You can find hot sauce in just about every kitchen pantry. Hot sauce can stir up recipes that not only need a kick of heat, but also a depth of flavor that you cannot get with other condiments. Whether you are making Michigan Sauce for your hot dogs, adding some flavor to your clam chowder, or spicing up your scrambled eggs, reaching for your favorite bottle of hot sauce is a sure-fire way to add the character and complexity you seek in almost any savory (and sometimes sweet) dishes.

When it comes to hot sauces, most everybody has a favorite. 

Why not try and impress your friends and family with an easy homemade hot sauce. Homemade hot sauce is not complicated to make and won’t take hours in the kitchen, but it will impress your friends and family when you present them with a bottle of your secret recipe.

When you make your hot sauce at home, you can control the flavor and heat to adjust them to your liking. Making condiments from scratch also make great gift ideas! 

This guide can walk you through all of the ingredients and supplies you need to blend up your own easy homemade hot sauce quickly.

The Not-So-Secret Ingredients:

The key to making homemade hot sauce exists in two simple ingredients: the chili peppers and good quality vinegar. 

Using good-quality white vinegar is key to ensuring you have a balanced base for your hot sauce. Nothing will ruin your hot sauce like a cheap vinegar with inconsistent acidity and flavor. Be sure to start with a good foundation of good-quality white vinegar.

The Peppers:

Whether you use fresh or dried peppers, you can control the heat and flavor profile of your hot sauce directly through your choice of peppers. You can choose your peppers based on their heat (Scoville Scale) ratings, as well as the flavor profile they bring to your hot sauce.

The Most Commonly Used Peppers in Homemade Hot Sauce: 


Pile of Jalapeno peppers

A popular pepper with a medium heat index and a neutral flavor profile used in a variety of dishes and sauces. 2500-8000 Scoville Units


cayenne peppers in a dish

A hot and spicy pepper, cayenne peppers also add robust and pungent flavor. The flavor of cayenne strengthens the longer it cooks. Most commonly used in dried, powdered form, cayenne powder adds a unique and spicy flavor to your hot cause. 30,000-50,000 Scoville Units.

Habanero Pepper:

Outside pic of habanero peppers

This pepper adds a bit more heat to your sauce than the Jalapeno and the Cayenne peppers while also adding notes of citrus and a floral aroma to your hot sauce. The heat and flavor combination of Habanero Peppers make it a popular choice in hot sauces. 100,000-350,000 Scoville Units.

These three peppers range from mild to moderately spicy on the heat scale, with the Habanero being the hottest of the three. For a more neutral flavor profile, the Jalapeno pepper is a great choice. 

To add a kick of flavor as well as heat to your homemade hot sauce, go for the habanero pepper, which you can find fresh in most grocery stores produces departments.

Unique Hot Peppers:

These chili peppers can be more challenging to find, but if you live near a city with Mexican, Indian, or Chinese grocery markets, you may be able to find some of these chilis fresh.  Otherwise dried and powered are readily available online.

Take your hot sauce a step further by growing your own peppers for your hot sauce. Seeds for unique chili peppers are readily available and you can grow your hot sauce from scratch in your very own garden or indoor pot. 

These chilies add heat and flavor and are an excellent choice for a phenomenal homemade hot sauce. 

Scotch Bonnet:

a few scotch bonnet peppers

Extremely popular in the Caribbean, the scotch bonnet pepper adds a slightly sweet flavor (think cherries and apples) to your hot sauce with a heat profile similar to that of the habanero pepper. A Scotch Bonnet hot pepper sauce goes great in rice and meat dishes as well as with fish and eggs. If you like the flavors of the Caribbean, such as jerk chicken, you will love homemade hot sauce made with scotch bonnet peppers. 100,000-350,000 Scoville Units. 

Ghost Pepper: 

a single ghost pepper

If unparalleled heat in your hot sauce is what you’re looking for, you’re going to want to perfect your hot sauce using the ghost pepper. As the first pepper to reach one million units on the Scoville Scale, many of the spiciest hot sauces are made using the ghost pepper. The ghost pepper packs a heat that can take down even the most experiences of spicey food eaters. If extreme heat is your goal, this pepper will accomplish that. 

 Most commonly found in dried form, the name, Ghose Pepper, comes from the way the heat sneaks up on the eater. Initially, you taste a sweet chili taste, it takes about 30-45 seconds for the intense spice to kick in. The drying of the pepper can also add a smoke flavor to your hot sauce. The Ghost Pepper is an excellent choice if you want to blend some chili peppers to get the flavor profile of the Ghost Pepper without the eye-watering heat that comes along with a ghost pepper hot sauce. 855,000-1,041,427 Scoville Units. 

A Note on Blending Chili Peppers: 

While it’s a guarantee that your first batch of hot sauce will be amazing, many family secrets recipes come from trial and error of blending a variety of peppers to create a unique flavor and heat combination that you love. So, take the basic hot sauce formula below and put your twist on it by blending a variety of fresh and dried chili peppers. 

The Supplies: 

variety of wooden spoons and utensils

While making easy homemade hot sauce is not complicated and won’t take hours in your kitchen, you will need a few kitchens supplies to make the process go smoothly. 

  • A cooking pot (non-reactive is best since you are working with a lot of acidity in making hot sauce) 
  • A Blender or Food Processor: To break up your ingredients into smaller chunks and save your hands from the capsaicin in hot chili peppers. A blender can be used after cooking to create an even smoother sauce.
  • A good strainer (to get those pesky seeds or pulp out if you want a smooth hot sauce) 
  • A Kitchen Scale: If you want to be precise with your measurements while you perfect your secret hot sauce recipe. 
  • Food Safe Gloves: You may want to consider hand and eye protection while making hot sauce. Hot chilis can be brutal to work with if you get the capsaicin (source of the heat in chilis) on your hands or in your eyes. If you plan on working with some of the hotter hot chilis, you may want to plan on protecting your hands and eyes. 

Hot Sauce Formula:

Your basic hot sauce formula starts with three things: 

  1. Hot Chili Peppers: of your choice, about 1lb. 
  2. Good quality white vinegar: (1/2-1 cup depending on the desired consistency)
  3. Good Quality Sea Salt: 1/2-1 full tablespoon. Salt not only adds flavor but helps to preserve your hot sauce along with the acidity in the vinegar and any citrus you may add.

Fruits and Vegetables

pic of incredients for hot sauce

From the basic formula, you can add any fruits and vegetables that you think would complement your hot sauce. Carrots are a popular vegetable to add a beautiful color and slight sweetness to your hot sauce. Fruit such as pineapple or other citrus fruits can add sweetness and depth to your hot sauce, especially if you are aiming for a Caribbean twist on your basic hot sauce formula. Green onions, garlic, and other savory vegetables can add complexity and flavor to your hot sauce. Green onions, celery, and cilantro are popular additions to hot sauces in many parts of the world. 

The Hot Sauce Cooking Process: 

While some people choose to make a raw hot sauce, cooking your hot sauce will help to blend your flavors in your hot sauce. 

Step 1: Wash and dry the chili peppers or blend of chili peppers. 

Step 2: If desired, remove the seeds, then add your chilis to your blender or food processor to chop them up finely. If you are using fruits and vegetables for seasoning your hot sauce, add those to the blender to chop them up finely. 

Step 3: Add peppers, vinegar, salt, and additional seasonings to your pot and bring them to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and allow your sauce to simmer for 15 minutes. 

*Remember that for some chili’s, the longer you cook them, the more intense their flavor becomes, in this case, a long slow simmer may not be what you want for best flavor. * 

Step 4: Remove from heat and cool your hot sauce. Once cooled, you may want to strain out any pulp for a smoother consistency. Many hot sauce makers also choose to leave their homemade hot sauce thicker and leave the pulp in. Use your personal preference here for consistency. 

Step 5: Bottle and label your hot sauce, don’t forget to save yourself some, you deserve it! 

Hot Sauce Really is That Simple!

Depending on what seasonings you add, this hot sauce formula can make about 2 cups of hot sauce. Don’t be afraid to explore other seasonings and flavors for your hot sauce. You can keep it simple with the basic chili, vinegar, salt formula above for a great basic homemade hot sauce. 

How Long will My Hot Sauce Last?

The shelf life of your hot sauce depends on how much acidity you use in your hot sauce. Your hot sauce will be stable in the fridge for a few months. If it even lasts that long!

You can test the acidity of your hot sauce using PH strips to determine how long your hot sauce will be refrigerator safe. 

Ideas for using hot sauce: 

  • Celebrate your hot sauce success with some homemade Bloody Mary’s using your homemade hot sauce
  • Add some flavor and heat to your favorite chili recipe
  • Add a kick to your favorite egg or omelet recipe
  • Use as a dip for your classic grilled cheese sandwich
  • Add a few dashes of your hot sauce to your favorite rice or other savory dishes. 
  • Sprinkle on some watermelon with some salt for a sweet, salty, and spicy snack. 
  • Dash your homemade hot sauce onto some slices cucumber for a flavorful and refreshing snack. 

The possibilities with hot sauce are truly endless and even more satisfying when using your homemade hot sauce recipe. Gift a bottle to your friends and loves ones. Get ready to make more because your hot sauce won’t last very long if you decide to share it with friends!

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