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how to make hot sauce!

Posted by aleta under how to make...

Alrighty, kiddos! Today we’re making hot sauce. Yusssss! I did a bit of research, paired it with existing knowledge, and came up with this little spot of education.

Turns out that making hot sauce is a pretty inexact art, which makes it very easy to customize to your own liking. Different methods include aging, fermentation, starting with a mash, and then what I picture here, which requires thinking ahead a scant 2 hours instead of 3 years. With my lacking “planning ahead” skills, this is the only method that could possibly prove useful to me. Also, this makes a very thoughtful but inexpensive gift for most dudes.

Even “quick method” hot sauce is versatile. You can add ground spices, different mixes of peppers, unique vinegars, and create different textures all according to your preference. I went with a very simple recipe that uses jalapenos, as they are the most readily available hot pepper in my area, roasted garlic because it’s delicious, and red wine vinegar to give it some personality. My aim was a sauce with the simplicity, texture and versatility of Tabasco Sauce, but different because why else would you make your own, am I right?

Hot hot hot.

To begin with, we need to lay down some food safety rules. This is not the kind of food safety where we worry that we might undercook the egg the 1 time out of 20,000 that it contains salmonella. No no, we’re talking the kind of sure fire situation where “you’re doing it wrong” quickly becomes “fuck, my eyes!” so you want to be a little careful.

Here’s some totally excellent, completely free advice.

free advice.

Vinyl, unpowdered gloves which can be found by the hundred at your local drug store. I use these any time I cut a hot pepper ever since that time I had to dunk my nose in yogurt after a mistouch mishap. They’re cheap and disposable and well worth the investment. Without gloves, I find that fieriness has made its way under fingernails, on eyelids, in the corner of my mouth . . . pretty much anywhere I ever get a little itch. You’ll find yourself far less likely to itch with the gloves on, and when you’re done your nail beds won’t burn either. Be sure to be wearing these when you clean the knives and cutting board you use, and clean these well. End advice.

Now that we have that boring bit out of the way, we roast garlic, which takes about 45 minutes. I don’t think I have to tell you that roasted garlic is always better than garlic of any other kind.


It makes your house smell good and your breath smell bad. Interesting dichotomy, garlic.

Now crank on up to broil and burn up some jalapenos! Five to ten minutes each side under the broiler should do the trick, but what you’re really looking for is the skin to blister, turn black, and pull away from the body of the pepper ever-so-slightly.

Burnt, but the good kind like you want.

Roasting the jalapeno brings out a little more flavour in addition to deepening the efficacy of its spiciness, and is worth the effort. After doing so, don your gloves, peel the skin, remove the seeds, and artfully arrange with the garlic head in a florally-reminiscent display of Springtime enthusiasm.

Spicy little flower.

Okay, you don’t have to do that really, but it’s an option. What you do need to do is chop these veggies up and dump them in a pot with some vinegar.

The simmer commencement.

The story doesn’t change much for the next hour, while the mix simmers slowly with the cook’s eye upon its liquidity. If it gets too chunky, add more vinegar. In all, I used 1.5 – 2 cups of vinegar. And here’s the result.

Hot stew!

Strain as much as you like, if at all. I strained with cheesecloth in a mesh strainer 3 times for the texture pictured.

Chunk free.

And here’s our final product. The flavour is mild (about Tabasco strength), but pronounced. It comes on quickly, then recedes almost immediately, with practically no lingering. If any hot sauce enthusiasts happen to be reading, feel free to correct my terminology.

Jalapeno-garlic hot sauce.

Oh, and what good is making your own hot sauce without a little sassy branding?

<3, Aleta


Think of this as more of a method than a recipe. You can effectively make any variety of amendments to the ingredients, add extra things and substitute others. This is just a jumping-off point. Here’s a sample list of ideas—think hot sauce fusion.

“Sweet But Not Innocent” > Habanero, mango, white vinegar
“Italian Stallion” > Basil, Italian peppers (mild), cherry peppers, tomato, balsamic vinegar
“The Asiatic” > Thai chili peppers, rice vinegar (mirin), dash soy sauce

So tell me, what would your signature hot sauce be? Make it interesting. Give it a cutesy name. Any neat packaging ideas? And if you follow through and make it, let me know, I promise I’m dying to hear about it.



Aleta’s Bad Breath Hot Sauce
brought to you by Omnomicon’s own singular ingenuity

1 head garlic
10 jalapeno peppers
1.5 c red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt (two pinches? I did two pinches)

Roast the garlic by drizzling with 1 tsp oil, wrap tightly in foil, then bake at 325o for approximately 45 minutes. If you have a better way to roast garlic, then by all means, do it that way.

Char the jalapenos. Immediately after removing the garlic from the oven, flip the heat up to broil, then char each side of the jalapenos for 5-10 minutes. See pictures for reference, but the goal is black skin that is wrinkly because it has pulled away from the pepper.

Moving along, peel and de-seed the peppers, being sure to remove the light green veins to which the seeds cling. This prevents the seeds and veins’ bitterness from marring your lovely lovely batch. Pop the roasted garlic from its papery head, using a fork or toothpick, and chop, along with the cleaned peppers.

Dump peppers and garlic into a small pot with vinegar, sugar & salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and lightly simmer, uncovered & on low, for about an hour. If the sauce begins to look too chunky, add more vinegar, but note that the more you do this, the more diluted the flavour will be. If it’s cooking down too quickly (like you want to add vinegar after the first 15 minutes), try lowering the heat further.

Strain a few times with a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer into a small bottle. I used a Johnny Walker sampler for mine, and it looked just darling. For gift-giving purposes, nip bottles make excellent, cheap packaging, with the added bonus of a shot that first requires your sip. If strained, this should last a solid 3 months—I’d recommend refrigeration just to be safe.

Makes enough for one household over the course of 3 months, a few ounces or so. As a frame of reference for larger batches, my 10 jalapenos weighed about 10 oz.

  1. Pearl Said,

    rawr! what a sexy hot sauce!

  2. Amy I. Said,

    Oh. YUM. Any thoughts on the perish-ability? I mean, I guess tabasco lasts forever at room temperature, so this is the same, right? And for the record, I love your springy garlic flower. I’ve been known to color-code my rainbow chard….unnecessary but totally rewarding food art :)

  3. Yum Time! : Zigzo Zlinks Said,

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  4. Amanda Said,

    The small glass flasks from containerstore works well for stuff like that! this is an idea for a christmas gift basket.

  5. Anthony Said,

    One time a careless coworker splashed a huge amount of 5 parts habanero powder / one part water into my face and eyes. A hellish 30 minutes under the faucet followed.

    BUT I was prepared because a few years before that I was a crazy kid experimenting with pepper spray! So the moral is that all cooks should invest five dollars in pepper spray.

  6. Nancy Said,

    Excellent! An incentive to explore the hot peppers available in my local (Australian) supermarket and see what I come up with….

  7. Katrina Said,

    This is excellent! My dad loves anything spicy hot, and with his birthday coming up, I now have a fantastic gift to give him! Thanks, Aleta! :)

  8. Joey Said,

    Chocolate Thunder (ow ow)–red chili peppers, red wine vinegar, cocoa powder

    …perfect for a bowl of chili.

    Oh, and I love roasted garlic. I will even suffer through the heat of an oven in an Athens, GA summer for it.

  9. stephchows Said,

    Love the message on the bottle! 😀 John is in love with franks red hot… I think if I tried to sub it with my own home made… we’d have issues LOL 😀

  10. Nick Said,

    The habanero/mango variation is what I’m talking about. That would be awesome. Very cool bottle. I might be doing this for Xmas presents this year.


  11. Max Johnson Said,

    This looks amazing! I want to try the asiatic variant but I am… hesitant… to try broiling thai chillis. I would probably burn them and the vaporized capsicum smoke would cause my face to melt off. I need my face so I can do things like enjoy food with home made hot sauce.

  12. veggiebelly Said,

    Incredible! What a great idea and your sauce looks yummy!

  13. Bree Said,

    OH MY. Did I ever learn the pepper lesson the hard way. I was in tears with the burning and the pain! Looks yummy though! Think I’ve got about 5,232 pairs of gloves left. I should have enough to make this!

  14. Anna Said,

    For those of you who don’t want to believe Aleta about the gloves, just make sure to have some liquid Maalox around. I’ve made the hot pepper mistake before while making chili, and the only thing that worked was the ant-acid.

  15. Roy Said,

    I made some of this yesterday and it is really great! Puts the Tabasco jalapeno sauce to shame. (though to be fair, pretty much all the non-original Tabasco flavors are pretty lame) Yummy, and going into tonight’s taco filling.

  16. Apollo Said,

    That roasted garlic picture got me so excited I damn near had to leave work and change britches.

  17. raych Said,

    I can’t tell you how often ‘you’re doing it wrong’ has become ‘fuck, my eyes!!’

    On a non-food-related note, smoking a cigar while camping and then taking out contacts without washing hands (because camping) = regret.

  18. lo Said,

    Love it, my dear Aleta. LOVE IT.
    I’m notorious for forgetting to wear my gloves when I work with chiles. My skin has gotten VERY sensitive to the oils, and now even the mildest of poblanos makes my poor little fingers burn.

    You’d think I’d learn my lesson…

  19. Leah Said,

    Hey Aleta, thanks for the fab post! Hot sauce is one of my fave things in the world. I really do put that shit on everything… so this afternoon I made the mango/habanero with white balsamic. It’s awesome! Best part is that my mom came over and we made it together- I can’t think of a better mother’s day gift. Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Katrina Said,

    I did a test run today for my dad’s birthday present and ended up using four different kinds of peppers, red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt. I decided to add tequila and lime juice from half a lime. I then used beer instead of extra vinegar (my dad hates Tabasco because of the vinegar) We’ll see how this goes once it’s finally finished…

  21. Janice Said,

    Oh wow, I’m just getting ready to plant my cherry bomb peppers this year! I can’t wait to try making hot sauce. And dang – I cracked up — sorry about your nose, but you’re really gonna feel for me when you hear I did it to my EYE. Wicked pain. I used so many peppers last year with my first planting that it seemed I always had pepper-guts or juice under my nails. This year, I’m glovin’ up. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    Oh, and roasted garlic is the BOMB! love it. :)

  22. veggie wedgie Said,

    This looks amazing!

  23. Nicole from : For the Love of Food Said,

    Ha! This is awesome! When my husband and I went on our honeymoon in Belize a few years ago we fell in love with a habañero sauce they produce locally with carrots. I always wondered how they made it, and with this method I think I could reproduce something similar to bring back those deliciously spicy memories! I think I’d call it something like The Caribbean Bunny.

  24. Kristen Said,

    First of all, roasting garlic DID make my house smell so incredibly good I could hardly stand it.
    I decided to make the recipe you provided…I’ll save creativity for later. :) When I was transferring the sauce to my bottle I got some on my finger and didn’t wash it off and it blistered my finger!!!! I was afraid to eat it after that. I made my boyfriend try it first and he survived.
    In short: Reaaalllly good hot sauce. Thanks for the recipe!

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  28. Annette Said,

    I was searching to how to make easy chili sauce..
    Thanks Aleta
    Surely will follow your steps.


  29. Jennifer Said,

    Thanks for a great sounding recipe. I have a mountain of free peppers from a gardening friend and I will be making this tonight. Jalapenos, Caribbean Reds and other varieties, I can’t wait to sample them all!

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  31. shauna Said,

    had a very hot pizza the other nite from valentinos pizzeria in Rostrevor { EIRE } they call it the famous valentinos VALcano & they must of had this sauce on it it was the hottest i’ve ever had, SO EVERYBODY THE NEXT TIME YOUR IN ROSTREVOR, TRY VALENTINO’S PIZZERIA.

  32. shauna Said,


  33. Kelby Said,

    I am a hot sauce addict! so instead of buying a new $10 bottle every week, i figure trying to make my own would be cheaper. This is the best site so far that i have found. but that is way too much vinegar, tomato juice or sauce depending on thickness would bind the flavors together better plus help dilute heat while maintaining flavor, (for the inexperienced) my choice pepper is the bhut jolokia ( a.k.a. ghost chili) 1 million scoville units of pure hatred! Try it.

  34. mike Said,

    hey Aleta,please help me to make a table sause that doesnt have to be refrigerated.peace

  35. sam Said,

    Hey! I’m mexican and I love this post, I will recomend you the “salsa borracha”, is amazing, just need beer! add it to your recipe, put into a blender and that’s it! And you should try all diferents chiles! And once that you have a resistance to hot flavors, you could try Mole, real Mole, handmade of course.

    congrats for this amazing blog!

  36. Dave Said,

    Thanks for the info.
    I’ve done the same for years but you sparked some new ideas.
    Here’s what I came up with:

    Burn Baby Burn
    1 head of garlic, peeled
    1 red onion
    1 Vidalia sweet onion
    8 roma tomatoes
    5 jalapenos
    3 habaneros
    1 bhut jolokia

    Combine all ingredients in a roasting pan, lightly coat with olive oil.
    Put in the oven at 400 degrees for about half an hour.

    Chop ingredients, and combine in a pot with 2 cups vinegar (I used red wine vinegar and white vingear, with a few dashes of balsalmic).

    Boil for two hours, then strain.

  37. Chris Said,

    do like the sounds of this i may try it with some of my fresh peppers i grew this year to see if i like it. will keep you posted on how it goes!!!

  38. Scott Said,

    Awesome! I want to start up my own hot sauce business, and I’ve been dying to experiment with stuff! You rock!

  39. habanero Said,

    This looks amazing my friend!!! I’ll be honest, I’m a habanero fan- but I’m def trying out this recipe (love the bottle too-btw)!!

  40. marcus Said,

    So, it looks like you only got a few ounces from all those ingredients, is that true? How does Tapatio sell for a buck for like 40 ounces then?

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  42. Ghung Said,

    I substituted wild ramps for garlic and added one habby. OMG!

  43. Mushroom Cloud Said,

    Can’t give away the full ingredients because so many people have been trying to figure It out for years but hey… 15 Naga Jolokia… Wasabi ball( about baseball size) … As some sweet and pungent Asian ingredients and you have what I call Naga-sabi!

  44. Sandy Said,

    Still wondering, how long can you keep the sauce? Will try kung pao and serrano chiles, cilantro, onion, and garlic with lime and red wine vinegar. Kind of a sassy salsa sauce.

  45. Kelly E. Said,

    Just made this with about 2.5 cups of Hawaiian
    chili peppers (which have a kick!) so I doubled the other ingredients but didnt end up with much sauce after, so I threw it in the blender. Oh my sooo spicy, probably because of the peppers I used. So I added some katsup and garlic salt, which balanced it out.

  46. Heather L Said,

    Won’t taking the seeds and stems out take away some of the heat?

  47. John Said,

    Sweet. Thank you so much Aleta et al. So many good ideas here to get started with :)

  48. Roxanne Said,

    Yippee. We’re having a hot sauce themed birthday for my soon to be 15-year old and I was looking for a basic how-to for the boys so that each could make their own at the party. It is great to find something straight-forward that doesn’t start with “begin by planting your chosen pepper seeds” and ends with “the sauce will have aged sufficiently and be ready to consume in 3 to 6 months.”

  49. Tracee Said,

    Oh my…I am a gringa that was raised by a mexican nanny until the age of 12. I was making tortillas, tamales, and hot sauce by the time I was 5. Never did I have to wear gloves! That’s a mistake you’ll only make once!

  50. serena (missy) gavlik Said,

    im making it right now hope its yummmy

  51. Hot Sauce « Field Grazing Said,

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  53. Rhi Said,

    Can’t wait to make this for my Husband this Christmas. I will say, I used gloves (well plastic bags as I didn’t have time to get gloves without him knowing).. and took them off and touched my cutting board to move it, then touched my nose and my nose is burning. LOL. This makes me happy as I know it will be HOT enough for him. ;).

    Aleta, thanks a ton!! I may have to “borrow” your label notation too. I think it’s very fitting. :)

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