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Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Smoky red pepper crema is the creamy condiment you didn’t know you were missing. Give simple burgers, tacos, chips, and veggies some masterpiece energy with a pop of rich flavor!

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A bowl of prepared smoky red pepper crema with a spoon in it.

One of my favorite parts of cooking is making simple meals really special without using tons of expensive ingredients or adding lots of steps. Sometimes you’re craving really good food but need to get it on the table without too much time or fuss. Smoky red pepper crema tastes amazing and uses ingredients that are probably in your pantry already. 

We love Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes, and this crema recipe is an absolute winner. It’s an easy and unique dip for chips, veggies, and other appetizers like air fryer stuffed mushrooms

It is also amazing for tacos and taco salad or as a smear on burgers or sandwiches. I will be honest — I was completely unprepared for how good this is on roasted sweet potatoes!

Red pepper crema is relatively mild, but if you like it spicy, it is easy to adjust to your family’s preferences. When we have friends over, I often split the recipe into a smoky version and a spicy version so everyone is happy!

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Overhead view of the ingredients needed to prepare smoky red pepper crema.

How to Make Smoky Red Pepper Crema

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

Overhead view of the ingredients needed to prepare smoky red pepper crema in a food processor.

STEP ONE: Place roasted red peppers, Mexican crema, sour cream, olive oil, paprika, salt, and garlic powder in the bowl of a food processor.

The combined ingredients of smoky red pepper crema in a food processor.

STEP TWO: Pulse until creamy and enjoy!

Prepared smoky red pepper crema in a bowl.

What to Serve With Red Pepper Crema

Variations for Smoky Red Pepper Crema

  • Turn up the heat! Add a pinch of spicy cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce to your smoky red pepper crema. 
  • Brighten the flavor. Add a handful of cilantro and juice from 1 lime. I especially love this version on fish tacos!
  • Adjust the consistency. To make it thicker, skip the Mexican crema and replace it with all sour cream. For a thinner red pepper crema, skip the sour cream and use all Mexican crema.
  • Want a smokier flavor? Try ground chipotle chili pepper in your crema.
  • Add fresh garlic. The pungent, spicy flavors pair perfectly with smoky red pepper crema. Simply toss a clove or two into the food processor with the other ingredients. Just be sure to start with a little — you can always add more if needed.
A chip being dipped into a bowl of smoky red pepper crema.

Storing Leftover Red Pepper Crema

Store this smoky sauce in a mason jar or airtight container and remove just as much as you need each time.

It will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days when kept tightly sealed. This also gives you a great make-ahead option for party planning — just give the sauce a good stir before serving.

Unfortunately, smoky red pepper crema cannot be frozen. Dairy tends to separate when frozen and then thawed, which means the texture would be too unpleasant to eat.

What is Smoky Red Pepper Crema Made Of?

This Mexican-inspired condiment is made from roasted red bell peppers, smoked paprika, Mexican crema, sour cream, a little oil, and a few spices.

We keep it easy by using a jar of roasted red peppers from the pantry, but you can just as easily use fresh red bell peppers. Roast them in the oven until they blister, then remove the skin before adding them to the food processor. 

A spoon lifting a bite of red pepper crema out of a bowl.

What is the Closest Thing to Mexican Crema?

Creme fraiche is close to Mexican crema, only slightly thicker.

Thin it with a little water or lime juice if that is all you can find at your local store. If neither are available, you can make red pepper crema with sour cream. 

Where Do I Find Mexican Crema?

Mexican crema is the only ingredient in this red pepper crema recipe you might not have regularly rotating through your pantry.

It is available in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores or near the prepared queso. And you’re guaranteed to find it in a Mexican or Latin American market!

A bowl of prepared smoky red pepper crema with a spoon in it.

Other Sauces and Dips You’ll Love:

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A bowl of prepared smoky red pepper crema with a spoon in it.

Smoky Red Pepper Crema

Samantha Erb
This smoky red pepper crema is a quick and easy condiment you can have ready in just 5 minutes. It’s rich and creamy with a subtle smokiness and strong red pepper flavor. This crema is perfect as a salsa substitute with chips, on tacos, or even as a salad dressing! 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Sauces & Dips
Cuisine American
Servings 2 Servings
Calories 277 kcal


  • 1 jar 12 ounces roasted red peppers, drained
  • ¼ cup mexican crema see notes
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


  • Place all of the ingredients (roasted red peppers, mexican crema, sour cream, olive oil, paprika, salta, and garlic powder) in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until your desired consistency. 
  • This crema can be used as a dip with chips, as a topping for tacos, or the dressing on a salad. Enjoy as desired.


You can use creme fraiche with a little lime juice OR just a little more sour cream in place of Mexican crema if you cannot find it at your local grocery store.


Serving: 1gCalories: 277kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 2gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 482mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5g
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About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

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