Romesco Sauce

Tangy, smoky, creamy, and sweet, this romesco sauce recipe is a great way to liven up roasted or grilled vegetables, sandwiches, and more.

Romesco sauce

This romesco sauce recipe is one of my favorite things to make in summer. After Jack and I visited Barcelona for the first time, I made all kinds of Spanish food at home – paella, Spanish tortillas, espinacas con garbanzos. I loved them all, but romesco sauce is the one Spanish dish that I’ve continued to make again and again. Its bold sweet and smoky flavor instantly reminds me of Spain. We may not be traveling much of anywhere this summer, but we are enjoying this tangy, creamy sauce as much as we can at home. It transforms grilled veggies into a delicious dinner, makes plain pasta lively and exciting, and elevates the humblest slice of crusty bread. Once you have it on hand, you’ll find yourself slathering it onto sandwiches, dolloping it onto bowls, using it as a dip, and more!

If you’re not familiar with romesco sauce, it’s a vibrant red pepper and roasted tomato sauce that originated in Catalonia. Traditional versions include some combination of roasted tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, chiles, and often bread, but there’s no one way to make romesco sauce. My version is certainly less authentic than some (I swap tomato paste for fresh tomatoes and chickpeas for bread), but it tastes fantastic, and it comes together in minutes. If romesco sauce isn’t already a fixture in your summer recipe rotation, do yourself a favor, and try this recipe ASAP.

Garlic, nuts, roasted red peppers, and olive oil in a blender

Romesco Sauce Recipe Ingredients

Ready to cook? Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Roasted red bell peppers – They add a sweet, smoky flavor to this brilliant orange sauce. Use jarred roasted red peppers, or make your own.
  • Tomato paste – Traditional romesco sauce recipes call for roasted tomatoes, but I like to use tomato paste for a quick and easy shortcut. It gives the sauce a delicious savory flavor.
  • Almonds and hazelnuts – Use one or the other, or a combination of the two. If you use hazelnuts, peel away the papery skins before adding the nuts to the blender. For a richer, nuttier flavor, use toasted almonds and hazelnuts instead of raw ones.
  • Garlic – It gives the sauce a nice bite.
  • Chickpeas – When I first started making romesco sauce, I made it the traditional way, with bread as a thickener. As time went on, I realized that using chickpeas in its place would make this recipe gluten-free. They give this sauce a wonderful creamy texture, but if gluten isn’t a concern for you, feel free to use a slice of ciabatta or country bread instead.
  • Sherry or red wine vinegar – For tangy, zingy flavor.
  • Smoked paprika – It gives the sauce a bold, smoky taste.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – It adds richness and gets the blender moving.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Romesco sauce recipe

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Romesco sauce in a bowl with a spoon

How to Use Romesco Sauce

Romesco sauce is incredibly versatile, so have fun experimenting with different ways to serve it! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Do you have a favorite way to use romesco sauce? Let me know in the comments!

Bowl of romesco sauce

More Favorite Sauces and Spreads

If you love this romesco sauce recipe, try one of these sauces next:

Romesco Sauce

rate this recipe:
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Serves 6 to 8
This Romesco sauce recipe isn't traditional - I use tomato paste instead of roasted tomatoes and chickpeas instead of bread - but it still captures the tangy, smoky flavor and creamy texture of the classic Spanish sauce. I love to serve it with crusty bread and grilled vegetables. Find more serving suggestions in the post above!

Ingredients

  • 2 roasted red bell peppers*, skin and seeds removed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • cup mix of almonds and peeled hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup cooked chickpeas**, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • In a blender, place the peppers, olive oil, water, nuts, tomato paste, vinegar, chickpeas, garlic, paprika, salt, and pinches of pepper. Blend until smooth.
  • Serve with crusty bread or grilled vegetables. For more serving suggestions, see the blog post above.

Notes

*You can use homemade roasted red peppers or 2 whole peppers from a jar.
**For a more traditional version, use a 1-inch thick slice of crusty bread (torn), in place of the chickpeas.

12 comments

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  1. Aaron Miller
    07.21.2020

    How much roasted red peppers should one use if using from a jar?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.21.2020

      Hi Aaron, if you buy them in the jar whole vs. chopped, it’s still 2 peppers. If they’re chopped, I’d say 1 pepper is about a heaping 1/2 cup.

  2. Patricia
    07.21.2020

    Grew up in Madrid, grandad was Catalan, my dad would make Romescu sauce and pour on grilled white fish. Feeling nostalgic so must give your recipe a try!

  3. Caroline W
    07.21.2020

    How long will this stay fresh assuming you put it in a jar in the fridge?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.21.2020

      Hi Caroline, about 5 days.

  4. Krista
    07.21.2020

    This looks wonderful! Do you ever make spanish rice? I did a search on your site but didn’t find a recipe here. Would love to learn how to make that as well!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.21.2020

      I usually just enjoy it at restaurants, but thanks for the request! 🙂

  5. Maggie
    07.21.2020

    5 stars
    Just made it! Thanks for the inspiration to try something new and for the delish recipe!
    I’m hooked!

  6. Lisa Porter-Grenn
    07.22.2020

    So glad to see this recipe. I have used romesco sauce in my Blue Apron recipes (whereupon it was supplied as part of the meal package). I love now having a way to make it when the mood strikes…thanks to you!

  7. Melissa Haley
    07.23.2020

    5 stars
    This was so good! I left the skins on the hazelnuts and it turned out just fine! Served it over roasted potatoes and broccoli with zoodles. So tasty!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.23.2020

      yay, I’m so glad you loved it!

  8. Terri
    08.30.2020

    5 stars
    Rich, slightly smoky, fabulous! I want to put this on everything: eggs, toast, veggies!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.