Easy Homemade Hot Sauce

Easy Homemade Hot Sauce

By Riley Holt

:et's get you started on making your own hot sauce! While store-bought hot sauce options are endless, there’s something special about creating your own homemade hot sauce. Homemade hot sauce allows you to tailor the heat level to your liking, experiment with creative flavor combinations, and ensure that all ingredients are up to your standards. Before Duncan started Shelby Spice, he began his hot sauce journey in 2015 by making homemade hot sauces. In this blog, I’ll guide you through how to make homemade hot sauce and tips for elevating your sauce making skills. 

When crafting your own hot sauce in your kitchen, you have the freedom to include any ingredients that appeal to you. You can emphasize specific flavors that might not be found in other sauces, such as using a higher quantity of superhot chili peppers or creating a batch that features fruit. This means that making your own hot sauce guarantees uniqueness.

The Chili Peppers

Hot sauce can be made from either green chilies or red/orange ripe chilies. The main distinctions will be the color of the sauce, heat levels, sweetness, and flavor of the peppers themselves. Taste the tip of the pepper to gauge sweetness level, and taste the center placenta of the pepper to gauge the heat.

Colorful peppers

The foundation of any good hot sauce is, of course, the peppers. The type of pepper you choose will greatly influence the flavor and heat level of your sauce. Some popular options include habanero, jalapeno, ghost pepper, serrano, and cayenne. Feel free to mix and match peppers to create a unique flavor profile. Just remember to wear gloves when handling hot peppers, as the oils can cause irritation.

You can craft hot sauce using chilies from a home garden or chilies purchased at a local farmer's market. However, I've also had success making it with hot peppers from the grocery store.

Other Ingredients

Vinegar: Provides acidity and helps preserve the sauce. White vinegar is a classic choice, but apple cider vinegar can add a subtle apple flavor.

Garlic: Adds depth of flavor and a hint of sweetness. Roasting or sautéing the garlic beforehand can enhance its flavor even further.

Onion: Adds sweetness and complexity to the sauce. You can use raw onion for a sharper flavor or sautéed sweet onion for a milder, sweeter taste.

Fruit: Adding fruit such as mango, pineapple, or peach can add a natural sweetness that balances out the heat of the peppers. Greatist provides amazing tips and recipes for incorporating fruit in hot sauce.

Spices: Consider adding spices like cumin, paprika, black pepper, or coriander to enhance the flavor of your hot sauce.

Salt: If the food you plan on adding this hot sauce to doesn't already have salt, you may need to consider adding salt to the hot sauce. Duncan prefers no salt in his recipes, as it can offer mask or dilute subtle flavors.


If you have some extra time, and prefer a tangy, more complicated flavor, I highly recommend fermenting your peppers. Fermenting the peppers helps add a complexity to the peppers. I think it adds more character and an overall better taste to hot sauce when the peppers are fermented. 

The addition of salt helps prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria by making what's called a "brine." Meanwhile, the natural good bacteria present on the produce is able to culture. You want to aim for about 3% of the water weight in salt.

Here’s the process:

  • 1 pound of chili peppers (destemmed)
  • 1 quart unchlorinated water
  • 3 Tbsp salt

First, roughly chop your peppers up and add them to a big enough jar. Then mix your water and salt together and pour over the peppers enough to cover them.  Screw the lid on and let the peppers sit at room temperature, away from sunlight for 1-2 weeks. The cans will bulge from the release of gasses. This is okay! The liquid should be cloudy at this point, and it has a funky, spicy flavor.

To learn more about the fermentation process, click here.

Fermented peppers bell jar

Hot Sauce Time

Making hot sauce can be a pretty simple process. The key is the ratios of thick vegetal material to the thin vinegar. If you like a chunky hot sauce, then add less vinegar and blend for less time. If you like a thin, runny hot sauce then you should add slightly more vinegar or brined water and blend for a longer time.

Here is Duncan's favorite ratio:

1000 grams peppers

650 grams vinegar

450 grams fruit or other vegetal ingredient

2 grams spices

Here's the basic step by step process. 

Heat all ingredients for a minimum of ten minutes on the stove. Then add to a blender or food processor, combine the chopped peppers with the garlic, onion, fruit, and vinegar. Blend it until smooth. Taste test the blend and tailor the ingredients to what you like!

Afterward, pour the hot sauce into a funnel and directly into your bottle of choice.

NOTE: Various chilies have different water contents. Some chilies retain more water, while others have thinner skins and less water content. So, your hot sauce might vary in thickness. If it's too thick, you can add water or vinegar to dilute it.

NOTE: Cooking the sauce is optional. It kills bacteria and lengthens the preservation of the hot sauce. By adding the hot sauce into a bottle while it's hot, you ensure that bacteria does not have time to form in the bottle. Unless you're willing to measure acidity and maintain strict standards of cleanliness, you should ALWAYS keep your homemade hot sauce in the fridge. 

That's it! With just a few simple ingredients and a little bit of time, you can create a hot sauce that is uniquely your own.


Skladany, J. (2021, August 13). How to make fruit based hot sauce. Greatist. https://greatist.com/eat/fruit-based-hot-sauce-recipes#Caribbean-Jerk-Peach-Hot-Sauce 

Peppergeek. (2021, November 28). Fermented hot sauce - the best method for at home - peppergeek. Pepper Geek. https://peppergeek.com/fermented-hot-sauce/ 

Back to blog