Before I tell you how easy it is to roast sweet bell peppers on a barbecue grill, let me first reassure everyone that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with roasted red peppers that come in a jar. In fact for years I kind of pooh-poohed the idea of roasting your own peppers, and then about a month ago I had one of those big packages of six bell peppers you get at Costco, and suddenly I just felt like roasting some peppers.
It took me a few tries to get a process I thought was actually easy, and while I’m not going to claim I’ll never use the jarred red peppers again, there’s no doubt that the flavor of the freshly roasted peppers is just wonderful.
The first time I tried roasting peppers, I kept them whole. This worked just fine, but I found it was hard to get the skin evenly charred, and areas that didn’t get as much heat were a bit harder to peel. I also decided removing the seeds would be much easier if you did it before you roasted the peppers.
The second time I roasted peppers, I cut them in half (sorry no photos.) That was better, but I still wanted a slightly flatter shape. The third time’s the charm, and the method I’m recommending is to cut the whole peppers in fourths like you see above, then cutting the seeds out of each quarter piece and slightly trimming both ends where the pepper curls up.
Here are two peppers after cutting in fourths, just starting to roast on the grill. Preheat the gas or charcoal barbecue grill to high before putting the peppers on. Then lay the peppers on, skin side down, making sure not to put them too close together.
I took pictures of the progress after various intervals, although you should time your own peppers by how they look because your grill may be hotter or colder than mine. This first shot was after 12 minutes. You can see that the pepper on the right is about half charred, but the one on the left is barely starting to roast.
This is the same two peppers after 19 minutes, and it’s obvious I’m going to need to rotate peppers on the grill to get them all charred black like I want them to be. Most every type of grill has hot spots, so this is important to check.
Five minutes later, or 24 total minutes, all the peppers are charred enough, although I could have let them go a few minutes more with no harm. (I turned the peppers over only to show how done they were. I prefer roasted peppers on the firm side, so I grilled them with the skin side down without turning.)
When all the peppers are quite black, take them directly off the grill and put them in a small glass or heavy plastic bowl.
Immediately cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or a tight fitting lid) and let the hot peppers sit for about 15 minutes. The steam will loosen the skins so they’ll peel right off.
Here’s one pepper peeled with the removed charred skin to the left of the pepper. You can see there are some areas where the pepper flesh started to slightly char, which adds a lot of smoky flavor.
Here are all eight pieces peeled, which probably took me no more than 3-4 minutes to do. I rinsed my hand a few times, but it’s important not to rinse the peppers because that rinses off some of the smoky charred flavor.
This is the final stack of roasted pepper strips I got from two sweet red bell peppers. Soon I’ll share the recipe for the delicious white bean salad I used these in. If you don’t have a gas grill, peppers can also be roasted in the oven, under a broiler, or even on top of a gas burner.
If you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of peppers in your garden, roasted peppers can be frozen. I would seal them in a bag using the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer if you have one.