Cherry pepper spread is one of the easiest and most versatile condiments you’ll ever make. Made with red bell peppers, sweet cherry tomatoes, pickled cherry peppers, and loads of garlic, this spread is perfect slathered on crusty Italian bread or as a topping to your favorite grilled meat or pasta.
This easy cherry pepper spread is something I created one night when I was prepping dinner but wanted to snack on something while I cooked.
Want to learn more about Italian condiments? I discuss this recipe and the use of cherry peppers and other Italian condiments in The Sip and Feast Podcast 15 – Top Italian condiments.
I quickly grabbed a few things I had on hand and began sauteeing bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and cherry peppers until they softened, added some basil, and smeared it on a slice of seeded Italian bread. It was so simple but so incredibly good.
Besides being easy, this cherry pepper spread is versatile and can be used in a variety of ways (much like homemade giardiniera).
I’ve also been known to eat it by itself – it’s just that good!
Table of Contents
All ingredients for this recipe are shown in the pic below and special notes are made in this bulleted list to assist you.
- Cherry tomatoes. Feel free to use grape tomatoes or even Roma/plum tomatoes cut into chunks.
- Extra virgin olive oil. Frantoia Barbera is the extra virgin we love to use for special dishes or ones that we want the oil to really shine through. Feel free to use your favorite extra virgin oil.
- Cherry peppers. Besides whole cherry peppers, you can also use jarred sliced cherry peppers or a mashed hoagie spread version. We use all three in our house.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Remove the seeds from 2 red bell peppers and slice. Also, remove all the seeds from 5 pickled cherry peppers and chop. Chop 12 cloves of garlic and slice 3 pints of cherry tomatoes (Photo #1). Note: Cherry peppers are around the heat level of a jalapeno pepper. You can use more or less to suit your taste preference.
- Saute the peppers in a 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until softened (about 7-10 minutes) (Photo #2).
- Next, add the garlic to the pan and continue to cook with the peppers until the cloves turn golden (about 3-5 minutes) (Photo #3).
- Add the cherry peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the cherry tomatoes (Photo #4).
- As the tomatoes cook, they will release plenty of liquid. Continue to cook over a moderate simmer or about medium heat (Photo #5).
- After about 20-30 minutes of cooking, most of the water will have evaporated. Season the cherry pepper spread with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and add a 1/4 cup of hand-torn basil leaves. Serve the spread with crusty Italian bread (Photo #6).
- The tomatoes. I used red cherry tomatoes for this recipe, but you can use orange or yellow cherry or grape tomatoes if you can find them. I do recommend taking the time to slice the tomatoes in half. Doing so will allow them to more easily release their liquid, help them cook faster, and will also prevent them from bursting when you don’t expect them to. If you’ve got an abundance of cherry tomatoes, check out our recipe for an equally delicious spread, cherry tomato confit.
- The cherry peppers. If you know me, you know how much I adore cherry peppers! I do recommend slicing them for this recipe. To save time you could buy pre-sliced jarred cherry peppers or even hoagie spread. I linked to both in the step-by-step instructions above. Use however many you want depending on the heat level you’re going for. Cherry peppers aren’t always predictable; some can be hotter than others so account for that when making this dish.
- Making ahead. Cherry pepper spread is one of those condiments you’ll want to make lots of because it’s so good. I will usually make it to snack on while I’m cooking another meal and then save the rest and use over the next few days for bread, sandwiches, with burrata, grilled meat, fried calamari, or to add to pasta. The flavors only intensify after it hangs out in the fridge for a day or two and is just fantastic.
More great appetizers
Here are some of my favorite appetizers that work especially well when making a large spread. Let us know which is your favorite!
- Peperonata – Bell peppers, onions, plum tomatoes, and garlic are stewed together and tossed with fresh basil.
- Cherry tomato crostini – with whipped ricotta and fresh basil.
- Eggplant caponata – The classic Sicilian style sweet and sour eggplant with raisins, olives, and pine nuts.
- Italian fried peppers – charred cubanelles and long peppers drizzled with olive oil and flaky sea salt.
- Italian fried artichoke hearts – Jarred artichoke hearts are egg battered and fried until golden.
- Easy no knead focaccia – Simple no kneading required focaccia topped with flaky sea salt and rosemary. Perfect alongside any of these appetizers!
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Cherry Pepper Spread
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 12 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 large red bell peppers sliced
- 5 large pickled cherry peppers seeded and stems removes, chopped
- 3 pints cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/4 cup basil hand torn
- salt and pepper to taste
- Saute the peppers in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until softened (about 7-10 minutes). Add the garlic into the pan and continue to cook with the peppers until the cloves turn golden (about 3-5 minutes).
- Add the cherry peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the cherry tomatoes. Cook until they soften and release their water (about 20-25 minutes).
- Once all the flavors are well combined and the sauce has thickened add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and add the basil.
- If needed add a bit more of your best extra virgin olive oil. Serve with crusty Italian bread as a spread. Enjoy!
- Cherry peppers are around the heat level of a jalapeno pepper. You can use more or less to suit your taste preference.
- Makes 4 large appetizer servings to be served with crusty bread. The spread can also be served as a condiment.
- Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.