Guide to dried chillies and chilli flakes

Dried chillies, whether whole or in flaked form, add not only a hit of heat to any recipe, but an incredibly diverse range of flavours as well. Take, for example, the intense smokiness of dried chipotle chillies, the ripe fruitiness of dried ancho chillies, and the fiery umami of the dried habanero chilli.

Dried chillies are far more than a South and Central American ingredient, of course, appearing in many of our favourite cuisines, from the shichimi togarashi of Japan to the Aleppo pepper flakes of Turkey and Syria, the gochugaru of Korea to the paprika flakes of Spain.

To use whole dried chillies, remove the stem, shake out the seeds and rehydrate in a bowl of boiling water until plump. Reserve the soaking liquid to use as the base of a marinade.

Here are some more of our favourite dried chilli tricks:

-For extra flavour, toast the whole dried chillies over a gas flame or in a hot oven before rehydrating.

-Dried chilli flakes not only make a vibrant and flavourful garnish, but a great addition to bread doughs, schnitzel crumbs, sauces, homemade sausages, scrambled eggs, frittata, meatloaf, ragu and countless other dishes. 

-Make a paste of gochugaru, fish sauce, ginger, grated apple and garlic and rub over sliced cucumber for a quick homemade kimchi.

-Combine extra virgin olive oil with crushed chillies and garlic, then warm gently in a saucepan over a low heat to make an Italian chilli oil that’s perfect for pizza, pasta, vegetables and more.

-Add chipotle chilli powder to your meat rub and get that ‘straight from the smoker’ flavour from oven-roasted ribs.  

-Blitz rehydrated dried chillies with apple juice, salt and a few splashes of vinegar for a quick, fiery hot sauce that makes an amazing addition to tacos and burritos. 

-Add Urfa chilli flakes to a dark chocolate brownie mix. The flakes add a prune-like flavour while their gentle heat enhances the aromas of the chocolate.