Grilled Shishito Peppers – Slender Kitchen

Grilled Shishito Peppers – Slender Kitchen

These Grilled Shishito Peppers are the ultimate summer side dish, appetizer, and more! Ready in less than 15 minutes, they are full of flavor and versatile, plus you might get a surprise spicy pepper here and there.

103 CAL 9g CARBS 8g FAT 3g PROTEIN 2

If you are looking for more dishes to make on the grill, then it’s time to learn how to grill shishito peppers! These flavorful, sometimes spicy, Japanese peppers are perfect for summer appetizers, side dishes, salads, and more. 

made with just 4 simple ingredients, this simple shishito pepper recipe is so easy to make that it will become your go-to recipe for any gathering! Just toss the shishito peppers in a combination of olive oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce and throw them on the grill. In just 15 minutes,you’ll have delicious blistered shishito peppers in as little as 15 minutes that taste better than any restaurnt.

When it comes to easy summer side dishes, grilling vegetables like shishito peppers is one of the best ways to bring out their natural flavors plus it means no extra dirty pots and pans. It gives the vegetables a charred, smoky taste and brings out their natural sweetness. Plus, they are way healthier than fried or processed options.

Serve a platter of these grilled shishito peppers at your next barbecue or dinner party. They are perfect for snacking with other grilled vegetables like Grilled Carrots and Grilled Zucchini. They also make a nice accompaniment to main dishes like Ground Chicken Burgers or Grilled Pork Chops.

Shishito peppers in a bowl with sesame oil, soy sauce, olive oil, salt, and pepper on the side.

What Are Shishito Peppers?

Shishito peppers are a type of small mild chili pepper native to Japan. Named after the Japanese word for lion, “shishi,”  these peppers are wrinkled at the tips and said to resemble a lion’s head.

Generally speaking, shishito peppers are bright green and usually  2 to 3 inches long, similar to jalapeños but more wrinkled. 

What Do Shishito Peppers Taste Like?

Many people compare the taste of shishito peppers to bell peppers but with a mild spicy kick. They have a sweet, mellow, and fruity flavor with just a hint of heat, so they are perfect for those who can’t handle too much heat.

Most shishitos are mild compared to other chili peppers like jalapeños or poblanos, but occasionally, you might get a hot one (about 1 in 10 on average). If it’s your first time trying them, don’t worry about the heat level. It’s more of a fun surprise than a burning sensation! People like to joke about shishito pepper Russian roulette since you’ll never know if it’s a spicy one or not until you bite in. 

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here is everything you need to make grilled shishito peppers:

  • Shishito pepper: Look for firm, bright green peppers at your local farmer’s market or grocery store. You could use this recipe for sweet mini bell peppers or Spanish Padrón peppers, but the flavor won’t be the same. 
  • Olive oil: You can use any oil, but olive oil adds a nice flavor to the peppers. If you prefer, swap in coconut oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil. 
  • Sesame oil: This oil adds a nutty and rich flavor to the peppers. Don’t skip this ingredient because it changes the whole flavor profile of the dish!
  • Soy sauce: It gives the peppers a little bit of color and a lot of umami flavor. For a gluten-free option, swap in tamari or coconut aminos. Or skip the soy sauce and simply use kosher salt and pepper. 

Looking for more pepper recipes? Try these Grilled Peppers and Stuffed Poblano Peppers next!

Shishito peppers on the grill with charred, blistered skins.

How to Grill Shishito Peppers

Bite-sized and mildly spicy, cooking shishito peppers on the grill is quick and easy. Here’s how to make grilled shishito peppers at home:

  1. Season the peppers. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Combine the shishito peppers, olive oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce in a large bowl. Toss the peppers until they are evenly coated with the marinade.
  2. Assemble the peppers. To prevent the shishito peppers from falling through the grill grates, you’ll want to skewer them or use a grill basket. To skewer, thread the peppers onto soaked bamboo skewers, leaving a little space in between. I usually use a grill basket to make things easier. Place the peppers in the basket and toss them occasionally while grilling.
  3. Grill the peppers. Place on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes until bright green with dark grill marks. Flip and cook on the other side for 2-4 minutes until grill marks form and the peppers are tender but not soggy. If using a grill basket, shake the basket every 2-3 minutes until the shishito peppers are tender with grill marks.
  4. Serve hot. Remove from the skewers/basket and season with soy sauce, salt, and/or pepper to taste if needed. Shishitos are also delicious with sesame seeds, lemon zest, or a quick dipping sauce like aioli or spicy mayo.

Garnishes and Sauces

These mild grilled peppers taste amazing on their own, but they are even more delicious when drizzled with sauce or topped with tasty garnishes. Here are some of the best things to pair with grilled shishito peppers:

  • Ponzu sauce: Mix soy sauce, lemon juice, and mirin to make a tangy, citrus-based Japanese condiment. Add a pinch of sugar for sweetness, bonito flakes for extra umami, and grated ginger for extra zing.
  • Garlic mayo: Combine mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt) with minced garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper to create a creamy dipping sauce.
  • Creamy, herby dip: Blend Greek yogurt, lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, and a touch of honey and cumin to make a Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce for dipping.
  • Miso aioli: Any aioli lovers out there? Add a spoonful of miso paste to your favorite homemade garlic-mayo recipe for a Japanese-style aioli.
  • Spicy mayo: A classic sauce that goes well with everything! Simply mix mayo, Sriracha, lime juice, and a pinch of salt for some extra heat.
  • Soy garlic sauce: Combine toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, Asian garlic chili paste (optional), and a touch of honey to make a sweet and spicy Asian style sauce.
  • Peanut sauce: Serve this with creamy peanut sauce made from peanut or almond butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, and water to thin it out. 
  • Lemon ricotta: Shishitos taste amazing with lemon juice and zest. For a truly special appetizer, consider adding a scoop of ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella, or burrata. 

Bowl of grilled shishito peppers and flaky sea salt.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for perfectly grilled shishito peppers:

  • Preheat the grill: Make sure to preheat your grill on high for at least 10 minutes before adding the peppers. This step will ensure a nice char and blister on the peppers.
  • Use a grill basket or skewers: Shishito peppers are thin and small, so they can easily slip through the grates. You can thread the peppers on skewers, which also makes them easier to flip! Alternatively, you can opt for a grill basket designed for grilling small veggies like peppers.
  • Other cooking methods: No grill at home? You can cook these peppers on a stovetop using a grill pan or a cast-iron skillet. Another option is an air fryer, which will not give you the same smoky flavor and charred appearance.

How to Use Grilled Shishito Peppers

Shishitos are way milder in heat compared to other peppers. So don’t worry about getting a fiery mouthful unless you stumble upon a rare spicy one! Here are some ideas for using these tasty grilled peppers in your meals:

  • Sauce and salsa: Blend or chop grilled shishito peppers with some garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a spicy, zesty sauce that goes well with grilled chicken wings, steak, and veggies.
  • Salad: Toss the grilled peppers into a fresh salad for added texture and flavor. Add it to these Greek Chickpea Salad, Grilled Vegetable Salad, and even Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps!
  • Tempura: Dip grilled shishitos in a light tempura batter and fry them up for a tasty and crunchy snack. Serve them with a side of garlic mayo for dipping.
  • Topping: Instead of bell peppers on your pizza, burgers, quesadillas, or tacos, try sliced grilled shishitos for a smoky kick. They are delicious when added to Portobello Mushroom Pizza, Barbecue Cheddar Burger, and Grilled Chicken Tacos.
  • Rice bowls: Chop the peppers up and add them to rice bowls like Korean Beef Bowl and Hoisin Tofu Bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions about cooking shishito peppers.

Shishito peppers are generally considered to be mild compared to other chilis. But you might come across a spicy one out of ten or so. Even then, they should not burn you that much.

No, shishito peppers are less likely to burn your tongue than jalapeños. A jalapeño pepper is basically 30-40 times hotter than shishitos. Shishito pepperss fall between 50 and 200 Scoville heat units (SHU) while jalapeños typically rank between 2,500 and 8,000 SHU.

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