As a culture we’ve got a fixation with spicy foods that’s tough to ignore. The local supermarket has 80 kinds of hot sauce, harissa paste is blowing up, and Sriracha is in everything from ketchup to mayonnaise and adorns phone cases, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and everything else. If you’re looking for the next big (hot) thing, give Calabrian chiles a try!
What are they?
Similar in size to a peperoncino but bright red in color, Calabrian chiles are often sold packed in oil or dried. The Calabrian chile is often considered a classic Italian pepper.
What do they taste like?
Calabrian chiles have a smoky, slightly fruity taste that will drop some heat on you but not blow your socks off. Rated at around 30,000 Scoville units, they’re a little spicier than a serrano and less intense than cayenne.
How do I use them?
Calabrian chiles are very versatile! Giada De Laurentiis recommends some spicy penne made with a Calabrian chile paste, while Bobby Flay uses them as an alternative to ancho chiles. They’re right at home on almost anything—salsa, soup, pizza, garlic bread, burgers, and more.
Where do I get them?
Calabrian chiles are gaining in popularity, but are still a relatively niche specialty item. Large supermarkets and local Italian specialty stores are probably your best bet, but if you’re having trouble check out some online retailers as well.