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28 September 2018

A recipe to make your own homemade cayenne pepper sauce in your own kitchen, with store bought or garden grown cayenne peppers, garlic, vinegar and salt. It’s super easy and super flavorful.

Cayenne pepper sauce is by far one of the most popular hot sauce varieties in the U.S. You’ll see it packed into specialty hot sauce bottles all over the place, and there are some pretty famous cayenne pepper sauce products out there.

Perhaps you’ve heard of some of them – Frank’s RedHot? Original Louisiana Hot Sauce? Crystal?

Yeah, some big names out there making some pretty awesome cayenne sauces. I love them all. The thing is, when your garden is EXPLODING with several cayenne pepper type varieties, you really gotta make some yourself, because if there’s anything better than hot sauce, my friends, it is Homemade Hot Sauce!


So yeah, we’re talking Homemade Cayenne Pepper Sauce and it’s fabulous.

Homemade Cayenne Pepper Sauce - Made with lots of home grown garden cayenne peppers


I’m making this particular sauce purely with cayenne peppers, though I’m adding in some garlic for a bit of extra flavor. I flat out LOVE garlic in sauces.

Brings it over the edge for sure.

About the Cayenne Peppers

You may have heard of cayenne chili peppers, but there are also a number of cayenne types out there, so you don’t have to limit yourself to what you find in the stores.

Check these babies out, picked straight from my garden.

A handful of Cayenne Peppers

Don’t get me wrong. Store bought cayenne peppers are outstanding for this sauce, but I’ve made with this other cayenne types that I grew in my own garden, like the ones above, including:

Yes, I’ve even made this Cayenne Buist’s, which are yellow pods, and the hot sauce came out great. It’s a super simple base recipe, but that’s the great thing about it.

You’re free to play around with it and include other ingredients to your preference.

So let’s talk about how we make this sauce, shall we?

How to Make Cayenne Pepper Sauce – The Recipe Method

First, gather up your cayenne peppers. Clean and dry them.

Chop up the cayenne peppers along with garlic cloves and add them to a pot with white wine vinegar and a bit of salt.

Bring the mix to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer everything for 20 minutes. The peppers and garlic will be nicely softened.

Cool the mixture slightly, then transfer it to a food processor or blender. Process it until the sauce is nice and smooth.

Strain the sauce through a fine sieve if you’d like a smoother sauce, or pour it into bottles as-is for a thicker sauce.

Done! Simple enough, right?

Some Recipes Notes and Information on Yields

My included recipe yields 5 ounces of strained sauce, which is the size of a typical hot sauce bottle. To make enough strained cayenne pepper sauce to fill a 5 ounce bottle, you’ll need to start with 10 ounces of cayenne peppers, 6 garlic cloves, and 1/2 cup of vinegar. Plus some salt.

This is approximate, but should get you quite close. And note again that this is STRAINED. Unstrained, the above measurements will yield you about 1-1/3 cups of cayenne pepper sauce.

Straining definitely thins out the sauce, though you can also thin it and/or stretch the sauce out by adding more vinegar or water, or perhaps another liquid, such as lime juice or beer. Consider the flavor possibilities.

Just be sure to weigh out your peppers first based on how much you’re looking to make.

Fermented vs. Non-Fermented Cayenne Pepper Sauce

As you’ll see, this is a fresh pepper hot sauce, meaning I did not ferment it. I have no preference over fermented or non-fermented hot sauces, as either has their advantages, though fermenting your peppers first does mellow them out considerably.

If you’re interested in fermenting, check out my post on How to Ferment Chili Peppers, and simply incorporate them into the recipe below.

Learn More About Hot Sauce Making

How to Make Hot Sauce - The Ultimate Guide
How to Make Hot Sauce – The Ultimate Guide

That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy the hot sauce! Go cayenne!

Safety Advice

When working with very hot chili peppers peppers, including superhot chili peppers, it is important to wear gloves when handling the peppers both in raw and dried forms. The oils can get on your skin and cause burning sensations.

Need help? How to Stop the Chili Pepper Burn On Your Skin.

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!

Try Some of My Other Popular Hot Sauce Recipes

Also see: Cayenne Pepper Benefits.

Homemade Cayenne Pepper Sauce - Ready to Eat

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 Cayenne Pepper Sauce - Recipe
Print Recipe
4.92 from 12 votes

Homemade Cayenne Pepper Sauce - Recipe

A recipe to make your own homemade cayenne pepper sauce in your own kitchen, with store bought or garden grown cayenne peppers, garlic, vinegar and salt. It's super easy and super flavorful.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Salsa
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cayenne, condiment, hot sauce, spicy
Servings: 30 teaspoons
Calories: 32kcal


  • 10 ounces cayenne chili peppers
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt + more to taste


  • Chop up the cayenne peppers along with garlic cloves and add them to a pot with the vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Bring the mix to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer everything for 20 minutes.
  • Cool the mixture slightly, then transfer it to a food processor or blender. Process it until the sauce is nice and smooth. Adjust to taste with more salt if desired
  • Strain the sauce through a fine sieve if you'd like a smoother sauce, or pour it into bottles as-is for a thicker sauce.


Heat Factor: Medium. Cayennes have a fairly decent level of heat.
See the recipe discussion for notes about straining and how it affects the amount of finished hot sauce.


Calories: 32kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 164mg | Potassium: 180mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2505IU | Vitamin C: 3.1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.6mg


  1. When I cook down and then put it in food processor it is just a paste not a sauce and definitely won’t go through a sieve. I added more water and it’s still just a paste. If I add any more water it will just be a water sauce. I don’t know how you’re supposed to make this into a sauce? I guess I’ll have to try again. Also there us no need to add a full teaspoon of salt for 165 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon. Try it with about 1/4 of the salt or less and the chili flavor some out a little more and you won’t miss the salt. Trust me!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Paul, this is meant to be a thicker hot sauce, but you can still very easily add more liquid to thin it out. You don’t have to just add water. Try vinegar or citrus, or a combination. Also, as with any recipe, use salt to taste. Let me know how it comes out next time.

    2. I made this today, and like most sauces you almost have to force it through the sieve. I now have a wonderful tasting sauce in 30 mins

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Kyle, you can process the paste/sauce with a few tablespoons of water at a time until you achieve your desired consistency. Let me know how turns out for you.

  2. Hi Mike – I like your fermentation process as a first step for making your sauces. How would I modify this recipe or ratios if I were to first ferment the peppers? Thank you,

    1. 5 stars
      Thank you. Yes I saw that recipe and hence my question. There is a lot less vinegar in that recipe than this one with cayenne peppers. I thought maybe less vinegar was needed when you ferment. I’d really like to ferment and was thinking your Serano recipe would be a good good go to and allow me to mix the peppers based on what I had on hand. And then I noticed this recipe as a potential basic starting point. Sorry for all the questions and commentary but I’m completely new to this and your site.

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        No problem at all, Mike! Glad to help! Feel free to ask away and I’ll do my best. When you ferment, right, you don’t need as much vinegar, so you can dial back on that. Best to go by pH if you want it to last. Shoot for 3.5 or lower for home preserving. Add vinegar only as needed to lower pH, and you might not need to with fermented. Just check the pH with a good pH meter. NOTE though – even if the pH is higher, it could still be a good sauce. It just won’t last quite as long.

  3. Pat Bennett

    5 stars
    G’day Mike.
    I made this and turned out really well. It tastes a bit salty though. Hopefully the taste will mellow a bit. I was just wondering, the recipe says two teaspoons of salt but the directions keep saying to add a ‘bit of salt’. How much do you normally put in?
    Great sauce though. Thanks very much.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      G’day, Pat. Thanks for the feedback. I did make an adjustment to the recipe to start with 1 teaspoon of salt, then add more salt later to taste after it is processed. That will work better as a method to bring the hot sauce to your preferred level of salt. Try it that way next time and see how it turns out for you.

  4. 5 stars
    I came across this site while looking for cayenne pepper recipes. I had a half bushel of mixed hot peppers from the farmers market, and almost half were cayenne. My family loves hot sauce, so I made a triple batch of this using almost all the cayenne peppers and 3 heads of garlic. For part of the vinegar, I used the remains from a jar of pickled peppers made with some of the half bushel, and the rest was red wine vinegar because I didn’t have white wine vinegar. I used my Ninja blender, so I didn’t need to strain it. The end result is delicious! I have to use it in moderation, but my son and husband love it. I did add a couple tablespoons extra of vinegar to thin it out. I am a new fan of your site and I intend to try several more recipes.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Wow, thanks, Karen! So happy you found me! Glad you like the sauce! I am now a fan of yours, too. =) See you around the site!

  5. Quick question, my kitchen scale isn’t working anymore. About how much is 10 oz of fresh cayenne peppers?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Cidne, weight is really the best way to measure, but I’d say 10 ounces is roughly 30-40 cayenne peppers, depending on their size. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  6. Would be adding two ghost peppers be fine with this recipe? Hoping it might balance a little bit of the heat from the ghost peppers

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Kevin, absolutely. You can mix and match peppers for this recipe, just try to stick close the overall amounts. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  7. Can you help with where to find fresh cayenne peppers? I have tried a large number of grocery stores, Mexican markets, Asian markets, Sprouts and Wholefoods with no luck. Maybe my area? I am in Denver, CO.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Brian, you CAN remove the seeds and innards if you’d like, though I usually leave them in. Some people don’t like the floating seeds. You can always strain the sauce later on for a smoother sauce if you’d like. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  8. How long will it last. Can I do something to it to preserve it like a jam or something. I want to make enough to last the whole winter

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Diane, this should last a couple months in the fridge pretty easily, or longer. It’s all about the pH. You can definitely preserve it. 3.5 or lower pH is best for home preserving. You can process it in a water bath, or use a pressure canner.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Allison, most woozy bottles have plastic screw on caps so they aren’t the best for completely submersion in the water bath. I know some people who do it. It’s really best in containers with non-plastic lids, like jars. Hot sauce will keep a long time in the fridge, though.

  9. Its says 10oz. Of cayenne peppers, I have 1 lonesome ghost pepper to pick. Could I through that in along with a couple of serrano peppers to equal the 10 ounces?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Kevin, absolutely. You’ll still end up with a great sauce. Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. Made a 5 oz. version with 1 ghost 4 cayenne and 4 serrano. A little think at the end, but add a a shot of pineapple/ mango juice. Came out great very hot that how I like it.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Lola, absolutely. Use this as a base recipe. You can remove or add to it flavors that you prefer. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  10. 5 stars
    Hi Michael! I have vinegar at a concentration of 6% and 9%, which one is more suitable for this recipe? I am from Ukraine, in here sale table vinegar in a concentration of 6% (apple, rice, wine, etc.), and 9% – for home canning. I’m afraid that 1/2 cup of 9% vinegar will be too sour….or no? Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Max, a 6% acidity acid would be more suitable for general cooking/hot sauce making, as it is generally more available, though each can be used. You can always dilute a higher percentage acid with water and other ingredients, especially if you’re concerned about a sour flavor. If you’re concerned with longer keeping, it’s all about the final pH, which is best below 4.0, 3.5 or lower being more ideal. I hope this helps!

  11. If I use the green peppers then my sauce will be green. Not red so wut do I do

      1. Ok thank you. I looked every where for red Cheyenne but no one sells them but I have them in my garden but not turning red. Just a few

  12. This recipe looks so simple! I got 10 oz of fresh red cayenne peppers from a friend’s garden today. Am also going to throw in a few other peppers after reading the comments. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Perfect, Jamie! Let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. Mine turned out super hot and unfortunately I did not keep good notes. I added a carrot and onion when I cooked it then fresh peaches and half of a cucumber when I blended it. I didn’t strain it and ended up with a quart of thick hot sauce. I’m thinking of using that as a base for more hot sauce that I will then thin with more white wine vinegar. Id like to put it in bottles to give away but am not sure if it needs to stay in the fridge or not. I put the quart I made directly into the fridge but am not sure why I did that. This is all new to me. 🙂

        P.S. My husband says it’s really good but will probably last us a year.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Jamie, yep, you can use this as a base for sure. You can keep it in the fridge for safer keeping. If you’d like to store it in the pantry, it is best to water bath it. Just be sure to check the pH level. It should be at 3.5 or lower for home canning.

          1. Thanks! That is what I decided to do. I poured the sauce back into a pan, added 1 cup of white wine vinegar, 1 cup of water, 2T light brown sugar, juice of 1 lime and 1/2t fish sauce and let it all simmer a bit. I got 7 5oz bottles to give to friends and family. I appreciate the help and your great resource on all things hot sauce. 🙂

          2. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

            Perfect, Jamie! Happy to help! Enjoy, and keep it spicy!

  13. Patsy Lucci

    Two questions…do I take out the seeds and should I wait till my green cayenne peppers turn red?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Patsy, you can leave in the seeds, or remove them if you’d like. Most of the heat is in the pepper innards. By removing the seeds, you might remove the innards and therefore a lot of the heat. See my post here on that: Also, I prefer using red cayenne peppers, which are nice and ripe. You CAN use green, though. They’re just not ripe yet. Let me know how it goes.

    2. 5 stars
      I am doing both green and red so I will let you know how it goes. Also added a splash of pineapple for sweetness.

  14. 4 stars
    Can’t wait to try this! I have cayenne peppers in the garden. Love raw oysters and have been looking for a great sauce.

  15. 5 stars
    First time trying this recipe…AMAZING! I also added 3 habaneros and 3 jalapenos to the mix. The flavor is just awesome with enough heat, but not too crazy. It was a little thicker then I was expecting, but you could add water to thin if you wanted. Highly recommend this recipe, THANK YOU!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Awesome, Sean! I appreciate the comments! Super happy you enjoyed it. Time for more hot sauce!

  16. 5 stars
    Hi, all these recipes turn out way too thick for me. I even tried simmering this one less. I had to add double the amount of vinegar otherwise it just would not pass through the sieve. Any ideas on what I might be doing wrong?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Luke, the best way to thin out thicker sauces (which are more like pastes than a sauce) is to add in a bit of liquid to thin it out. Try using water, stock, vinegar, or something like lime juice or even beer if you’d like. Your choice may affect the flavor, obviously, so choose accordingly. I sometimes need to add a splash of water here and there to thin things out. Let me know if this helps.

  17. 5 stars
    Hi Mike!
    I nearly chocked myself to death several years ago by putting dried ceyenne peppers in the food processor. I have about 8 oz. of dried ceyenne peppers from our community garden. If I just cook them down with vinegar, salt & garlic will I be safe putting them into the food processor now?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Karen – I’m sure you’d be safe, but if it bothers you, you can always keep a window open and try to get some ventilation. Sometimes peppers can be quite “fumey”, as you’ve experience. Let me know how it works out.

  18. Jon Hendrickson

    Do you have a source for fresh cayenne peppers. I have never seen them in the stores around here in Northern California. Or would dried work?

  19. Justin Hathaway

    Do you have to dry the cayennes? I dont have access to a smoker or dehydrator currently and was hoping to maybe roast them in the oven and then peel them prior to adding them in for the recipe. Would this work?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Justin, no, you do not have to dry the cayenne peppers. I just cooked them down in a pot, raw, with garlic, vinegar and salt, then processed them to form the sauce. If you dehydrate them, they will need to be rehydrated to make the sauce. You can smoke them as well for some extra smoky flavor. Let me know how it goes for you.

  20. Hi Mike. Im looking at smoking some defrosted chillies from last summers crop and making a sauce. Have Cayennes and some hot carribean mixed chillies. Would this recipe work or would you make adjustments?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Jason. I have a page on How to Smoke Chili Peppers that will let you know exactly what you need to do. Basically, smoke the peppers then finish them off in the dehydrator and grind them. Let me know how it works out for you.

      1. Hi Mike. I did a little experiment. I smoked some cayennes for 30 minutes so they we still soft, and collected the juice that came out. Basically followed this recipe but added the smoking juices and some smoked paprika and tomato paste. Ended up with a thick, deep red smoky chilli sauce which goes great with all sorts of meat.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Perfect, Jason! Sounds awesome! I love smoking peppers as well. Nice.

  21. Mike, Do you think I could mix Habeneros with Cayennes for this sauce? Trying to use up the last of the peppers in my garden 🙂 Thanks!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Liz, absolutely!! You’ll get some extra kick for sure! Let know how it comes out for you.

  22. Jake Daeffler

    Would straining affect the level of heat in the sauce or does it permeate through the cooking process?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jake, it will permeate through the sauce, so straining really won’t affect the heat. Enjoy!

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