Easy Smoky Red Pepper Crema Recipe

Smoky Red Pepper Crema is a flavorful sauce that’s easy to make with freshly roasted bell peppers and sour cream. Enjoy this simple creamy sauce with a smoky flavor as a topping or party dip. Tip: No need to peel the roasted peppers to make this crema.

closeup view of a bowl of red pepper crema surrounded by tortilla chips, carrot sticks, and celery for dipping.

Smokey Red Pepper Crema brightens up several types of dishes, including pasta dishes, salads, tacos, and more. We love enjoy this delicious versatile sauce on spicy foods, fish tacos, and as a dipping sauce. Once you roast and cool the peppers, it pulls together pretty quickly.

If you don’t have any sour cream on hand, you can use yogurt with a teaspoon of lemon juice or lime juice in it’s place. It’s not a one for one substitution when it comes to the tangy and savory flavor, but it’s pretty close.

Although you can find smoky crema at the grocery stores in the Mexican aisle, you can make your own smoky red pepper crema at home using a few ingredients.


  • Amazing Flavor: Roasted red peppers are the main ingredient in this crema recipe, and they bring sweet, savory, and smoky notes. They are the base of the flavor profile. We’re roasting them in the oven on a baking sheet.
  • Simple Ingredients: This smoky red pepper crema only uses a handful of ingredients and it comes together in about a minute.
  • Make Ahead: While you can enjoy homemade red pepper sour cream dip right after making it, it also stores well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • No peeling required: Some recipes for red pepper crema will have you peel the peppers and add additional liquid to make the sauce very smooth and thin.
  • Adjust the spice: This simple recipe is a little bit spicy. You can adjust the amount of chili powder you add to get your crema to your preferred level of spice.
a bowl of red pepper crema. a spoon is lifting some up. In the background are fresh red bell peppers.


  • Olive Oil – For roasting the peppers in the oven, and for flavor.
  • Peppers – We’re using red bell peppers, but you can use any color you like: green bell peppers, orange bell peppers, and yellow bell peppers all work. Just note that it won’t be a red pepper crema, it will be whatever color of bell pepper that you use.
  • Sour Cream – We prefer full-fat sour cream, but you can use low-fat sour cream if you like. You can also use Greek yogurt for the tangy flavor.
  • Spices – We’re using smoked paprika, garlic powder, and chili powder. Feel free to reduce the paprika if you want less spice.


  • No need to peel the peppers – Toss the smoked peppers right into the food processor, skins and all. The flavor from the charred peppers, along with some smoked paprika, is what makes this dip smoky.
  • Let the peppers cool a bit. Let the roasted peppers cool for 5-10 minutes before blending up the dip.
  • Substitutions. You can make this dairy-free by replacing the sour cream with your favorite dairy-free alternative.

What to Serve With Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Use this creamy flavorful sauce to drizzle over tacos, nachos, or any of your favorite Mexican dinner recipes. My kiddos love dipping French fries in this delicious sauce. The smoky flavor and creamy texture work with a variety of dishes.

It makes a great topping for tacos. My favorite meat-free tacos include these Vegan Birria Tacos and Air Fryer Tofu Tacos, and red pepper crema is delicious on chicken tacos too. It really wakes up the taste buds.

This easy recipe also makes an amazing creamy dip, with chips, sliced veggies, or crackers.

If you like pasta with roasted red peppers, try using this as a super simple fresh pasta sauce. Just toss freshly cooked pasta with crema and a bit of pasta water. We also like it drizzled on turkey pasta. It adds a nice spicy flavor.

pinterest pin collage of smoky red pepper crema in a white bowl and a photo of peppers on a sheet pan

Easy SMOKY Red Pepper Crema Variations

  • Roasted Poblanos can be used instead of roasted red peppers. They bring a bit of heat, but won’t be overpowering. It makes a incredible Mexican crema.
  • Reduce the Calories in this versatile condiment by using a low fat sour cream.
  • Make it Extra Spicy by adding additional chili powder, cayenne pepper, hot sauce or tabasco sauce.
  • Make it Extra Creamy by including a tablespoon or two of mayo in the recipe.


Yes, you can use frozen and thawed peppers. Freezing and thawing peppers creates a softer texture. When thawing, water is dispersed from the peppers. We recommend patting the peppers with a paper towel before roasting.

More Homemade Sauces and Dips

If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a quick review & star rating ★ below. Your comment and/or rating helps other readers!

Easy Smoky Red Pepper Crema Recipe

closeup view of a bowl of red pepper crema with tortilla chips and veggies on the side for dipping.
Smoky Red Pepper Crema is a versatile sauce that's so easy to make with freshly roasted bell peppers and sour cream.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Serving Size 1 cup


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Gather your ingredients and preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
  • Slice the peppers in half and discard the seeds and stalks. Place them on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 25-30 minutes until the peppers start to char.
  • Let the peppers cool for 5-10 minutes, or until they are no longer hot.
  • Place the cooled peppers in a food processor or blender with all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • Serve, or store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.


  • Don't peel the peppers! Toss them right into the food processor, skins and all. The flavor from the charred peppers is what makes this dip smoky.
  • Make this dip vegan by replacing the sour cream with your favorite dairy-free alternative.
  • Serve crema as a dip with tortilla chips, pita bread, or fresh veggies.
  • It's also delicious as a pasta sauce or salad dressing.
  • Enjoy your homemade red pepper dip right away, or store it in the fridge. It will stay fresh and tasty for 2-3 days in an airtight container.

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