Making Chipotle Peppers on a Charcoal Grill


I love my spicy peppers and grow many plants each year in our vegetable garden. And each year I wind up with a surplus of Jalapenos and have to preserve them. So, I started using my grilling skills to make my own homemade chipotle peppers, and they are GREAT!

Making your own Chipotle peppers on the grill is easy! Smoke red jalapenos for several hours on a charcoal grill using apple, pecan, or cherry wood. Then finish the chipotles by drying the peppers in your oven set at a low temperature (150-180 F) for about 6-10 hours, testing them as you go.

Making Chipotle Peppers without a smoker, step by step

The basic process for making Chipotle Peppers on a grill really quite simple:

1 – Prepare the jalapeno peppers and wood chips. Get Red Jalapeno Peppers and chunks of good smoking wood. Soak some chunks of wood in water for a couple of hours before smoking. I prefer fruit woods like Apple, Cherry, but Pecan is the traditional wood.

2 – Light a charcoal grill. Build it so that the fire is only on one side of the grill. This is important, as you are not ‘cooking’ the peppers but smoking them at lower temperatures.

3 – Add the wood chips/chunks for smoking. Once the coals are hot add the soaked wood chunks directly on top of the coals.

4 – Add the peppers. Once the coals begin to smoke, place the jalapenos on the grill. Place them on the cold side of the grill, do not place them on top of the coals.

5 – Smoke the Peppers for 3 hours. Partially close the vents so that they are only about 30% open. This will reduce the temperature of the fire. Check the coals every hour, adding coals and wood as needed.

6 – Finish drying the peppers. Set the oven at 150-180 F (65-82 C) for about six hours. I place my peppers on the lid from a grill basket, then on top of a cookie sheet. I use the ‘convection bake’ setting to increase the air movement. Check the peppers periodically and remove peppers that feel dry.

How do I know when my peppers are dry enough?

Dried Chipotle peppers should be very light weight but still somewhat flexible or pliable. You don’t want the peppers ‘crispy’ and brittle. But, even if that happens you can still use them – just grind them up into a powder. But I have noticed that Chipotle peppers that have a ‘leathery’ texture are much more flavorful than fully dried ones.

How long to Chipotle Peppers last?

Dried Chipotle Peppers will last around six to twelve months in the fridge in a sealed container. And they will keep for years in the freezer!

How long does it take to make Chipotle Peppers?

It will take approximately 10-12 hours to make Chipotle Peppers from start to finish. This includes about an hour of prep work before smoking, 3 hours of smoking on the grill, and about 6-10 more hours to dry in a conventional oven.

You can speed this process up by letting your peppers dry on a window sill for some days before smoking them. In fact that is exactly what I do – as I harvest red Jalepeno peppers, I just leave them on the kitchen counter. They can sit there for a week or two without issue, and are slowly drying. I do this because as the first batch are drying I will go harvest more, which makes my ‘smoking’ operation more efficient.

How Hot Are Chipotle Peppers?

Chipotle Peppers are about 2000-6000 Scoville units, which is about the same as any regular Jalapeno. This is because you are just smoking, then drying the jalapeno so most of the capsaicin is still inside the pepper.

Of course, if you think that is too hot for you, you could try one of our methods for toning down the heat of peppers.

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Joe Foster

Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over 10 years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you! You may have seen some of my videos I create on our YouTube channel, GrowitBuildit (more than 10 million views!). You can find my channel here: https://youtube.com/@growitbuildit Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!

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