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18 October 2017

This hot sauce recipe uses serrano peppers that have been fermented, then processed with vinegar, garlic, tequila and lime juice. It is juicy, tart and just the right amount of spicy.

More hot sauce coming at you, my friends. If you can believe it, our garden is STILL producing peppers because of this phenomenal weather we’ve been having. I know cold weather is on the way, but we’ve been a bit lucky here in zone 5 this year and I’m reaping the benefits.

I grew serrano peppers this year and HOLY WOW did they go wild. I only planted a single plant and that plant has produced marvelously. If you’re going to grow peppers, be sure to include a serrano plant. One of the most productive plants in the garden.

The big question, though, when growing serrano peppers is…

What Can I Do With a LOT of Serrano Peppers?

Here’s an idea for you. Make HOT SAUCE.


Spicy Serrano Hot Sauce – Recipe

This is a fermented hot sauce recipe and it requires an entire pound of serrano peppers, which may not seems like a lot of weight, but it takes quite a few serrano peppers to weigh 1 pound.

If you’re not comfortable with fermenting (you SHOULD be, though), you CAN make this hot sauce with fresh serrano peppers. Just skip steps 1-4 in the recipe. Start by processing the peppers in a food processor, then jump to step 5 and make your serrano hot sauce. It will still be a good hot sauce, for sure, but you’ll have a fresher, greener flavor that is not quite as developed that you achieve by fermenting.

Check out my page on How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash to learn more about why you should be fermenting chili peppers.

Spicy Serrano Hot Sauce – Recipe

Fermented hot sauces are mellower and have a deeper flavor, so I’ve been fermenting a LOT of chili peppers this year for hot sauces.

This is actually a hot sauce for Patty, because she tends to lean toward green hot sauces and seasonings. I tend to favor vibrant red and orange sauces, but Patty loves her serrano peppers.

So here you go, Patty! She loves this one. It is slightly garlicky and tart and distinctive with the addition of tequila, something else Patty loves.

Quick note – After you strain out the solids to thin out the hot sauce, you can throw the solids away, OR — dehydrate them and use them for seasoning.

Those solids still have plenty of life left in them, and hey, what a great way to make some homemade seasonings for yourself? Sprinkle it over foods or use it as a rub. It would be GREAT on chicken. Give it a little ZING, right?

I hope you enjoy the hot sauce! Let me know how it turns out for you.

Check out my other Hot Sauce Recipes, too.

— Mike H.

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. LOL. I hope you find it helpful!

Check out more Hot Sauce Recipes.

Spicy Serrano Hot Sauce – Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Spicy Serrano Hot Sauce – Recipe
Spicy Serrano Hot Sauce – Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Fermenting Time
7 d
Total Time
30 mins
This hot sauce recipe uses serrano peppers that have been fermented, then processed with vinegar, garlic, tequila and lime juice. It is juicy, tart and just the right amount of spicy.
  • 1 pound serrano peppers
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 quart unchlorinated water
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 ounces white wine vinegar
  • 1.5 ounces reposado tequila
  • Juice from 1 lime
  1. First, ferment the serrano peppers. Process your fresh peppers in a food processor. If you don’t have a processor, use a mortar and pestle or simply finely chop them. Pack them into a jar, leaving at least 1 inch of head space. The peppers may rise a bit when fermenting.
  2. Next, mix 1 quart unchlorinated water with 3 tablespoons sea salt. Pour just enough brine over the peppers to cover them, pressing them down a bit as you go. Itis important to keep the peppers covered with brine to avoid spoilage. Check this daily.
  3. Screw on the lid and set the jar away from direct sunlight to ferment for at least 1 week. Ideal temperatures are between 55-75 degrees F. The most active fermentation period is between 1-2 weeks, sobe sure to monitor it during this time. “Burp” the jars often by unscrewing the lid a bit to let out some of the accumulating gases. Or, use an airlock or membrane for easier fermenting. See our page, “How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash”, for further instruction.
  4. After 1-2 weeks, the fermenting activity will diminish and the brine will turn cloudy and taste acidic.
  5. Pour the fermented serrano peppers, including brine, into a pot along with garlic, vinegar and tequila. Bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Cool slightly then add to a food processor with the lime juice. Process until smooth.
  7. Strain the mixture to remove the solids. Pour into hot sauce bottles and enjoy.
Recipe Notes

Makes about 10 ounces of sauce or so.

Heat Level: Medium-Hot.

See our page, “How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash”, for further instruction.


  1. Hi, belated thanks for this recipe and your replies to my questions. My sauce, made with the scotch bonnet mash instead of the Serranos turned out extremely hot (at first, right on the verge of my spice tolerance!), but surprisingly over time I have grown to like it, not sure if I have got used to it, or if it has mellowed out over the last couple of months. Will be making another batch soon!! I did have to add a bit more tequila and lime to my mixture than recommended, maybe because the scotch bonnets are more overpowering than serranos. Anyway, I recommend this recipe.

  2. I have a lot of serranoes in my freezer can I use them instead of fresh ones

    REPLY: Ken, yes, you can absolutely use frozen peppers in this recipe, though if fermenting, you may need to use a culture starter. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

    1. I’ve found that 15oz is the correct amount when preparing with a friend.
      1.5 of that goes into the recipe, the remainder is shared between the cooks.

  3. Hi, at last, I found a recipe using peppermash, lime juice and tequila!! Thanks so much for posting that, I will be trying this one out, although will peppermash made from scotch bonnets I already have in the fridge. As I I already have the mash made, and I made a large batch of it, can you please advise how many litres/ pints of pepper mash I should measure out to keep in ratio with the measurements of the other ingredients listed above?
    Also, how long can I keep peppermash in the fridge, as it will take us a while to get through it all. it is in Kilner type jars, with the 2 part screw top lids (seperate screw ring and centre round piece). Should think about freezing it, if it is going to be kept for more than a few months? Thanks again for an interesting website, I am new to this pepper mash and hot sauce making.

    REPLY: Hey, Justin. I would use about a cup of prepared mash for this recipe. Also, mash will last a long time in the fridge, at least several months and up to a year or longer. Just be sure to keep it covered. If you’re concerned, add in a bit of vinegar to the mix. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  4. How often do you burp the jars. Is once a day sufficient?

    REPLY: Once a day is good, maybe twice/day in the first week or 2, when the ferment is most active. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.