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17 January 2018

Hawaiian chili pepper water is an incredibly popular, traditional Hawaiian condiment or hot sauce made with water, vinegar, and spicy chili peppers. Here is the recipe to make some at home.

Readers and visitors to Chili Pepper Madness send me recipes and ideas for content all the time. Mostly I get emails asking to identify a pepper from a photo that someone grew in their garden – glad to help! – or asking questions about a particular recipe, but sometimes I get a recipe that intrigues the heck out of me.

Like this one. Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water.

Say what? I’ll be honest. I’ve never heard of the stuff, but when a cool guy named Glenn emailed me asking if I’ve ever tried it, we got into an interesting conversation about it that got me desperately wanting to make some of my own.

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water - Recipe

Interestingly, Glenn is an Alaskan with a winter home in Maui, and his neighbor turned him onto the stuff, so I must thank both Glenn and his neighbor for introducing me to this wonderful condiment/hot sauce. That’s right, I’m not exactly sure if I’d call it a condiment or a hot sauce.

Hawaiian chili pepper water is VERY MUCH like a watered down Pique, which is a Puerto Rican condiment made primarily with vinegar and hot peppers. See my Puerto Rican Hot Sauce – Pique Recipe here.

Glenn gave me his basic recipe, which I’ve altered a little bit to my own tastes, though in my research, I’ve discovered there are many variations, as would be expected.

What is Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water?

Hawaiian chili pepper water is a combination condiment & hot sauce, basically a mixture of water and vinegar that has been infused with chili pepper flavor and heat.

At it’s core, Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water is made from 8 ounces water, 2 ounces vinegar, rock sea salt and Hawaiian chili peppers, which are quite hot.

It’s fairly simple in that you combine the ingredients and let them sit until the liquid is properly infused with the peppers, which again is very much like Pique.

Variations include adding slices of garlic and/or ginger (which you can also smash to release the juices more), as well as a splash of soy sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce for added flavor. From there, the sky is the limit! I’ve even seen a fermented pepper version.

As you use up the infused liquid, you can easily top it off with more water/vinegar to keep the bottle going.

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water Uses?

Use Hawaiian chili pepper water to add some zing to your favorite dishes.

Glenn says he sees the stuff in local kitchens and on food trucks, and he’s seen locals sipping shots of the stuff. He likes to use it in rice dishes, for dipping steak, dashing over grilled fish or any sliced meats. For me, I love the flavor.

It has quite a thin consistency, as would be expected with the water content, but go ahead and pour some into a small bowl for dipping to get a bit of heat and added flavor, or simple drizzle it over your finished meals.

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water Benefits

The Health Benefits of Chili Peppers are widely known. They are high in Vitamin C and help protect your heart. Even watered down, you’re sure to receive good nutrients as well as flavor.

I actually have a trip planned to Hawaii in the fairly near future, so I can’t wait to try the many local versions! Pumped!

If you are unable to obtain Hawaiian chili peppers, use either Thai chilies or any number of hot red chili peppers, such as cayenne, birds eye, or even red serrano peppers. You have numerous options for a similar sauce.

Check out These Related Recipes:

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water - 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.

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water - Recipe

Hawaiian chili pepper water is an incredibly popular, traditional Hawaiian condiment or hot sauce made with water, vinegar, and spicy chili peppers. Here is the recipe to make some at home.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 30
Calories: 1kcal


  • 8 ounces water
  • 2 ounces white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Hawaiian rock sea salt you can sub in any sea salt or kosher salt
  • Hawaiian chili peppers sliced (add anywhere from 3-20, or as many as you can fit - you CAN sub in other spicy chili peppers)
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2-3 fresh ginger slices
  • Splash of soy sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce if desired


  • Add the ingredients to a small pan and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat immediately and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, cool, then transfer to a sterilized bottle. Use as needed. The longer it sits, the more the peppers and other flavors will infuse the water/vinegar mixture.


This will keep in the refrigerator for about a year or so.
Heat Factor: Medium. You'll get some good zestiness with this recipe!


Calories: 1kcal | Sodium: 78mg | Potassium: 1mg | Vitamin C: 0.1mg
Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water - Recipe



  1. Laurie Doerschlen

    Hi, I just made a batch using a mix of different chilies on hand … looking forward to trying it once it’s sat a bit, which brings me to my question: can I let it sit out for a couple of weeks and then put it in the fridge or is it better to put it in the fridge after sitting out for 24 hours? Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sounds great, Laurie. You can let it sit out, then refrigerate and use as desired. Most people leave it out. Just make sure you don’t get any weird growth on the top.

  2. 5 stars
    I had wanted to make this recipe for a very long time: it’s done! with white ghost peppers and yellow scotch bonnets. Can we use this sauce/condiment right away?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Jérémie! Yes, great stuff. I would let it steep at least a few hours but probably longer to get more overall flavor. I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Does this need to be refrigerated ? Or have the ph level tested at all? Thanks love the recipes !

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Megan, I personally like to keep it in the refrigerator, but a lot of people keep theirs out.

  4. 5 stars
    One home-grown ghost pepper in this recipe and a little sip after the simmer sent me to saturn.
    I can’t wait to see how much punch it packs after it ferments! It really showcases the unique flavors of superhots.
    Excellent recipe. Simple, quick, and incredibly useful. Will revisit for future harvests for sure.

    Thanks! Just found this website and it’s been a great inspiration with how to utilize my surprisingly abundant harvest of superhots this year. I ate the first pod raw to finally put the notch on my belt, and while I’m glad I did it, it’s not exactly a “once a day” experience for me at my current level. This was perfect.

    I also had great success including one in a gazpacho recipe. Maybe some inspiration for a future article?

    – James

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      That’s great, James. Yes, I can see a superhot gazpacho recipe for the future!!

  5. 5 stars
    I live in Hawaii and have a recipe that is almost identical. I have a few nice sized Hawaiian chili pepper plants growing and may start farming them as I get requests for my peppers all the time and have 8.5 acres of coffee and some open space that would be perfect for them. I am going to try with Worcestershire in a few of the bottles I make on this next round. Thanks for the tips and your site is quite cool.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Aloha and Mahalo, Robert! I appreciate the comments. We just returned from a visit to Hawaii, where I got to enjoy some Hawaiian chili pepper water first hand. Great stuff! Worcestershire would be great to include. Jealous of your coffee!!!

  6. Mike Fabian

    Mike, my favorite mex restaurant in Chicago serves Nayarit(think Baja Beach seafood) style habanero water like sauce that I’d like to make. I just harvested a bumber crop of fresh habs from my garden, do you have a recipe for something like this ? Thanks and love your site.


  7. I’ve been growing peppers and making hot sauce for a few years and this is one tasty looking sauce.
    I have a couple questions about it – when the level of the liquid goes down, do you top it up with more water and vinegar?
    If not, when the liquid gets below the level of the peppers and they are exposed to air, do they not go moldy?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Glen. Yes, the peppers should definitely stay submerged or could go bad if left exposed to air. You can top it off with more vinegar/water solution. That’s how it’s done with Puerto Rican Pique – the maker just keeps tossing new peppers/ingredients and topping it off at time goes by. Enjoy!

  8. I’m going to make this Chili Water today using ghost peppers. I have been doing lots of research on pepper sauces/salsas because I was gifted a variety of lots of the worlds hottest peppers and your site is awesome. I used to be an executive chef so I have a fair amount of knowledge when it comes to fermenting and making sauces, but this website is so very informational for a fellow chili head thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge with the world.

  9. 5 stars
    I made some with fresh garlic, ginger and Thai chili peppers from the farmers’ market near Diamond Head. . Sliced up only 6, about 2″ long each. It was plenty hot enough after 24 hours in the fridge. An’ dat buggah was ono! (Translation: It tasted very good!)
    Also used Alaea sea salt, which has added minerals from the red Hawai’ian clay it’s mixed with. You can get it online from Amazon or Target. They charge about $5/pound, much more than we pay here, but once you try it, you’ll use it in all your recipes. Just be sure to get the “Old Time” brand from Hawai’i, not the stuff from San Francisco.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      That’s GREAT, Alan. Thanks for the tip on the Alaea salt! I’ll have to get me some.

  10. How can I find hawaiian chili peppers outside of hawaii? Thank you!

    REPLY: Mike, you’d need to look online to find a seller or attempt to grow them yourself. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  11. I just had something much like this in Martinique (so probably a Créole recipe). But I couldn’t taste any vinegar at all. Does this have a vinegar taste? Is vinegar necessary to preserve it or could it be omitted?

    REPLY: Karen, the vinegar will definitely let it keep longer and will add flavor, though there is more water than vinegar. — Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

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