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20 December 2017

A homemade hot sauce recipe made with garden grown aji peppers that have been fermented for 6 weeks, then processed with fresh garlic, lime juice and vinegar. Simple and delicious.

My fermentation experimentation continues. I grew several aji pepper varieties this year in the garden and you know, if you’ve ever grown aji peppers, that they are VERY productive. It’s one of the reasons I typically grow at least one aji variety each year, because of the large yield.

You’ll find a good range of them as well, from sweets to hots, with flavor differences in between, so you’re free to grow to your own taste preferences. The thing is, since they are SO productive, what can you do with all of those peppers? You can cook them into meals, of course, freeze them, dry them to make homemade chili flakes and powders, but don’t forget one important way to keep them…



Fermented Aji-Garlic Hot Sauce – Recipe

How to Make This Fermented Aji-Garlic Hot Sauce – The Recipe Method

I took a solid pound of ajis – Aji Habaneros, in this case – and fermented them for 6 weeks. Learn How to Ferment Chili Peppers Here.

I used the brine method, which is my preferred fermenting method with chili peppers. Basically, I processed the peppers, added them to a jar, and poured a salt solution over them to cover. Leave a good inch of head space. The brine is made by mixing 3 tablespoons of sea salt with 1 quart of unchlorinated water, which creates the ideal environment for good bacteria to do its work.

The process of fermentation basically breaks down the peppers, mellowing them out a bit, developing flavor. You can typically see that activity in the form of bubbles in the brine, though sometimes you’ll have a quiet fermentation and won’t see the bubbles.

As the process slows, activity tends to stop after a week or 2, though you can continue fermenting. In this case, I left mine in the pantry for 6 weeks before moving onward.

This is a very simple recipe once your fermentation is completed. I was looking for a no-nonsense hot sauce to keep in the fridge for splashing over foods, something vinegary, something garlicky, something a bit spicy. This is a great one for that. Just cook the fermented peppers, including the brine, with lime juice, fresh garlic and vinegar, then process it in a food processor.

I strain mine afterward to give it a consistency more like Tabasco sauce, though you can keep it more chunky and solid if you’d like. If you DO strain it, try dehydrating those solids for a bit of homemade seasoning powder. There is plenty of life left in that pulp!

See How to Make Seasonings from Strained Hot Sauce Pulp.

Let me know how it turns out for you! Happy hot sauce making! — Mike H.

Notes on the Fermenting Process

Most of the work is in the fermenting process, and that isn’t much work. It’s mostly chopping, measuring, and WAITING. Waiting is the hardest part.

You can ferment for a week or 2 to let the good bacteria do their work, but you can easily go longer. I often go about 8 weeks for mine.

If you’re new to fermenting, I have some information you can refer to. See: How to Ferment Chili Peppers (How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash).

A few notes on making hot sauce.

Can You Make This Hot Sauce with Fresh Instead of Fermented Peppers?

Absolutely. Just skip the fermenting steps. You will still get a hot sauce with great flavor.

Fermented peppers offer up a milder flavor for your hot sauce blends, so the resulting hot sauce is typically more complex and nuanced than many other hot sauces. The choice is yours.

Adjusting the Hot Sauce Heat Factor

These aji peppers have a good level of heat to them, but if you’re looking for an even HOTTER hot sauce, either add in a few heat level peppers that you’d like to cook with, such as habanero peppers or ghost peppers, or just use those exclusively for a different but delicious 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.

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. I hope you find it helpful!

Check out These Related Recipes:

Check out more Hot Sauce Recipes or learn more about How to Make Hot Sauce. Also – Learn How to Ferment Chili Peppers Here.

Fermented Aji-Garlic Hot Sauce – Recipe

If you try this recipe, please let us know! Leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo #ChiliPepperMadness on Instagram so we can take a look. I always love to see all of your spicy inspirations. Thanks! — Mike H.

Fermented Aji-Garlic Hot Sauce – Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes

Fermented Aji-Garlic Hot Sauce – Recipe

A homemade hot sauce recipe made with garden grown aji peppers that have been fermented for 6 weeks, then processed with fresh garlic, lime juice and vinegar. Simple and delicious.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 36
Calories: 5kcal



  • Add all the ingredients to a small pot and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Cool a bit, then process it all in a food processor blender.
  • Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve and bottle it up. You can discard the pulp or use it for soups or stews, or dehydrate it for seasoning.


Makes about 6 ounces of hot sauce.
Heat Factor: Medium. You can heat this up with hotter aji peppers.


Calories: 5kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 42mg | Vitamin A: 150IU | Vitamin C: 30.6mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.2mg


  1. Hi Mike I have about a pound of peppers after they came out of the ferment ie. they are still wet would this be enough for the recipe or would I need to scale back a bit as the weight would have been different when the peppers were fresh?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Dave, yep, you should be good to go. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  2. Curious if you ferment the garlic with the peppers or not. I’d guess they would have a differnet outcome than adding them fresh afterwards. Also curious if deseeding has any effect turning down the heat. New to all this an love your site. It’s become my bible for reference.


    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Dylan, I do sometimes, but not always. You can if you’d like. The fermenting process mellows everything, including the garlic. Removing the pepper innards will reduce heat. Not the seeds, but the whitish innards (placenta) carry most of the heat. Thanks, Dylan!!

  3. 5 stars
    Hi there! Is it okay if i only ferment peppers? Just a base. Then i can experiment or adjust the fermented peppers with the fresh ingredients Into the blender? Thanks

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Absolutely, Joey. I do this all the time. Enjoy!!

  4. 5 stars
    Over the last few weeks I have made: Ripe Ghost chili, green ghost chili, aji pineapple, Chocolate Bhutlah, and a mix sauce of various ultra hots. Yeah I had a booming pepper yeild. Thanks for the fermenting tips. All have turned out fantastic!

  5. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I was wondering if I could add pineapple or pineapple juice?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Don. Absolutely! It’s very customizable. Pineapple would add a nice flavor! Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. 5 stars
        I made the sauce today using some Scotch Bonnet peppers I fermented for 2 weeks. The addition of he pineapple was delicious. I was wondering if it was okay to ferment a mash made with peppers, pineapple and garlic?

  6. Dr Reepacheap

    5 stars
    Hi Mike,
    This is a great recipe. I’ve used fermented green piri piri peppers and it’s banging!
    I’ve dried the remaining solids as suggested and they provide a good dried mix to spice up cooking too. I did triple the garlic quantity though but no regrets!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks so much! Super happy you enjoyed it. Love it.

  7. Katherine Theus

    About how many aji peppers make a pound? We don’t have a scale in our kitchen.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Katherine, it’s difficult to say because the peppers can vary in size. With ajis, it could be anywhere from 30-50 or so.k A scale is best to work with.

  8. I may have over processed my pepper mash and it is very fine, almost foamy. When I added brine about 30% of the mash floats on top. Do you think it will ferment okay or is this asking for the mash to go bad? What would you suggest to salvage?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      James, you’ll need to make sure all of the peppers fall below the brine, or they can rot from exposure. Use a weight of some sort to keep them down below the brine. A baggie filled with a bit of water helps in some cases.

  9. I’m fermenting Bhut Jolokia chilies for two weeks now, and I’m going to use them for this recipe. I know that you chose ajis for this, milder and more aromatic, so hopefully it’s not foolish to use the bhut jolokia.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jeremie, you can make this with bhut jolokia peppers, no problem. The fermentation process works the same for all peppers, so you’ll get a similar sauce, just with the ghost pepper heat, flavor and color instead. I’ve done with them before and it always comes out great. Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. 5 stars
        OK Mike, I had fermented the Bhut Jolokia chilies more than a month and I made the sauce. I tested it: this is excellent! Strong and hot, and very aromatic! I love the garlic touch. This is ideal for sprinkle everything that come into ones hand! Thanks for that lovely recipe!

  10. hi, this recipe looks great, i grew some ajis this year & want to ferment them for sauce (it’ll be my first time fermenting hot peppers). i have a question – why do you cook the sauce before bottling? is it just to stop any more fermenting once everything is blended? i’m not finding many other fermented sauce recipes out there that include boiling it before bottling. thanks.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      5 stars
      Jen, that is how I like to make hot sauce, with the quick boil to stop everything, but you can skip that step with fermented peppers. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  11. Hi Mike, probably a silly question can I presume you drain the brine solution away from the fermented chillies? But not wash the brine solution off! Or do you just put everything including the brine into the pan. I’m very keen to try fermenting this year thank you for your recipes

    REPLY: Andy, when fermenting peppers, I keep the brine in for the sauce. However, if you feel you have too much brine, you can drain some of it out. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  12. Donald Letoile

    Where can I get a good selection of fresh red peppers? All the store I shop at only have green.

    REPLY: Donald, I grow many of mine, though I find them at various stores or farmers markets. You can also find some resources online if you join some chili pepper groups on Facebook, etc. I hope this helps. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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