Best and worst chiles for smoking

maple_grove_gwSeptember 13, 2012

Hi all,

The recent discussion around smoking chile peppers has me intrigued, and I'd like to try it for myself. From recent posts I have a pretty good idea how to do it. What I'd like to know is, what are your favorite chiles for smoking? Are there any chiles you feel should not be smoked? And also, what's your favorite wood, and are there any types of wood you feel should be avoided when smoking chiles?

I understand that a lot of this is a matter of taste, I'm interested in learning what you guys think and getting some recommendations.


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I guess the only peppers not great for smoking would be the ones you don't enjoy un-smoked ;-)

I find smoking any pepper gives it a new pleasant flavour dimension. My favorite are Chipotles aka smoked Jalapenos.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 1:31PM
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Well it depends on if you prefer the thinner ones like cigarettes, or the thicker ones like cigars. Either way, you'll probably want to go with a sweet pepper, as I can't imagine what inhaling on a lit ghost pepper would be like.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Ahahahahah, i was thinking the same thing before he mentioned chipotles :)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 9:42PM
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It's all a matter of taste.
In general I'd say most peppers if not all are better smoke dried.
A lot of peppers are just heat or tasteless fresh.
Sometimes a tasteless fresh pepper is better dried and or smoked.Sugars get carmelized or whatever...

Actually I think more varieties are probably better smoke than fresh or dried.Assuming you don't over smoke them or use a strong wood etc.
I've heard about OVER smoked peppers but never that smoking ruined a pepper.
Different people preferre different woods for smoking.
But if you use any specific one you need to use it properly.
For example Mesquite is strong.Use it in moderation to get good results or it just gets nasty on you.
I prefere Hickory and oak in general.
Oak is a more dry smoke while hickory is sweeter.
A lot of times it's not the pepper but the smoke that makes the difference.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Chipotle is not smoked Xalapa.

Chipotle is waaayyyy more complicated than that.,

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:37AM
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I've heard apple wood gives great aroma. Haven't tried it, hopefully will do this fall after pruning my apple trees.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:49AM
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As mentioned by several folks above, any pepper is good smoked, but I prefer thicker flesh ones such as Jalapenos or Serranos. I use apple wood for any pepper smoking.
Willard - Could you share your recipe for chipotle?
John A

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 12:02PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Personally, I prefer to smoke a pipe.

A dried cayenne might be interesting... What to stuff it with, though? tobacco?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 1:58PM
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Willard, ditto john11840. More detail please.

I know other chile varieties are smoked as Chipotle but my understanding is the thick skinned Jalapeno is the most often used. Short of being in the Veracruz region and cold smoke drying local Jalapenos, the closest us northern gringos can get is to hot or cold (preferred) smoke and dry our own crop. At least we don't have to settle for the standard morita variety generally sold in Canada and the US.

What am I missing? I'm genuinely interested in getting as close to the real deal as I can.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 4:40PM
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I watched a campesino for 2 days making chipotle, but it took him longer than 2 weeks to complete. He was very proprietary about his methods and didn't want me hanging around.

He made a fire in a pit in the ground with a long stove pipe that came up under a box with chiles in it. He lit a fire and poured water on the stove pipe to control temperature. The fire was not continuous. I'm pretty sure he was using mesquite as there was a pile in his yard. He was really drying the chiles, not smoking them; the smoke temp was 95-100F max.

When you've had real chipotle, smoked Xalapa is pale by comparison.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:17AM
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Yea smoke! Now I see where you get the name! ;)

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 12:00PM
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Thanks Willard.

Longer than 2 weeks to complete the drying! I'm not dedicated enough to dig a pit, run a stove pipe and pour water over it for two+ weeks ;-)

I guess I'll resign myself to cold smoking with hickory or pecan in my Bradley smoker and using a dehydrator to finish them off.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 4:27PM
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gponder(7/South OR)

I've had a bumper crop of peppers this year; hot, medium, sweet, spicy. I've been throwing them in the smoker (stems and seeds removed) for about 16hrs at 130, then I throw them in the dehydrator to dry them to a crisp, then throw them in the Vitamix and grind them up for pepper sprinkles. Wonder aroma and flavor.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 1:59PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

gponder ... I like your way much better than the chipotle guys. To me the most important thing in smoking is SLOW, LOW HEAT, SMOKE. So the thing you are trying to cure absorbs all the smell coming from the fire and would. You dont want to burn it or over heat it. That will actually result in loosing the pepper's own aroma and flavor.

Also agree with John, the thicker walled peppers make better smoked peppers, if you want to eat then not for drying. So Jalap ans serr. are good picks.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 3:08AM
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gponder - My friend smoked n dehydrated some jalapenos for me last summer. I'm almost out, and have been panicking :-)

Seems he likes to smoke his for an entire day.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 3:08PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Didn't your mother warn you against smoking vegetables? Not good for your health. Maybe smoking chiles doesn't give you lung cancer -- but maybe that's because no one has survived long enough to get it.

Besides, how do you keep them lit?

Oh, wait...

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 5:40PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

"That m**f** must be crazy!
Why, even in Sam Quentim,
I nevah seen nobody smoke a raw chile!"

[25 brownie points if you can name the album!]

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 5:43PM
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I like just about any chile smoked. Some of my favorites smoked are guajillos, pasillas, caribbean reds, and red bhuts. I normally smoke with oak because i have a couple huge stacks from cutting back some trees. I prefer citrus wood. I pickled some smoked jalapenos and habs last year. Just an experiment but turned out ok.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 10:21PM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

Agreed with others, different types of wood impart their own flavor, length of smoking time plays a part too. The thread linked below should provide some info.


Here is a link that might be useful: Preferred Wood for Smoking Peppers

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 9:29AM
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Almost forgot, manzanos are awsome smoked too.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 1:42PM
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With the pepper harvest season here I thought I'd this thread.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 8:46AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

No brownie point award.

The album is "Thing-Fish", Frank Zappa's Broadway musical.

The actual line is "I nevah seen nobody eat a raw chitlin!"

- Dennis (often mistaken for Frank in my hairier years)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 3:53PM
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Ah ... this popped up again. :)

We prefer ripe serranos, split and smoked with mesquite at low (under 200F) temps until they are paper-dry.

We tried green serranos, they were bitter. We tried "Sandia" and they were blah.

They need to be ripe, thick-walled and have plenty of sugar to get a good smoked version. Without a high sugar content you get a bitter metallic overtone. If it's thin-fleshed you get all smoke and little chile.

Will be trying ripe jalapenos and Hatch green (same variety but ripe ones) this year, poblanos next year.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 4:05PM
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