What are Calabrian Chili

Calabrian Chili Ultimate Guide in 2023

Discover Flavorful Heights with Calabrian Chili! Ignite your taste buds with the bold and vibrant essence of Calabrian chili, Calabrian peppers grow in the sun-soaked region of Southern Italy. Unveil a world of culinary excitement as you infuse your dishes with its tantalizing heat and subtly fruity undertones. Elevate your italian cuisine cooking to new heights—whether you’re whipping up pasta, pizza, sauces, or more, these calabrian chilis are your passport to unforgettable, mouthwatering flavors. Take the plunge and add a touch of Italy to your creations today!

What are Calabrian Chili?

Calabrian chili refers to a type of chili pepper that originates from the Calabria region in Southern Italy. These peppers are known for their spicy and slightly fruity flavor profile. They are often used to add heat and depth of flavor to various dishes, including sauces, pasta, pizzas, and sandwiches.

Calabrian chilis are usually sold in various forms: dried, crushed, as a chile paste,or preserved in oil. The oil-preserved version is quite popular and is often used as a condiment or ingredient in recipes. The chilies are typically soaked in oil along with other flavorings like garlic and sometimes herbs.

Because of their unique flavor and heat, these chili have gained popularity in many parts of the world and are frequently used to elevate the spiciness and taste of dishes. Sought after for their absolutely delicious warming heat, smoky flavor and intense burn. If you want to use Calabrian chilies or di Calabria chilies in your cooking, you can often find them in specialty food stores or online, either dried or find jars of this hot pepper preserved in oil. Just be cautious when using them, as they can be quite spicy, so it’s a good idea to start with a small amount and adjust according to your taste preferences.

Reasons You Need to Know About Calabrian Chili

here are some compelling reasons why you should become acquainted:

  • Flavorful Adventure: Introduce your taste buds to a world of intense heat coupled with a nuanced fruity taste.
  • Heat with Depth: Unlike ordinary heat, it offer a sophisticated spiciness that elevates dishes without overwhelming them.
  • Versatility Unleashed: These peppers are remarkably versatile. From pasta sauces and pizzas to salads, meats, and even cocktails, Calabrian peppers can seamlessly enhance various dishes.
  • Authentic Italian Magic: Transport your taste buds to the heart of Italy and craft dishes reminiscent of Mediterranean sun-soaked flavors.
  • Creative Kitchen Companion: Experimenting with Calabrian peppers enables you to craft unique recipes that surprise and delight your family and guests.
  • Kick of Spicy Health: The capsaicin in Calabrian chilies might offer metabolism-boosting effects, potential pain relief, and even antioxidant properties.
  • Condiment Charm: Transform ordinary dishes into gourmet experiences by crafting your own Calabrian chili-infused oils.
  • Mouthwatering Appeal: From homemade pasta to artisanal pizza, incorporating Calabrian chiles adds an irresistibly mouthwatering allure that turns ordinary meals into extraordinary ones.
  • Culinary Exploration: Learning about Calabrian peppers lets you embark on a culinary adventure expanding your palate’s horizons.
  • Spicy Storytelling: Impress your friends and family with your knowledge of this hidden gem.

Incorporating Calabrian chiles into your culinary repertoire is an invitation to elevate your dishes, infuse them with Italy’s authentic spirit, and embark on a flavorful journey that’s nothing short of exceptional.

Nutritional Content of Calabrian Peppers

The nutritional content of Calabrian chiles can vary based on factors such as the specific variety, preparation, and serving size. Here’s a general overview of the nutritional components you might find in Calabrian chili peppers per 100 grams:

Calories: Approximately 30-40 calories

Carbohydrates: Around 5-10 grams

Dietary Fiber: About 2-4 grams

Protein: Around 1-2 grams

Fat: Approximately 1-2 grams

Vitamin A & C: A notable amount, contributing to daily vitamin A & C needs

Capsaicin: The compound responsible for the heat in chili peppers, which can vary in concentration

Nutritional Content of Calabrian Peppers

How spicy are Calabrian Chili Peppers

Calabrian chili peppers are known for their spiciness, but the level of heat can vary. On the scoville scale, which measures the spiciness of chili peppers, Calabrian chilies typically range from around 25,000 to 40,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). To put this into perspective, jalapeño peppers, which are widely recognized for their moderate spiciness, usually fall in the range of 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.

How spicy are Calabrian Chili PeppersHow spicy are Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to PepperScale

So, Calabrian chili peppers are notably hotter than jalapeños, but they are not as intense as some of the super-hot hot peppers varieties that can exceed 1 million SHU. Keep in mind that individual tolerance to spiciness can vary, so it’s a good idea to start with a small amount when cooking with Calabrian chilies and adjust according to your personal preference for heat.

What do Calabrian chili peppers taste like?

Calabrian chili peppers are prized not only for their spiciness but also for their unique flavor profile. The taste of Calabrian chilies is a wonderful balance between heat and subtle fruitiness. Here’s a breakdown of their flavor:

Spiciness: The most prominent aspect of Calabrian chili peppers is their spiciness.

Fruitiness: This fruity note can be slightly sweet and tangy, providing a pleasant contrast to the spiciness.

Earthiness: This earthiness contributes to the overall complexity of their flavor.

Umami: Calabrian chili peppers also offer a hint of umami, which adds a savory and satisfying element to dishes.

Brightness: These peppers can impart a vibrant and bright element to foods, enhancing the sensory experience.

calabrian chili peppers
Credits to Tastylicious

Due to their unique combination of spiciness, fruitiness, and other subtle flavor notes, Calabrian chili peppers are a popular ingredient to add depth and excitement to a wide range of dishes, from pasta sauces to sandwiches and more. Keep in mind that the exact flavor experience can vary depending on whether you use dried, crushed, or oil-preserved Calabrian chilies.

Storing your Calabrian chili peppers

Properly storing your Calabrian chili peppers ensures that they retain their flavor, freshness, and spiciness over time. Here’s how to do it:

Dried Calabrian Chili Peppers

  • Keep them in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag to prevent moisture from getting in.
  • Store the container or bag in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard.
  • Avoid exposing the peppers to direct sunlight or heat, as this can cause them to lose flavor and potency.
  • Dried Calabrian chili peppers can last for several months to a year if stored properly and can be turned into red pepper flakes.
Dried Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to FOODMatch

Oil-Preserved Calabrian Chili Peppers

  • If you’ve purchased Calabrian chili peppers preserved in oil, keep them in the original container or transfer them to a clean, airtight jar.
  • Ensure that the peppers are fully submerged in the oil at all times. This prevents spoilage and helps maintain their quality.
  • Store the jar in the refrigerator to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Check the oil level regularly and top it off if needed to ensure the peppers remain submerged.
Oil-Preserved Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to King Soopers

Homemade Oil-Preserved Calabrian Chili Peppers

  • If you’re making your own oil-preserved Calabrian chili peppers, make sure to sterilize the jar and lid before using.
  • Add the chilies to the jar and cover them completely with olive oil.
  • Store the jar in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks to a couple of months for best quality.
  • Check the oil level regularly and top it off if needed to ensure the peppers remain submerged.

By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy the vibrant flavors and spiciness of Calabrian chili peppers for an extended period, enhancing your culinary creations with their unique kick.
Regardless of the storage method, it’s a good practice to check the chilies periodically for any signs of mold, spoilage, or off odors. If you notice any issues, it’s best to discard the peppers.

Recipe in Making Homemade Calabrian Chili Oil


  • 1/2 cup dried Calabrian chili peppers
  • 1 cup quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Optional: fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano), lemon zest


  • Sharp knife
  • Clean glass jar or bottle with a tight-sealing lid

Prepare the Chilies

Gently rinse the dried Calabrian chili peppers under cold water to remove any dust or debris. Pat them dry with a paper towel.

Calabrian Chili Peppers

Infusion Process

Using a sharp knife, carefully slit the peppers lengthwise to release their flavors. Leave the seeds in for added heat or remove them for a milder infusion.

slit the Dried Calabrian Chili Peppers lengthwise

Combine Ingredients

In a clean glass jar or bottle, place the dried Calabrian chili peppers and the peeled garlic cloves. If using, add a sprig or two of fresh herbs and a small strip of lemon zest for extra depth of flavor.

Dried Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to Christie at Home

Add Olive Oil

Pour the extra-virgin olive oil into the jar, covering the chili peppers and other ingredients completely. Make sure all the ingredients are submerged.

Pour the extra-virgin olive oil into the jar Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to Thrive Market

Melding of Flavors

Allow the mixture to sit and meld for at least one week, preferably two. This time allows the oil to absorb the flavors of the chili peppers and other ingredients.

Straining (Optional)

If desired, strain the oil through a fine mesh strainer to remove the solids before using. Alternatively, you can leave the chili peppers and other ingredients in the oil for a more rustic presentation.

straining Dried Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to The Spruce Eats

Drizzle and Enjoy

Once the flavors have infused to your liking, your homemade Calabrian chili oil is ready to use. Drizzle it over pasta, salads, grilled vegetables, or any dish that could use a touch of vibrant heat and flavor.

Dried Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to A Dash of Soul

Recipe: Calabrian Chili Pepper Paste


  • 1 cup dried Calabrian chili peppers, soaked in warm water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (red wine or white wine)
  • Salt, to taste


  • Food processor or blender
  • Bowl for soaking chili peppers
  • Peeler for garlic cloves
how to prepare dried chillies 53685 1
Credits to Taste

Soak the Chilies

Place the dried Calabrian chili peppers in a bowl and cover them with warm water. Allow them to soak for about 20-30 minutes until they become soft and pliable.

Drain the soaked chili peppers and remove the stems: Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to Food Service Direct

Prepare Ingredients

Drain the soaked chili peppers and remove the stems. If desired, you can also remove the seeds for a milder paste.

Drain the soaked chili peppers and remove the stems: Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to WhiskAffair

Blend the calabrian chili paste

In a food processor or blender, combine the soaked chili peppers, peeled garlic cloves, extra-virgin olive oil, and vinegar. Blend until you achieve a smooth and paste-like consistency.

Adjust Seasoning

Taste the Calabrian chili paste and add salt as needed to enhance the flavors. Blend again to incorporate the salt.

Transfer the Calabrian chili pepper paste into a clean, airtight jar
Credits to Red House Spice

Transfer and Store

Transfer the Calabrian chili pepper paste into a clean, airtight jar. Drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the top to help preserve the paste

 Calabrian chili pepper paste can be used as a base for sauces, marinades
Credits to Grilling 24×7

Versatile Usage

This Calabrian chili pepper paste can be used as a base for sauces, marinades, or to add depth to soups and stews. It’s a wonderful way to infuse dishes with a rich, spicy flavor.

Both the homemade Calabrian chili oil and the Calabrian chili pepper paste add a delightful kick to your culinary creations, elevating them to new levels of flavor. Enjoy experimenting with these versatile condiments in your dishes! 🌶️🍴🔥

Health Benefits of Calabrian chili peppers

Calabrian chili peppers not only add a burst of flavor and spiciness to your dishes but also come with potential health benefits due to their natural compounds. Here are some health benefits associated with Calabrian chili peppers:

  1. Rich in Vitamins: Calabrian chili peppers are a good source of vitamins, particularly vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that supports the immune system, skin health, and wound healing.
  2. Metabolism Boost: The compound capsaicin found in chili peppers, including Calabrian chilies, has been shown to have a thermogenic effect, potentially boosting metabolism and aiding in weight management.
  3. Pain Relief: Capsaicin has analgesic properties and is often used in topical creams for pain relief. Consuming Calabrian chili peppers may provide mild pain relief due to this compound.
  4. Heart Health: Capsaicin has been linked to improved cardiovascular health by promoting healthy blood circulation, reducing inflammation, and potentially lowering blood pressure.
  5. Digestive Health: The spiciness of Calabrian chilies can stimulate the digestive process and increase gastric juices, potentially aiding in digestion. However, excessive consumption may cause discomfort in sensitive individuals.
  6. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Some studies suggest that capsaicin may have anti-inflammatory effects that could help in managing conditions like arthritis and other inflammatory disorders.
  7. Antioxidant Content: The peppers contain various antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress, which is linked to chronic diseases and aging.
  8. Potential Pain Management: Consuming capsaicin may release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, providing a sense of relief and well-being.

It’s important to note that while Calabrian chili peppers offer potential health benefits, individual reactions can vary. Some people may have a high tolerance for spiciness and experience benefits, while others might find them too hot to consume in larger quantities. As with any dietary changes, moderation is key. If you have any existing health conditions or concerns, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet.

Best to pair with Calabrian chili peppers

Calabrian chili peppers can add a delightful kick and depth of flavor to a variety of dishes. Here are some excellent options to pair with Calabrian chili peppers:

Best to pair with Calabrian chili peppers
Credits to Flora Fine Foods
  1. Marinades and Rubs: Incorporate Calabrian chilies into marinades or dry rubs for meats or vegetables to infuse them with an irresistible heat.
  2. Italian and Mediterranean Dishes: Since Calabrian chilies have Italian origins, they naturally complement a wide range of Italian and Mediterranean dishes, from antipasti to roasted vegetables.
  3. Eggs: Whether scrambled, fried, or in omelets, Calabrian chilies can add a spicy kick to your breakfast.
  4. Sauces and Condiments: Use Calabrian chili peppers to create homemade hot sauces, spicy mayonnaise, or oil infusions for dipping bread.
  5. Cocktails: For those who enjoy a spicy kick in their drinks, consider muddling or infusing Calabrian chilies into cocktails like margaritas or Bloody Marys.
  6. Pasta Dishes: Toss them into pasta sauces, whether marinara, tomato sauce, arrabbiata, or creamy alfredo, to infuse your pasta dishes with a zesty heat.
  7. Pizza: Sprinkle Calabrian chilies on your pizza for a spicy and vibrant twist. They pair particularly well with both classic and gourmet pizza toppings.
  8. Sandwiches and Burgers: Elevate your sandwiches and burgers by adding a few slices of Calabrian chili peppers. The heat and flavor can cut through the richness of meats and cheeses.
  9. Salads: Finely chop or mince Calabrian chilies to create a spicy vinaigrette or dressing for your salads.
  10. Seafood: Seafood, like grilled shrimp or calamari, can be enhanced with Calabrian chili peppers for a spicy and tangy note.

Remember, the heat level of Calabrian chili peppers can vary, so start with a small amount and adjust according to your taste preferences. Their versatile flavor makes them an exciting addition to a wide range of dishes, allowing you to explore and experiment with various culinary creations.

Alternatives to Using Calabrian Chili Peppers

While Calabrian chili peppers offer a unique flavor profile, there are alternative ingredients that can provide a similar kick and depth to your dishes.

1. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Easily accessible and found in most spice racks, crushed red pepper flakes can add a similar heat to your dishes. While they lack the fruity undertones of Calabrian chilies, they provide a straightforward way to incorporate spiciness.

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes Alternatives to Using Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to PepperScale

2. Thai Bird’s Eye Chilies

These small, fiery peppers are commonly used in Thai cuisine. They bring intense heat and a subtle fruity flavor, making them a great substitute for Calabrian chilies in dishes that can handle a touch of Thai influence.

Thai Bird's Eye Chilies Alternatives to Using Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to Wikipedia

3. Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers offer a balanced level of heat and a bright, crisp taste. While not as fruity as Calabrian chilies, they can be a versatile alternative in various recipes.

Serrano Peppers Alternatives to Using Calabrian Chili Peppers
Credits to Small Axe Peppers

Remember that each alternative brings its own unique flavor and heat profile. Consider your specific dish and personal preferences when choosing an alternative to Calabrian chili peppers.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, you’ve delved into the world of Calabrian chili peppers, discovering their enticing flavor profile and versatile uses. From the intriguing balance of heat and fruitiness to their ability to transform ordinary dishes into extraordinary culinary experiences, Calabrian chili peppers offer a unique touch to your cooking repertoire.

Having explored the nuances of this ingredient, you’re equipped to add a vibrant kick to various dishes, experimenting with their potential health benefits and culinary applications. Remember, the journey of culinary exploration is ongoing, and with each step, you’ll continue to refine your skills and expand your palate.

As someone passionate about culinary excellence, I encourage you to keep pushing boundaries and embracing new flavors. With your newfound knowledge of Calabrian chili peppers, you’re well on your way to crafting memorable dishes that leave a lasting impression. So, keep your kitchen bustling and your taste buds tingling—it’s a journey that promises nothing but delectable rewards!

Stay hungry for knowledge and bold flavors, and let your culinary adventure unfold!


Q: What makes Calabrian chili oil so distinct?
A: It’s made from the fiery Calabrian chilis, known for their rich red color and robust flavor. Once you use Calabrian chili oil, your Italian cuisine game levels up, my friend!

Q: Can I substitute fresh cayenne pepper for Calabrian chilis in a recipe?
A: You bet! While not a perfect match, fresh cayenne pepper or even red pepper flakes can provide a similar kick. But don’t tell any Italian food purists I said so!

Q: What’s the connection between Calabrian chilis and cherry tomatoes in Italian cuisine?
A: These two rockstars pair together like coffee and bourbon at a BBQ! Cherry tomatoes balance the heat of the chilis, creating a beautiful harmony in Italian dishes.

Q: Why are hot peppers, like the Calabrian chili, such a staple in Italian cuisine?
A: Hot peppers bring the heat (literally!) and elevate the flavor. Especially in the Calabrian region, where these bad boys are fully ripe and ready to spice up life.

Q: Is chile paste made from Calabrian chilis or different types of hot peppers?
A: Chile paste can be made from different types of hot peppers, including Calabrian chilis. Perfect for when you need to turn up the dial on flavor town!

Q: What’s the difference between Italian cayenne and other types of capsicum annuum?
A: Italian cayenne has a slightly wrinkled exterior, dark red color, and unique flavor. It’s like the elegant cousin of the cayenne family, with a fancy Italian accent.

Q: Why are whole chiles from the Calabrian region so prized in Italian food?
A: Their dark red, slightly wrinkled exterior and delicious flavor make them a treasure. Plus, they have this whole naso di cane thing going on, which sounds exotic and delicious!

Q: How do you measure the heat level of Calabrian chilis?
A: The heat level ranges from 25,000 to 40,000 on the Scoville scale. It’s like measuring the horsepower in a sports car, but way tastier!

Q: Are home cooks using whole chiles, or are they typically found in restaurants?
A: Both! Whole chiles are embraced by home cooks and chefs alike, bringing authentic flavors to kitchens and restaurants.

Q: Where’s a good place to find Calabrian chilis or related products?
A: Whole Foods or specialty stores are good places to find these spicy gems. Tell ’em JL Surjan sent you, and maybe they’ll…probably not give you a discount, but it’s worth a try!

Q: What’s the chemical compound that gives Calabrian chilis their spiciness?
A: The chemical compound capsaicin is responsible for that kick. It’s like Mother Nature’s way of saying, “Wake up and taste the fire!”

Q: What’s the meaning of “naso di cane” in relation to Calabrian chilis?
A: “Naso di cane” means “dog’s nose” in Italian. It’s a nickname for a specific type of chili pepper in the Calabrian region. Ruff stuff, but tasty!

Q: How do you know when Calabrian chilis are fully ripe?
A: When they’ve got that dark red hue and slightly wrinkled exterior, you know they’re fully ripe and ready for a dance with your taste buds.

Q: Can you use different types of whole chiles in Italian dishes?
A: Absolutely! While Calabrian chilis have a special place in Italian food, there’s room for creativity. Just like in BBQ, the world of chilis is your playground!

Q: How does the use of Calabrian chilis reflect in home cooks and Whole Foods products?
A: Home cooks and Whole Foods both recognize the magic of Calabrian chilis. Their rich flavor and unique heat level make them a star in Italian dishes and beyond!


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