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28 February 2020

Learn how to make hot sauce from dried peppers by easily rehydrating them. You can make just about any sauce or hot sauce recipe with this method. Very easy!

Hey, everyone! A question I get here on the site quite often is “Hey, Mike, can I make your hot sauce recipes with dried peppers?” The answer is — Absolutely Yes!

You can very easily make hot sauce from dried peppers. In fact, you can make just about of the hot sauce recipes on my site with them, which is great because some times it is more difficult to get your hands on fresh chili peppers. I grow chili peppers in my home garden every year, but with my climate, I only get fresh pods on a limited basis.

To preserve my peppers, I often dry them whole, which allows me to keep them for years if I want. Whenever I want to make a hot sauce, no problem! I just rehydrate and hot sauce in on the way!

It really is a simple process. You only need to rehydrate the peppers, but there are a few other components to discuss to help you make the best hot sauce for you.

Let’s talk about how to make sauces and hot sauce from dried peppers, shall we?

A bottle of spicy red hot sauce

About the Chili Peppers

You can use any dried peppers to make hot sauce. You can also make sauces and salsas, like adobo sauce or chile de arbol salsa, with them. Dried peppers are extremely versatile and hugely flavorful.

When choosing peppers, choose good quality dried pods. Freshly dried peppers are best, but you can still make sauces and hot sauce from older dried pods. They don’t spoil. They can lose flavor and potency, however, as they age.

Hawaiian Sweet Hot Chili Peppers - Dried Pods

Seeding the Peppers. You don’t have to remove the seeds from the dried chili peppers, but most people do. Some people report a slight bitter flavor in the seeds. Also, the seeds can wind up floating in your final sauce, so they become a texture issue. For some, this is not an issue. The choice is yours.

How to Rehydrate the Peppers

The easiest way to rehydrate peppers is to add them to a bowl and cover them with very hot water. The peppers will steep and soften up in anywhere from 20 minutes or longer. Once they are softened, you can use them as desired.

Another method is to simmer the dried peppers in water or a mixture of vinegar and water until they are softened.

Soaking dried chili peppers for our chili sauce

Steeping Water

You’ll notice with some darker peppers that the water used to steep them and rehydrate them turns very dark. This is because some of the nutrients from the peppers leaches into the water. That nutrient rich water can be great to thin your sauces and hot sauce. However, some people feel it is somewhat bitter in flavor.

If you find it bitter, use fresh water or more vinegar or citrus to thin out your sauces.

2 bottles of hot sauce, both made from dried chili peppers

Best Vinegar for Making Hot Sauce

You can use any edible vinegar for making hot sauce. I have made hot sauce with simple white vinegar, champagne vinegar, malt vinegar, apple cider vinegar and more. The key in choosing the appropriate vinegar is to consider the final flavors of your sauce. Some vinegars are sweeter and some are milder.

The best vinegar to use, in my opinion, is a good quality vinegar that you love. A better tasting vinegar will give you a better tasting hot sauce.

A large collection of hot sauces, each made from dried chili peppers

Ingredients for Making Hot Sauce from Dried Peppers

The only ingredients you need for making hot sauce is chili peppers, vinegar and salt. You can make some outstanding hot sauce with just those three ingredients, like this Homemade Tabasco Hot Sauce. However, that is only the beginning.

You can add in all sorts of other flavor building ingredients, like onion, garlic, other peppers. vegetables, herbs and spices, citrus, fruits, juices, alcohol, and so much more.

How to Make Hot Sauce from Dried Peppers – the Recipe Method

FOR METHOD ONE

  1. Lightly toast the dried chili peppers in a hot pan for a minute or 2 per side, until they become slightly pliable and loosen the oils in the skins. This step is optional and develops more flavor.
  2. Remove from heat and add enough very hot water to cover the peppers. Let them steep for 15 to 20 minutes to soften.
  3. Strain the peppers but keep the steeping water.
  4. Add the rehydrated peppers to a food processor or blender along with 1 cup of the steeping water (or use fresh water) vinegar (use anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 1 cup), garlic powder, salt, and other optional ingredients. Process until smooth.
  5. Taste and adjust with salt and vinegar. Strain if desired.
  6. Pour into bottles and enjoy, or simmer then in a pot for 10-20 minutes to develop the flavors even more, then cool and bottle. Store in the refrigerator.

FOR METHOD TWO

  1. Lightly toast the dried chili peppers in a hot pan for a minute or 2 per side, until they become slightly pliable and loosen the oils in the skins. This step is optional and develops more flavor.
  2. Add water and vinegar, garlic powder, salt and other optional ingredients. Use less vinegar or water for thicker hot sauce. Simmer the peppers for 15 to 20 minutes to soften.
  3. Add the mixture to a food processor or blender along with vinegar (use anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 1 cup), garlic powder, salt, and other optional ingredients. Process until smooth.
  4. Taste and adjust with salt and vinegar. Strain if desired.
  5. Pour into bottles and enjoy, or simmer then in a pot for another 10 minutes to develop the flavors even more, then cool and bottle. Store in the refrigerator.

The Difference Between the Two Methods: The first method rehydrates the dried peppers with water only, allowing you to add other ingredients later as desired. The second method simmers the dried pods and other ingredients together in vinegar and water, then simply processes it all to make the final sauce. Both methods work great.

Check out my resource on How to Make Hot Sauce: The Ultimate Guide, with a great deal more information on history, hot sauce types, fermenting and more.

That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy your hot sauce. Let me know how yours turned out for you. I’d love to hear it!

Try Some of My Other Hot Sauce Recipes

Relevant Links

3 bottles of hot sauce, each made from dried chili peppers

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. 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.

How to Make Hot Sauce from Dried Peppers
Print Recipe
4.84 from 6 votes

How to Make Hot Sauce from Dried Peppers - Recipe Method

Learn how to make hot sauce from dried peppers by easily rehydrating them. You can make just about any sauce or hot sauce recipe with this method. Very easy!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: hot sauce, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dehydrator, dried peppers, hot sauce, vinegar
Servings: 120 teaspoons
Calories: 1kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly crushed and seeded dried chili peppers
  • 2 cups water or enough to cover the peppers - FOR METHOD ONE
  • 1 cup vinegar or as desired, FOR METHOD TWO
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • *Other ingredients as desired. See notes.

Instructions

FOR METHOD ONE

  • Lightly toast the dried chili peppers in a hot pan for a minute or 2 per side, until they become slightly pliable and loosen the oils in the skins. This step is optional and develops more flavor.
  • Remove from heat and add enough very hot water to cover the peppers. Let them steep for 15 to 20 minutes to soften.
  • Strain the peppers but keep the steeping water.
  • Add the rehydrated peppers to a food processor or blender along with 1 cup of the steeping water (or use fresh water) vinegar (use anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 1 cup), garlic powder, salt, and other optional ingredients. Process until smooth.
  • Taste and adjust with salt and vinegar.┬áStrain if desired.
  • Pour into bottles and enjoy, or simmer then in a pot for 10-20 minutes to develop the flavors even more, then cool and bottle. Store in the refrigerator.

FOR METHOD TWO

  • Lightly toast the dried chili peppers in a hot pan for a minute or 2 per side, until they become slightly pliable and loosen the oils in the skins. This step is optional and develops more flavor.
  • Add water and vinegar, garlic powder, salt and other optional ingredients. Use less vinegar or water for thicker hot sauce. Simmer the peppers for 15 to 20 minutes to soften.
  • Add the mixture to a food processor or blender along with vinegar (use anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 1 cup), garlic powder, salt, and other optional ingredients. Process until smooth.
  • Taste and adjust with salt and vinegar.┬áStrain if desired.
  • Pour into bottles and enjoy, or simmer then in a pot for 10-20 minutes to develop the flavors even more, then cool and bottle. Store in the refrigerator.

Video

Notes

Water & Vinegar. I use 1 cup of each along with 2 cups lightly crushed dried pepper pods. This results in a thin sauce, like Tabasco or Crystal. If you'd like a thicker sauce, use less water and/or vinegar. Also, reduce the amount of vinegar for less tang. You can also use other liquids. See my page on How to Make Hot Sauce for further discussion and ideas.
Vinegar Options. Use your favorite vinegar. However, you'll receive best results with a high quality vinegar.
pH. If you'd like your hot sauce to keep longer, shoot for a pH of 3.5 or lower. If your pH is higher, adjust with more vinegar or add citrus, then retest it.
Other Ingredients. You can add in all sorts of other flavor building ingredients, like onion, garlic, other peppers. vegetables, herbs and spices, fruits, juices, alcohol, and so much more.

Nutrition

Calories: 1kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 1mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Calcium: 1mg
 
How to Make Hot Sauce from Dried Peppers

28 comments

  1. Hey quick question. For method two do you use any water, or only vinegar? Thanks

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Josh, you can use vinegar or a combination of both vinegar and water, really to your taste preference. You CAN use only water, but the pH won’t be low enough for longer keeping and it would only last a week or so. It will last much longer with vinegar. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  2. Hey Mike. I would like it to be thicker.. How i can make it with thickness? what i should add?? for example some flour or…???

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Arsalan, you can thicken up hot sauces in a few ways. You can add more ingredients to it, like more peppers, tomato, chili powders, or other more substantial ingredients. Or you can heat it through and simmer to remove some of the liquid. It will evaporate and the sauce will thicken overall. Adding flour can work, though it will greatly affect your flavor, so not sure that is the route you want to go.

  3. Michelle Scott

    5 stars
    This site is very informative and complete. Really well done. All the links works, pictures are appropriate, the recipes are simple and the commentary is interesting but not lengthy. Good job!

    I am wondering if there is a section on Xanthan Gum? I noticed it’s in several different bottles of hot sauce I have (all are commercial). How much would you add so that you don’t have to refrigerate?

    Also, I have no idea what a ph meter is. Do you have a link about that specifically?
    I used the dried arbol pods I bought as a back up spice when everyone was hoarding for the corona virus out break. Everyone calmed down and I had a huge bag of them so I thought why not try some sauce. It turned out pretty decent even tho I forgot to saute’ them. Next time I will use my juicer to strain the batch. This will allow me to extract the liquid and add in the pulp to my personal taste.
    Thank you for sharing. Have a great day!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks so much, Michelle. I really appreciate it. I don’t have a post on Xantham gum, but I should. It’s use as a sauce thickener and helps to keep it from separating. Most commercial hot sauces use it. It isn’t really for preserving, though can improve shelf life. Refrigeration is a big hot button topic in hot sauces. Many people don’t do it, but many do. It’s up to you. However, for longer keeping, get your hot sauce to 3.5 or lower for home use. It’s really 4.6 but 3.5 is better to account for errors. If it is over 4, definitely keep it in the refrigerator. The pH meter I recommend is through Thermoworks. I am an affiliate there, FYI, and use their products. Very great quality. Here is my affiliate link to their site: https://www.thermoworks.com/pH-Humidity/pH?tw=CPM. Let me know how it goes for you and if you have any other questions. Thanks!

  4. Mike,
    I’ve made cooking sauces with dried chiles for many years—but it never occurred to me to make hot sauce.
    Have some new mexico reds and arbols I want to use–I’m excited.

    I have an odd question(s) for you. I have some red wine vinegar I bought for some dressing and I know I’ll never use it all.
    You are the vinegar expert—
    1) what kind of chilies agree with red wine vinegar the best?
    2) what is RWV good for? fresh salsas? vinegar-based hot sauces? cooked salsa? cooked sauces? fermenting? chile pastes?
    I’ve only use White Distilled and ACV for sauces so I’m clueless here. Thank you.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Brent. Super interesting question, actually, and I could probably talk to you for a long time on this. Think of vinegars like wines, where reds pair better with certain things. It’s not as pronounced with hot sauce, as the heat and flavor of the peppers take over mostly, but the vinegar has a pretty big influence. Red wine vinegar is a bit more robust, and you might appreciate a hot sauce or sauce made with RWV with beef dishes, or a good steak. White vinegar tends to influence the final flavors of your hot sauce less, where red will more so, as it is a bit more distinctive. ACV as well. It’s a wonderful dance of flavor, isn’t it? Nuance upon nuance. I always encourage experimentation. Make some sauces with different components. Taste, discover. Keep making the ones you love. I hope this helps. Let me know what you wind up making! Curious!!

      1. 5 stars
        Thanks for that Mike. It’s easier to conceptualize the influence of the Vinegar in the end product, as you said so well. “:White influences less”–I agree. And Balsamic overwhelms so.. To classify the vinegars in my head this way is very helpful.
        That said. 5 stars sauce recipe.

        Filled a small bottle, followed method #1, toasted them, skipped the 10-min simmer because everything was cooked.
        (Your method #2 is similar to many recipes in the Southwest except no vinegar in the simmer: but onions and garlic and chiles often simmer together in that water).

        Small bottle.
        2 dried red new mex
        2 dried guajillos
        “un puno del arbol” (“a handful of chile arbol” in spanish)
        little charred white onion
        3 charred garlic cloves
        chile water
        ACV

        Now I understand what you were talking about. The Numex and guajillos had that super strong fruity flavor. In hindsight I’d back off on the ACV because the ACV made the fruity chile taste sweeter. But the garlic and arbols were a nice equalizer.

        From one chile-head to another, this is starting to become my favorite site.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Thanks so much, Brent! Happy to be helpful.

  5. Magdalena Abdon

    What is another acid option for inpreservation, that doesn’t impart flavor? Is tomato enough?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      You can try citrus or citric acid. Pretty much anything will impart flavor of some sort. Tomato may work, but be sure to measure pH. Other options to consider are wine, beer, other milder vinegars, even cultured dairy (but that will very definitely change flavor). Let me know what you wind up making. Enjoy!

  6. scott miller

    5 stars
    After years of making great salsas, finally decided to try sauces…and making them from dried chilis is the way to go!
    First batch was made with chili puyas, garlic and onion powders, salt, a tiny bit of sugar and quite a bit of cider vinegar.
    Blended it all up and simmered it awhile, strained it then checked for flavor, and simmered it about 20 minutes more.
    It’s absolutely the most delicious I’ve ever tried.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Yes! I love to hear this, Scott. It really is super easy, isn’t it? I have a TON of dehydrated peppers from my own stock and make sauces and hot sauces this way all the time. Love it, and happy others can do it, too!

  7. Michael Rafferty

    Brilliant! Had just started making hot sauce, before reading this. I used chillies, garlic, soaking water, vinegars, sugar and salt – soak and blend, no cooking.
    I used fresh garlic soaked with the chillies and there is a slight ‘pickled’ aftertaste. It’s not unpleasant – a bit like a Vinha D’Alhos marinade – but it’s not what I want.
    Do you think I should should cook the sauce through? I do this with Piri Piri and it stays ‘fresh’
    Or do you think I should use only dried ingredients? I’ve got an Eastern N Carolina BBQ sauce mellowing nicely after 4 or 5 years!
    Best Wishes.
    Michael,
    Northumberland, England

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Michael. The pickled aftertaste is from the vinegar, which gives that tartness/pucker factor. You can cook it to mellow that a bit, or add a bit more sweet, like honey, to balance it. You can also batch up by adding more liquid and peppers, no vinegar, then combine them to sort of dilute the vinegar. I like to cook mine a bit usually to more fully meld and develop the flavors, but not always. Let me know how it turns out for you. I hope this helps.

  8. 5 stars
    I have had great pepper crops last two years and dried a lot of them. I’ve been just adding to soups and stews. Now that I know how to rehydrate them and not loose flavor I can make hot sauces and salsas all year long. (Canned tomatoes too).

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Yes! It’s a great option, isn’t it? I dry a LOT of peppers ever year, too, and do the same, tossing them into soups, stews, make seasoning blends, etc. Hot sauces and salsa are another great way to use them. So many ways! Thanks for commenting, Vicky.

  9. 5 stars
    This worked perfect for me. Now I know what to do with all of these dried pods. Thank you.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Damien! Yes, perfect use for them. Glad you enjoyed the hot sauce!

  10. Hi Mike,

    Have ground all my chilis after dehydrating them, into powder.. Can you use the Chili powder to make sauces? if so how?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Mike, yes, you can make hot sauce from chili powders. Just combine all of the ingredients and simmer them to your liking. You’ll get more separation with powders, but it is still good. I am working on a different post for making hot sauce with powders so I can have all of the proper ratios, etc. Forthcoming.

  11. 4 stars
    I use dried peppers for my sauces, I just use a spice grinder to turn them into powder, no need for soaking.. enough salt and vinegar and your sauce can last a year in the fridge.. maybe more but it does not last that long with me lol.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Yes, you can make hot sauce from powders, of course. The process is not much different, but there are other considerations that starting with whole dried pods. I plan on making a separate post on making sauce from powders alone. I appreciate the comments, Dustin.

  12. Jamie Parisi

    Would there be enough vinegar to hot process this recipe and can it or will it last long enough in the fridge?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jamie, there is, but it is best to measure the pH with a good pH meter. Shoot for 3.5 or lower for home canning. It will last quite a long time in the refrigerator, however, without canning or hot processing.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Outstanding! Thanks, Russ! I appreciate it.






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