Homemade Chili Pepper Hot Sauce

I’ve had a container of dried red chili peppers sitting in the back of my pantry for a number of months now. It takes a long time to use up dozens of small peppers one or two at a time, by adding them to sauces or pickling liquids. I wanted to finish off my stock, and try my hand at making hot sauce.

Consult any recipe and you’ll learn that hot sauce is the combination of three, sometimes four, ingredients: chili peppers, vinegar, salt and sugar. I figured I would give it a go, improvising my preparation method and level of seasoning.

After straining out the seeds and pepper skins, the hot sauce was thin enough to pour but not too watery.

I simmered the dried peppers in water for 20 minutes to rehydrate them. Then I ground the peppers to a paste in a food processor. I transferred the paste to a blender and mixed the pepper paste with vinegar, salt and sugar. I blended the peppers on high speed for up to 5 minutes, adding vinegar until I reached the consistency I liked. Then I strained out the seeds and transferred the sauce to old hot sauce jars I had saved just for this project.

Traditionally, hot sauces age for at least a couple weeks before being used. My hot sauce is balanced but also very spicy. I’m curious to see how the flavors change.

I used Thai chilies in my sauce. Other options are tien tsin peppers, or, for a little less heat, arbols.

This recipe makes 2 cups of completed sauce, or enough to fill three 5-ounce bottles. One note: Avoid sticking your nose into the food processor or blender while preparing the sauce. This is a pretty contained process, but you will definitely have a sneeze attack if you do that. You won’t really be handling the chilies either, but remember to keep your hands away from your eyes.


  • 3 cups (about 4 ounces) dried small red chili peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups distilled vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Step 1. Rehydrate the peppers by simmering them in a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes. drain the peppers and transfer them to a food processor.



Step 2. Run the processor for at least 2 minutes, until the peppers are ground to a paste and the seeds have begun to break up. You will have 1 cup of chili paste.


Step 3. Transfer the paste to a blender and add the remaining ingredients. Then blend on high speed for 5 minutes, until the peppers and their seeds have been finely ground up.


Step 4. Strain the sauce, removing the seed and skin bits. Make sure to press on the paste to draw out all of the liquid. Then pour the sauce into bottles for storage.


  • Guest

    Could you use a food mill to strain the result? Or would that be too course?

    • http://themanlyhousekeeper.com Mark Evitt

      It would likely be too coarse, but coarseness is a matter of taste to some degree. Try it and see.

      • Robb

        Don’t you strain it anyway?

  • Guest

     Why use both a food processor and a blender?  Couldn’t you use (and clean) just one appliance?

    • obvioustaco

      Depends how crappy your blender is. If you don’t have something in the 2+ HP range, it won’t really do a great job of processing the ingredients. Hence the use of a food processor. If your blender is up to the task, it would be easier to just use it.

  • David

    For storage: how do you store it? Shelf? Refrigerate? Freeze? Please let me know. Thanks.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasonsaeler Jason Saeler

      Most sauces can be stored in fridge for months, I also freeze mine until I’m ready to fill up some new jars. Theoretically you could leave at room temperature because of the acid in the vinegar which works as a preservative, but I prefer not to take any chances.

  • JoeBlake

    What are the shelve life of these homemade sauce? DO they need food preservatives?

    • Nate

      I use proper canning methods and they will keep for a year…

  • RoseY

    Use fresh chilies, I use superhots, ghost peppers etc.

    Use a 1:1 chilies to white vinegar ratio by weight, for each ounce (30g) of chilies/vinegar use 1tsp sea salt, thats it. Blend it WELL. Put it into a glass jar with a loosely closed lid to ferment/ age for 2 weeks, 1 month or more! Don’t worry, all that salt and vinegar will prevent any mold or nasty stuff.

    Strain, I double strain once with a normal kitchen strainer then with a tea strainer, to really remove most of the particles. Bottle into 30ml eye dropper bottles available on ebay. Wild hot sauce only for real chilli pros.

  • SickOfFools

    Once the mixture has been blended to death for 5 minutes, what’s left to strain? For that matter, why strain it at all? I leave everything in my hot sauces. The hotter the better. Never had any complaints from my friends.

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