If you’ve ever wondered how to cook shishito peppers (or just what shishito peppers are) this is your lucky day! These addictive little savoury peppers are as easy to make as they are to eat.
Pan fried or grilled and lightly seasoned, shishito peppers will be your new go-to appetizer. Whether you serve them with grilled or pan fried beef, fish, chicken, or as a snack to accompany beer, you’re going to love them!
You may have seen shishito peppers on restaurant or bar grub menus. You may have seen them in the grocery store or in a CSA share and not known what to do with them.
You may already love these fun little peppers but want to know how to cook them at home. I’ve got you covered any which way!
Shishito peppers are small, vibrant green peppers with a wrinkly surface and thin walls. They cook in no time at all and are a super easy, impressive appetizer, side dish, or snack.
Shishito peppers -or Capiscum Annuum- originated in East Asia and are a popular accompaniment to beer in Japan there. They were popularized in Japan and Korea, where they are known as kkwari-gochu (or groundcherries) because its wrinkled surface resembles groundcherries.
Before we get to how to cook shishito peppers, it helps to know a little bit about what to expect when you bite into them. That is where the fun starts.
Shishito Peppers Recipes
Here’s what you need to make Shishito Peppers:
- Cast iron or heavy stainless steel skillet or grill
- Tongs or a spatula
- Neutral oil like sunflower or canola oil
- Fresh shishito peppers
- Optional, but tasty: soy sauce, furikake, sesame seeds
Are Shishito Peppers Hot?
I’ve heard eating shishito peppers is like the tame, food version of Russian roulette. So are shishito peppers hot?
9 out of every 10 to 20 shishito peppers are pretty mild; ranging from about 50 to 200 Scoville Heat Units (you can learn more about that listening to my podcast episode here.) Considering that jalapeños start at 2,500 and can range up to 10,000 SHU, that’s pretty chill for a chili pepper.
“Ah, but what about that 10th pepper?” I hear you asking. That 10th pepper can pack a little wallop; not a bit punch, but a little wake-up call nonetheless.
That 10th pepper can’t be identified by looking at it; at least not that I’ve found. It’s enough to make your tastebuds tingle and make you come back for more, but it most definitely is not a face-melting level of spice.
And even when you DO get a doozy of a pepper, the heat dissipates really quickly. I’d liken it to the burn you experience from horseradish. It’s briefly intense but drops quickly!
So in answer to the question “are shishito peppers hot?” I’d have to say no. Most of the time.
Shishito Peppers Recipe
How to cook shishito peppers is a matter of personal preference. Most folks cook them quickly in a screaming hot pan or grill them.
You have a couple of options on how to cook shishito peppers, but whichever you choose, you’ll want to poke a small hole in the pepper before cooking. The small hole prevents the peppers from exploding from a build up of steam inside when they cook.
While the hole-poking is not strictly necessary, it does give you a more aesthetically pleasing finished shishito pepper recipe. While we’re on the subject of how to cook shishito peppers, let’s talk about those options.
Blistered Shishito Peppers
Whenever asked how to cook shishito peppers, I always recommend making blistered shishito peppers. This is far and away my favourite method for ease of preparation and for flavour.
It’s a ridiculously easy process. All you need to do is get a very heavy frying pan -preferably cast iron but stainless steel will work- screaming hot. Carefully swirl a little oil in the pan and toss in clean, dry shishito peppers with a little hole in them.
Shake the pan around, flip them with tongs after a minute or so, then transfer to a plate. Drizzle or spray with a little soy sauce or liquid aminos, sprinkle with some coarse sea salt like my well-loved Maldon flakes, and eat with wild abandon.
An ice cold beer or iced tea is optional, but awfully nice. These blistered shishito peppers or grilled shishito peppers would also be lovely with a Watermelon Margarita a.k.a. Sandia En Fuego or Pure Sweet and Puckery Lime Sorbet and Summer Shandy Beer Floats.
And if you are looking for ideas on what to serve these grilled shishito peppers with, look no further than our Korean Barbecue Grilled Flat Iron Steak, Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings or Smoked Whole Chicken. You can pop the shishito peppers on the grill while you’re making the grilled steak or crisping up the chicken!
Shishito Pepper FAQ
- 9 out of 10 shishito peppers are quite mild. The 10th one can be moderately spicy.
- Shishito peppers are a popular bar food in Japan and are often served with beer.
- Most shishito peppers are 3 to 4 inches in length, thin walled, and a little wrinkly.
- Despite being wrinkly, a fresh shishito should still be firm, shiny, and unblemished. If it is slimy or soft, it is bad.
- The greener the cap and stem of the shishito pepper are, the fresher the pepper is.
- The bulbous stem end of the shishito pepper is said to resemble a lion’s head (in Japan) and its name is actually a portmanteau of “shishi” (lion) and “tōgarashi” (chili pepper).
- Shishito peppers are an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, and E and B Vitamins.
- To store fresh shishito peppers, keep them dry and in a paper or plastic bag in the warmest part of your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Most shishito peppers are green, but if you find a red or orange pepper in your bag, it’s still perfectly fine to eat.
- Shishito peppers are generally available year round and are easy to grow in containers. They are considered “in season”, however, in summer and early fall.
Grilled Shishito Peppers
Grilled shishito peppers are how to cook shishito peppers if you have your grill already going and don’t feel like messing with a pan. I still prefer blistering them in a pan, but the grill is a great second option.
The bonus to making grilled shishito peppers is that when you skewer them (for ease of turning on the grill) you’ve already pierced the pepper to allow steam to escape. The downside is that you’ll want to soak the skewers for 30 minutes before grilling if using bamboo skewers.
If you opt for metal skewers, no pre-soak is necessary. It’s probably obvious which type of skewer gets my vote.
For grilled shishito peppers, you toss the peppers with the oil you’d use were you making blistered shishito peppers in the pan, then skewer them. Grill over high heat or hot coals for about 5 minutes per side, or until blistered all over and charred in places.
Remove the skewers from the heat, slide the shishito peppers onto a plate, season with soy sauce and salt and serve immediately.
How to Cook Shishito Peppers
How to Cook Shishito Peppers in a Pan
Pierce the peppers by running through from side to side with a skewer or toothpick. Set aside.
Place a heavy-bottomed cast-iron or stainless steel skillet or frying pan over a medium high burner. When you can feel heat rising from the surface of the pan by holding your palm near it, carefully swirl the oil over the bottom of the pan.
Add a single layer of the peppers and shake the pan to distribute them, but then leave the pan alone and do not stir or shake it until you hear sizzling and popping, about 1 to 2 minutes. Use tongs to flip the peppers over once the bottoms have blistered and have some charred areas.
Repeat until sizzling and popping occurs, about 1 to 2 more minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to blot off any excess oil then to a serving dish. Salt or sprinkle generously with furikake or flaked sea salt.
How to Make Grilled Shishito Peppers
Build a bed of hot coals or preheat a gas grill to high. Add the shishito peppers to a mixing bowl and toss with the oil. Skewer the shishito peppers from side to side rather than end to end, threading several peppers onto each skewer.
Arrange the skewered peppers on the hot grill. Grill until you hear sizzling and popping and the bottoms of the peppers are blistered all over and charred in places, about 2 to 5 minutes, depending on your grill’s heat.
Use tongs to flip the peppers over. Repeat until sizzling and popping occurs and the other sides are blistered and lightly charred, about 2 to 4 more minutes. Slide the peppers onto a serving dish.
Season with soy sauce or liquid aminos and sprinkle with flaked sea salt or a generous amount of furikake.
How to Cook Shishito PeppersRate Recipe
- cast iron skillet or
- 8 ounces shishito peppers
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil or another neutral high smoke point oil like canola, vegetable, extra light olive oil, or peanut oil
- 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt or furikake
How to Cook Shishito Peppers in a Pan
- Place a heavy-bottomed cast-iron or stainless steel skillet or frying pan over a medium high burner. When you can feel heat rising from the surface of the pan by holding your palm near it, swirl the oil over the bottom of the pan.
- Add a single layer of the peppers and shake the pan to distribute them, but then leave the pan alone and do not stir or shake it until you hear sizzling and popping, about 1 to 2 minutes.Use tongs to flip the peppers over once the bottoms have blistered and have some charred areas. Repeat until sizzling and popping occurs, about 1 to 2 more minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to blot off any excess oil then to a serving dish.Season with soy sauce or liquid aminos and sprinkle with flaked sea salt or a generous amount of furikake.
How to make Grilled Shishito Peppers
- Build a bed of hot coals or preheat a gas grill to HIGH. Add the shishito peppers to a mixing bowl and toss with the oil. Skewer the shishito peppers from side to side rather than end to end, threading several peppers onto each skewer. Arrange the skewered peppers on the hot grill. Grill until you hear sizzling and popping and the bottoms of the peppers are blistered all over and charred in places, about 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the intensity of heat your grill achieves.Use tongs to flip the peppers over. Repeat until sizzling and popping occurs and the other sides are blistered and lightly charred, about 2 to 4 more minutes. Slide the peppers onto a serving dish. Season with soy sauce or liquid aminos and sprinkle with flaked sea salt or a generous amount of furikake.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
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Virat Sharma says
I found this recipe online, and it looked and sounded so lovely and tasty that I decided to try it out for myself. It was a huge hit with both my spouse and myself. What wonderful flavours from such a simple dish (I love those kinds of recipes), and the taste feels like something I toiled over for hours to achieve, haha. Thank you for sharing this information, it is really appreciated. Much Love From Amma Ruchis .
Thanks so much for rating the recipe and letting me know you loved it, Amma Ruchis! I truly appreciate you taking the time to tell me. And I’m with you 100%; my favourite dishes are the ones that have huge impact and flavours with very little effort!
This is exactly how I cook shisitos in the pan. I LOVE them so much! I’ll have to try them on the grill now.
They’re both so good, but I do love the pan fried ones best, too!