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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.

To Ferment or Use Fresh Peppers?

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.

Recipe Notes

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.

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. I hope you find it helpful!

Check out These Related Recipes:

Try Some of My Popular Serrano Recipes

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

Spicy Serrano 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.

Spicy Serrano Hot Sauce – Recipe
Print Recipe
4.91 from 30 votes

Spicy Serrano Hot Sauce – Recipe

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.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Fermenting Time7 d
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Salsa
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fermented, hot sauce, serrano
Servings: 20
Calories: 13kcal


  • 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


  • 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.
  • 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. Discard or save any remaining brine for another use. It is important to keep the peppers covered with brine to avoid spoilage. Check this daily.
  • 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.
  • After 1-2 weeks, the fermenting activity will diminish and the brine will turn cloudy and taste acidic.
  • Pour the fermented serrano peppers, including the brine, into a pot along with garlic, vinegar and tequila. Bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. NOTE: If you feel the brine will make your hot sauce too salty, you can strain the peppers and use fresh water instead, just enough to cover the peppers in the pot. Or, use a combination of brine and fresh water.
  • Cool slightly then add to a food processor with the lime juice. Process until smooth.
  • Strain the mixture to remove the solids. Pour into hot sauce bottles and enjoy.


Makes 8-9 ounces of hot sauce, though it will make more unstrained.


Calories: 13kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Sodium: 1051mg | Potassium: 70mg | Vitamin A: 215IU | Vitamin C: 10.3mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.2mg


  1. Darren Brothwell

    5 stars
    I made this a few years ago from fresh Serrano’s that I grew. I skipped the brining and didn’t have any Tequila. I’ll admit I wasn’t impressed when it was first made, very salty and lacked flavor, so it got pushed to the back of the fridge where it got forgotten about. Six months or more latter my wife was clearing our fridge out and came across the bottle “you don’t use this its going” she said. So I gave it one more try before I tipped it away. And boy was I glad I had tried it, it was stunning! Its now my “go to” sauce and in short supply and has left me wishing I grew more Serrano’s!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Darren! Guess it had time to develop a bit! Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Hi Mike,
    I bought a pound of serranos and want to make the fermented hot sauce. Can I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt for fermenting? Thanks for all the recipes. They are awesome!!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jessi, I would stay away from Kosher salt, as it can contain anti-caking agents. I’m not sure about that specific brand, though.

  3. Hi, thanks for this recipe, I am starting it now! I do a lot of fermenting, but this is my first hot sauce. I am going to use your suggestion to not cook the chili mash, to preserve the probiotics, but I will probably cook the garlic/vinegar/tequila to cook off the alcohol, then let that cool before combining. I have some frozen pineapple, and thought it might go well with the flavors and lower the spice level a bit. If I want to add pineapple, should I ferment it with the chilis, or add it after with the other ingredients? I know you said people sometimes add fruit or honey. My concern is that I don’t want to throw off the pH or add sugar at the wrong time, and cause mold to grow. What do you think?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Christina, you CAN ferment the fruit if you’d like. You’ll likely get more fermenting activity from the sugars in the fruit. I do this for kombucha all the time. You might try it both ways with the fruit to see if you notice a flavor difference in the final sauce, then adjust accordingly.

  4. Is there a way to make it without heating it? I wanted to keep more of the health benefits from the fermentation.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Chelsea, absolutely. Just process it and refrigerate. People do this all the time. You may need to still burp the bottle, though. Refrigeration will greatly slow any fermentation, if there is any left, but it may still occur, so burp here and there to release gas build up, just to be safe. Enjoy!

  5. Thank you! I happen to have another load of serranos, most of which got knocked of the plant due to crazy wind. I’ll give it another try.

  6. Another question – is it ok to use iodized sea salt or is the iodine a problem flavor-wise?

  7. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Used it last year with fresh peppers; this year one week into my 1st fermentation attempt. Harvested 3 pounds this fall. Smells great when they get burped! Can I add additional brine to the jars to keep mash covered, or is it better to add the described bag weights?
    Thanks for creating this great recourse.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Dave, you can add more brine if needed, or just use weights to push them down. Either will work, as long as they stay under the brine. Enjoy!!

  8. Kevin McKercher

    I have made a lot of beer. I am curious what will cause this to ferment so quickly. 1 to 2 weeks isn’t very long, especially since its been 3 days already and I don’t see anything happening. Did I miss the part where you add yeast ?

  9. Peggy Waltz

    5 stars
    I want to make a Cayenne hot sauce. I have a ton in the garden. I want to roast a few and add to the rest. I don’t want to ferment them but I do want to can them with a hot water bath. The bottles I ordered have hard plastic caps. Is it okay to put them in a hot water bath? Thanks for your help. I have researched and can’t find an answer.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Peggy, I have a number of cayenne sauces on the site. Try these:

      How to Make Hot Sauce:
      Homemade Tabasco Sauce (Just use Cayennes):
      Homemade Louisiana Style Hot Sauce:

      Regarding the caps – a lot of times those plastic caps can crack or stretch, making them not so ideal for home canning. You might look into bottles with metal caps, or use jars for canning. Good luck!

  10. Hi Michael,
    Here we are 3 weeks later, and fermentation went great after I took the jars out of the refrigerator. The hot sauce tasted fantastic after simmering for 15 minutes. Then after blending, it turned incredibly bitter. Do you have any idea why this happened? We’re so disappointed. I’m thinking that if I try this recipe again, I will skip the blending after simmering. Other than the minced garlic, no additional solid ingredients were added, so maybe that last blend is unnecessary? Would love your input. Thanks.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sorry to hear, Dana. It could be from any included seeds, or if you had any bitter kahm yeast in the batch. Cooking does stop the fermenting process, but is not necessary. You can enjoy the uncooked, fermented peppers on their own.

  11. I don’t know what I did wrong. I tried fermenting my green Serrano
    for 2weeks, but I am not certain it came out right. When I went to boil/simmer the mix with tequila and garlic, it never reduced. It was just a thin liquid with pulp. Then put in processor which made a mess. I ended up with really thin liquid and pulp.
    Suggestions? So happy I found your site I obviously have A LOT to learn .

    Thank you

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sarah, this is meant to be a fairly liquidy, thin sauce. However, when you boil and simmer, you can leave it on the heat longer until it reduces to your own preferences. You probably just needed a longer simmer. I hope this helps.

  12. Colin O'Grady

    I’d like to roast the Serranos instead of fermenting them just to get a little bit of a different flavor going. What do y’all recommend to account for the lack of the brine? Just add some water before cooking? Add more lime juice and/or vinegar? If anyone has tried anything, or has successes to share, they’d be much appreciated!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Colin, yes, I would just add in some liquid (water, citrus, vinegar, a combination of) along with seasonings, then process and simmer. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  13. Thank you for the quick response! They are now on the countertop with a couple extra whole peppers submerged. It’s hot where I am, so we’ll see what happens! I’ll touch base in a couple weeks. Thanks for your help!

  14. So I was thrilled to find this recipe, as my Serrano plant has been producing like crazy. Two weeks after I put them in the jar per the recipe to ferment, there’s no fermentation happening. I just reread the recipe and somehow I thought the jars needed to go in the refrigerator, rather than what I now see is a temp of 55-75. Have I completely screwed this up? It’s been sitting in brine this whole time. Please let me know if and how I can salvage this, thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Dana, you are fine and they are still usable. If you want fermentation to occur, just take them out of the refrigerator. If fermentation doesn’t start, add in some fresh pods. Let me know how it goes.

  15. 5 stars
    This was my first time fermenting and couldn’t see much happening so I was afraid I wasn’t doing it right. I was burping every night and did not see any growth or excess air coming out. After 10 days fermentation, I cooked for 15 minutes and blended and it turned out quite mild. I am very happy with the result and the flavors are amazing, but could have done with a slightly spicer sauce.

  16. Do I need to ferment the peppers or is it ok to just cook them down straight from the garden?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Grace, you don’t need to ferment if you don’t want to. You can just cook them down straight from the garden. Let me know how it goes.

  17. Great, thanks for quick reply…. I love growing peppers, but can never use all them…

  18. Michael, exited to try this recipe.
    As Andrea asked could you ferment the peppers whole, or at least just halfed? I think this would be easier to keep summered in container.
    And how do you prep? do you take seeds out or keep in?

    Hate to discard all these peppers i have this season, as there is no way i can eat all of them.

    Thanks much in advance.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Shelly, yes, you can ferment peppers whole, or you can slice them in half or rough chop them to better fit them in your fermentation containers. They are easier to keep submerged when in larger pieces. You can leave in the seeds and innards, no problem. Let me know how it goes for you. Enjoy.

  19. Hey, I’m really excited to try this recipe. I have a whole lot more serranos than I ever thought would produce.
    I’m curious, what is the benefit to fermenting after processing the chilis. Could you ferment them whole and then blend and process? I’m just wondering if that might be a less messy route.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Andrea, fermenting will mellow the flavors in ways you won’t get without fermentation. Cooking them stops the fermenting process. You don’t have to cook after if you don’t want to. Just process and use. You may need to burp your containers occasionally, though. I hope you enjoy it.

  20. Just started this recipe, if I have bits of mash floating at the top do I need to scrape them out, or are they fine / will they settle? The weight/spring that came with my lids is not a solid piece.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Josh, it’s important to keep the bits submerged, or you run the risk of contamination. Try using a plastic baggie partially filled with water. Stuff it into the top to see if that will work.

  21. 5 stars
    That was an interesting experience, resulting in a hot sauce I can handle and husband likes. I only had 3/4lb of serranos and cut the recipe down to fit. Used rum, but honestly can’t taste it. Perhaps I will have to buy a small jar of tequila for the next batch.

    My fermenting, in a Ball jar, kept on spilling out the brine. Yes, I burped it….more than once a day. Definitely recommend putting the jar of fermenting peppers sitting in a plastic container that will keep any spill from surfaces that you don’t want it on. In my case, the inside of my cabinet.

    All in all this was a really fun way to try something new with little risk involved. Grew my own serranos so very little investment at risk if the batch got put down the drain. Instead, my husband is headed to grab the nacho chips and sauce. Ours came out more like a salsa since I left the solids in.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Excellent, Julie! Glad you guys are enjoying it!!

  22. 5 stars
    Delicious hot sauce and a great intro to fermenting chilis. Was able to make ALOT of this from two Serrano plants last summer and it kept with no problem in the fridge for 7 or 8 months.

  23. 4 stars
    Hello I just made your pepper sauce I didn’t have quite a pound of serrano so I added a few jalapeno and a few Tabasco Peppers. Using my food processor it may have blended it too thin and almost into a mash. Is that okay?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Absolutely, Jason. No issue at all. Let me know how you enjoy it.

  24. Marcia Clark

    5 stars
    I fermented the peppers for 8 days and just made the sauce exactly as the directions. Delicious! It is hot but not killer like the cayenne sauce recipe I followed from this site last week. All good! Thanks Mike.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Great to hear, Marcia! Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      5 stars
      Yes, Cherie. Absolutely. Just be sure to use proper canning/jarring safety procedures. A water bath process would be sufficient.

  25. So made the mash, jarred it and have checked everyday trying to keep it below the brine. On a couple jars I tried the baggies filled with water. All three jars have developed a very thin white layer even on the jars with the baggies the thing white layer is on the sides of the jar between the baggie and the glass. I’m thinking it’s probably spoiled but before I throw it out I thought I’d double check here first. Is my mash spoiled??

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Grace, often that thin white layer is kahm yeast, which is not bad for you. You can usually scrape that away. If the layer is fuzzy and smells bad, then there is some infection. If it is very smooth and doesn’t have a spoiled/rotten smell, it’s probably just kahm yeast.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Grace, yes, you can use another booze, like rum. For a no alcohol version, use either more vinegar, a citrus juice, or just water to thin. Let me know how it goes for you.

  26. I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I’m super excited to. I love green chili peppers. I was wondering if it would be possible to make the sauce without cooking it after fermentation? I’d love to keep the probiotic value and cooking the sauce will kill off the good bacteria. Would it still taste good if you didn’t cook it? Would you ferment everything together or just the peppers and brine? How would you do it? Sorry. Just looking to maximize the nutrition as well! Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Aaron, absolutely. You don’t have to cook it. Many people stop before cooking for the probiotic benefits. Refrigeration will slow it down, though you may still need to burp your bottles/containers, as fermentation activity will continue. Let me know how it goes.

  27. 5 stars
    I roasted the peppers on the grill and after peeling and seeding them (great quarantine time filler) proceeded directly to the puree stage, adding salt, vinegar, lime, garlic and tequila gradually since the roasted peppers are so much less in volume. Pretty much ended up with the proportions in the recipe! Yum.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Anna! I hope you enjoy the heat!

  28. HI,

    Made your Serrano hot sauce but found the recipe a little unclear.
    I mixed a quart of brine, but only used about half to cover the peppers to ferment. When it came time to add everything to a pot (including brine) I wasn’t sure if you meant the whole quart, including the stuff I hadn’t used to cover the peppers, or just the stuff that was in with the peppers. I used the qhole lot and ended up with a lot of thin sauce.
    Tastes ok, but a little salty.
    Perhaps you could update your recipe to cover this off 🙂
    Also, unsure when you say to simmer for 15 minutes – is this with the lid on or off? Are we trying to reduce the sauce or just cook everything for 15 minutes?
    Looking forward to your response

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Al, you really only need to add the water from the ferment, not the whole quart. I’ll adjust the NOTES to make it clear that you really only need enough brine to cover the peppers. Regarding saltiness – you can discard the brine altogether and just use fresh water, or use a combination. Simmer with no lid, which is meant to stop the ferment and help meld the flavors even more. It is not necessary. I hope this is clear. Please let me know if you have any questions.

  29. Andrew Biddle

    5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe. I’ve made hot sauces before but never tried fermenting until now. My 3qt jar of sliced serrano peppers has stopped fermenting, mostly noticed by less bubbles and the mash isn’t floating to the top anymore. There are little white curly worm-shapes floating throughout, which are either worms or seed embryo. I’m suspecting the latter because I never saw anything moving or hatching, but is this something I should expect?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Andrew, no, not at all. It sounds like the batch has been infected and should be thrown out. Sorry to say.

  30. I have a question about dehydrating. When you dehydrate mash, what kind of dehydrator do you use? Does it have a special style of tray to contain the liquidy mash? We we going to keep an eye out for a dehydrator on black friday and wondering what to look for.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Troy – I have two models, a smaller Nesco and a larger Excalibur. The Nesco comes with some solid trays that let you add things like mash or pulp so it won’t fall through the mesh. The Excalibur uses trays, so I use some dehydrator sheets that lay over the mesh trays, keeping the mash from leaking through. There are some links to Amazon for the ones I use on this page, under the “Get a Dehydrator” section: I hope this helps! Enjoy!

    2. Michael,
      when i look at the nesco you recommended on your link, it does not look like it comes with solid trays. Are you using the “fruit roll ” sheets to do the mash, or am I missing something? It looks like the mesco model with the “pr” at the end of the model number come with these sheets. Sorry for the questions, but not in a place to buy the excalubur at this time and want to make sure I order the right thing to do the mash. Maybe Nesco has changed the way they sell the FD-75a.

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Troy, mine came with some solid trays, and yes, you can make fruit leathers on them, so that is most likely what you need. As long as they are solid. You can also buy reusable teflon liners for the round trays. Let me know how it goes.

  31. 5 stars
    Hi Mike – This is more of a question for fermentation process. Donyou have some recommendations to help keep the solids below the liquid line to avoid spoilage. I’m finding that my processed peppers are creeping up above on top Of the liquid in the mason jar.


    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Mike. There are a few ways to keep the peppers submerges beneath the brine. One quick method is to fill a baggie with water, seal it, and place it into the jar to force everything down below the water. See if that works. It is important to keep everything submerged to avoid contamination, like mold, from growing on the exposed peppers. I use small glass weights that work well. Grape leaves are another method, where you can drape grape leaves over the top of the ferment to not only keep the peppers submerged, but to also help keep any developing yeast (like kahm yeast) away from the peppers.

  32. Hello there! I found your site while researching recipes to use up my surplus of Serrano peppers. I am super interested in this recipe but before I start, I need a little clarification. Bear with me, I have a lot of questions.

    My primary confusion is regarding the brine fermentation process mentioned in this recipe. The recipe calls for mixing 1 QUART of brine. But the recipe also says “Pour just enough brine over the peppers to cover them, pressing them down a bit as you go.” Since this recipe is really only yielding 1 cup of hot sauce, I was envisioning fermenting it in a pint mason jar or a pint and half at most. So if I just cover the hot pepper mash with brine, I can’t imagine it will require a lot of brine liquid. Reasonably, how much brine do you think will be used throughout the fermenting process? Does it really require a whole quart of brine? How often do you typically have to recover it with brine in the 1-2 week fermentation process?

    Can you share a picture of what your fermentation set up usually looks like? Or better yet, make a video about the process? In the comments of other people’s questions, you mention that you have to cover the mash with a glass weight. What kind of weight do you have? Where do you find one? What kind of jar do you use that will hold a glass weight?

    Finally, in this recipe, you reference your other page for “How to Make Fermented Pepper Mash”. That article references a 2nd way to ferment, which involves mixing the salt directly into the mash without covering it with a liquid brine. Is there any reason that this method would NOT work for this Serrano hot sauce recipe? You only list the brine method for this particular recipe, so I’m just curious.

    Those are all of my questions. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Kate, I usually make more brine than needed and toss what is not used. It’s just water and salt, so not an issue for me. Make half and see if it fits in your jar.

      You need to cover the peppers with the brine. If any peppers are not covered, they run the risk of contamination and rot. Be sure to cover them. I’ll try to share photos in upcoming recipes.

      There is no reason you can’t use the second fermentation method. Give it a go.

      Good luck! Enjoy.

  33. Rebecca Cossio

    5 stars
    Hi there, this sounds delicious, since I won’t be doing the fermenting process, should I blanch the peppers first or would you recommend keeping them fresh?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Rebecca, you don’t have to blanch the peppers, as you will still be cooking the ingredients down for 15 minutes to bring the flavors together, though you can if you want to. Let me know how turns out for you.

  34. 5 stars
    Hi, if I don’t have a mason jar is it ok to ferment the peppers in a clean plastic yogurt container with a lid on it? It’s not as airtight as a screw top jar but all I have.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Chris, I have not fermented in plastic containers. Plastic isn’t ideal as it is permeable to oxygen, so not good for long term. I would use glass or jars made specifically for fermenting.

  35. Hi Mike,

    I had 3 plants that produced Serrano peppers and I looked up a hot sauce recipe and this one jumped right out at me! I started to brine the peppers last Saturday and plan to make the hot sauce this Sunday.
    Looking back just now at your directions I hope I didnt mess up. I only cut the peppers into slices instead of processing them before fermenting. I also added the garlic cloves into the brine mixture while fermenting. I hope it doesnt effect the taste too much.
    Thank you for the recipe!!!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Frank. Slices is totally fine. They’re actually easier to keep below the brine. You just can’t fit quite as many, but all good. Garlic is good, too. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  36. 5 stars
    This looks like an excellent base recipe.
    I have 4 serrano plants in the greenhouse with so many peppers I don’t know what to do with them all. Already pickled a nice big batch but have loads left. Will get the rest picked in the next few days and start fermenting.
    Not too big on tequila personally but my mind is already racing with slight variations.
    Many thanks for the recipe, I’ll let you know how mine turns out and what other flavours I add.

  37. Emily Ferri

    5 stars
    My hubby and I made this recipe with two variations in ingredients! I’ll start with mine and describe some of the problems I ran into – and how we conquered it!
    My recipe:
    I followed the recipe almost to a t, adding a bit of honey (1 tablespoon) and distilled water to the food processor step, and I produced roughly three 5 fl oz bottles. The recipe is definitely spicy, but super flavorful.

    My hubby:
    From the start, he added Thai Basil to the fermenting process, roughly 2 condensed cups of Thai Basil. After the fermenting process ended, he also put a full bulb of garlic in the oven to roast it with oil and pepper for one hour, while roasting the garlic he sauteed about a 1/4 cup of onions and combined all other ingredients into the pot for cooking. Once the garlic was ready to go, we followed steps 5-7 as listed above. He also added about 3 tablespoons of honey to his during processing.

    Both hot sauces came out great! #chilipeppermadness

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Great, Emily! Glad you enjoyed them, and I love your variations. Very nice! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Brian, you can try to strain out some of the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, or you can process the batch with more peppers and ingredients to thicken it up. Or, add the sauce to a pot and simmer it to reduce the liquid, then cool and re-bottle. Let me know if this helps.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Keri, you should be able to if you can seal it properly. It’s best kept in the fridge in bottles that you can cap.

  38. I followed the instructions and made this recipe including fermenting the serranos for 12 days. I did not have reposado tequila but had a white tequila which I used. The end product tastes very bitter. Was it the tequila?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Bu, some peppers can produce a bitterness from fermenting, especially the greener peppers. You can cut some of that if you reprocess the batch with a bit of sugar or honey.

  39. Katherine Gaspar

    5 stars
    Hi Mike,

    I made this last year since I had a bumper crop of serrano peppers. This was the best hot sauce I every had. My family can’t wait till I make some more. I am trying it this year with a combination of peppers, cayenne, banana and serranos. Can’t wait to try it. It is fermenting now. Thanks again for such clear instructions. I have tried fermenting before but here I am at it again!!!

  40. Hi Mike,

    I really want to try this one using a mixture of green and red serrano peppers. Is the recipe as is at the pH level for BWB canning? It makes a lot, and I need to be able to store it at room temperature.

    Take care,

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Mark, it should be, though it is best to measure with a good pH meter to be sure.

  41. Hey! I’m straining my batch right now and I’m super pumped to dehydrate the solids. I was going to use my dehydrator, should I use parchment paper under it? How do you do it?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Robin, you can use parchment paper if you don’t have solid sheets. I use little dehydrator sheets that I purchased. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  42. Hi. I’m slightly confused. Do you use a mash or do you ferment them with the method described? And, if you use the mash, do you cook it thereafter or just mix in the remainder of the ingredients? Thank you.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Maria, yes, you first ferment the peppers. Then, after fermentation, cook them with the other ingredients to stop the ferment and let the new ingredients meld. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  43. DUDE. I’m super stoked to find your website and cannot wait to try this recipe. All the best! Keep it spicy!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Awesome, Jen! Glad you found us! I hope you enjoy the sauce.

  44. 5 stars
    Simply amazing! Allow the sauce to render until your desired viscosity it achieve! 3rd time making and it never fails.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Kris! Glad you’re loving it! I love this hot sauce recipe. Great stuff!

  45. What do you suppose I use instead of tequila if I don’t like that flavor? More vinegar or water?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Tony, you can skip the tequila and use a bit more vinegar if you’d like. Or, try using a light rum.

  46. Steven W Taylor

    5 stars
    Okay This is amazing. I can definitely attest to the goodness of the fermented peppers. Dang this stuff rocks! Thanks so much for it!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Scott, no, there is no need to stir them as long as everything is submerged under the brine.

  47. After I boil the mixture and strain it, Does the resulting hot sauce need to be refrigerated?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Maggie, I like to keep mine in the refrigerator for safe keeping. Some people leave theirs out. Be sure to check the PH. It should be below 4.0 minimum.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Steve, you can use ph strips, but it’s better to use a ph meter.

  48. Hey Mike,
    I’ve made a couple batches using ghosts and various other peppers and found it to be too thick (almost a paste). Is there a good rule of thumb for a liquid (water/vinegar) to solid ratio?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Steven, not really a rule of thumb, but you can easily add in water to thin it out to your preference. Let me know how that works out for you.

  49. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe, thank you! Just wondering if straining is necessary or can it be left chunky (the pepper mash, that is)?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, PCLAR. Yes, you can leave it chunky. No problem at all. Enjoy!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Bonnie, if it’s a whitish film, it’s most likely kahm yeast, which can be scraped away. If there is a mold that smells really bad, then you may have some spoilage. Trust your nose. If it smells really bad, discard it.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Christie, this should make you about a cup or so, though you can yield more if you don’t strain it. Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. Michael, I like the idea of not straining. Is there a reason you recommend straining?

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Steve, straining is not required. I don’t always strain. It really just depends on your preferred consistency. The flavor will remain the same.

  50. Hi Ryan,

    I’m making your sauce for the first time. I’m in Australia and our limes are a different variety and somewhat larger than the ones available in Mexico and America I was wondering how much lime juice to use as given the size difference could vary substantially. Thanks in advance. Stephanie

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Stephanie, I would use about 2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 ml) and then you can adjust the recipe from there with more if you’d like. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  51. I love the sound of this recipe. I have fermented sliced veggies in the past, but I am not sure how the minced will work to keep under the brine? Everything floats as it ferments. And if it is too fine it will work its way to the top, resulting in mold. How do you get the peppers to stay below the brine?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Angela, I use a small glass weight that keeps everything under the brine. People use different things, like a large onion slice, thick cabbage leaves, even balloons. If you’re concerned, you can use larger pieces of peppers, though you’ll get more activity with smaller chopped peppers. I hope this helps!

  52. Hello there. I love this recipe! I fermented red Serrano with the garlic and a little bit of dill stems. Quick question. After I fermented them I didn’t boil or add the other ingredients. I just put them into the food processor. Can I still use this hot sauce? Also what to do with the extra brine.
    Thank you.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Anna, you don’t need to boil it. It can be used without the boil. You can use the extra brine to start another ferment, or use it to flavor something else, like a salad dressing or soup. Or it can be composted. Take care.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Rene, tap water often is unfiltered or contains chlorine, which can totally ruin a ferment. Unchlorinated water is needed. If using tap water, you can boil it for about 30 minutes, which should help to evaporate the chlorine. Give that a try and let me know how it goes for you.

  53. Wondering how accurate the 1 pound of peppers is.
    Should I be weighing out the mash before fermentation to get the correct amount or just wing it, or is there a approximate pepper count to come to about a pound?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Ryan – 1 pound is accurate. I used 1 pound for the recipe. By weight is the best way, as the peppers can vary in size. Figure it’s about 5 serrano peppers per ounce, so about 80 pods roughly. It may sound like a lot, but when you process them down and brine them, it isn’t as much as you think. You can reduce the number of peppers and adjust the recipe ratios accordingly.

  54. Can I use frozen Serranos? I had so many last year and not enough time to deal with them.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Dawn, yes, you can use frozen serranos. You might need a fermentation starter, though. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  55. I tried this recipe and my hot sauce seems to be very acidic. Is their something I can do to change this or is it supposed to be this way? I used the fermented process.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Susie, there can be a somewhat acidic taste with fermented peppers. I suggest adding in a bit of honey to sweeten it just a bit. Not too much, but enough to balance out any acidic flavor. You can also mix in other ingredients, such as fruit (like pineapple or mango) or other veggies/seasonings. Let me know how it ultimately turns out.

  56. 5 stars
    Great recipe Mike! My wife and I just harvested our Serrano pepper plant and found your recipe online. We fermented them for one week and followed your instructions. All we can say is WOW! Amazing flavor. I strained this batch and dehydrated the seeds and pulp. This made one of the best seasonings we have ever had as far as a spicy one. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. Keep up the great work.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      That’s GREAT, Scott! Thanks for letting me know!

  57. Can’t wait to try this recipe since my Serrano plant has about a zillion peppers I didn’t know what to do with. Any difference if the Serranos turn red on the plant?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Peter. Glad I can help. The red serranos tend to be a slight bit sweeter than green, but you can use them interchangeably. Let me know how it turns out for you!

      1. Loved making this and will definitely try it again, but my final product has a bit of a yeasty/beer-y flavor note, after fermenting for about two weeks. Any idea what I should try next time? Thanks for the recipe!

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Peter, sometimes fermented sauces can have some bitter notes, so I would counter those with other ingredients, such as honey or fruit. You can also incorporate some different seasonings to balance that out as well. Let me know if that helps.

          1. Do you need to seed the peppers before putting in food processor?

          2. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

            Kyle, you can core out the peppers if you’d like. I usually do not. Some people do not like the floating seeds in their sauces. You can strain later, too. Note that if you core out the peppers, much of the heat is in the whitish innards, so you will likely be reducing the overall heat.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sorry to hear, Aaron. You can always combine this batch with another to reduce the salt levels.

  58. Ahmed Yusuf


    what can i substitute with tequila because of religious reasons.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Ahmed. You can skip the tequila and include a bit more vinegar and lime juice to compensate. Also, a bit of honey or agave nectar would add a touch of sweetness. Please let me know how it turns out for you.

  59. 5 stars
    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.

  60. 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.

  61. 5 stars
    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.

  62. 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.

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