Make a Decorative Chili Pepper Strand (Ristra)

Hang Colorful Strings of Chili Peppers for the Holidays!

December 20, 2018
Chili Strand
Margo Letourneau

Create a colorful strand of red and green chili peppers—called a ristra—to hang outdoors for a unique holiday decoration. Here’s how:

Traditionally made in Mexico at harvesttime, chili strands can be made with peppers from your supermarket or leftover peppers from your garden.

Note: How many peppers you will need will depend on the type you use. If using small chili peppers, you may need around 35 to 50; with large chilis, you may need about 15 to 20.

Make a Decorative Chili Ristra

  • Cut a piece of fine wire about 14 inches long.
  • Wrap one end of the wire tightly around a whole head of garlic.
  • Carefully use a large needle to poke a hole through the base of the pepper stems and string them onto the wire starting from the bottom so that they fan out, forming a spiral.
  • Twist the top of the wire into a loop for hanging, and tie on a bright red or green bow.

The chili strand will dry and remain colorful for months. It’s very festive and refreshingly different at the holidays!

chile strands

Illustration by Margo Letourneau


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Reader Comments

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Chili Strand

I would love to know how many chili's it takes to make one of these. It does not say in the article. It would be nice if that was added so people who want to make one would know how many of each color to buy.

Chile pepper strand

Catherine Boeckmann's picture

It depends on the type of chile peppers that you use. Small ones, you would need much more than larger types. For 14-inch string, perhaps use 35 to 50 small ones.  For large types, about 12 or 14? That’s just a guess, though.

I have made some of these,

I have made some of these, but used twine instead of wire. I started with at least 4 or 5 feet of twine, and tied knots around each chili stem. They form straight out, but with time, gravity takes over and they fall and have a layered look about them. If you use green chilis, with time and left outside in the elements, they turn red and dry. Very pretty.