Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (Vegan, GF | Pasta sauce, Dip, Spread)
Rich and creamy 6-ingredient roasted red pepper sauce in under 30 minutes! This red pepper cream sauce combines smoky-sweet roasted peppers and tomatoes (optional) with garlic, paprika, and a little milk (dairy or dairy-free) – plus tons of ways to adjust the recipe to your flavor and dietary needs. Enjoy it as a roasted red pepper pasta sauce, sauce for proteins, dip, drizzle, or spread! Plus, this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, paleo, etc.!
Preheat the oven to 325ºF/ 170ºC and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Clean, dry, and lightly brush the peppers and tomatoes with a bit of oil, then spread on a baking tray.I tend to roast the peppers whole THEN remove the stem and seeds. However, feel free to do that first if preferred.
Bake in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until softened with charred, blackened skin. If the peppers haven't charred much, you can broil them for a minute or two at the end.
Step 2: Steam the Peppers
After cooking, transfer the peppers to a jar with a lid or a bowl covered with plastic wrap/foil/a plate. Then, allow the peppers to steam for 10-15 minutes. This will increase the smoky flavor throughout the peppers and make the skins easy to peel.
Once they've cooled enough to handle, carefully peel the skins. While it’s possible to leave them on, it can make the sauce more bitter and "bitty."
Step 3: Blend the Roasted Pepper Sauce
Transfer all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. If you plan on reducing it further on the stovetop, I recommend leaving out the "milk" for now and mixing it in at the end (to avoid any separation).
Once blended, you can taste and adjust any of the seasonings. Then, you can either enjoy the sauce immediately OR pour it into a saucepan and slowly simmer it on the stovetop to reduce and thicken it slightly and help the flavors develop.Optionally, you can sauté the garlic for several minutes first if you’d prefer a milder garlic flavor in the sauce.
How to Store
Make ahead: you could roast, steam, and peel the peppers in advance and store them in an airtight container for 4-6 days. Cover them in a thin layer of olive oil to increase the shelf life to 10-12 days. They can also freeze for up to 2 months. Store: allow the creamy roasted red pepper sauce to cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Freeze: it's best to do so with roasted red pepper pasta sauce minus any milk/cream. Transfer the dip to an airtight freezer-safe container or Ziplock bag (with all the air removed) and store for up to one month. To thaw, you can leave it in the fridge OR place the bag/container in warm water for 25-30 minutes before reheating. It may separate slightly when thawing, but reheat and stir well, and it should be good to go. Reheat: you can reheat the roasted red pepper cream sauce gently on the stovetop or in the microwave. If the sauce thickened up while storing, feel free to add an extra splash or two of veggie stock, water, or even cream to bring it back to your desired consistency.
Experiment with red peppers: based on how mild vs/ spicy you want the sauce to be – and what’s available in your local area.
For a thicker sauce: if you want to change the thickness of the sauce, you have two options. For a marinara-style sauce, you can slowly simmer it on the stovetop over medium heat to reduce and thicken the sauce. You can also use starch - such as cornstarch, to thicken the sauce quickly - without reducing it.
Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your liking: more/less garlic, paprika, etc. Or even add extra herbs/spices like fresh basil or parsley, etc.
Optional Add-ins and Variations:There are several ways that you can customize this sauce to your liking, including adding heat, removing/increasing creaminess, or simply adding extra ingredients to find the perfect roasted pepper sauce for you.
Red pepper paste: this is available in most Mediterranean/Middle Eastern stores (often in the Turkish section) and can provide depth to the roasted red pepper flavor. You could also use tomato paste.
Onion: or shallot – I'd add one, finely diced, and sauté it with the garlic for several minutes until translucent.
White beans: to add protein and thicken the sauce, you can add some white beans. Once blended, the red bell pepper sauce will be wonderfully smooth and creamy.
Tomato-free: for a tomato-free version of this creamy roasted red pepper sauce, you can swap out the tomatoes for more peppers.
Italian seasonings: this roasted pepper pasta sauce pairs so well with Italian seasoning. I recommend adding a teaspoon and increasing to taste. You could also use just one or two dried herbs – like dried basil.
Fresh parsley: add a big handful of finely chopped parsley or chuck it into the blender – either way, it will taste delicious! You could also experiment with other fresh herbs like basil
Cheese: if you eat dairy, then parmesan cheese is a perfect addition to this roasted red pepper tomato sauce. For a vegan sauce, you could use nutritional yeast.
Acid: lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar will add depth to the flavor. Start with one teaspoon and increase to taste.
Sugar: sometimes, peppers can have a slightly bitter taste (depending on their ripeness), so you can add a sprinkle of sugar to counteract this.
Cumin: red peppers and cumin pair wonderfully (like they do in muhammara and red pepper hummus).
Spicy red pepper sauce: you could add a red chili or jalapeno to the sauce. Remove the seeds for less heat and increase/decrease the amount used depending on how spicy you'd like the sauce. Alternatively, you could add a little chili pasta or use some Chili Oil or red pepper flakes.
For a creamier sauce: you can add a dash of plant-based cream such as coconut cream or Oat Milk Creamer (or dairy heavy cream, if you consume it) for a richer roasted red pepper cream sauce. A spoonful of unsalted cashew butter or almond butter can also add a delicious, rich, and creamy element to the sauce.
For a non-creamy sauce: Omit the plant-based milk from the bell pepper sauce.
Check the blog post for more ingredient notes and answers to top FAQs!