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17 February 2016

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

Frequently Asked Hot Sauce Questions

Here are answers to some of the most common questions I get on other sauces:

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. If you’re concerned, add more vinegar to lower the ph. Sauces made with fermented chili peppers will last even longer.

The best ph meters that I recommend are from Thermoworks. Get yourself a ph meter from Thermoworks today. I am a happy affiliate.

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!

Check out more Hot Sauce Recipes or learn more about How to Make Hot Sauce.

Check out These Related Recipes:

If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Homemade Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce
Print Recipe
5 from 17 votes

Homemade Cilantro-Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe

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.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: habanero, hot sauce, spicy
Servings: 20
Calories: 2kcal


  • 30 habanero peppers - dehydrated peppers are good 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


  • 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.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and process until well chopped and combined.
  • Add to a pot and bring to a quick boil. Watch out for the fumes!
  • Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
  • 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.
  • Pour into a bottle and use it all up!


Heat Level: HOT.
Makes about 1.5 cups.


Calories: 2kcal | Sodium: 58mg | Vitamin A: 5IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 1mg




  1. Mike, that was a very easy recipe to follow. I added a few more garlic cloves and some red onions to my mixture before I blended it. Results were smashing!

    I also made a sauce with dried round chillies but also added, tomato and tomato ketchup. Nice.

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I only wish I’d had more habaneros it n hand to make more. Next time. I smoked half the habaneros and some garlic cloves, then used smoked salt in place of regular. I think I overdid it on the cilantro by putting a lot more unfortunately, so it muddied the color. And I was nervous about the heat so seeded half the habaneros-I shouldn’t have-it’s not as hot as I expected. Still delicious! Will follow your recipe more closely next time.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      I’m sure it was great, Kat. I love that you smoked the peppers and garlic!

  3. I had 21 chocolate habaneros left from the farmers market after making your habanero salsa. I made this using half white and half red wine vinegar because I wanted to. 🙂 I also used a handful of cilantro, since we really love cilantro at our house. I can’t tolerate much heat, but this smells so amazing I had to taste it anyway. I’m definitely feeling the burn even with reduced peppers, but it’s delicious. I wonder if I save some of the seeds, will they grow as chocolate habanero, or just any habanero?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sounds great, Karen. If you save the seeds and grow them, you’ll get chocolate habaneros. Let me know how it goes!

      1. 5 stars
        Hi Mike, unfortunately my chocolate habanero plants did not survive this year. I had a lot of pepper problems for some reason. But I bought a box of chocolate habaneros at the farmers market instead. I made one batch of this recipe with 4 Roma tomatoes but it was bitter, I’m not sure why. And I did another batch with two peaches added which was extra fantastic, now I need more peaches. I still have about 4 pounds of habaneros left, some of which I will dehydrate.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Thanks, Karen. Sorry to hear about the plants. Booo. I’ve noticed a very slight bitterness in some chocolate strains.

  4. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the great info and love that’s gone into this site! Your writing and recipes have inspired me to ferment chilis (along with all the other stuff i’ve got bubbling away too). I’ve just processed 30-40 habaneros, and ~10 serranos that are now submerged under their own salted juices in a clip top kilner jar (I used a glass jar to press down the mash and encourage it to express more liquid upfront, covering the mash).

    I’ve a question about this recipe (which I’m sorely tempted to do once the chilis have fermented to the desired degree) and also one about fermenting habaneros, scotch bonnets in general:
    i. if using fermented habaneros for the recipe, is the stove top processing still needed (either for the entire ingredient list (incl. chilis), or just the remaining ingredients? Or can the remaining ingredients merely be processed and added to the fermented mash, then blended?
    ii. do habaneros and scotch bonnets generally benefit from being combined with other ingredients to make a hot sauce? I’ve seen a few recipes on your site that combine them with fruit too, and a couple of references to them having a slight bitter edge. Would any slightly bitter edge be rounded out / shifted by fermenting them?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Alex. I appreciate the comments. Glad you are enjoying the site. To answer…

      i. You do not need to cook anything down if you don’t want to. The cooking stops the fermentation and helps to meld the ingredients a bit, though it isn’t necessary. I’d probably want to cook the garlic for longer keeping. You can just blend it and see how you like it, though watch for any continued fermentation.

      ii. There isn’t any benefit of cooking Scotch bonnets and habaneros together. They have very similar flavors, imo, depending on the type of habaneros you’re using. I like the addition of fruit with tropical peppers. It’s just a nice flavor combination. Fermenting them will mellow them out a bit, resulting in a mellower flavored hot sauce. I hope this helps!

  5. Susie Viles

    Does this need to be kept in the fridge or does the fact there is vinegar in the sauce preserve it enough to keep it in a cupboard?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Susie, I prefer to keep my hot sauces in the fridge, but many keep them out. Sauces CAN go bad, despite the acidity, but it’s really a personal preference. As long as it smells OK after keeping it out, you should be fine. Take care,

  6. 5 stars
    I have good news. My ass has fully recovered. I needed a lot of vodka in the beginning but I’m almost normal again after eating this hot sauce. I am also back to feeling in my tongue as well. This isn’t HOT sauce, because the devil said none for me. But I toned it down with the carrot trick and added a bit of water. Still awesome.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Haha, good news, Sean! Glad it worked out overall. =) Nice.

  7. Harvey Munoz

    OMG! Ive been an salsas Critic most of my life when it come to salsa its either good and spicy or not! your recipe is in one word! “RIQUISIMO” !!! “DELICIOUS” !!!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Excellent, Harvey! Super happy you like it! I appreciate the comments!

  8. 5 stars
    Mine was more of a salsa than a sauce. I feel I reduced it too much on the stove. I grilled the peppers slightly and added sweet onion to the grill. I did use the carrots and substituted lime juice for the lemon. Results were incredible. Used part of the salsa to marinate wings for the Superbowl. Some of the best hot wings I ever had.

  9. 5 stars
    Wondering if this is still good without the cilantro and if you would recommend adding some baby carrot?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Kris. Sure thing, you can omit the cilantro and include carrot. Carrots bring a touch of sweetness and depth to hot sauces. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  10. 5 stars
    As an American living in Germany for the last 10 years my life has been pretty dull when on the search for hot sauces in the stores (Germans are not really known to like spicy foods). I came across this recipe when searching for something to do with all my habanero pepers from my garden… This sauce makes me so happy that I use it every chance I get and sometimes I even cook things just so I can have this sauce with it. Great recipe! Ill be growing double the amount of habanero pepers next year just so I can make more.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      That’s great, Stefanie. Thanks for writing! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  11. 5 stars
    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.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      5 stars
      That’s GREAT, Bronson! I’m glad you like it that much.

  12. 5 stars
    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.

  13. 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.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks for the tips, Kenniff. I love using carrots in hot sauce as well.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 5 stars
    first batch made, used mixed chilliesas 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.

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

  18. 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.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      5 stars
      Absolutely. Feel free to add in herbs, spices, even chopped peppers. Have fun! — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  19. 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.

  20. 5 stars
    Mike! As promised, I made this recipe this morning. Holy smokes! LOVE it! I used the 30 habaneros and everything else – but as suggested, I did use a handful of cilantro for a more pronounced flavor. It was the perfect move. This salsa is the type that tastes and hurts so good that you cant stop eating it, only making it hurt more. Thank you x 100! Btw, put it in my ground lamb salad for lunch. For weight watching foodies looking for a smoking hot salsa that tastes great and has zero bad and all good, this is the ticket!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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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