• 35 gm duck fat or lard
  • 375 gm plain flour, sieved (2½ cups)
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 fresh chorizo (100gm)
  • 250 gm coarsely minced beef
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • ½ red capsicum, seeded and finely chopped
  • 40 gm frozen peas (1/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp pickled guindilla chillies, finely chopped (or any mild chilli)
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 ground cinnamon
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying

With a gentle spice and a narrow elongated frame, the guindilla is popular pickled in white wine vinegar and served as tapas or as a side with wine and cheese. Or try the guindilla (or a few) as the food of choice in an extra spicy Bloody Mary.

How hot are guindilla peppers?

Guindillas are mild chilies with a Scoville heat range from 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat units (SHU). That’s slightly hotter than the popular banana pepper (0 to 500 SHU) and two to eight times milder than PepperScale’s reference point, the jalapeño pepper. It’s a heat that most everyone can enjoy, making the guindilla a popular appetizer choice for family gatherings and social events.
  • 1 long red chilli, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, bruised
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1½ tbsp dried oregano
  • 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar


  • For dough, warm fat and 180ml water in a small saucepan until fat melts. Mix flour, baking powder and 1½ tsp fine sea salt in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add fat mixture and knead until dough comes together (2-3 minutes). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill (1 hour).
  • Preheat oven to 170C and line a baking tray with foil. Split chorizo lengthways and roast on tray until just cooked through (10-15 minutes). Cool on tray (10 minutes), then chop into 1cm dice, reserving juices. Increase oven to 250C. Spread beef on a baking tray lined with foil and roast until lightly caramelised (8-10 minutes). Cool for 10 minutes.
  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan over high heat, add onion and capsicum and fry until starting to brown, then reduce heat to low and sauté until tender (8-10 minutes).
  • Combine peas, guindillas, spring onion and spices in a bowl, add chorizo, pan juices and beef, season to taste and refrigerate to cool mixture completely (30-40 minutes).
  • Divide dough into 18 pieces and roll out to 12cm rounds. Place a tablespoonful of beef mixture on the centre of each, lightly moisten edges with water and fold pastry over filling to form a half moon. Starting at a corner, squash a small section of pastry, lightly stretch it out and fold over, then repeat along edge to create a rope effect, folding last piece of seam under. Place empanadas on lightly floured trays and cover with a tea towel.
  • For chimichurri, pound chilli and garlic with a mortar and pestle to a paste, then mix in remaining ingredients, 2 tsp sea salt flakes and 2 tsp cracked black pepper.
  • Heat oil in a deep saucepan to 180C. Deep-fry empanadas in batches until golden and crisp (3-5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, then serve with chimichurri.

What does guindilla mean?

Guindilla simply means chili or hot pepper in Spanish, and that, of course, leads to confusion in regard to these jarred chilies. You’ll find many varieties of chili being referred to as guindilla. For clarification – guindilla peppers, as we refer to them here, are also called piparras. You’ll find them labelled as either guindilla or piparras when jarred.

What do guindilla peppers look like?

These are narrow and long chilies, like cayenne (but of course without the heat). Guindilla are typically picked for pickling when young, so you most commonly see them green to yellowish green in color. Though, red guindilla also have good use in the kitchen – they’re terrific dried and crushed into flakes for a mild and sweet alternative to common chili pepper flakes, and, as such, are the spice of choice for many traditional Basque meals.

What do guindilla peppers taste like?

Guindilla peppers themselves have a relatively sweet flavor, but the pickling vinegar of choice for guindilla peppers impacts the eating experience even more. Guindillas are typically pickled in white wine vinegar, providing a crisp and tart flavor quite different than the bold tang of chilies pickled in traditional white vinegar. It’s a surprisingly delicate flavor for a pickled pepper.

How can you use these chilies?

Guindilla peppers are perfect as a tapas pepper. The pickling in white wine vinegar makes them a perfect pairing with wine and cheese. And they make an excellent speared bar snack (called pincho in Spanish or pintxo in the Basque region). A popular option: the Gilda pintxo which spears guindilla pepper with a salt-cured anchovy and an olive.

Where can you buy guindilla peppers?

Buying them fresh can be a challenge, though you can pick up guindilla pepper seeds online if you prefer to grow them yourself. It’s more likely, though, the pickled variety you are seeking, and jarred guindilla peppers can be found at specialty stores and they’re easily sourced online, as well. Look for either guindilla or piparras on the label.

If you’re looking for an easy and quick tapas, the guindilla pepper is a terrific solution, providing a mildly spicy, slightly sweet, and delicately tart foil to other finger foods. Once you’ve tried them, they’ll no doubt become a staple treat.