne peppers is a great project, but it does come with some specific requirements.

The temperature needs to be at least 90°F for several days, and the humidity needs to be under 60%.

Give your peppers a good wash to get rid of dirt. Then place them on screen trays, with a cheesecloth on top to keep away nosy insects and birds.

After drying, pasteurize your peppers either by:

Freezing them for two days or

Baking them in the oven at 160°F for half an hour

Can dried cayenne peppers mold?

Having dried your peppers, are they now mold-proof?

Well, dried cayenne peppers can still mold if they are exposed to moisture. They can reabsorb it every time you open their containers or if stored improperly. This is why storage is so important!

Dried cayenne peppers can mold if they reabsorb moisture. So remember, storing your peppers correctly isn’t just important, it’s the ‘yeast’ you can do!

How do you dry cayenne peppers so they don’t mold?

To dry cayenne peppers so they don’t mold, let them cool down completely. Then store them in cans, vacuum-sealed bags, freezer containers, or plastic freezer bags. The best way to prevent mold is to store your peppers in serving-sized containers, so you’re not playing peek-a-boo with your containers!

Allow your dry cayenne peppers to cool down completely, as any heat can cause sweating, releasing moisture, which will make the molds feel right at home.

Store your dried peppers in cans, vacuum-sealed bags, freezer containers, or plastic freezer bags.

And here’s a tip – pack your peppers in multiple serving-size containers. This way, you aren’t opening one container over and over again, which could lead to moisture getting in. Think of it as meal-prepping, but for your peppers!

How do you know when cayenne peppers are dry enough?

One of the trickiest parts of drying cayenne peppers for the first time is knowing when they’re ready to leave the drying party.

Fully-dried cayenne peppers will be tough and brittle – they’re not going for a ‘soft and tender’ award here!

If you’re planning on making some fiery cayenne flakes, make sure the peppers are completely dry before you start grinding.

How long do dried cayenne peppers last?

Drying is the MVP of long-term storage solutions for cayenne peppers.

Properly stored dried cayenne peppers can last 1-2 years, which means you could be enjoying today’s harvest when the next season of your favorite TV show premieres!

As always, the key to this longevity is keeping them stored in a cool, dry space – think dry and cool, like that one friend we all have.