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Quick and Easy Romesco Sauce

5 from 2 votes

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Move over sriracha and salsa verde — this easy roasted red pepper romesco sauce is nut-free and made with pantry staples.

A dipping bowl and spoon serving red pepper romesco sauce.
Use romesco sauce as a dipping sauce or condiment. It’s delicious!

This is a nut-free recipe for Spanish-style romesco sauce, a delicious puree of roasted red peppers blended with garlic, vinegar and spices. If you use roasted red peppers from a jar, this sauce is ready to serve in minutes.

Romesco sauces uses

Romesco sauce tastes delicious either served warm or at room temperature (even straight out of the fridge if you can’t wait). It pairs perfectly with any Mediterranean-style recipe, as well as pasta, vegetables (it’s so GOOD on roasted sweet potatoes!), grilled fish and chicken, steak, or eggs — and so much more!

This tasty, piquant sauce has literally become a staple in my fridge, right next to my other must-have sauces. It tastes slightly less fiery than chili pepper and vinegar sauces like sriracha and harissa.

Where does romesco sauce come from?

Romesco is a classic Spanish sauce from the port city of Valls in Catalonia. It’s typically based on mild red chili peppers and olive oil, although every cook and region has their own way of making it. It sometimes uses almonds, hazelnuts or breadcrumbs as a thickener.
The texture is rich and creamy, and it’s good served as a dip or with grilled meats, seafood, vegetables and eggs cooked any which way.

It’s similar to a spicy rouille sauce, which is thickened with bread crumbs and traditionally served with classic French bouillabaisse. 

My version is inspired by the traditional romesco, and not exactly authentic. It’s a perfect sauce to make for people who are gluten intolerant or have nut allergies. You’ll find it’s very versatile, and tempting to just eat it by the spoonful!

Romesco sauce ingredients

With just a handful of ingredients you probably have on hand right now, this roasted red pepper sauce couldn’t be easier to make.

Red bell peppers, and small dishes of vinegar, olive oil and salt on a napkin.
Use simple pantry ingredients to make romesco sauce.

What makes this recipe stand out is that it’s nicely balanced with smoke, heat and tangy vinegar.

  • Red bell peppers: Use 2 large peppers or one 16-ounce jar of drained roasted red peppers
  • Garlic: One raw clove provides just the right amount of zest without overpowering the sauce.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: Use your best oil since it’s the ingredient that binds the sauce together.
  • Red wine vinegar: Choose a vinegar that has a balanced level acidity. Most good wine vinegars have somewhere around 6 percent acidity (the level is listed on the front label).
  • Cayenne pepper: Just a pinch adds a subtle layer of heat. Feel free to omit it if you’re sensitive to hot spices.
  • Smoked paprika: This delectable spice, or pimentón, is made from dehydrated smoked red peppers. I recommend using it if you’re making the romesco sauce using jarred peppers. It will add a nice touch of smokiness.

How to roast red bell peppers:

Red bell peppers can be roasted under a broiler, on an outdoor grill or even right on top of the burners on a gas stove.

  • If using the broiler or oven method, put the peppers on a baking sheet. For easier cleanup, you can line the pan with a piece of aluminum foil or on top of the oven rack.
  • Roast the peppers until the skin is blackened on all sides, and the pepper has collapsed and feels soft.
  • Let the peppers cool until you can comfortably handle one, then pull off the stem, remove the seeds and discard. Scrape off the skin with your fingers — it should slide off easily.
  • The peppers can be roasted up to 5 days ahead. Keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator, then proceed with step 3 of the recipe.

Is romesco sauce served hot or cold?

You find that romesco sauce tastes delicious either warm or at room temperature (even straight out of the fridge if you can’t wait).

I also love to spoon it as a sauce over grain bowls loaded up with greens, cucumbers and feta cheese, or as a topping for pizza crust.

Tips for making romesco:

  • You can use one 16-ounce jar of roasted red peppers to save time (drain them of excess water before processing. The result won’t be quite as smoky and savory, but still tastes delish!
  • Roast red peppers up to 3 days ahead of time — just peel, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the sauce.
  • Sherry vinegar is worth seeking out — it’s rounder and less sharp than other vinegars.  Some people say it falls somewhere between white wine and balsamic vinegar, but without the sweetness of the latter. If you can’t find it, just use a good red wine vinegar.

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Quick and Easy Spanish-Style Romesco Sauce

Karen Tedesco
An easy recipe for the best homemade romesco sauce, made with roasted red peppers. Enjoy as a dip, sauce or sandwich spread.
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cooling time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Sauces
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Yield: About 1 cup sauce

  • 2 red bell peppers, or one 16-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, optional (for an extra smoky flavor)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil

Instructions 

  • If using fresh bell peppers, preheat the broiler to high, with the top rack placed 6-8 inches from the heat source. Place the pepper on a small rimmed baking sheet (line the pan with foil for easier clean up).
  • Broil the peppers until the skin is blackened and they're soft and collapsed, turning frequently to roast evenly on all sides. You can also roast the peppers on an outdoor grill or right on top of a stovetop gas burner. Let the peppers cool until you can handle them, then peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds.
  • Put the peeled, roasted peppers or drained jarred peppers in a food processor work bowl. Add the garlic, salt, vinegar, paprika and cayenne. Pulse until combined, then start pouring the oil in a steady stream while running the machine. Process until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
  • Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, cayenne or a touch of vinegar to adjust to your liking.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • The recipe makes a little more than 1 cup of sauce, and doubles easily.
  • Romesco sauce keeps well up to a week, refrigerated. Bring to room temperature for best flavor before serving.
  • The peppers can be roasted up to 5 days ahead. Keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator, then proceed with step 3 of the recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 294mg | Potassium: 135mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1977IU | Vitamin C: 77mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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