Hot Sauces

Many of us can agree on liking our food with a kick — but one of the toughest things to get a majority to agree on is the very best variety of hot sauce. Among the pepperheads of the world, you have your Frank’s fanatics, your Sriracha devotees, and your Tabasco lovers, among others. It’s hard to say which sauce is best, but before long, you won’t need to — you’ll be making it yourself!

The best thing about homemade hot sauce is that you can tailor the spice and flavor combinations to suit your own preferences. Here’s a helpful scale to identify which peppers are the spiciest! Combine your favorite elements and flavor components from various kinds of peppers and sauces to see what you get. Below are 6 recipes to add some heat in the kitchen. Try them out and see which suits you best!

Homemade Hot Sauce, dressing

Source: iStock

1. Homemade Red Hot Sauce

This classic, fast, and easy hot sauce recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse of the Food Network. It’s about a medium spice level, but be sure to keep tasting as you add peppers to ensure it suits your preferences! This sauce is great for splashing onto fries, pizza, pasta — you name it! Recipe takes 35 minutes to complete and yields 2 cups of sauce.


  • 20 tabasco or serrano chiles, stemmed and cut crosswise into ⅛-inch slices, or 12 very ripe red jalapeños (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¾ cup thinly sliced onions
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar

Directions: Combine the peppers, garlic, onions, salt, and oil in a non-reactive saucepan over high heat. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the water and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until peppers are very soft and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow to steep until mixture comes to room temperature. In a food processor, purée the mixture for 15 seconds, or until smooth. With the food processor running, add the vinegar through the feed tube in a steady stream.

Taste and season with more salt, if necessary. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and then transfer to a sterilized pint jar or bottle and secure with an airtight lid. Refrigerate. Let age at least 2 weeks before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Jalapeño Hot Sauce

This green jalapeño sauce is different from your usual red-hot kick. The savory flavors of vinegar, garlic, onion, and salt combine to tame the steely spice of the jalapeños that make their way into your creation. Try this sauce on eggs, tacos, or potatoes. This recipe from All Recipes takes 45 minutes to complete and yields 16 servings.


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 20 fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar

Directions: In a medium glass or enamel lined sauce pan over high heat, combine oil, peppers, garlic, onion and salt; sauté for 4 minutes. Add the water and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and purée until smooth. With the processor running, slowly add the vinegar. Pour into a sterilized jar with a tight lid. This sauce will keep for 6 months when stored in the refrigerator.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Roman Sambal

The lime juice in this sambal-style hot sauce gives the recipe a zesty kick. This recipe from Bon Appétit yields about one cup of sauce. Although preparation takes just 15 minutes, for best results it is advised that you let the sauce ferment for 1-2 days after each sequence of steps (as per the directions.) The longer you let the ingredients sit and ferment, the more flavorful a result you will get.


  • ½ pound red red Fresno chiles or red jalapeños
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Special equipment: cheesecloth

Directions: Pulse chiles, garlic, and salt in a food processor to a fine paste. Transfer to a glass jar; cover with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Let sit at room temperature at least 1 day and up to 2 days to ferment.

Transfer chile mixture to a blender; add lime juice, vinegar, and sugar and purée until smooth. Transfer to a clean jar, cover with cheesecloth, and let sit at room temperature at least 1 day and up to 2 days to ferment more. Chill until cold.

Source: ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images


4. Caribbean Habanero Hot Sauce

Even if you can’t travel to the Caribbean, you can at least get a taste of it with this spicy, fruity hot sauce. Pineapple and mango give this sauce a truly tropical feel. Combine them with habanero peppers and you’ve got more than a little heat in there as well! This recipe from the View from Great Island yields around 2 cups of fragrant yellow hot sauce and takes 20 minutes to complete.


  • ½ pound (a heaping cup) fresh pineapple, cut in chunks
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 2 habanero peppers, rough chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Directions: Put pineapple, mango, and habaneros in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process the fruit and peppers until they are completely smooth and puréed. Scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary. Be cautious, the fumes will be strong.

Pour the purée into a saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring up to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Put the sauce through a mesh strainer, pushing down firmly to get as much of the good sauce through as possible. Let cool and then fill your bottles or jars. Refrigerate, and eat within the month.

mustard sauce

Source: iStock

5. Mustardy Habanero Hot Sauce

Don’t fret, mustard lovers: There’s even a hot sauce for you! That is, if you can handle the heat of all the habeneros in there with it. With its unique combination of spices, chiles, and mustard, this hot sauce will have no problem clearing your sinuses. This recipe from Food & Wine takes 30 minutes to complete and yields 1 quart of sauce.


  • 14 habanero chiles
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¾ cup cilantro sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
  • ¾ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup yellow mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Directions: Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Set a strainer in the saucepan and add the chiles. Blanch for 30 seconds, pressing to submerge the chiles. Transfer the chiles to a plate. Add the garlic, scallions, and carrot to the strainer and blanch for 30 seconds; transfer to a blender. Add the cilantro and thyme leaves to the strainer and blanch for 10 seconds; scrape into the blender.

Wearing rubber gloves, stem and seed the chiles and transfer them to the blender. Add the vinegar, water, mustard, allspice, and salt to the blender and pulse to a chunky but pourable sauce. Carefully remove the lid and transfer the hot sauce to bottles using a funnel. Refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

6. Passion Fruit Hot Sauce (Ají de Maracuya)

This bold, yellow-orange passion fruit hot sauce is a deliciously sweet and spicy addition to any meal. The addition of oil to this Ecuadorian-inspired sauce gives it a slightly creamy consistency, making it a unique choice for spice lovers. This recipe from Laylita yields 2 cups of sauce and takes 40 minutes to complete.


  • 4 to 5 ajíes or hot peppers (can substitute red fresno chiles or habaneros)
  • 1 ½ cup pure passion fruit juice or concentrate
  • ⅓ cup light olive oil or avocado oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt to taste
  • Finely chopped cilantro (optional)

Directions: Boil the ajíes or hot peppers for about 10-15 minutes. Place the hot peppers in cold water to cool down. Remove the skins, seeds, and veins. Blend the peeled ajies with the passion fruit juice, light olive or avocado oil, and lime juice until you have a smooth sauce.

Mix in finely chopped cilantro. Add salt to taste.

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