Habanero pepper plants are rather prolific. Because of this, you may harvest more pepper pods than you know what to do with. It’s not a bad problem to have. Here are some great ideas on what to do with habanero peppers.
Here at Pepper Geek, we absolutely love habanero peppers. Sure, we get excited about unique pepper varieties, but there is a lot to like about a classic habanero. One may say that the habanero was our “gateway pepper” into the world of spice.
Habanero peppers are easier to find in the grocery store than exotic chili varieties. Even though store-bought peppers tend to be less spicy than homegrown, they still pack an impressive amount of heat and flavor. Habanero peppers clock in at 100,000–300,000 on the Scoville scale, making them about 100x hotter than a jalapeno pepper.
So what’s a pepper geek to do with all their habaneros? Here are some ideas for using up your harvest.
1. Make A Habanero Hot Sauce
One great way to use a large pepper harvest is to make a delicious habanero hot sauce. We have a fantastic recipe for a simple habanero hot sauce here at Pepper Geek. Check out our video tutorial on making the sauce on YouTube.
After making this hot sauce with your habaneros, we’re confident you’ll want to put it on everything. This recipe calls for 15-20 pods, so it’s a good way to use up a large harvest. If you have extra peppers, make a batch of hot sauce for your friends!
2. Dehydrate Them and Make Chili Powder
Dehydrating peppers is one of our favorite ways of preserving chilies. Read our article on how to dehydrate habanero peppers here. The method for dehydrating habaneros is very simple. We use an Excalibur dehydrator, but you don’t need any fancy equipment.
You can dehydrate habaneros in your oven, or even hang dry them in the air. After dehydrating your habaneros, you can grind them up into a tasty, spicy powder. This powder can be sprinkled on tacos, stir-fries, or any food of your choice.
We like to bottle up our pepper powders into fancy jars and give them as gifts. You can even rehydrate the habanero peppers at a later time, if you wish. See all the great ways you can use dried hot peppers here.
3. Pickle Them For a Snack
Probably the tastiest method of preservation, pickling! If you love the flavor of habaneros, try them pickled. You don’t need an abundance of peppers to enjoy them in this form. We like to quick-pickle our peppers for simple snacking. You can also add a few habanero peppers to pickled banana peppers.
If you’re making a batch of classic cucumber pickles, try throwing in a sliced habanero for some extra heat. Pickled peppers taste delicious on tacos, sandwiches, and pizza. How about a Hawaiian pizza with feta cheese and pickled habaneros? Yum!
4. Save The Seeds
If you find yourself with a lot of habaneros and they’re starting to spoil, you can still save the seeds. This way, the whole pepper will not go to waste. Read our guide on how to save pepper seeds here.
After saving the pepper seeds, you can plant them next season, or give them away to other fellow garden pals.
5. Freeze Them For Later Use
Move over ice cream, we need to make room for the peppers! Habanero peppers freeze very well. We’re known to pull hot peppers from the freezer regularly and throw them into omelets or breakfast burritos. The method for freezing habaneros does not differ from freezing other varieties.
Learn how to freeze habanero peppers properly in our guide here.
If you have any habanero peppers that are softening or rotting, you don’t want to freeze these. Separate your fresh, firm habaneros and make sure they are clean and dry. You can freeze them whole in freezer bags, or slice them into strips for easy use.
6. Give Them Away To Friends or Family
It may surprise you how many people enjoy spicy food. Sometimes, those you wouldn’t expect it are fellow pepper geeks too. Not everyone grows fresh habaneros in their garden.
If you have an abundance of peppers, it’s worth asking your friends, family, and co-workers if they would be interested in taking some off your hands. Perhaps they would like to experiment with making their own habanero hot sauce!
7. Add Them To Stir-Fry or Chili For Extra Heat
If you have a couple fresh habaneros on hand, try adding them to a pot of chili or mixing them into your stir-fry. The flavor profile and spice level of habaneros can really level up a bland dish.
We prefer mixing fresh hot sauce into our dishes for more control over the heat, but we’re also known to throw a few freshly sliced hot peppers into a stir-fry. Be sure to open a window if you are cooking spicy peppers indoors. The fumes can be intense and may bother your lungs and eyes.
While many grocery store peppers run on the mild side, your habaneros may be very spicy, so be careful! You don’t want to ruin an entire dish and have it be inedible for your family because it’s too spicy. Of course, we’ll take it off your hands. No dish is too spicy for us!
8. Make Habanero Gummy Bears
We love candy, and we love hot peppers, so we combined the two! Check out our recipe for delicious homemade spicy gummy bears. We also have a video on YouTube for making homemade gummy bears.
This is a unique way to use up habanero peppers that you may have sitting around. We also love to throw these candies into baggies and give them as gifts for our spice-loving friends.
The sweet flavor of the gummy bear balances perfectly with the heat of the habanero. We like making strawberry habanero candies. Get creative!
9. Steep Them In Vodka or Tequila
That’s right, you can use hot peppers to spice up your alcohol. Toss a couple seeded habanero slices into one cup of vodka. The spicy habanero flavor will infuse into the alcohol and can be used for some unique cocktails. The habanero peppers will actually be less spicy after steeping them in vodka, making them perfect for cooking as well!
Even after 30 minutes, the flavor of the alcohol will be intense. The longer you steep, the deeper the flavor. Check the flavor throughout the process until it reaches a level you’re happy with, then remove the habanero slices.
Do you have any other creative ways to use up habanero peppers? We are always looking for new, fun things to do in the kitchen. Let us know in the comments how you used up your harvest this season!
Crystalyn loves spicy food and getting creative in the kitchen. When she isn’t finding new ways to use hot sauce, shes very busy watching cat videos on the internet.
Sunday 16th of October 2022
I came here because I mixed up my peppers. I grew Carolina Reapers and Habaneros. I got them mixed up but this clarifies things for me. Thank you for all the great info you share.
Ethan from PA
Tuesday 23rd of August 2022
What about the fact that I buoght them from seeldings and have no idea as to their heirloom status?
Monday 30th of May 2022
Can you preserve Habaneros as they are drying on the vine? We have a plant that has over 50 small peppers on it and we couldn't pick them prior to vacation. They are still on the plant and are shriveling up, but don't look rotten. Generally, I take the peppers and put in a large container with jalapeno-which was also plentiful!- and it helps add a kick to the jalapenos. Hoping I could preserve these as well or still be able to dry them off the plant. Are we still able to use these peppers?
Tuesday 14th of September 2021
I have a recipe for Habanero Bourbon salsa that has been fairly popular among people who like spice. Can I share it here?
Wednesday 15th of September 2021
You're welcome to share in the comments, we'd love to try that!
Sunday 8th of August 2021
Steep in vodka like at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. They wouldn't tell but looked like peppers, onions, celery, garlic, and fresh herbs. Wonderful bloody marys.
Sunday 5th of September 2021
@jim, mmmm, steal the recipe