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6 September 2018

This guide will teach you how to make hot sauces of different types, including many recipes and tips, fermenting information, preserving hot sauce, and how to start a hot sauce business.

The popularity of hot sauce in the United States has exploded in the last twenty years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. What used to be a market dominated by only a few hot sauce options with interesting fringe hot sauces is now a market filled with a wonderful selection of hot sauces for consumers.

Gone are the days of a single brand or two filling the hot sauce shelves.

As I run a food blog dedicated to spicy foods as well as chili peppers, I receive emails and comments all the time related to making hot sauces. People want to know how to make them at home. Some people want to learn how to take their hot sauce making hobby and turn it into a business.

I have a lot of hot sauce recipes on the site here, but wanted to add to my growing recipe collection some information on how to make hot sauces in general.

I will continually update this page with information as I acquire it, but for now, let’s talk about making your own hot sauces at home. It all starts with an essential ingredient – chili peppers.

Chili Peppers and Hot Sauce

Chili peppers are essential to so many cuisines around the world. Often that chili pepper flavor, spice and sometimes heat becomes synonymous with a particular culture. Chili peppers exude charisma and a mystique that is simultaneously exotic and down-home, and without them we wouldn’t have some of our favorite dishes and condiments, one in particular that is very close to my heart – HOT SAUCE.

I enjoyed hot sauce as a kid, but didn’t discover the wide world of artisan hot sauces until well into my twenties. Recently married, I became interested in cooking and my appetite for spicy food was in full bloom.

I found some outstanding hot sauces with the craziest labels, some of them serious, some of them funny, plowing through them by the case, and quickly became interested in making my own.

There is a bit of an art to making hot sauces, but it isn’t a difficult thing to do. It is mostly about combining chili peppers with other ingredients to achieve a particular flavor.

History of Hot Sauce

History of Hot Sauce

Chili peppers have been harvested for thousands of years, and it is known that when Columbus landed in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1492, he found the Arawak people using peppers extensively. They preserved meats with peppers and cooked them into almost every meal.

The first advertisement for a commercial hot sauce in the United States seems to be in Massachusetts in 1807 by a farmer for a cayenne sauce.

It was Edmund McIlhenny, a banker from New Orleans who popularized hot sauce in the American culture. He fermented Tabasco peppers and aged them, strained and mixed them with vinegar, and began to sell it to local markets.

McIlhenny’s sauce became the famous “Tabasco” hot sauce that we know today.

Reasons to Make Hot Sauce at Home

I started making hot sauces at home because I had fallen in love with many of the artisan hot sauces out there, but sometimes couldn’t find them, and I wanted to experiment with different flavors.

When you make your own hot sauce at home, you are free to incorporate whatever ingredients that please you. Also, you’re free to emphasize particular flavors that other sauces don’t offer, such as more superhot chili peppers or a batch that focuses heavily on fruit. In this way, making your own hot sauce guarantees it will be unique.

It’s also incredibly fun and satisfying.

I enjoy spending time in the kitchen, cooking up batches of hot sauce, and it makes me happy when I finish a new batch, freshly bottled. I set them into my refrigerator with a sense of happiness knowing that I will have a new hot sauce for months to come.

Making hot sauce is also a great way to preserve your chili pepper harvest. I grow a good sized pepper garden each year and while I cook with and preserve them in many different ways, I have yet to find a chili pepper that can’t be made into a wonderful hot sauce.

Even mild peppers can create flavorful sauces.

See How to Preserve Chili Peppers for further information.

Types of Hot Sauces

Types of Hot Sauce

I’ve never seen a definitive list of hot sauce types, as I don’t think a list of such exists, though hot sauces do vary from region to region. There are different techniques to making hot sauces, too, but it mostly seems to be a regional variation based on regional ingredients, which you’ll see reflected in this list.

Hot sauce has countless variations, such as the consistency of the peppers, the preparation of the peppers (fermented, fresh, dried, roasted, pan cooked) the actual types of peppers used in the hot sauce, the use of other ingredients and more.

The most basic division with hot sauces is whether or not the peppers are blended with the other ingredients. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not.

Here is a list of popular hot sauce types:

Louisiana Style – This hot sauce, popularized by hot sauces like “Tabasco” and “Crystal”, is made with fresh or fermented peppers that are mashed with salt and vinegar. I make a lot of hot sauces this way, with both fresh and fermented peppers.

Caribbean Style – Usually made with fiery habaneros or Scotch Bonnet peppers, these sauces vary wildly because of the diverse culinary influences in the area. You’ll find hot sauces with African influence, and others with French influence nearby, as well as Indian influence and more. The ingredients reflect this.

Hawaiian Style – Hawaiian hot sauce, or “Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water”, is typically a mixture of local chili peppers, garlic, ginger, a bit of vinegar but mostly water, among other potential ingredients. It is splashed over everything. It is reminiscent of the famous “Puerto Rican Hot Sauce – Pique”.

American Southwest – You’ll find many earthy ingredients with thick walled New Mexican peppers, either fresh or dried, with very little use of vinegar. In New Mexico in particular, they serve up “red” or “green” chili sauce all year long.

Mexican Style – You’ll notice a lot of crossover from Mexican cuisine and the American Southwest and Tex-Mex cuisine. These hot sauces are made with lots of smoked and/or dried pods as well as local ingredients. They usually focus more on flavor and less on heat.

Madagascar Style – In Madagascar, the locals serve “Sakay”, which means “spicy” in Malagasy, with many of their meals. Cooks there do not commonly cook with heat, but serve it on the side as a condiment or dipper. It is made primarily with peppers, oil and vinegar, then adjusted with other ingredients to taste.

South American – Here you’ll find some interesting and flavorful hot sauces, from Peruvian Aji Amarillo sauce to Chilean Pebre (herb and oil based with peppers) to Molho de Pimento (peppers and vinegar), and many, many more.

Asian Style – Asia is a huge area with a numerous cultures, so it is difficult to characterize their hot sauce collectively, though many Asian hot sauces and sauces are thick and used as chili pastes or chili oils.

In Thailand, Sriracha Hot Sauce is the most famous, made primarily with ground chilies, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and salt. In Korea, Gochujang is quite famous, made from chili powder and fermented glutinous rice.

Sambal – hugely popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore – is the generic term for local chili pepper sauces and hot sauces. They vary in heat level and in ingredients used.

Middle Eastern Style – Chili peppers are popular for sauces in the Middle East with sauces such as Harissa (a flavorful chili paste), Muhammara (a hot pepper dip), Shatta (a chunky pepper sauce), and Zhug (an herb and oil based sauce with peppers), with flavors of Middle Eastern spices.

African – the most famous African hot sauce is Peri Peri Sauce, which is made from African Bird’s Eye chili peppers. It is thick and flavorful with a nice level of heat.

Indian Style – India is well known for lot of spices, and use them in chutney and general everyday sauces and dips.

European Style – I’ve encountered Hungarian Hot Paprika as well as Ajvar (pronounced “eye-var” – smoky roasted red peppers with sometimes eggplant), which is a Balkan sauce. It is more like a spread. There is a very hot version, call Lutenica (aka “Ljutenica” – “Luto” means “hot”), made with peppers, carrots, garlic, oil, sugar, salt, tomatoes, and sometimes eggplant, though interpretations exist from region to region.

There is also Hungarian “Eros Pista” (Strong Steve), made primarily of minced paprika peppers and salt. Spain cooks with a lot of peppers and some of their hot sauces include Samfaina (like a French ratatouille), Sofrito (peppers with tomato, garlic, onions and oil) and Mojos (herb and oil based with peppers, sometimes). Italy does have hot sauces, such as the famous Diavolo sauce, made with spicy chili flakes or peppers.

Superhot Style – There is a lot of crossover between other styles of hot sauces, but these hot sauces are always made with superhot chili peppers, those that are 1 Million Scoville Heat Units and above, like the ghost pepper, scorpion peppers, 7 pots and the Carolina Reaper, which is the hottest chili pepper in the world currently.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list, as I could include different types of sauces, chili oils and more, so for the curious minded, I suggest following the peppers into other parts of the world and discover what the locals are cooking.

You’ll without a doubt discover some very interesting hot sauces made with local ingredients.

Typical Hot Sauce Ingredients

Hot Sauce Ingredients

At its most basic form, hot sauce is typically a mixture of chili peppers and some sort of liquid, such as vinegar, citrus, or even water. You can mix those two together and you’ve got yourself a hot sauce. Will it be great? Maybe. Could it be better? Of course.

When you incorporate other ingredients, you begin to develop a flavor profile, and one sauce may work for one particular dish over another. It is the combination of those ingredients that makes hot sauce making fun and interesting.

Some common ingredients for making hot sauce include:

  • Chili peppers
  • Vinegar
  • Citrus juice – lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, pineapple, etc.
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Seasonings
  • Salt

The Chili Pepper Factor – Bringing the Hot Sauce Heat

The Chili Pepper Factor

Making Hot Sauce from Fresh Peppers

There is a MASSIVE variety of chili peppers available to you for hot sauce making, with a range in not only heat but flavor. You can mix and match peppers as well for interesting combinations and heat levels.

Think anywhere from jalapenos to serranos to cayenne peppers to Thai peppers, habanero peppers, superhot peppers like 7 Pots, scorpions, the Carolina Reaper and so much more.

Making Hot Sauce from Dried Peppers and Powders

You can also use DRIED chili peppers, either whole or as powders. Certain dried peppers make for hugely flavorful sauces and hot sauces, particularly Mexican varieties like anchos or pasillas. Same goes for powders, which can turn into beautiful hot sauces.

Learn much more about how to make hot sauce from dried peppers here and how to make hot sauce from chili powders here.

Vinegars and Acids

Vinegar is another interesting variable. There are different types, such as white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and malt vinegar. Each has its own character and will affect the flavor of your final hot sauce, as does your choice of citrus.

A hot sauce made with lemon juice will taste substantially different from a hot sauce made with orange juice.

Fruits and Vegetables

Vegetables and fruits are commonly used ingredients. Tomatoes are widely popular for their depth and versatility, as are carrots for their surprising sweetness and substance. Fruits add sweetness and character.

Citrus fruit is very commonly used, as is pineapple and mango, though I have experimented with hot sauces made from kiwi, papaya, coconut and more.

Seasonings and Salt

There is nothing more widely variable than seasonings. There are different blends and combinations from all over the world, so you have many, many options. A favorite of mine is to use homemade powders from peppers that I have smoked and dehydrated.

Salt is ubiquitous. It belongs to the seasoning category, but salt is unique in that it also acts as a preservative for your hot sauce, along with vinegar and citrus.

With all of these ingredients, you have a near infinity of options for making a unique hot sauce.

Fermenting Peppers for Making Hot Sauce

Fermenting Chili Peppers

Fermenting chili peppers is a popular way to make hot sauce. Fermentation is the natural process of breaking down the peppers with micro-organisms into a more digestible form.

If you’ve ever enjoyed Tabasco sauce, you’ve tasted fermented chili peppers. Tabasco starts with tabasco peppers which they crush, mix with salt, and ferment in oak barrels for up to 3 years. The original Tabasco sauce only uses 3 ingredients – tabasco peppers, salt, and distilled vinegar.

A number of hot sauce makers use fermented peppers in the form of pepper mash to make their products, and a good pepper mash makes a difference in the resulting flavors.

Learn more about How to Ferment Chili Peppers Here or try this Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe.

A big question I often receive from would-be hot sauce makers is –

Should I ferment or use fresh peppers?

My answer is – BOTH!

I’ve made hot sauces using both techniques and I do not have a preference. Fresh chili peppers offer a big range of flavors and heat. Fermented peppers are mellower and often have more depth of flavor in comparison, but I wouldn’t say better flavor. Just different, more nuanced in a way.

Either way, I encourage you to try fermenting chili peppers and making hot sauces from the resulting mash. Then, decide for yourself if it is worth it to you.

Fermentation does take some time, usually a couple weeks minimum, for the peppers to properly break down, though you can easily go longer.

I often ferment my peppers for 6 months at a time for making hot sauce the next spring after my last harvest. See my 

Equipment Needed for Making Hot Sauce

Equipment for Making Hot Sauce

You don’t need a lot of fancy cooking tool to make hot sauce at home, just a few basic things.

  • A good nonreactive pot for cooking the sauce
  • Food processor or blender
  • Glass jars or bottles
  • Strainer
  • Kitchen scale, for measuring peppers and other ingredients
  • PH strips or PH meter (affiliate link, my friends)– this is useful for checking the final acidity of your hot sauce
  • Latex gloves for handling hot peppers

Safety Advice

When working with hotter peppers, including superhots, 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. See above.

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

Also, the fumes from the chili peppers and/or the fine powders may get into the air if you are not working in a well ventilated room, so you may want to wear a mask and goggles. Superhot chili peppers, truly, are called superhots for a reason.

A Basic Hot Sauce Recipe – Let’s Make Some Hot Sauce!

Roasted Red Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce - Bottled and reaRoasted Red Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce - Bottled and ready to enjoy.dy to enjoy.

Here is a very simple hot sauce recipe that you can use a base. It is a non-fermented recipe made Louisiana style with only chili peppers, vinegar and salt.


  • 1 pound fresh chili peppers of choice
  • ½ – 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon salt

Cooking Directions

Wash the peppers and remove the stems. Remove the seeds, if desired. Add them to a food processor along with the vinegar and salt and process until smooth. 

Add the mixture to a pot and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

Remove from heat and cool. Add them to serving bottles, or strain out the pulp first for a much thinner sauce and bottle.

Makes about 2 cups or so of hot sauce.

Obviously you can change things up A LOT with this recipe, as discussed in the ingredients section below. You can introduce a mixture of peppers of varying flavors and heat levels, add in vegetables like tomato, onion, garlic, and/or carrots for big flavors, try fruit for sweetness, toss in interesting seasonings, and so much more.

A List of Hot Sauce Recipes

You can always check out my Hot Sauce Recipes  and Sauce Recipes sections of the site, but here is a good list for you to draw from, with different styles and techniques from all over the world.

I will keep adding to this last as I make the sauces. There are so many! I love it.

Preserving Your Hot Sauce – It’s all about the Acidity

Preserving Hot Sauce

By far one of the most common questions I receive about hot sauce making is – how long will this hot sauce keep? Can I bottle or can it to keep it longer?

The answer it all about the PH level of the hot sauce. 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. Many home hot sauce makers prefer 3.5 or lower.

If you’re concerned, add more vinegar to lower the ph. Sauces made with fermented chili peppers will last even longer.

You can measure ph levels with ph strips or a good ph meter, which you can pick up from Amazon or other retailers. As I can’t vouch for the accuracy of them, however, it is best to shoot for a lower acidity as mentioned, around 4.0 or lower. 3.5 is idea. The PH meter I use and love is from Thermoworks, where I am an affiliate. Check out the Thermoworks PH Meters here  (affiliate link, my friends).

And yes, you can process your hot sauce either in a hot water bath or with a pressure canner. Just be sure to use proper canning/jarring safety procedures.

Using the Leftover Pulp from Straining Hot Sauce

With certain hot sauce recipes, you have the option to strain the sauce to thin it out and remove the chunky stuff. What remains is a pulp of the ingredients used to make your hot sauce.

Do not throw that pulp away! It is a rich collection of flavorful ingredients and there is plenty of life left in it. You can dehydrate it to make a homemade seasoning blend. Isn’t that awesome? I’m a huge advocate for dehydrating – I am the author of “The Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook” – and a huge advocate for making fun and interesting seasonings.

Essentially, spread the pulp out over dehydrator sheets and dehydrate it for 8-10 hours at 125 degrees F, or until it is completely dried through. Grind it up with a grinder or a mortar and pestle and save it in airtight containers. Use it as you would any seasoning blend.

Learn more at this page – Making Seasoning Blends from Strained Hot Sauce Pulp.

Cooking with Hot Sauce

Hot sauce doesn’t have to be a finisher only. Sure, it’s great for dashing over practically anything, but you can use it as a base as well. Here are some ideas for cooking with hot sauce to help you get going.


Hot sauce is ideal for making spicy drinks. A Bloody Mary isn’t a Bloody Mary without a bit of heat, in our opinion. Bring on the spice! Or how about a Michelada? Check out our Cocktail Recipes.


Swirl a bit of hot sauce into a mixture of oil and vinegar, or replace the vinegar altogether with a vinegar-based hot sauce, and taste the difference in your typical vinaigrette. I like to swirl a bit of hot sauce into some Mexican crema or sour cream to form a super quick dressing for chicken or fish.


Think hot sauce and hummus, so very creamy and spicy. How about spiking a bit of mayo and cream cheese with hot sauce for a quick dipper? Bust out the chips and beer. See our Dips Recipes.


Save kitchen time by mixing hot sauce with tomato sauce for a quick pasta. Anywhere from 1 teaspoon to half a bottle of hot sauce to 2 cups of tomato based sauce can do wonders. Check out our Pasta Recipes.


Take a sauce like Valentina or Tapatio and add butter for a very basic Buffalo sauce. Add in other ingredients to develop your flavors, such as Parmesan cheese, other chili peppers, garlic, herbs, and more. Toss with wings or chicken strips. Go!


We’re crazy for stuffed peppers, and hot sauce can save you a lot of time in the kitchen so you don’t have to make a sauce from scratch. Besides, most quick sauces won’t be as developed as a well-made hot sauce. See our Stuffed Pepper Recipes.


If you add a tablespoon or 2 to any ground meat mixture, be it for burgers, meatballs, meatloaf, patties, or whatever, you’ll add both moisture and flavor.


Spice up your best chili in a bowl, with or without beans. Cook it a while, low and slow, to really let that hot sauce permeate your chili. Hot sauce can REALLY make your chili POP. Truly essential. Check out our Chili Recipes.


If you enjoy making your own mustard from scratch, starting with mustard seed, stir some hot sauce into the mix and let it percolate. Check out my Homemade Mustard Recipes.


Hot sauce by itself can be a marinade, or use it as a starter and temper some of the heat with a bit of citrus or even water or broth.


Soften butter, mix in your favorite hot sauce, then roll it back up and firm it up in the fridge. AWESOME for grilled meats and you get bonus points for presentation.

Learn more at this page – Cooking with Hot Sauce.

Some Hot Sauce Making FAQs

Honey Roasted Hot Pepper Hot Sauce – Recipe

I get a LOT of questions about making hot sauce. Here are some of the most common.

Where’d you get those sauce bottles?

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.

How Can I Make My Hot Sauce Thicker?

The best way to thicken a hot sauce is to limit the amount of liquid added in the beginning. Try adding in only a half of the recommended amount of liquid, then process the hot sauce. You can always add in liquid to thin it out more if it is too thick.

Also, don’t strain the sauce. Straining the pulp from your hot sauce will significantly thin it out.

However, if you’ve already made your hot sauce, strained it, and want to thicken it up, one way to do so is to simmer it over low heat. The heat will reduce the water content and it will thicken.

You can also incorporate a thickener, such corn starch or arrowroot, by mixing a tablespoon or more with water, then swirling into the simmering hot sauce. This can affect the flavor, however, so be prepared. This is a classic way to thicken gravies.

How Can I Make My Hot Sauce Hotter?

The best way to make your hot sauce hotter is to incorporate a spicy chili powder. Of course starting with hotter peppers is the best method for this, but sometimes the process of making a hot sauce can tamp down some of that fresh chili pepper heat.

I like to keep several good hot pepper powders, like 7 Pot Power or Caroline Reaper Powder on hand to swirl into my sauces and foods to really spice things up.

How Can I Make My Hot Sauce Milder?

Diluting your finished hot sauce is the best way to tame the heat. If you’ve made a sauce and find that it is just too hot to consume, try making another batch without the peppers, if possible. Incorporate carrots or tomatoes, then combine the two sauces for a milder overall sauce.

Adding sweetness can help, too. Try honey, agave nectar, or a bit of sugar or brown sugar, if those flavors fit the hot sauce. You’ll still get plenty of heat, but the sweetness helps to balance some of it.

Dairy is another way to combat the heat. Of course this will completely change the character of your hot sauce, but consider adding cream to help.

How to Make Hot Sauce for Wings?

Homemade Buffalo Sauce – Recipe

Classic Buffalo style wing sauce is a slightly different thing from making hot sauce, but really, at its core it is a mixture of Hot Sauce and Butter. Just swirl in a few tablespoons of butter into your simmering hot sauce and you’ve got the makings of Buffalo Wing Sauce.

Check out my Homemade Buffalo Sauce Recipe here.

Starting Your Own Hot Sauce Business

Hot sauce making usually starts as a home kitchen hobby. For some, it develops into a true passion and even progresses into a business idea. There is a vibrant hot sauce market in the U.S. today, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a part of it, selling your own brand of hot sauce to the masses of spicy food lovers?

If you’ve reached this level, here are some steps and advice to consider when bringing your product to market.

Perfect Your Hot Sauce.

This should go without saying, but your hot sauce needs to be the best hot sauce it can be. Test your recipes thoroughly. Invite friends over to give you a reaction. Try them out on acquaintances. Get a lot of feedback, not only on the taste, but the color, heat level, smell and more. Take notes and listen. Your product is the most important thing.


How you market your sauce will greatly impact your overall sales. Carefully consider what you want to call your hot sauce. Do you want a more serious name? Or perhaps something funny? Something whimsical? Profound?

Born to Hula’s “Reaper of Sorrow” would get a different reaction if they had named it “Rectum Destroyer”.

What about labels? A professionally designed label will be perceived as more professional than a cheap label printed at home and slapped on a bottle.

Do Your Research.

Learn more about how the market works (and sells!) by checking out other hot sauces and hot sauce makers. Go to hot sauce and spicy food shows and introduce yourself. Hot sauce makers are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, and their passion for their products exudes. You’re guaranteed to meet someone happy to tell you their story and how they got into the business.


If you’re going to sell hot sauce, the biggest question is, where will you make it? You’re going to need a commercial kitchen. You can’t make large batch hot sauce out of your home kitchen and meet all FDA requirements, so research commercial kitchens in your area. You can often rent them by the day.

Or, Consider a Co-Packer.

Instead of making the hot sauce yourself, some companies offer the services to take your recipe and make it for you in their own production facility. For a fee, they will not only source the ingredients and make the sauce, but will bottle it and ship it to you with labels and all. Consider your costs on such a service, but it can be a huge time saver.

Food Safety and Legal.

If you’re going to sell your own hot sauce, you’ll need to ensure your new company follows all legal requirements. Here is a good resource with links to Commercial Kitchens/Co-Packers, Federal Agencies, other Process Authorities, Nutritional Analysis, and Trade Groups to help get you started:

Advice from Hot Sauce Makers

I reached out to some of the hot sauce makers I know and asked them what advice they would give to would-be sauce makers looking to break into the market. Here is what they had to say.

“The advice I would give to would be sauce makers wanting to start a new business is this: Do your research. Initially do your research on food safety and take a food safety course and read pertinent information from both the FDA and local DOH. After that, decide if you want to manufacture yourself or co-pack. Again, research. Starting up is an investment and the more you know before you start shelling out money the less you waste making mistakes. Finally ask questions. There’s tons of sauce makers that have been where you are and will be more than happy to answer questions, just don’t expect them to to do your work for you. Finally test your sauces on people who will give you honest feedback. Friends and family will be biased for the most part. Honest feedback may save you from spending a lot of time and money on a sauce nobody wants. Be smart before you start.” – Jeremy Walsh, Bigfat’s Hot Sauce (

“I tell everyone that asks me this question is that you better be ready to work super long hours and have an extreme passion for the industry.” – Steve Seabury, High River Sauces (

“On the light side I would say to remember all the people that said, ‘This is great-you should get it in stores‘, and remind them of that when you need financing!” – Bill White, Slap You Silly Hot Sauce (

Thank you, my friends, readers, and spicy food lovers. If you have any questions or comments, contact me any time or leave a comment below. I will be adding more information here as I acquire it. Good luck making your hot sauce! — Mike H.


  1. 5 stars
    Hi Mike, you are great as usual!
    I have a question, are pH strips any good to test the pH? Kind of worried that, given the strong color of most sauces, will be really difficult to read the pH…

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Simon. I appreciate it. The pH strips are OK to use, but not as accurate as a pH reader. I suggest buying one of those for more accurate readings. I recommend this one from Thermoworks, where I am an affiliate: PH meter – (affiliate link, my friends).

  2. 5 stars
    Oh, and my homemade sauce also included garlic and ginger. Forgot to nention those…

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks for a really informative and inspiring article, Mike – it inspired me to make my second-ever hot sauce (fresh jalapenos, cayennes, and Thai bird’s eyes, dried peppers, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, salt), which has turned out really well.

    If I could suggest an addition, the Asian sauce section could mention sweet hot sauces, which are quite popular there. Well-known comnercial brands include Mae Ploy (Thailand), Poonsin Vietnamese Dipping Sauce, and Lingham’s (Malaysia), and there are many more.

    Overall, a very well-rounded article.

  4. Justin Michael Carpenter

    Thanks again Mike I ended up ordering a ninja last night because the hamilton beach I bought was not cutting it. I thought adding to much water could throw the PH, but I will definitely try that next time.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sure thing, Justin. Enjoy the hot sauce.

  5. Justin Michael Carpenter

    SO I’ve noticed that when I rough chop my peppers bring to a boil, and let simmer for 15 minutes after the puree the sauce is still stupid thick, and I cannot figure out what I’m doing incorrectly… I added more vinegar, but I’m worried about throwing off the taste of the doesn’t strain the best either. Should I puree for longer, or could it be the cilantro? Right now I’m stuck with this really thick sauce, and while it tastes OK, but I’d like something smoother

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Justin, you can always thin with a bit of water and that won’t affect flavor at all. Or, use other liquids, but it sounds like it needs to be thinned. Also, yes, puree for longer until you get it nice and smooth. Could be time for a better blender possibly. Let me know how it goes.

  6. Justin Michael Carpenter

    Will dehydrated peppers made into a hot sauce taste as good as fresh peppers or at least about the same?

  7. Justin Carpenter

    I’m so excited I just completed my first hotsauce ever 😀 Its got a subtle almost sweet start with hints of cilantro, and then the heat builds up for some seconds plateaus and then lingers. Thank you so much Mike for enduring my endless questions, and being my source of inspiration. This is going to be an amazing adventure 😀

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sure thing, Justin. Glad to be helpful. Super happy it turned out the way you wanted! I’m sure there will be many more in your future.

  8. Justin carpenter

    I guess my only other question regarding booze in hot sauce is how much booze to use

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      I wouldn’t use too much, unless you want it very thin. Maybe replace part of the vinegar content with booze and see how it turns out. Test and adjust from there. Let me know how it all goes.

  9. Justin Carpenter

    Hey Mike got a tough one for you… I want to make a hot sauce using tequila as it has the most stable PH out the door. I’m wondering if I should finish the sauce by adding the tequila, or if I should simmer it, and finish, or could I ferment the peppers, and fruit in the booze? I know the simmering stops the fermenting process. What I’m after here is a little kick, and a stable shelf life.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Justin. You can realistically add the tequila both before OR after fermentation (if you ferment at all). Depends on your ultimate flavor goal. I cook with a lot of booze in sauces, and usually let it simmer to burn out the alcohol and incorporate the other flavoring ingredients. My preference, as it really melds and balances. Adding booze to a ferment would likely mess with the fermentation process. If fermenting, I would add it after the mash is complete to your satisfaction, then simmer, but this will stop the fermenting process and reduce probiotic benefits (yet keep flavor benefits). I hope this helps.

  10. Justin Carpenter

    Oh man I sure did I love that video. My second recipe is based on the steps you took in that video. I’m running serrano’s with poblano and some bell and cilantro

  11. Justin Carpenter

    That’s awesome thank you so much. I’ve been down with my wisdom teeth being taken out so I’ve written a few simple recipes I plan to try as my first sauces. I was a bit concerned with the second one because I had 1 1/4 lbs of peppers. I’m going to tweek that because I’m going for more of a Louisiana style sauce.

  12. So I’ve been watching a lot of videos, and reading an insane amount of things about making hotsauce. One thing I have seen is something of an inconstancy in the amount of peppers used (the weight) A lot of your recipes seem to use the 1lb rule is this a good rule of thumb to work by?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Justin, 1 pound is a good amount to start with. Realistically, the amount of peppers CAN vary wildly, as it all comes down to personal preference. If you used less compared to the other ratios, you’d still get a good hot sauce, just thinner.

  13. Justin Carpenter

    at the part where it says Add them to a food processor and process to break them apart is that a puree or what setting should it be on? I’m aiming for a very smooth sauce without a lot of chunks

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Justin, process the peppers with the vinegar and salt in a food processor until nice and smooth. That is the best way. I made a small adjustment to the text to clarify. Also, see my other hot sauce recipes for good examples.

  14. jeffrey palmer

    5 stars
    I am a faithful reader of your emails. Now I wish I could even dup or master this hot sauce. It was made in ElPaso Tx – it had finely shredded carrots and veg oil (no vinegar) and a lime hint to it along with finely diced habeneros. Actually there were the seeds from the pepper in it too

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Jeffrey! I hope you can master it!

  15. Steven Kellerman

    5 stars
    Would it be best to ferment my peppers to get my hot sauce to look reddish in color like Frank’s Hot Sauce?
    Also I’m trying to come up with a Mambo sauce for my steak Hoagies if you have any advice on that.
    Thanks for all the great info!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Steven, it isn’t really the ferment that gives the color, but the actual peppers. Choose the reddest peppers you can find and try not to dilute with too many other ingredients which can change the color. I’ll have to experiment with making some Mambo sauce.

  16. Peter Mabbutt

    great article. I’m looking into making some hot sauce of my own. I read somewhere there can be issues with cooked vegetables in hot sauce rather than fresh. I wanted to use caramelised onions and grilled tomatoes. Do you think this is OK or are there issues I may run into? Thanks.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Peter, you can use cooked vegetables. In reality, you need to cook them to process into a sauce in many cases, so absolutely.

  17. 5 stars
    Mike, thanks for this great article! Thanks for describing different kinds of hot sauces around the world — very interesting!
    I found your pineapple habanero sauce recipe and will be trying it this evening.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Kristy! I appreciate it. Hot sauce is the best!

  18. Hey, very cool summary and interesting read, good tips as well! 🙂
    One note: Erős Pista, the Hungarian chili paste you are referring means “Strong Steve”, rather than Hungry Steve. 🙂 Fun fact, there is a non-hot version, prepped with the same technique, but from mild paprika, which is called “Édes Anna” –> Sweet Anne.

    Regards, a Hungarian chili enthusiast

  19. Hey, just found your site. A ton of great info on here to get lost in. Curious your thoughts on roasting peppers in general. Secondly, if you roast them, does that effect whether or not you should ferment? Thank you!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hey, Brandon. Roasting your peppers is a GREAT way to bring out their flavors. I do it all the time for sauces and meals. Works very nicely for hot sauce as well. Also, you CAN ferment roasted peppers. However, you might need either a fermentation starter, or you can add them to the brine with fresh pods to kickstart the process, if needed.

  20. 5 stars
    This recipe was SUPER useful to me in getting started. My current sauce is 10 ounces habanero, 6 ounces cayenne, salt and vinegar, and a few cloves of garlic – and now, it’s my go-to sauce for just about everything! It’s just so tasty, so thank you!

    But I have a question: With such a simple recipe, what herbs or spices would you recommend experimenting with to take the sauce to the next level? What should I put in my next batch to see if it makes it better?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Mackenzie. Glad to be helpful. Hard to say what will bring it to the next level for you, as there are many possibilities as well as ratios and personal preferences. Definitely experiment with fresh herbs and other seasonings. Fruit is always fun to play with. I love habanero with mango or pineapple. Other veggies are great, too. You’d be surprised how versatile carrots can be. Have fun experimenting!!! I’d love to hear about your new combinations.

  21. Franklin Oros

    I’ve enjoyed extended stays in Madagascar where I fell in love with a hot sauce made from piquin (bird) peppers. Since, I’ve seen it identified in a couple of ways –– “sakay” or “Madagascar Sauce Dynamite”. I came pretty close by combining Thai bird peppers with ginger, garlic, onion, thyme, tomato paste, vinegar and salt. Can you kindly shed any more light on this sauce? The Malagasy use it on just about anything. Thank you.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Franklin. Sakay means “spicy” in Malagasy, and it’s a pretty versatile “everything” sauce. It’s made mostly with peppers, oil and vinegar, then adjusted with other ingredients to taste.

  22. 5 stars
    Have you ever tried aged balsamic in a recipe? The thick sweet kind, aged 10+ years? oOOOo I have a recipe forming in my brain that I feel would be sooo good! Just wondering if you’ve tried this.?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      I have not, Barbara, but I’m sure it would be delicious! I love aged balsamic! Had some GREAT ones in Italy.

  23. 4 stars
    Thanks for sharing a excellent recipe, as a mexican I am , I love food and some other staff with a little bit of ¨¨fire¨¨ hot sauce. Best regards

  24. Brian Fedie

    Really like your YouTube show. Stupid Question: Can you rehydrate chili pepper powder and then ferment it? I’d guess that you’d have to add some live veggies to start the process. ?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Brian, not sure about fermenting powders, though you can try it as you suggest with some live veggies. However, some powders might contain anti-caking ingredients that might inhibit fermentation, unless you are using homemade chili powder. If you try it, let me know how it goes. Enjoy!

  25. I loved the article. My brother is in culinary school and know I love hot sauce and suggested I make my own. I was wondering if I could ask for some advice with this recipe idea I have?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Lance. Send me an email anytime. Good luck with the sauce!

  26. Thanks for the great and comprehensive article. Our journey is only just starting with some chilli seeds in egg boxes waiting to germinate, but really can’t wait to get cooking after reading this.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Bill, yep, you can surely make hot sauce with frozen peppers. Just thaw them out and hot sauce away! Let me know how it turns out for you.

  27. Andre Liebenberg

    I made hot sauce as per your recipe and its very tasty . Only one thing I need to know. After a day or so in the bottle their s a separation of fluid on top. Is that ok or what?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Andre, yes, it is OK as long as the peppers stay submerged under the liquid. If they rise above and poke upward, push them down to make sure they are covered. Otherwise the can rot.

  28. glen spencer

    Hello, Mike. I’m wondering about the vinegar. I use Lime juice when I make my homemade salsa. Now I was trying to make chipotle hot sauce out of a recipe. I found with just water and vinegar and salt. I did run it through a strainer. It was liquidy in this morning. It’s rather thick. I’m just wondering about using two acids. Is that a good thing? Thank you. I’ll be back for more information.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Glen, yes, you can use 2 acids, like vinegar and lime juice. It’s really to your own flavor preferences. No problem!

  29. David Andre

    What happens if I eliminate or drastically cut salt from recipes? I am on a salt free diet and dearly miss my hot sauce. I still cheat and use a bit.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      David, you can absolutely reduce or even skip the salt with hot sauces. You may miss some of the flavor, but you’ll still get plenty. Or try some salt alternatives. Let me know how it goes for you.

  30. Hey Michael,

    Thank you for all that you do! I am just processing my first batch of fermented peppers and had a question about preservation… Do you sterilize your woozy bottles before filling? If my ph is in the recommended levels and I am keeping the bottles refrigerated once filled is it really necessary? Thanks again!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Roger. It is best practices to be as clean as possible. If you feel your bottles are clean enough with sterilizing them, I’m sure you’ll be fine since you’re keeping them refrigerated. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  31. I was wondering about the preserving process. Do they need to be processed in a water bath like a can should or is it mostly dependent on the acidity how long it will last on the shelf? I’m seeing that most of the containers for hot sauce aren’t conducive to the hot water bath since the lids are made with plastic. But I’d like to make sure they last a while in the cabinet.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Deena, yes, you can preserve them with the water bath method. Check out the USDA Site for good preserving steps: You can use small jars to process them instead of the bottles, which won’t work because of the plastic caps. There are some woozy bottles with different caps you can process that you can search for online. The main thing is to get the pH down to 3.5 or lower for home preserving. 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. Many home hot sauce makers prefer 3.5 or lower. Or, you can use a pressure canner. Let me know if this helps.

  32. I found a better way to thicken many sauces and not alter the consistency (subjective taste) or flavor quality with food starches as corn, potato, or wheat.
    Xanthan gum is easy to use if you add it sparingly until the desired thickness is reached.

    Deer wiped out most of my garden this year. Luckily I have a good stock of dried Thai, Korean, Ghost, and Habanero chilies to make sauces and dips as needed for the next year..

    I have enough Mae Ploy for another year. I mention this as I use Guar Gum to thicken my Mae Ploy as it is a cool dipping sauce and to keep it authentic .

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, John. Xantham gum is not something I have experimented with, but a lot of commercial and artisan hot sauce makers use it, so absolutely. I appreciate the input!

  33. Thanks for the full “one stop” website. My growing season just ended. I have 21 lbs of jalapenos, about 20 lbs of both serrano and pepperocini. Pepperocini are turning a nice red and get a little heat to them, but my jalapenos and serranos are having a hard time turning red. Can I make hot sauce with them still green? Oh, and 1 bush of habanero too (getting a nice orange:)

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Tim. Glad you found me. Absolutely, YES you can make a hot sauce with green jalapenos and serranos. Take a look at the hot sauce recipes section and you’ll find a few green sauces. Just follow the exact same instructions and you’ll get a nice green hot sauce. Good luck, and let me know what you wind up making.

  34. Jennifer E Bent

    Thank you. Some important info here. I am in Jamaica and want to start a business with Amajen’s Jamaican Hot Sauce.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Good luck with your hot sauce business, Jennifer!

  35. Hi!

    Loving the website. A lot of great stuff, came here looking for Serrano SHU value, ended up spending over an hour looking at hot sauces and pepper info.
    One small correction regarding European hot sauces.
    Ajvar comes in hot variety, and it can be pretty hot. The other sauce is named Ljutenica, ljuto meaning spicy/hot. 🙂

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thank you, Antonija! I appreciate it!

  36. Tango Jones

    Great site and very happy with the results of a couple of your recipes.

    I’ve lazily tried searching the internet, but just wondered if you could give us an idea of the pHs of various vinegars (I appreciate that they vary) and whether it’s okay to mix the higher pH vinegars with the lower ones.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Tango. I’ve made many sauces and hot sauces with many different types of vinegar. For me, it comes down to flavor and final pH. If you enjoy the flavor of a particular vinegar, I say use it. It’ll only make your final sauce that much better to you. For pH, it is best to keep your sauce to about 3.5 pH or below for longer keeping, so measure accordingly. You can always add water to dilute if needed. If the sauce is going to be consumed more quickly, the pH isn’t quite as important, so focus on flavor instead. I hope this helps. Happy to discuss.

      1. Carl H. Bernat

        So the ph level changes by cooking the sauce or merely adding a vinegar or citrus or both?

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Carl, the pH changes with the addition of vinegar and/or citrus, which are acids and help preserve the food.

  37. Juliana Meade

    very informative, thanks for sharing. I cook pepper sauce for sale in the Caribbean and I do not have to refrigerate at all. the shelf life is good for months.

  38. OMG this is awesome. I can’t wait to try all of these. I’m going to burn my blender up making all of them. One of the best guides I have ever seen.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Excellent, Jay! Thanks, and good luck!!

  39. Thank you for this, a truly inspiring read! Growing 10 types of Chili’s this year to go mad with, and this just gave me the wildest ideas!

  40. Great read, thank you! So using a basic recipe as you shared earlier, could one then simply bottle it and keep it out the refrigerator for months before opening? And then once opening keep it in the refrigerator. Looking at producing my hot sauce for stores and markets etc, and wondering on it’s dry shelf life before refrigeration. Thank you! Sergio

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Sergio. If you want to keep it out of the fridge for longer periods of time before opening, it is best to do a hot pack and process the sauce for longer term storage. I hope this helps. Many home makers believe the low acidity is enough to keep their sauces out of the fridge, but when you have commercial considerations, the standards are much more strict.

  41. After I make these, let them cool, and add to sterilized bottles can I just mail to my family with a heat wrap seal. Does it have to be refrigerated and ship cold? I made several in 5 oz hot sauce shaker bottles. Just wanted to keep it safe. It was boiled and simmered for 10-12 minutes.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Joe, if everything is cleaned and your ph is low enough, you should be able to wrap it up and mail it. I would just keep it in the refrigerator upon receiving and opening.

  42. Heather Dewey

    Hi Mike. My friends and family loved my hot sauces this year and now i ran out. I have some hot pepper powder and i want to recreate my recipes with that. Can you give me an idea about ratios when it comes to fresh vs dried powder? For example: If the recipe calls for 10 ghost peppers how much powder should i use?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Heather. That would wind up being about 3-4 tablespoons of powder. Try it with 3 and see how it comes out. You can always add in more later. Let me know how it goes.

  43. Try the Mulilo chili sauce made from Kambuzi chilis which are grown in south Eastern Africa country of Malawi. Its unique flavor will leave you looking for more.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Charles! One I’ll definitely have to try.

  44. Thank you Mike for the great pepper site. I made the real simply sauce and it is wonder. I Used red wine vinegar, lemon juice Kosher salt and a good splash of liquid smoke. Left half the seeds of the Jalapas. Very warm and a nice flavour.
    I have lots of peppers so I will try smoking and dehydrate some.
    Thanks Again

  45. Robin Eaton-Novak

    Great article! My peppers are doing fabulous this year. My ghost is exploding!

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