Chili Pepper Madness

February 17, 2016

Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce

Homemade Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce Homemade Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce

Make your own spicy hot sauce at home with only 6 ingredients - habanero peppers, cilantro, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and garlic. Here is the recipe.

Hot sauce is one of the greatest gifts ever received by humanity. Grandiose? I think not! It would be hard to imagine an existence without this wonderful stuff. There are some outstanding artisan hot sauce products out there on the market today, and I enjoy many of them, but I also enjoy making my own hot sauce, depending on what I'm in the mood for or on what meals I may be planning in the upcoming week.

For this week, I KNEW I would be needing some habanero hot sauce.

Homemade Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce

We've been traveling a bit and there is a kitchen we're we are staying. I brought along some dehydrated habanero peppers. I dehydrate a lot of peppers from our garden each year to make rubs and seasoning blends, but I also save many of them whole for a number of uses. Making hot sauce is one of them. Yes, you CAN make hot sauce from dehydrated chili peppers. The result is as good as making hot sauce from fresh peppers. And, dehydrated peppers have an advantage in that they won't go bad.

Dehydrated Habanero Peppers for our Homemade Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe

If you don't have dehydrated habanero peppers, fresh will do, of course. But if you're in a colder region where it is difficult to obtain fresh peppers, dehydrated will absolutely work for hot sauce making. You only need to rehydrate them by steeping them in very hot water for about 30 minutes or so. They soften right up and are ready for hot sauce.

I kept it simple this time around, using only 6 ingredients - habanero peppers, cilantro, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Feel free to vary up your ratios depending on your dominant flavor preference. This sauce has the consistency of a thick ketchup and goes with anything. Yes, ANYTHING! You can always thin out the sauce by adding a bit of water when processing or by straining out some of the solids, but I like it nice and thick.

Homemade Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce

Here are some answers to the most common questions I get about this and other hot sauce recipes:

How long will this sauce keep? It should keep a few months easily in the fridge, or even longer. It's all about the acidity. To be technical, target level ph for shelf stable foods is below 4.6 ph, but should probably be lower for home cooks, around 4.0 or so, to account for errors. I have not measured the ph of this sauce, but I won't have it around very long anyway. If you're concerned, add more vinegar to lower the ph.

Where'd you get that sauce bottle? I find them locally sometimes, but I also order through Amazon. Here is a link to some bottles I like (affiliate link, my friends!): Swing Top Glass Bottles, 8.5 Ounce - Set of 4. If you like the smaller bottles that most hot sauce makers use, here's another link: Hot Sauce Bottles, 5 Oz - 24 Pack.

Can I process this hot sauce for longer storage? Absolutely. Just be sure to use proper canning/jarring safety procedures.

What should I do with hot sauce? Aside from drizzling it over anything you please, here's a post I did about How to Cook with Hot Sauce. As if you need even MORE reasons to eat hot sauce. LOL. I hope you find it helpful!

Homemade Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe


  • 30 habanero peppers - dehydrated peppers are good, too
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lemon - lime juice is good, too
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro - add more for a more pronounced cilantro flavor
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Cooking Directions

  1. If using dehydrated habanero peppers, set them into a bowl of very hot water and let them steep for 30 minutes to soften. If using fresh, stem and chop the habanero peppers. Place them into a food processor. 
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well chopped and combined.
  3. Add to a pot and bring to a quick boil. Watch out for the fumes!
  4. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, cool. At this point, you can strain it through a sieve or toss it back into the food processor for a bit more blending.
  6. Pour into a bottle and use it all up!

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Don't Stop Here! How About Some More Chili Pepper Recipes and Info?


  • Comment Link Bronson September 28, 2017 posted by Bronson

    This sauce has turned me into an addict in the best way possible. Since making it I've been only thinking of recipes for food which I can include hot sauce. I basically put it on everything. The citrus of the lemon and the bright flavors of the cilantro are what make it especially tasty. Highly reccommend.

  • Comment Link Nathan August 01, 2017 posted by Nathan

    I only deviated from the recipe by 5 Habeneros, adding 5 baby carrots. I really just wanted the extra fiber structure with the carrots. Did a bit more cilantro, and I think I still desire far more. However, it's fresh and the flavors haven't married.

    Delicious. I will make this for the rest of my life. This is the third season of growing peppers at our house, and I've learned much. I'm a sauce guy, and this site is instant gold. Making the ghost hot sauce with green, early pods, as i type this. Two in a day, and I can't wait for this one to finish.

    I'll make all these sauces before I'm done. I'll be looking up the book by the author of the site as well. This sauce is already superior to any store bought I've purchased. I used store bought pods because my pods are still very green, and I wanted the orange appearance.

    Thanks a million. I can't wait to share this with my pepper loving friends.

  • Comment Link Tony June 24, 2017 posted by Tony

    Still loving this salsa!

  • Comment Link Kenniff June 17, 2017 posted by Kenniff

    Carrots are also a great way to bulk the sauce up while keeping that rich orange color. You can use less habanero peppers that way so you still have that great habanero flavor without as much punishment.

    Looks for Rick Bayliss's recipe, its the perfect ratio.

    I found this recipe here looking for anyone using cilantro in a hot sauce. There aren't many recipes doing this out there. I wanted to make sure the cilantro didn't become rancid or go bad, but here you are cooking the cilantro, which will be interesting to try. Cilantro is normally not cooked and loses a lot of its flavor when it is from what I have read, but I've never really cooked it except tossed in at the end of a dish prep just to barely cook or warm it. This should be fun to try. I'm going to do it in my jalapeno sauce recipe first.

  • Comment Link Tom S December 15, 2016 posted by Tom S

    Is it possible to leave out the garlic at all? Would that change the flavour dramatically?

    Also if you want to sub out some of the chilis for something a little bit milder, what variety would you recommend? Would long red chilis be okay?


    REPLY: Tom, yes, you can leave out the garlic for a purer chili pepper flavor. As for milder peppers, it depends on how mild you'd like, but absolutely, you can sub in different peppers easily. I would suggest finding fruitier, vibrant red, orange or yellow peppers. Check out our Chili Pepper Types pages for inspiration, broken down by heat levels. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Tony November 12, 2016 posted by Tony

    I love this salsa! Say Mike, I want to add some tomatos I got at the market last night. Would you suggest waiting until after I boil the salsa, put it back in the processor and do the tomatoes then - or do it all together and bring the whole thing to a boil? Thanks in advance! - Tony

    REPLY: Hi, Tony - I would do it all together, personally, but you can realistically do it both way. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link tom October 09, 2016 posted by tom

    first batch made, used mixed chillies as scotch bonnets not ready yet, superb results. Really delicious sauce, I blended it quite fine and it seem to go with everything. Named it "Flaming Lips Hot Sauce" hope Wayne Coyne does not mind the name

    REPLY: I love it! -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Rob September 27, 2016 posted by Rob

    Over here in the UK those bottles are from a beer called grolsch u could drink the beer then sterilise them

  • Comment Link Daddywags September 10, 2016 posted by Daddywags

    Sounds great.will be making habonero jelly real soon. Was wondering from picture above why so red? Looks like it has tomatoes in it..

    REPLY: I used some pretty dark habaneros for this. If you use orange peppers, the sauce will definitely be lighter. Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Theresa September 09, 2016 posted by Theresa

    I have an abundance of peppers from my garden right now. This recipe will be a great way to put some to use - thanks for sharing! How long does it last?

    REPLY: Theresa, there is quite a bit of vinegar so it should last a while. The vinegar acts as a preservative. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link tom underwood August 30, 2016 posted by tom underwood

    with dried chillies what would be the equivalent weight to fresh habaneros. I am gowing loads of chillies and in a fit of madness forgot to label them so its chilli russian roulette

    TOM: If you have whole pods, you can rehydrate them for ratios closer to fresh pods. If you're just going to use dried, try crumbling them over dishes. For this particular recipe, I used 30 dried pods. If using fresh, you can use half and still get similar results. You can even go fewer. You'll get variations in heat, though. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Tony August 21, 2016 posted by Tony

    30 peppers in 1.5 cups of sauce? I love hot, but is this a 10+++++ ? Of course, there's only one true way to find out! Please reply, but I'm going to try it anyway :)

    REPLY: Oh yes, it is nice and hot. You can cut down on the number of peppers, or sub in something milder for some of the peppers. Let me know how it turns out. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Stacy B. August 13, 2016 posted by Stacy B.

    I am excited to try your recipe today! I love the simplicity of this recipe and everything is better with cilantro! I do have one question though...where did you get the bottle in your photos? I have been looking all over town for something similar (I hate the plastic squeeze bottles) and have come up empty handed. Thanks!

    REPLY: Stacy, I got mine at a local store, but you can get some at Amazon. I added a link to the bottom of the page with an affiliate link. I hope this helps! -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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Mike Hultquist of Chili Pepper Madness

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