Pepper Gift Bags: A Hot Gift Idea

Kelly Smith Trimble, a master gardener with a yen for garden crafts, shares an idea for what to do with a plethora of peppers.

pepper flake gift bags

pepper flake gift bags

For these holiday goodies, I printed pieces of fabric with a block carved in the shape of a chili pepper. The pieces were sewn into little gift bags for dried pepper flakes made from cayennes I grew this summer.

I admit it. I overplanted the cayenne peppers this summer. Who knew that growing just three of these hot pepper plants would yield hundreds—literally hundreds—of hot peppers? I planted both red and yellow cayenne varieties, and toward the end of the season, I also picked them green (before ripening) just to get them off the plants. Cayenne is one productive pepper!

In reality, it’s hard to use all those hot peppers in daily cooking, so preserving is key. After harvest a couple months ago, I made pepper jelly with some of them, made hot sauce with others and dehydrated the rest. And this weekend, the dehydrated peppers became the cutest gifts: homegrown hot pepper flakes packaged in pepper-printed gift bags!

I love giving homemade food gifts because it’s giving people something they need and something they can use. That’s smart, green gifting. (Plus, everyone is super impressed when you grew the food!) My cayenne pepper flakes will be great for cozy winter recipes like chili and for party recipes like cheese straws and spiced popcorn. Here’s how I made them. You can put your own spin on them too.

1. Dehydrate the peppers.

Wearing gloves to protect my hands from the hot pepper juices (once after chopping a bunch with bare hands, I wiped my cheeks and had a raw face for weeks), I carefully cut the top off each pepper and sliced each down the middle. Then, I placed them on the trays of my dehydrator and dried them for several hours. I didn’t discard the seeds or pulp (which is where the most heat lives).

I love my dehydrator. If you’re a vegetable gardener, you need one. Seriously, listen to me: You’ll love it! But, if you listen to nothing else, hear this: Do not dehydrate your hot peppers indoors. I learned this the hard way, nearly mace-ing my family out of our home. The capcaisin  (chemical compound that makes peppers hot) goes airborne and the fumes can burn your eyes and nose. From now on, all my hot pepper dehydration happens in the garage, with the door open for airflow. The higher humidity may lengthen the dehydration time a bit, but my eyeballs are very appreciative.

I use my dehydrator to make tomato snacks and to dry herbs. You could also use your dehydrator this season to make gift bags of dried fruits.

2. Grind the peppers into flakes.

After drying the peppers, I bagged them up and left them in the spice cabinet. I’ve used a couple over the past few months for chili recipes or anything calling for crushed red pepper. (I have also rehydrated the peppers in hot water, then chopped them to use in recipes calling for chopped fresh cayenne.) But the rest were saved for this season of giving.

I ground the dried peppers in my food processor in batches, pulsing until the pieces could be considered flakes. Before starting this process, I tied a bandana around my nose. You think I’m kidding? Yes, I looked ridiculous, but peppers are serious business. Protecting my nose with the bandana prevented me from inhaling hot pepper dust that gets out of the food processor. I suggest you do the same!

3. Package the pepper flakes in plastic bags.

I then scooped the pepper flakes into little plastic bags. I used jewelry bags (available at craft stores). Normally meant for beads and such, the little 3- x 4-inch bags are the perfect size for giving dried peppers or dried herbs. I mean, who needs a pint-sized bag of crushed red pepper?

4. Make printed fabric gift bags.

In addition to growing things, I love making things. Printing, sewing, dyeing—these activities are how I spend my nights and weekends. So I carved a pepper block print, printed the block on unbleached muslin fabric, and sewed little gift bags for the pepper flakes.

A simpler method would take a cue from these adorable tea bags and use stamps to print the name of what’s inside, whether ground pepper, dried apple snacks or dried herbs and spices.

5. Give the gift bags away!

Now, I have several gift bags of hot pepper flakes for year-round gift giving.  It’s enough ground hot pepper that those who receive them should be enjoying the gift for months to come!

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Make a Tea Bag

Make morning tea extra special with a handmade tea bag filled with a delicious herbal blend and a special love note

40+ Ways to Turn Any Space Into a Dream Craft Room

Learn how to turn any room into an inspirational crafting studio.

Make an Easy-to-Sew Lined Tote Bag

Custom tote bags can add to a fun personal fashion statement. Learn how to make a lined fabric tote bag that's perfect for work and play in this straightforward home sewing project for tweens, teens or anyone new to sewing.

Bedroom Paint Color Ideas

Your bedroom is your personal space. Choose the colors that best suit your style.

Inexpensive Backsplash Ideas

Get all the info you'll need on inexpensive backsplash ideas, and get ready to install an attractive and economical backsplash in your home.


Mexico Life

6:30am | 5:30c

Mexico Life

7am | 6c

Mexico Life

7:30am | 6:30c

Desert Flippers

8:30am | 7:30c

Desert Flippers

9:30am | 8:30c

Desert Flippers

10:30am | 9:30c

Desert Flippers

11:30am | 10:30c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Caribbean Life

1:30pm | 12:30c

Caribbean Life

2:30pm | 1:30c

Caribbean Life

3:30pm | 2:30c

Caribbean Life

4:30pm | 3:30c

Bahamas Life

5:30pm | 4:30c

Bahamas Life

6:30pm | 5:30c

Bahamas Life

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

My Lottery Dream Home

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

My Lottery Dream Home

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.